Michael Hutchence asked unexpected questions. Like, “How do you say, ‘I love you!’ in Mandarin?”
“My” Michael – Michael as I knew him – was not the mythic Michael of the tabloids. “My” Michael was a sweet, rather whimsical boy with cosmos-encompassing curiosity. When I think of Michael, I think of Snufkin, the character in Finnish author Tove Janssen’s Moomintroll books. Snufkin has a round head, shaggy brown hair and big brown eyes, and that’s how “my” Michael looks in memory: a round face on a stalk neck. Snufkin was a wanderer, seeking spring and summer meadows: that was Michael. Snufkin was a provocateur, baiting authority and despising convention. As did Michael.
I first heard INXS at a live gig at Sydney’s Stagedoor Tavern, just after INXS moved from Perth to Sydney and just before the Stagedoor Tavern was closed down. INXS were bottom of a four-band bill. I couldn’t see the stage so I couldn’t see the band (the crowd was packed for the headliners, The Angels), but they sure sounded good. I was writing for a rock magazine called Roadrunner and I marked INXS as a band for me to interview.
The interview took place in February or March 1980, about the time I started writing for RAM (Rock Australia Magazine). I didn’t write the first INXS piece in RAM, but my article ran in Roadrunner, and a few years later I wrote RAM’s first cover story on INXS. Some of the more sensational Michael quotes from that RAM cover story were lifted by Sydney’s tabloid newspaper, The Sun.
In early 1980, INXS were still playing small venues. I interviewed them in a joint off Oxford Street where capacity must have been less than 100. The entire band sat around a table, eager to talk about their music. At that time an interview must have been a novelty. Michael’s curiosity showed up as alertness. He sat with spine long, long neck; not the languid, mannered stance familiar in later years. But whatever the body language, Michael’s physicality always spoke to me of dance. He stood, he sat, he moved like a dancer. On stage, he danced. Michael had vitality and grace.
He also had bad skin. When people started talking about Michael as a sex symbol, I was initially nonplussed. He was a skinny kid with pockmarks. Recently I watched again a music video from 1981, “starring” Michael: Speed Kills, written by Cold Chisel’s Don Walker for the soundtrack to the film Freedom, with Michael on lead vocals. In that clip I see the emergence of the “mythical” Michael – the cool dude with white hot sexuality. I didn’t see it at the time.
At the time, when we sat in that small dark room and talked, Michael was barely through his teens and was dressed like a fan of French new wave cinema, in a Breton fisherman’s long-sleeved t-shirt with horizontal stripes. He told me he was fascinated by post-War bohemianism, especially the literary and artistic bohemianism of the ‘50s and early ‘60s. I thought of Julie Christie, before she became a film star, a boho chick living with actor (and art school grad) Terence Stamp. Michael would have loved Julie Christie.
He talked textiles. Michael’s father Kell had been a textiles trader in Hong Kong. Michael loved colour and texture and trends, so he loved textiles. And he loved Hong Kong. He loved noise and close-pressed flesh and variety and change. Bewilder me, he beseeched. Fascinate me.
Michael could be mischievous, if I may use that word to cover a multitude of, literally, sins. In that first interview, he brought up one of my Roadrunner reviews that he said had made him laugh. It kicked off with some cruel comments about a band who at that time shared the same booking agency as INXS, a brother-sister combo called the Numbers. I liked the Numbers. I just couldn’t resist the impulse to be bitchy about their platinum blonde good looks. Michael had a bit of bitch in him too. Andrew Farriss, the INXS keyboard player and main writer, did not approve. Andrew never took to me, at all.
What sealed it for Andrew was that cover story I wrote in 1984. INXS were touring in support of their album The Swing. I had reviewed their previous album, Shabooh Shoobah, for RAM, and I’d loved it, so RAM’s then-editor Greg Taylor sent me off to Canberra with a specific brief: get an interview with Michael Hutchence.
That may have been the beginning – or an early instance – of that issue that plagues so many successful bands: the focus on the frontman, eclipsing other band members.
As the band and I travelled together to Canberra, I mused on the outfit saxophonist and guitarist Kirk Pengilly’s girlfriend Karen was wearing. It was white and flouncy with pastel trim. To me it looked like a cake decoration, perhaps a wedding cake. In the published article, I reported that reflection. I didn’t know Karen was an aspiring fashion designer, who succeeded in a career as an accessories designer. After publication, I heard Andrew felt my comment was disrespectful.
Michael didn’t have those inhibitions. Michael truly did not have a lot of inhibitions. The Canberra gig was wild; it took months for me to figure out how to remove the Bundaberg rum and coke stain from the drink spilled on my favourite top. It took hours for Michael to come down from his post-performance high, sufficient to consider an interview. By the time I turned the tape recorder on, we were both stripped naked, in our separate beds, in the hotel room we shared that night. For me as a rock writer, it was unprecedented, and frankly unexpected.
That’s when the question was asked: “How do you say ‘I love you!’, in Mandarin?”
Michael was in love. He was dating Michele Bennett, who had studied Mandarin at Melbourne University. Michele was exquisite and Michael was besotted. That did not preclude other flings. But I found it touching, and Michael and I did not fling.
I went round one time to the home Michael and Michele shared with New Zealand singer Jenny Morris, who became an INXS backing singer. The boys were ready to party. The girls were upstairs: Jenny singing, her voice melodic, honeyed and seductive; Michele was tweaking perfection, putting on her makeup.
“This can take hours,” Michael grimaced. He looked and sounded proud.
When INXS were recording their international breakthrough album Kick, I bumped into Michael on Williams Street, the arterial road leading up to Kings Cross. He invited me to hang out with him at the recording studio, Rhinoceros Studios in inner East Sydney, the hippest studios in town. Slack hours in a studio recording an album can hang heavy: an hour of studio downtime lasts longer than an hour of standard time. But I’m not sure that’s the reason Michael invited me. I’m not certain he was enjoying extended downtime with his fellow band members just at that point. They were there, except Andrew, but Michael mostly talked with me.
As I was leaving, I passed Andrew Farriss in the corridor.
“Hi!” I said brightly. “It’s Elly!”
“I know who you are,” growled Andrew, brushing past me.
What did Michael talk about, that day?
He talked about romance. He talked about sex. He was intrigued by the concept of designer baby sperm donations. He was interested in donating to a sperm bank – a sperm bank, I think hypothetical, that specialised in supplying sperm from donors with outstanding talents or attributes. He talked about who and what he found attractive. Princess Stephanie of Monaco. I couldn’t see it, but to Michael she was “Hot!”
He told me his theory of romance. Whether that was a theory of the moment or a life-long perspective, I cannot say. But Michael told me he saw romance as a masqued ball. The dancers are in costume. They circle each other, flirt, retreat, flirt some more. They engage in stylised games to hold each other’s interest. The first one who drops their mask, loses.
Early in 1985, I met up with Michael in a Kings Cross night club and we talked poetry. I was preparing to self-publish a small book of poems. I told Michael I couldn’t sleep, pages of typeset proofs scrolled relentlessly through my mind. Michael had a talent, among his many talents, for appearing to listen intently while quite possibly screening out much that was said. He did ask questions about my poems. But the question, unexpected, that struck me was this: “Am I in there?”
In truth, several famous Oz rock identities were “in there”, in my poems. Michael was not.
It was too late to write a Michael poem, a poem for “my” Michael, to include in my collection. But I did write a poem for him, which was never published.
I called it Someone Famous, With Girl.
stops at the sound of
his name called by
a stranger – then
who she is and forgets
himself: it’s you
he smiles (he always means it)
he laughs (and feels abashed)
her eyes mirror his
she is his (they always are)
they are both young
they both can
moments of belief, of the only kind
his kind. He is
kind, or he could be, this singled out
he takes her
camera and asks
Am I in there?
Pingback: Mystify: Michael Hutchence | Elly McDonald
July 23, 2020 at 5:54 pm
A beautiful, beautiful piece of writing, about beautiful memories of a beautiful man. You were lucky to have known Michael. And your poem was wonderful. By the way, do you still have any copies of your book of poems? I’d love to read them.
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July 23, 2020 at 10:42 pm
Thank you, that is so kind. So many of us miss Michael. I’m very ambivalent about keeping the music memories public. In fact I recently changed a few music blog posts to Private settings. About the poems: there’s a category on this site called Poetry where I’ve posted many (by no means all).
July 24, 2020 at 5:43 am
Thank you so much. I never dreamed you’d write back to me; I’m so glad that you did.
I still can’t get over what you wrote about Michael; it was so witty, sweet and apt. I don’t think anyone else in the world would have thought to compare Michael to Snufkin; I think it’s fascinating (and adorable) that you did. I’m just getting into the Moomin stories now myself (I never had the chance to read them when I was younger), so your comparison caught my eye.
Thank you for reminding me about the Poetry category on your website; I really appreciate that. You know, I’m a rock’n’roll poet myself (I mean to say, I write poetry that’s inspired by rock’n’roll music), so I was especially intrigued when I read that several Oz-rock identities were in your poems. I can’t wait to read them. I love music-inspired poems. Do you have a favorite poet? Or a favorite songwriter?
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July 24, 2020 at 6:06 am
Oh wow! There is some wonderful poetry inspired by rock music and its offspring. Last year Michael’s sister Tina Hutchence had a biography of Michael published, titled Michael, my Brother: Lost Boy of INXS, co-written with a former rock writer who I consider Australia’s best poet of rock music, Jen Jewel Brown (wrote rock journalism as Jenny Hunter-Brown, poems as Jenny Brown). Jen and Tina used my Snufkin quote in their book – Jen said it captured something of Michael she hadn’t seen expressed elsewhere. Some of my favourite contemporary poems and poets are collected in a blog in my Poetry category, with its sequel still in draft form. I think those are all American poets. I like the early C20th British (and other) modernist poets too, and a bunch of Australian women poets, mostly from the 70s and 80s (when I was publishing). My friend Amanda Joy is a current Australian poet who gets a bit of recognition. And I like John Donne and Ted Hughes.
Of the Australian songwriters, I like Don Walker’s lyrics, about 200 of them published in a volume last year under the title Songs.
Where are you located? Do you have a particular interest in Michael, and INXS?
July 24, 2020 at 6:20 pm
Thanks again for writing back!
Thank you for telling me about the poets you like, too (you know, I like John Donne and Ted Hughes myself). I’m glad to hear that Jen Jewel Brown’s a poet; I can’t wait to read her poems. Truth be told, I’ve been reading Tina’s book (which she co-wrote with Jen) all through the past two weeks, because INXS are one of my favorite bands. I thought it was a brilliant book: tender and moving, full of beautiful details about the real Michael – the Snufkin Michael, the idealistic sensitive questing man who whose true ambition was to be a poet, the boundlessly generous and loving man who’d do anything for his friends and family – who, throughout his life and even after his death, was too often obscured by the tabloid-caricature of a vapid rockstar. You know what I mean? (By the way, it was in Tina’s book that I first read your lines about Michael as Snufkin – I was so charmed by those lines that I had to Google your blog to read it in context).
Regarding my favorite poets: my favorite (living) Canadian poet is Laura Farina (if you haven’t read her, Google her). My favorite (living) American poets are Michael Robbins, Sharon Mesmer and Patricia Lockwood (if you haven’t read them, Google them), and favorite (dead) English poets are Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Betjeman and Dylan Thomas. My favorite (dead) Irish poet is W.B Yeats. My favorite (dead) French poets are Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud (although I’ve only read them in translation). As for songwriters, with the exceptions of Patti Smith, Lou Reed and Bob Dylan (I wouldn’t be a poet if it wasn’t for Bob Dylan) all my favorite songwriters, at this point in my life, are Australians. I’m currently living in Canada (and I was born in Canada; I’ve lived there all my life) but for the past three years or so, I’ve been gripped by this sort of Antipodean mania, where all I want to listen to is Australian rock’n’roll, all I want to watch are Australian movies, all I want to read are Australian books. I place the blame for this strange fascination squarely on Nick Cave. Since I started really getting into Nick Cave’s music (and reading his books), about three years ago, I’ve just fallen in love with the whole Australian punk-rock scene of the ’80’s (the scene that Nick first emerged out of, with the Boys Next Door, later the Birthday Party). Nick Cave and the late Rowland S. Howard are probably my favorite songwriters in all the world (well, my favorite songwriters besides Michael, anyway). (Did you ever interview them? If you did, I hope the interview went well). I fell in love with the whole “little band” Melbourne scene (how I wish I’d been around back then, and wrote songs for a little band and played at the Crystal Ballroom! I’m far too young to have lived through it, I’m afraid…), that long-lost mythic realm inhabited by such strange creatures as Ollie Olsen (one of the very few musicians to have worked with both Rowland S. Howard and Michael) and Sam Sejavka of the Ears. Seven months ago, I watched DOGS IN SPACE for the first time, and that was really when I fell in love with Michael. I’d heard INXS’s music before then, of course (INXS are one of the very few Australian bands, besides AC/DC of course, whose music is still played on classic rock radio in Canada), but it was like I didn’t really know how to hear INXS – didn’t know how to respond to them – until I’d gained some context about Australian rock music. It was as if, in some weird way I can’t explain, listening to Nick Cave taught me how to listen to Michael Hutchence, if that makes any sense.
I fear I’m rather guilty of mythologizing Australia (I’ve never been there, though I’d love to go; I’d give anything to see Melbourne), because – from what I’ve read about the place, and from what I’ve heard of its rock’n’rollers, Australia seems like Canada turned upside-down. I know I’m relying too much on cultural stereotypes here (and I hope you don’t take offense), but it’s like, Australian rockers (writers) (film-directors) always seem just that little bit tougher, wilder, weirder, than Canadian ones, and somehow (for some reason) (at least to me) it all has something to do with the myth of the Wild Colonial Boy…you know, people always say that Canadians are polite to the point of pusillanimity, that Canadians say sorry all the time, and people always say that Australians are tough and direct, sometimes to the point of seeming rude, that Australians never say sorry. Well, I know those are just stereotypes, that they’re not really true, but I just get so sick of being this polite little girl from this pale polite and pusillanimous country, that I wish I was a wild Australian girl instead. I really hope you don’t take offense at all this.
Anyway, I’ve spent the past three years listening to Australian rock’n’roll – to punk rock bands like the Saints and the Laughing Clowns and Ed Kuepper, like the Birthday Party and the Beasts of Bourbon, like the Barons and the Ears, like Anita Lane, and to (what you might call) mainstream radio-rock like Cold Chisel and Pseudo Echo, and even to sort of schlocky middle-of-the-road pop of the pre-punk ’70’s (bands whose clean tight sounds were arguably what the Melbourne punks were rebelling against) like the Skyhooks singing “All My Friends Are Getting Married”, Gary Shearston singing “Witnessing” and “I Get A Kick Out Of You”, the very young Rick Springfield singing “Hooky Jo” and “What Would The Children Think?”, William Shakespeare singing “Can’t Stop Myself From Loving You”, Dragon singing “Get That Jive” and “Are You Old Enough”, Brian Cadd singing “Ginger Man” and “Show Me The Way”, Ol’ 55 singing “Looking For An Echo” and “Two Faces Have I.” Somehow all of it, even the very squarest of it, sounds (to me anyway) tougher and weirder than Canadian rock’n’roll. Like, to you, rockers like Don Walker and Jimmy Barnes may seem as solid (stolid?) as your own back gate, because you’ve grown up with them and you hear them on the radio all the time. But when you’ve grown up with (the revolting) Bryan Adams (Kim Mitchell) (The Barenaked Ladies) (The Guess Who) (Great Big Sea) on the radio all your life (as I have, since they’re all Canadian radio-rockers; they get played on the classic-rock radio stations every day here, because of the Canadian Content rules, and I think they’re all rotten) then Jimmy Barnes sounds exotic by comparison, and Don Walker sounds certainly exotic. I really love Don Walker; I think he’s a brilliant songwriter.
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July 25, 2020 at 12:37 am
PLEASE get hold of this novel, Almost A Mirror. Also my friend and contemporary Stuart Coupe has written biographies or co-written biographies with Tex Perkins and Paul Kelly, as well as other books about Oz Rock. As Jenny Brown, Jen Jewel Brown wrote Million Dollar Riff, about Skyhooks. I’m jumping on her toes to make her write her own memoirs. Jeff Apter has written biographies of umpteen Oz Rock identities.
I was going to add Lou Reed to my favourite lyricists, Auden and Owens to my favourite poets.
July 25, 2020 at 1:00 am
… Almost A Mirror, by Kristin Krauth
July 25, 2020 at 1:06 am
… Also, see if you can download a 1982 Oz film by director Scott Hicks called Freedom. Michael sings (with Jenny Hunter-Brown and Don Walker) on the soundtrack, which Don wrote.
July 25, 2020 at 6:00 am
Thanks for telling me that. I’ve been wanting to watch FREEDOM for a while now. I’ve watched the video clip of Michael Hutchence singing Don Walker’s song “Speed Kills” hundreds of times. I think Michael’s rendition of “Speed Kills” was one of his greatest performances; it’s a real rock’n’roll song (as opposed to a pop song), and Michael gives it his all.
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July 25, 2020 at 6:10 am
Also, for me, the Max Q project with Ollie.
July 26, 2020 at 7:06 am
Oh, absolutely . I may or may not have said somewhere on YouTube that I actually preferred Michael’s collaborations with Ollie Olsen to his work with INXS. “Monday Night By Satellite” is a brilliant song, as is “Way Of The World.” All of the Max Q album is good, really.
But then again, I really admire Ollie Olsen; I’ve admired him ever since I saw a clip of a very old (1977) T.V interview (it apparently appeared on ABC, on a show called Music Around Us) featuring him and Rowland S. Howard. I love Olsen’s early work in the Young Charlatans, and I love his work with Marie Hoy – NO and the Orchestra of Skin & Bone.
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July 24, 2020 at 6:19 am
… if I were to pick out who my favourite rock lyricists are, today, it might be Pete Townshend (Behind Blue Eyes is perfect), and Ray Davies (who I didn’t like as a person when I met him).
July 24, 2020 at 7:18 pm
Thanks for telling me. Good to know.
I used to really love the Who; I sang “Behind Blue Eyes” at a party once, when I was in high school. It is, indeed, perfect.
Ray Davies…I think he’s okay. I think it’s funny that you didn’t like him in person when you met him. I heard a rumor that he was nothing but a stuffy old Tory. Was that true?
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July 25, 2020 at 12:39 am
I’d summarise Davies as a misanthrope contrarian, but what would I know? Elizabeth, just for you, and for a limited time only, I’ll change settings of a couple of my Oz Rock blog posts back from Private so you can read if you wish xxx
July 25, 2020 at 12:57 am
… btw yes, I did interview Nick Cave when we were both still teens. I went into the studio with the Boys Next Door while they were recording Shiver, with their then manager, record shop owner Keith Glass. I think they were recording Release The Bats. Nick was very keen to know what I thought. I was an 18 y.o. in a blue-eyes check cotton skirt and a coarse-knit jumper and my mind was blank.
July 25, 2020 at 1:11 am
… blue-GREY check cotton, like a school dress
July 25, 2020 at 6:53 am
You’re so lucky to have interviewed them then, when they were so young and when Tracey Pew and Rowland S. Howard were still alive. I’m glad to know that Nick was nice to you, and that he wanted to know what you thought. I know he could be hard on journalists, so I’m glad he was nice to you. Do you remember what Rowland was like? Some days I think that Rowland, maybe even more than Michael, the great lost legend of Australian rock. Some days I wish, more than anything, that I could have met Rowland, and some days I envy Genevieve McGuckin, because, no matter what she may have gone through over the course of her life, she loved Rowland and was loved by him. I’ve watched AUTOLUMINESCENT dozens of times, and there are things in it that I suspect will be lodged in my mind forever: Lydia Lunch (that arch-misanthrope of rock) letting her guard down and talking about how much she genuinely loved Rowland, Genevieve explaining what black milk was, and maybe most of all Rowland reading from fragments of his unpublished novel ETCETERACIDE. I wish he could have finished it, and published it, before he died. I’m sure that if he had finished it, it would be even better than Nick Cave’s AND THE ASS SAW THE ANGEL, which is one of my favorite novels in the world.
You know, speaking of Rowland – and seeing as I’ve read some more of your poems by now (and I think they’re brilliant, especially “Nursery Rhyme” and “Pavement Song”) – I feel I should send you a link to a video of myself performing one of my poems. The poem I’m reciting is entitled “Rowland’s Song”, and it’s supposed to be about a mythological version of Rowland, talking about the many strange things he’s done and all the blues he’s had. You can see the video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnG41XLUsNU&t=42s – and I hope you like it. I hope you don’t think I look like too much of a dreadful frump in the video; it was made two years ago, and I’ve been working hard to change my look since then.
Feel free to show the video to anyone who you think would like it, and feel free to post a comment in the comments-thread for the video.
July 25, 2020 at 7:24 am
Nick was very sweet. Remember he was a very young man, not yet any kind of star, and we spent our teen years in neighbouring suburbs. So he was just a boy and I was just the girl pretty much next door. I don’t have particular recollections of the other band members. There were some serious challenges for any girlfriend of any successful Australian band across those years, not least that the bands played constantly, toured constantly.
I will definitely watch your vid but probably not this weekend 🙂
Btw I am the *last* person anyone should apologise to if they think they might look frumpish. I was never cool. My ‘look’ ranged from fat school-girl to librarian to handmedowns-from-mother-and-sister to Chinese peasant to wtfisthatgirlwearing. Actually, I’d rather women did NOT apologise for perceived faults in their presentation: not to strangers, not to intimates. Own who you are and hold your head high. That’s probably the sum of my acquired wisdom over not quite 60 years xxx
July 26, 2020 at 8:10 am
Thank you very much for your advice. I think you’re very wise, and I think you’re right: I should own what I am and hold my head high. I am trying to do that, but at the same time…I know that, when I first saw the video footage of myself (and even when I watch it now), it really made me realize there were a lot of things about my looks that I want to change, and I am trying to change them.
Thank you for telling me about Nick, too. You’re right about there being serious challenges for any girlfriend of any successful Australian band at that time, but one thing I really admire about Nick and Rowland was that, back in the ’80’s, Anita Lane (Nick’s girlfriend) and Genevieve McGuckin (Rowland’s girlfriend) were (for at least a little while) unofficial members of the Birthday Party. When Rowland Nick and the boys set out for London to conquer the world, Anita and Genevieve came with them. Anita co-wrote “A Dead Song” and “Dead Joe” with Nick, and provided the title for “The Friend-Catcher”, and Genevieve McGuckin wrote the lyrics to “Capers” (Genevieve also wrote the lyrics to “Three Kings”, a song that appeared on the 1982 album HONEYMOON IN RED, a collaboration between the Birthday Party and Lydia Lunch. “Three Kings” is the best song on the album).
Thanks so much for saying you’d watch my poetry video; I eagerly await your comments in the comments-thread. Speaking of videos…I just found out that they’ve made a new cartoon version of the Moomin stories, and I just found this compilation video that somebody put together, of all Snufkin’s lines. It made me laugh, and think of you (hope you don’t mind me saying that). I wrote (facetiously) in the comments-thread that I placed the blame for my sudden obsession with Snufkin and the Moomins solely on you. I was only teasing of course; hope you don’t mind. You can watch the video in question here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2w176wiy6A – when you get the chance.
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July 25, 2020 at 1:08 am
A better blog
July 25, 2020 at 1:20 am
Elizabeth, I got a bit excited and posted this comment to my FB page, Friends but can be viewed by Friends of Friends tagged, and I tagged a bunch of my Oz Rock friends. Phil Mortlock worked for WEA across that period, was instrumental promoting INXS and Cold Chisel, designed some classic Oz Rock LP covers (including Chisel’S East), and now runs a business called Third Man Creative. His comment in response is:
“The best thing you can do to discover and enjoy music with depth and complexity is the go past the radio hit songs and delve into the albums. Bands like INXS and Cold Chisel in particular made great albums. Each one delivering a wide variety of music and lyrical ideas and moods. As for Canadian artists – once again go past what radio singles out and enjoy the amazing range of albums by Joni Mitchell, The Band ( and the solo albums of each of its members), Neil Young and so on. Plenty of gold there to be found.”
July 25, 2020 at 7:29 am
Thank you so much for showing my comment to your Oz-rock friends. I’m glad that I got you excited. You know, that’s what I strive for in all my writings, as a poet and as a prose-writer: I strive to write words that excite.
Thank you so much for passing along Phil Mortlock’s goo advice. (By the way, I never knew that he designed the cover for Cold Chisel’s EAST. It’s such a great cover!) I must say, I grew up listening to Joni Mitchell (my dad loves her; he’s got almost all her records) and I’ve always loved the Band (remember, they were Bob Dylan’s backing band for a while, and when I was in high school I was a major Bob Dylan nerd, so I listened to the Band all the time back then. I have Robbie Robertson’s solo albums too). I will always love The Band’s MUSIC FROM BIG PINK and their contributions to Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, and I will always love Joni Mitchell’s COURT & SPARK. I understand completely Phil’s advice about not getting stuck on the bland surface of radio hit-songs, and diving into albums instead, looking for treasures. I feel I have done that. But still…some days, I turn on the classic-rock radio station when I’m at work, just to have some music to work by, and I end up getting completely disgusted that I live in a country whose citizens seem so well content to have rock’n’roll represented to them by the likes of Bryan Adams.
Well, never mind that. I’m so glad you showed my comment to Phil. Is he still working in the music industry? And is he fond of poetry at all?
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July 25, 2020 at 7:38 am
Phil did Shabooh Shoobah and Listen Like Thieves as well, probably The Swing and maybe others for INXS. He still has a design business, is very into photography and art, and he’s an intelligent person who I can imagine has opinions on poetry. On my post my FB Friends chimed in with other Canadian artists great (Leonard Cohen, Kate & Anna McGarrigle) and less great. Personally I grew up listening to Joni Mitchell and Heart, and hits by Three Dog Night and Bachman Turner Overdrive. Even Loverboy. More recently, I did enjoy Orphan Black on TV 🙂
July 26, 2020 at 8:58 am
Good to know that Phil did the sleeves for Shaboom Shoobah and Listen Like Thieves; they’re brilliant sleeves. He sounds like a charming man.
Regarding Canadian performers – I like Leonard Cohen myself (he was a major influence on Nick) and my dad loves Kate and Anna McGarrigle. I’ve always thought that Canada has produced far more really brilliant first-rate folksingers than first-rate rockers. You know, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, the McGarrigles, Gordon Lightfoot, people like that…By the way, have you ever read Leonard Cohen’s 1966 novel BEAUTIFUL LOSERS? I’ve read excerpts from it online (I’m currently looking for a copy, so I can read the whole thing), and from what I’ve read, it seems amazing. Problematic, sure (for multiple reasons), but amazing. It’s a real trip, comparable to William S. Burroughs’s THE WILD BOYS, or Kathy Acker’s BLOOD & GUTS IN HIGH SCHOOL, or even (arguably) Nick’s AND THE ASS SAW THE ANGEL or Rowland’s ( hypothetical) ETCETERACIDE. (I feel I should say here that quite a few of the novels I love the most, and have been most inspired by, are novels that are formally experimental, non-linear, non-realist; novels written by authors who were working well outside the literary mainstream). You can read more about BEAUTIFUL LOSERS here -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beautiful_Losers – if you want to.
I’m glad to know that you grew up listening to Joni Mitchell, and I’m surprised to hear know that you grew up with Loverboy and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I thought we (Canadians, I mean) were the only ones who had to put up with them. Do you really like them? I can’t imagine…I’ve always hated Bachman-Turner Overdrive – “Takin’ Care Of Business” I’ve always considered the epitome of gutless artless shadowless mainstream schlock-rock (it’s the sort of song any nineteen-year-old Canadian boy working his first job could write, and the classic rock radio station where I live seems to play it every single day), and as for Loverboy I’ve always found their songs – songs like “Turn Me Loose” and “Hot Girls In Love” and “Queen Of The Broken Hearts” – so completely bloodless they’re not worth thinking about (cut them and they’d bleed plastic goo – pee-yew!). The classic-rock radio station where I live plays those songs practically every single day too. Yuck.
Good to know that you like Orphan Black. I haven’t watched it yet (I don’t watch TV very often; when I’m not at work or working out at the gym, I’m nearly always on the computer, writing and listening to music, and when I’m not at the computer I’m nearly always reading a book), but I’ve been meaning to.
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July 27, 2020 at 12:42 am
Lol by “grew up with” I meant more, grewing up hearing on Top 40 radio 🙂
My sister and I did own Joni and McGarrigle LPs, abd my aunt had a boyfriend who was into Leonard.
We’re having a COVID crisis in my state and Melbourne is in lockdown. My cousin in Texas and her daughters have COVID. My attentions a bit elsewhere right now…
July 27, 2020 at 5:27 am
Thank you for writing back.
I fully understand that your thoughts are elsewhere. The Coronavirus pandemic has been hard for all everyone all over the world. Even though Canada is dealing with the Coronavirus relatively well, my family and I are still making sure to take precautions, and we do worry about it a lot.
My heart goes out to your cousins in Texas; I hope they pull through. Right now, at this point in history, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere in the U.S, and I wouldn’t want anyone I loved to be living there either.
My heart goes out to you, too, living in an area dealing with a major COVID-19 crisis. My family and I are lucky enough to be living in British Columbia, Canada, where (thank goodness!) there have been relatively few cases of COVID-19 (B.C is a mostly rural, relatively sparsely-inhabited province, so it’s fairly easy to socially distance here), so there hasn’t been a lockdown declared. I can only imagine what life under lockdown must be like. Do take care of yourself (though I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that) and when in doubt, when it seems like there’s nothing else to do, take some deep breaths, drink some tea and watch some Moominvalley cartoons (I think they ave them on Netflix).
Know that I’m thinking about you, and that I hope you and your family are okay.