Category Archives: Inspirations

Tributes to the work of others

Songwriters and Performers: Deportees

At this time when ‘my ‘ Australian government is reviving xenophobia and energetically promulgating the myth of imminent invasion by ‘illegal’ asylum seekers and depersonalised ‘refugees’, this classic Woody Guthrie song has taken on a new poignancy and a place in my setlist.

Villawoodmain

The simplicity and compassion of this version, with Ani di Franco, Ry Cooder and Dan Geller is my favourite of the many online.

May we keep this song, and our voices alive, mes amigos, and never accept the incarceration, dehumanisation, ‘turning back’ torture and cruelty done in our name.

Adios also to Pete Seeger, who kept this song alive. Here is his version with Arlo Guthrie, who kept his father’s tradition alive.

And one by the impeccable Nancy Griffith and friends, with some verses in Spanish

 

Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)     Woody Guthrie

 The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting

 The oranges piled in their creosote dumps

 You’re flying them back to the Mexican border

 To pay all their money, to wade back again

 Goodbye to my Juan, good-bye Rosalita

Adios mes amigos, Jesus y Maria

 You won’t have your name when you ride the big airplane

All they will call you will be deportee

 My Father’s own father, he waded that river

     They took all the money he made in his life

     My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees

     And they rode the truck till they took down and died

 Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted

     Our work contracts out and we have to move on

     Six hundred miles to that Mexican border

     They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves

 We died in your hills, we died in your deserts

     We died in your valleys, and died on your plains

     We died ‘neath your trees, and we died in your bushes

     Both sides of the river, we died just the same

 The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos canyon

     A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills

     Who are these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?

     The radio says they are just deportees

 Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?

     Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?

     To fall like dry leaves, to rot on my topsoil

     And to be called no name, except deportee.

Songwriter and Performers: Amy Petty

Let’s celebrate the richness and wisdom of vocalists, songwriters and  performers.

Amy Petty

Amy Petty

Hope you find time to enjoy some of this selection of delicious live performances by Amy Petty; looping together a classically trained voice, warm guitar, refined craft and warm sensibility.

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Amy works magic in concert halls or in someone’s front room at the House Concerts she loves; I particularly loved the comments from children she has inspired on her visits to their schools and choirs. 

She blogs beautifully as well… here is her November 2013 piece on music and human connectedness.

 WHY I WON’T BE AUDITIONING FOR THE VOICE (OR ANY OTHER TELEVISED TALENT COMPETITION)

More American women songwriters here

The photos in this post are from JustCoolSounds Inc. and Last FM

Heading to Gallipoli Pt 1- Songs

Heading to Gallipoli Pt 1- Songs

I’m on my way to Suvla Bay to sing a searing song; Eric Bogle’s desolate ballad of war and waste; The Band Plays Waltzing Matilda. It’s been haunting me, demanding my attention  ever since I came to Turkey.

I’ve sung it before, in another place, and strongly; backed by a banjo, safe among friends, showcasing the power of music to tell a story and stir the heart.  But this will be a bare rendition; a capella and alone. My guitar’s not with me here, and perhaps that’s for the best. It would draw attention; and it’s not a performance I want to create now, but some kind of offering. I know the story, and my heart’s already stirred.

But already I know that without those firm strings to drive my voice through the harrowing verses,  I’m surely going to choke. I’ll have to push myself on from the gut to make it through. My voice will disappear into the autumn wind up there, perhaps it’ll just feel foolish and pointless. So be it.  Even the rolled up pain of my whole life so far would not shadow one footstep of what people went through there.  My meagre discomfort is part of the tribute. A   Balinese friend, exhausted from sleepless nights preparing yet another  ceremony, taught me that.

Travelling teaches; and shifts us inside, as well as through space.

Until I came to Turkey, I’d no idea that drawn out battle, almost a century ago, was so important here;  that it still shapes the connections between the peoples of our lands.  I hear it in the generous response when I answer Australia to that constant call to travellers: Where are you from?  Yesterday, when I narrowed it down to ‘Brisbane’, the questioner shouted Cool bananas!  I felt like a good luck charm. 20131031_170317 A village shop has a kangaroo / emu clock on the wall. . Guesthouses far from Gallipoli are called Wallaby, Kiwi or straight out Australia New Zealand. In one tiny hill town, the barely mobile matriarch of Oz Garden brought me a flower to brighten my coffee at her ramshackle table.  ‘Aussie’ she creaked as she patted my hand and sat with me to share the sunset view. Crowded House is a fine witty name for a hostel. It’s been quite the entertainment.

Then a few days ago in a bus stop cafe I double-took a closer look at a photo of what at first appeared to be raggedy clowns in a field.  

Then on a hunch asked… Who are they? Where is that?

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The cook reached into her small stock of English and, miming a rifle, explained Gelibolu – soldiers – war. Gallipoli! I said. That’s where I’m going. Miming a guitar. Gallipolito sing a song, for the soldiers.     She called over the waiter; translated. Customers came to see what the action was. Together we mimed ‘former conflict’ and ‘now friends’ and my eyes blurred with sudden tears. Their eyes did too. We shared a moment of honouring those old ones and their suffering, and with hands on hearts they blessed me on my way. Travelling solo, such moments of connection can feel immense. But still I was puzzled, questioning my tears.

Why does this mean so much to me now, that long gone battle in all the wars of the world? Why do I so have to go there?  Why am I so moved?

They don’t spring from reflex patriotism. I’m told it’s more so now, but in my day, Australians weren’t big on the kind of flag waving I saw a few days ago on Turkish Republic day. Not outside sport anyway.  Australia Day casts a shadow, as invasion day.  We are comfortable with our ‘national character’-  resilient, open, natural backpackers, we’ll chat with bus stop cooks-  but shy of nationalism. We fluffed or were bluffed out of even becoming a Republic. Our war remembrance, ANZAC Day, does not even celebrate victory. AtaturkDecades ago, I was taught history, by teachers who cared.  But there was little about the generals who sent so many away to suffer and be slaughtered. Here, Kemal Ataturk, the victorious commander, is the ubiquitous hero, his name and image almost deified. Insulting him is unlawful, like a treason or blasphemy. We learned about Private Simpson, who survived a whole three weeks at Anzac Cove, tending the maimed and dead. But that doesn’t moved me to tears. More to contempt for the bastards who sent him there. Sure we make damn fine soldiers, Aussies, but I think we more truly revere those everyday warriors, the fire-fighters who face the flames in our own backyard.

Back on the bus, I asked myself again- Why am I so moved?

And suddenly I realised. A redemption. My father.

Who never served in battle; but who took me as a raging teenager to the National War Museum, where he suffered my refusal to even go inside. Committed to the struggle of my generation, ending war in Vietnam, unimpressed by ‘the glorification of imperialist soldiering’, I sat outside and sang Masters of War

I wasn’t kind. I wasn’t smart.  As Joni Mitchell put it: I thought I knew life’s purpose, I thought we had a choice. I made some value judgements in a self important voice.

I burned his hand as I smacked away a gift he wanted to share with me; respect.

Not for ‘glory’, or power as dominion. Not for simply winning, for destruction or political mastery. But for facing the unbearable, with humanity and courage. Making the choiceless choice. In war, for some of us. In life, for most of us.

Years later, with his values intact, his big heart worn out and his daughter a little less raging, he got his lesson across, so directly, as I watched him slowly die.

I almost didn’t come to Turkey.  There was war in Syria and I was afraid of whatever the hell the Masters of War might promulgate next. I’m so glad I did.  For the people and the land. And now for this small pilgrimage; with a song, the blessing of a small town cook and a sense of my father’s hand on my heart.

          *                                                     *                                                      *

The tumult and the shouting die, The captains and the kings depart,
Still stands thine ancient sacrifice, an humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget.

 

Coda

Kemal Ataturk’s words of reconciliation, 1934. Inscribed at ANZAC Cove, Turkey and in  Canberra, Australia

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

Translation and more information of the  poster of Turkish soldiers in this post available on request. 

The tumult and the shouting…. from Rudyard Kipling’s Recessional.

More photos from Turkey, and Greece, in this Facebook Album 

Subterranean Homesick Blues

3555_10200358126270237_464951706_nYou know it. This one.

The seminal, iconic and bloody marvellous Subterrranean Homesick Blues was the opening sequence of Don’t Look Back, D.A Pennebaker’s documentary of Dylan’s 1965 tour of UK.

Don’t Look Back with (for some reason) Spanish subtitles  for the clip

The segment was Dylan’s own idea, as described here in

a version including a Director’s commentary.

Throwing away word cards to moderately indecipherable lyrics proved such a winner  that it’s been borrowed in some rather lateral ways> Here is an 80’s ad that took UK TV by storm…

My ears are alight

The first time I saw this I was so excited I called London’s ITV to find out when it would be screened again. Then stayed up to stupid o’clock (nothing unusual in that, really) to record it on a then cutting edge VHS recorder. Collaring people to show them something you’d recorded on tape was the then version of blogging. A bit like taking photos of your food around to your mates’ houses to show them what you’d had for dinner. Except no one did that, as that was clearly too dumb to contemplate, with the potential either to bore your friends or type yrself as prone to eating disorders.

Meanwhile..

Some spoofs are brilliant, such as this one, where Al Yankovic shows himself more witty than weird..

Al Yankovic’s Palindromic version

Dylan’s even spoofed himself (using Instagram, a fave of foodfotoposters- yes, it all connects in the great circle of inter-life) in the vid for the otherwise rather lacklustre Dusquene Train

So, in this great tradition, in 2013 I offered  my own local-ref-full parody/homage- Subterranean Expat Blues- at the first Bali Gong Show, a riotous spoof and skit night held in the cosmopolitan ‘creative hotspot’ of Ubud, Bali.
A Karoake backing track was downloaded, 65 cards were hand-drawn, much unrecyclable waste created (Indonesian board markers don’t last long), the marvellous  Nadia Lala of Bali Circus played Bobby and, bloody amazing, I didn’t forget the words.
Mind you, this achievement’s a little in the shade seeing the song done by a 2 year old

Subterranean Expat Blues

Johnny’s at the balian Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement I’m on the pavement
Fending off transport Thinking about the government
A man in a headscarf The man in a trench coat
Bad job, laid off Badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to pay his car off Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid Look out kid
Some karma you did It’s somethin’ you did
God knows when God knows when
but you’re doin’ it again But you’re doin’ it again
Hit a duck in the alley way You better duck down the alley way
Now you got a new friend, Lookin’ for a new friend
A man with a fighting cock The man in the coon-skin cap
and a pigpen In a pig pen
Wants a hundred dollar bills Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got yen You only got ten

 

Maggie gotta detox a Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot Face full of black soot
Driving round Denpasar’s Talkin’ that the heat put
there’s ants in her bed and Plants in the bed but
she’s overstayed her visa. The phone’s tapped anyway.
Maggie says that Imigrasi Maggie says that many say
must bust in early May They must bust in early May
Orders from Jakarta Orders from the D.A.
Ubud kid Look out kid
healin’s big Don’t matter what you did
Walk on your tiptoes Walk on your tiptoes
fill yr arse with ozone Don’t tie no bows
Better stay away from those Better stay away from those
that carry round a game plan That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes Watch the plain clothes
Blow a joint of ganja You don’t need a weatherman
They can slam you in Kerobokan To know which way the wind blows
Get sick, get well Get sick, get well
dengue fever sink to hell Hang around a ink well
Shamans ring bells Ring bell, hard to tell
For makin’ sure the villas sell If anything is goin’ to sell
Try to learn Bahasa Try hard, get barred
give up, learn braille Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail Get jailed, jump bail
pay somebody if ya fail Join the army, if you fail
Look out kid Look out kid
You’re gonna get hit You’re gonna get hit
By losers, cheaters But losers, cheaters
Six-time users. Six-time users.
Then ya meet a flirty boy Hang around the theaters
by the swimming pool (language school) Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin’ for a new fool Lookin’ for a new fool
To buy him a motorbike Don’t follow leaders
He’ll park at Napa Orti Watch the parkin’ meters
Yoga Barn romance Ah get born, keep warm
interpretive ecstatic dance Short pants, romance, learn to dance
De stress, get blessed Get dressed, get blessed
Turn into a princess Try to be a success
Visa squeezing agents Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don’t steal, just drift Don’t steal, don’t lift
Twenty million later Twenty years of schoolin’
And you still ain’t got yr KITAS? And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid Look out kid
You’re starting to skid They keep it all hid
Gonna fall down a manhole Better jump down a manhole
light as dim as candles Light yourself a candle
slippery sandals Don’t wear sandals
streets a fucking scandal Try to avoid the scandals
bang yr head  half drown Don’t wanna be a bum
Brain damage goin’ down You better chew gum
Of course the pump don’t work The pump don’t work
dude, you live in Indonesia ’Cause the vandals took the handles

Karaoake track