Monday, November 23, 2015

Perfect Songs: Crying - Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison's Crying is my third favourite song of all time and the third song in my Perfect Songs series.
I only have a top three when it comes to songs, after that just favourites...plenty of them and they vary. Maybe one day I'll work towards a top 5, 10 or 20...or maybe not.
So Crying...
I've always loved this song, but in 1987 Roy re-recorded it as a duet with k.d lang, and it won a Grammy, and the same duet charted again in 1992. I love the harmonies of that duet and by that age, 21, I was well versed in the sentiment of unrequited love (quite frankly a recurring theme in my life!) and the song just got me, or rather I just got the song!

You know that thing when you've known a song pretty much all your life and then suddenly you get it!?! It takes it up to a whole other level. That's Crying for me.
Roy's voice is perfection in it, well, let's face it Roy's voice IS perfection, those high angelic notes and deeper alto lines, his range is terrific, but when he hits those high notes, you get chills, the hair raises on the back of you neck, and it brings a tear to your eye...always! And he makes it all look effortless too. The thing about Roy's voice is the melancholy and longing in it, coupled with the fact his life wasn't exactly sunshine and roses, and that adds an additional element to the sound.
And on top of that, he is so freaking cool, all black, the dark sun glasses, the stillness of his guitar playing, his strong barely moving stance with just a hint of rhythm within his body or moreso his wrist, and that stoic face. He'd give Johnny Cash a run for his money with his I don't give a shit attitude...until he opens his mouth...I love the juxtaposition of it all.
The song itself is a simple melancholy melody, almost with a country twang...almost. It pauses and stops and starts with the emotion, and the harmonies roar and shine and build bringing in Roy's falsetto beautifully, at that point where he lifts it at You don't love me...the pain in that line kills me every time.
The words perfectly describe that moment when you see a lost love that you haven't quite forgotten. Whether it be lost or unrequited love, and that sinking feeling that overcomes you, be it a look, a touch of your hand, and that devastation you feel. A feeling you thought was gone and buried, but it rises to the surface so swiftly it takes your breath away and wounds you simultaneously. We've all been there, and I think that's what strikes the chord, a simple yet universal story backed by a simple yet solid melody.
I was all right for a while
I could smile for a while
but I saw you last night
Three simple lines...but so much meaning and depth
I thought that I was over you
but it's true so true
I love you even more
than I did before 
Oh boy, that sinking feeling, that depth of misery, that hopeful feeling that deep down you know is unfounded.
Crying simply is for anyone who has shed tears over a loved one, or appreciates a singer with complete control over his instrument.
Here's the original version followed by the duet with k.d. lang. Her harmonies take an already perfect song to a whole other level.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Perfect Songs: What is Life - George Harrison

The next perfect song is George Harrison's What is Life. 

Taken from the brilliant, All Things Must Pass, this is an upbeat, sixties soul style song. Co-produced by George and Phil Spector, it is one of the Wall of Sound songs.

Essentially a simple song, repetitive and uplifting, it's one of those songs you can't turn away from that makes you want to groove.

It begins with a great guitar riff, with a funkier guitar (played Eric Clapton), brass, and percussion overlay coming in. Funnily enough it is like the perfect pop The Beatles used to turn out, but maybe with a little more sophistication. 

The introduction screeches to a halt to let George sing. And he sounds lovely and clear, earnest and sweet. The verse builds until the joyous chorus and repeats until the end. A simply built song, that George said did not take long to write.

What I feel, I can't say
But my love is there for you any time of day
But if it's not love that you need
Then I'll try my best to make everything succeed.

Tell me, what is my life without your love?
And tell me, who am I without you, by my side?

And what's it really about? Proclaiming love - for a woman or for life itself, that is the question? A lot of people have spent many a long article working through this universal theme of love and life, turning it into something grand and philosophical. And that's great, I think it can be all of those things.

But mostly I think it's quite simply about love and how that makes life shine. That moment when you are surrendered to someone, the way they love you and the fact they are your life, in the best possible way. It's that universal feeling we all are searching for, some of us even lucky to have found. Pure and utter joy, sunshine and happiness, the feeling of perfection.

So this perfect song has that great beat, sheer joy, simple meaning and lyrics, and it goes straight to my heart...this song is one I really want to sing one day because I am experiencing that very feeling!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Well to say I was uber busy during October would be an understatement!!

I had everything going on and I think it's a tribute to how well I am doing with my mental health that I can sit here calmly and write all about it all.

Firstly work was crazy busy, I had a lot of Social Media one on one lessons scheduled as a follow up to last month's overview. And we embarked on Rocktober, a month of music in the library. It was a lot of work and mostly things were successful. Unfortunately the Open Mic Nights we wanted to run were a failure. The people who had promised to assist just didn't deliver and as much as we tried without their help the nights just didn't work. This was extremely upsetting and annoying, but not everything in life goes according to plan and not everyone in life is trustworthy. This was to become a theme of my month! However we did schedule a lot of School Musical Showcases and they were extremely successful with fun performances within the library that were very well attended. And at the last minute I came across a worthy collaborator for future musical endeavours, so not down and out, we shall try something different in the new year. This was on top of regular work, meetings, starting to organise two separate staffing recruits and the awful news that it looks likely we will amalgamate with Newcastle Council resulting in about 130 lost jobs.

In the middle of all of this I decided that my dwindling field of possibilities romantically needed to be broadened! Well actually that decision was made last month, it was this month that saw things get moving. I guess I don't talk much about all of this, there are some things you gotta keep to yourself. I do date but yet to meet, you know, the one. Or at least the one who feels mutually about that, lol! But in between these dates can be what I call dry periods. Anyway, I love my life and for the most part don't actually get too down about being single, it would just be nice to share those special moments with someone that is all. At my age there is no hurry, no ticking clock, and I know what I want, so it's kind of refreshing really. Having said that I do have moments of despair and longing...cause you know, I'm human! 

So the broadening of my net so to speak unleashed, well, a range of situations that I initially struggled to navigate. Far out, it's a nightmare out there, I thought I knew that, but I had no idea really. It's a wonder the world continues to populate itself with so many idiots out there I can tell you. I have had some very awful experiences this month, one in particular that still has me scratching my head, but I do think I dodged a bullet by getting out of that fairly early, but not without great upset. You would think by the time we get to my age, we'd be grown up and done with games but apparently not. Anyway, I have had good experiences that more than made up for the bad, and the amusement of observing some of the dreadful behaviour is sadly entertaining and given me MUCH material to write about, lol! No, I haven't found the one yet, but it's been interesting and kind of fun. And as I write I feel less anxious than I did at the beginning of the month. Huge shout out to my lovely close circle of friends who look after my wellbeing and love me, in particular C and J, who are my constants and sounding boards.

And if all of that was not enough, boy I got some socialising in!!!

The month started in Sydney for a Music Librarians Conference I was thrilled to take part in. I felt like a rockstar Librarian as I entered the APRA HQ where the conference was held. I mingled with proper Music Librarians, and other interesting related people like The Brandenburg Orchestra, ABC etc. Afterwards I finally checked out the Gehry at the UTS which I absolutely loved of course.

The October long weekend is the This Is Not Art (TINA) and National Young Writers Festival and we had a long day listening to loads of interesting people talk about a range of subject matter. We also checked out the premiere of a local filmmaker's movie, filmed in Newcastle and Transylvania at The Towers. 

There was a crazy night in Newcastle where A, L, & I double booked ourselves (purposely) to see Magda Szubanski and Barry Morgan on the same night. Squeezing in Bookclub and a meal prior we were on fire!

Magda was here to be interviewed by the wonderful Rosemarie Milsom about her memoir. It was an hour of sheer delight, we got to see Magda and what a beautiful soul she is. She spoke mostly about her upbringing, her father who was a sniper during the war, and her struggles with her weight and sexuality. She was intelligent, well spoken, and just a fascinating person. Yes she dipped into her comedy and told a few fab stories, but it was the other that had me - and I suspect the entire audience - in the palm of her hands. I could have listened to her all night. I've always thought of her as a national treasure, but now more so.

As soon as that finished we hightailed it to the Carrington Bowlo for Barry Morgan. We'd only missed a small amount of his show which was hilarious and camp, as you would expect. If you don't know who Barry is, google him, he's another national treasure. I've loved his shtick since I first saw him on Spicks and Specks years ago. He entertained the very full audience, with songs, tales, double entendres, and divine organ playing. Gosh we loved Barry's organ. It was one of those nights of laughing until your cheeks hurt.

I also saw two plays this month, one an amateur production of a hospital farce at St Matthews Hall at Georgetown with H, featuring some of her family and with superb catering by the talented J. The other at The Playhouse with A, after a lovely meal at The Clarendon, called Between Two Waves, about a climate scientist whose life is falling apart around him. Clever staging encompassing relationships, climate change, politics, and mental health. I enjoyed both plays.

L and I were also privileged to be part of a small group of people who were lucky enough to see The Doubleclicks, a cool duo from Portland, who sing geeky songs about Dinosaurs, Cats, being an introvert, and sci-fi amongst other very cool things. Huge thanks to S for pulling this together. Definitely a fan now!

I also managed to head to a small Tweet Up at The Lass, attend an ALIA meeting at The Press Book House Cafe, check out Newcastle Gallery, do a lot of second hand book and clothes shopping, celebrate my nephew's 13th birthday at Foghorn, and catch up with D at Qs.

And as always some random photos:


What I've Been Watching
Peaky Blinders S2 - S2 picks up a few years after the first and the Shelby gang are expanding with Campbell hot on their heels as always. A few unexpected turns with some new characters add even more depth and drama to this already excellent show. 6 tight and gritty episodes with great acting, especially from the leads.
Brooklyn 99 - I love this quirky comedy, if you are missing the ensemble style comedy like Parks and Recreations, then this is for you. Set in homicide in Brooklyn, and centered around the hilarious comedy style of Andy Samberg, it follows Andy and his fellows detectives as they bumble their way through arrests and stake outs.
Better Call Saul - this is my pick of the month. It starts slow and you wonder whether it is worth continuing, but hang in there, because by the end of the second episode you are hooked. It's gritty but not as gritty as Breaking Bad. It has a lovely heart to it and that is thanks to the stunning performance from Bob Odenkirk who is not yet known as Saul, but Jimmy. You also see flashbacks to earlier parts of his life. Michael McKean also stars as Chuck, Jimmy's brother, also a lawyer, but with a heartbreaking health issue. His performance is solid as you would imagine and really adds depth to the show. Jonathan Banks also appears as Mike and you see the beginnings of Jimmy/Saul and Mike's relationship. The cinematography is similar to Breaking Bad and also filmed in. There are some interesting cases and all add to the over-arching story of how Jimmy gets his start and his relationship with his brother and those around him.
Selma - this was powerful and well acted, the first 15 minutes pack a powerful punch and you're on a emotional ride thereon in. But totally worth it, David Oyelowo is stunning as King.
X+y - this is a lovely indie film about an aspie kid who is a maths genius, and how he tries to fit in and use his abilities. Young Asa Butterfield is stunning as Nathan, and Sally Hawkins brilliant as ever as his mother. Rafe Spall mostly good as the maths teacher who guides Nathan.
Paper planes - is a family movie, a true Australian story about a young kid who becomes a paper plane master. Very well done and worth a look.
Hello I must be going - little indie about a young woman who moves back in with her parents whilst going through a divorce, but when she meets the younger son of family friends she gets her spark back.
Esio Trot - this is a lovely adaptation of the Roald Dahl story starring Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman. A gentle romance for older people with delightful light humour spliced with melancholy.
If I stay - stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a young musician who after a serious accident faces a crossroads in her life. Well acted, but predictable.
Devil's knot - based on the West Memphis Three story and well done with Reese Witherspoon as Pam Hobbs and Colin Firth as Ron Lax, the investigator.
Advanced Style - is a documentary based on the blog and book by Ari Seth Cohen. Ari decided to photograph and comment on the style of older women on the street in New York as a homage to his grandmother who he missed. The results are stunning, these women are funky and sassy and never boring. The documentary follows some of the key women and their lives, funny and poignant, this is must see. 

What I've Been Reading

An Astronaut's guide to life on earth - Chris Hadfield - this is one of the best books I have read this year. Part memoir, part information about being an astronaut, part self help book, this is just sublime reading. Chris has a friendly, easy going style of writing that still is intelligent and informative. The life he has led is extraordinary yet he is completely down-to-earth (pun intended) in his delivery and manner. I loved reading about his long journey towards space and all the geeky tidbits about living in space. How they sleep, clean their teeth, go to the bathroom, repair things and so on, it's utterly fascinating. A must read for sure.

The Girl With The Dogs - Anna Funder - this lovely novella is based on a Chekhov short story and is about a woman who briefly escapes from her mundane life and the impact of that on her and her family. Tightly written, it makes you want more and could easily have been expanded into a short novel, but then maybe not, as the briefness of the novella gives you pause for thought and wonder and that is always a good thing with well written prose.

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote - it was lovely to revisit this classic novella. Very different in feel to the movie, with many of the rougher aspects of the prose left out. Capote wrote this with Marilyn Monroe in mind and you can see her in the role as you read. His language and phrasings are stunning and much of it was indeed used in the movie dialogue. It gets messy towards the end when Holly Golightly is no longer present in the action but merely spoken about. But still a classic and worth re-reading if you haven't read it for a while.

What I've Been Listening To

Fleetwood Mac - every album has pretty much been on loop the entire month leading up to the concert. Each album a masterpiece and every song a classic.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Perfect Songs: Last Goodbye - Jeff Buckley

So this is the first in a new side project on the blog called, Perfect Songs.

I love the album Grace and I adore Jeff Buckley’s voice. Every song on that album is great but it is Last Goodbye that really sings to me.

There is a haunting sound to his voice, made all the more poignant by the fact he is no longer with us.

It’s a sad song I guess, about a man telling his lover they are done.

We’ve all been there, on either side of the equation, sometimes both.

It’s confused yet strong lyrics of things must end yet does anyone really know anyone, do we even know ourselves; all those things we question when love goes wrong are a poetry of beauty within confounding.

The lyrics are great, “this is our last embrace, must I dream and always see your face.”

We’ve all been there, not only in dreams but reality, when you are out and you think you see a lost love in the crowd, their face attached magically to the body of someone else, you blink and they're gone, but the hurt returns like it was yesterday.

When he wails, “Kiss me, please kiss me. But kiss me out of desire, babe, not consolation,” you feel the urgency of his pain and the sexuality of his desire, despite the fact it’s over.

And there’s the music, it’s a romantic ballad set against a rock back drop, this gives it the edge it needs not to be sappy.

It starts with a slide guitar sound into a drum beat with a great guitar riff, it's kinda rocky until his voice kicks in and you know it's not a normal rock song, nor a traditional romantic ballad.

By the second verse, strings blend in and Jeff's voice moves a little higher, the rocky rhythms still in place.

At the 2 minute mark, his voice is gaining height and the strings are getting louder.

The strings make the romanticism soar, and there is a part about halfway through the song where the strings sweep in, the key changes, and Jeff almost wails with them. This section makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck always and almost always brings a tear to my eye. There is something majestic and symphonic about this that just lifts the song. 

And these are the reasons I will never tire of this beautiful song.

Perfect Songs

I’ve been thinking about a new side project for the blog, writing about songs I love, which I’ve done before but not consistently. In fact I’ve been thinking about it for a while and making notes but not really done anything.

I thought I would call it Perfect Songs. Well, perfect according to me. I often say such and such is a perfect song and that is a bold statement I know.

So what makes a song perfect? That is what each blog will be about; I’ll randomly write about songs and why I think they are perfect.

I’m not a musicologist but I know my stuff, and more importantly I know what like. These are songs that mean something to me, have a story behind them, make me feel great and usually (though not always) are musical masterpieces…well at least in my mind. These songs I can listen to over and over again and never tire of them no matter what.

While I’ve been thinking about these songs I have been making a list but I think I will let the universe guide which ones I use and when. That is when I hear one of these songs I will write about them.

I will update this particular piece with each song as I write about them so they are all in one place.

And because I have been listening to Jeff Buckley’s Grace lately and playing my favourite track over and over, I am going to start with it: Last Goodbye.

Friday, November 6, 2015

TINA 2015

This Is Not Art (TINA) and The National Young Writers Festival are always on the October long weekend, usually with loads of other amazing entertainment. Everything that appealed to us was on the Saturday this year so we strapped ourselves in for a full and exciting day.

I headed to the first session at The Gun Club, ironically called Love is All You Need. Last year I experienced The Gun Club, as it is known, for the first time. It is really called The United Services Club, and is a gorgeous old terrace on Watt Street, filled with war and gun memorabilia. So not my thing, yet I am somehow very much drawn to the an ironic way.

The panel were great with differing opinions on love and sex. 2 females and a male, some cynical, some romantic, all pretty funny too. The Male writer, a romantic poet, spoke about hearing an Arabic version of Romeo and Juliet when he was 5 and it really affected him, so his decision is to never write anything after a trauma so as not to affect any of his readers similarly. The Romance writer spoke about that community and how supportive it is and also about sex and romance and how erotic romance is not about getting off but part of the character's journey. The cynic wrote about her own experiences and has no restraint with her stories almost always ending in sex. To her romance and sex are codependent. Her stories are funny, awkward, and messy because they are real. The male preferred ambiguity and subtleness and prefers to hint at sex. He says just talking to someone can be sexy (oh I so agree) and to use your imagination, as sexy is random, and he does write with an audience in mind. Whereas the cynic writes what she wants, gives everything away and is as honest as humanly possible about her experiences, often to the detriment of those involved. Her theory is if she writes about the really awful stuff others will not feel alone.

I caught up with A, L, and L at the stunning Staple Manor also in Watt Street for Big Issues: Press Freedom, Whistleblowing, and National Security. This featured Paul Farrell interviewing Freya Newman about exposing Abbott's daughter and becoming the hunted instead. What a remarkable woman, and a Librarian too! How awful it must have been for her during this time but what a coup. There was much discussion on how to protect sources and how bad the law is in light of such exposure.

Then back to The Gun Club for Out of Canberra: The Politics Panel. This was a sheer delight, an amusing look at politics today with Tom Ballard, James Arvanitakis, and Sam Dastyari. Tom and James pressed Sam for Labor Information, and riffed on all the changes in the past five years and the 'disposable' Prime Minister situation. Totally informative and fascinating, and very funny too.

After a lovely lunch at the new East End Hub, and a look at some of the exhibitions at The Lock Up we headed to The Royal Exchange for a few sessions.

First up When The Internet Fails You and then Weird Science. When The Internet Fails You was an insightful and frightening look into bullying on The Net, mostly aimed towards women, the panel spoke of their experiences and how they handled it. Weird Science was a great all female panel riffing on the great things happening in the science world today.

J joined us for our final session back at The Gun Club, It's All In The Family. This was an interesting panel with a range of writers who write about family and how much information they share, what their family thinks or even if they know. Some were very full on with what they write, whilst others were a little more restrained. It was funny and intriguing and helpful to anyone who might want to start memoirs and unsure what to write about or how to approach their subject.

We then had a wander down the mall and had a look at some more exhibits before having dinner at The Crown and Anchor and then ended the evening following HoboTechno's Nomadic Projections around the streets for a while.

TINA is always a great weekend out and we look forward to what 2016 has to offer.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Let's Be Frank!

Back in October I had the pleasure of attending a Music Librarian Conference in Ultimo, Sydney. I am not a Music Librarian but it was an informative and useful day.

The other amazing thing I got to do that day was finally have a look at The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the UTS.

Or the paper bag.
Or the squashed brown paper bag.
I'm an architect geek, and I adore Frank Gehry.
My love of architecture bloomed when visiting New York in 2001. I've always appreciated unusual buildings, modern or otherwise, and I had a love for Deco so of course I was in my element.

I had read a lot about NY architecture prior to visiting and when researching The Guggenheim, Gehry came up for his masterpiece in Bilbao, Spain...also a Guggenheim!
And what luck would have it but to have a Gehry retrospective on at the NY Guggenheim while I was there. I was very much taken with his miniatures, constructed out of paper, serviettes, cardboard, paddle-pop sticks, and other basic implements. All white and all fascinating.

I have kept up with his extraordinary output over the years, including one of my prize possessions, a pop up book of his designs.
When I heard he was to build something here in Sydney, I was beside myself and just busting to to check it out since it was opened.
And so late on this warm and muggy Sydney afternoon, as the sun was setting, I headed from my conference to the UTS in search of Frank!
It actually took me a while to find, funnily enough. Something so unusual, an eyesore if you believe some culturally deficient people.
And then boom, I saw it. It was striking and unusual of course, but actually blended in beautifully with other buildings in the area...cause, you know, Frank's a genius!

I stood admiring it for ages, before entering and having a good look around at the amazing stairs, and the Jenga like inside, then leaving from the other side of the building.

I made my way up to the Goods Line, a pedestrian path above it, on it's eastern border. From there you really get to see the building.

The thing about Frank is he loves curves, and I do too. This is what has always drawn me to the Deco movement, and to Gehry's buildings. Really there is nothing more lovely than curves on a building. They look spectacular and you know they are an engineering feat...this makes me smile so very much!

I also especially love the jutting windows that act as a mirror to the building's surrounds!


It is just a stunning piece of architecture and one I urge you all to see. It is a very short walk from Central Station in Sydney. 


September seems so long ago now, but it started in Melbourne and how glorious that was. I was there for the Bowie exhibit, The Lion King, and The Hermitage exhibition, but I did so much more. You can read all about it here.
On my return, I still had 2 weeks of leave, I spent the first week pottering around  at home, got my bathroom painted and a few outstanding jobs completed.
I headed into Wheeler Place for the Refugees are Welcome Rally.

Because I was away for Father's Day, I took Dad, and my Mum and Sister out for lunch at Napoli Centrale, always an enjoyable Italian feast.

I caught up with B at Le Passe Temps for some afternoon tea, then wandered around the city on dusk.

I headed up to visit family on their farm.

My final week was a mix of out and about, and quiet days at home pottering.
A and I lunched at The Essential Ingredient before taking to the hilly part of the East End of Newcastle, exploring, admiring the stunning houses there, and enjoying the views before crashing at King Edward Park under the shade of some trees.

I caught up with M for brunch at Table 1 Espresso, visited J in her new digs, and head to the Playhouse with A to see No one cares about your cat.

C and I had a boozy long lunch at the new Sephardim.

And before i knew it, I had to go back to work.
Despite a busy week back at work, I squeezed in a lunch with T at Caves Beach Hotel on a wet and wild Friday.


The month ended with my niece's 8th birthday. We had a lovely celebration at their farm, and then the kids came back for some time with me. We watched much Batman, had lunch at The Hood, and watched a large ship go out to sea from Nobbys.

And some photos I took: