About two Southwark cans into the drive down the Port Kenny Road somebody pushed a cassette in. It might’ve been Snook or Jock. Or possibly Stink.
Chad Morgan started singing the “Banana Boat Song.” If under zombie attack, play this loud, you’ll be safe.
Years later, Chad performed in the Kimba pub. Heckled by a pair of Bundy-soaked punters he advised, “You shouldn’t drink on an empty head.”
Like my wife’s family, and Test cricketers Carl Rackemann and Nathan Hauritz, he’s from Wondai in Queensland. His signature song is “The Shiek of Scrubby Creek.” It’s vaudevillian, novelty. It evokes bush footy clubs and the unhurried Sunday BBQs of yesteryear.
The sheilas think I’m handsome
their fathers think I’m mad
their mothers think I’m a villain
but I’m just a loveable lad
Chad wrote it when he was sixteen. So for well over sixty years it’s been paying for his dinner and dentures. I’m more Vampire Weekend than weekend in Tamworth, but how fantastic is this?
At sixteen few of us do anything of creative consequence. Not many forge a career by drinking too much cider and falling into a bush.
Contrastingly, Annie Proulx was almost sixty when her literary life accelerated, courtesy of The Shipping News. Including “Brokeback Mountain” her recent Wyoming Stories trilogy is raw and remarkable.
And this brings me to Seasick Steve. In his seventies, and having served a colossal apprenticeship, he only found recognition in 2006 with Dog House Music. Among others, he uses a Cigar-Box Guitar, and The One-Stringed Diddley Bow. “The Last Song Is About A Rooster Who Ain’t Alive No Mo’…” from Cheap is great.
The intersection between fictional lyrics and autobiography intrigues me. Jagger sings of horizontal conquest with authority, and Seasick’s gravelly tales are lived in too. On “Thunderbird” he recounts
Going up north
Freight down to Cali
Pick some tomaters
Newsflash! Fresh from his Sports Day success, our youngest, Max, breaks his wrist as I’m heading to the Marina Bay circuit. Ouch. Taxi. Hospital. Anaesthetic (son, not parents). Cast. Home.
No Seasick Steve for me.
I’m going to the Singapore Grand Prix with a friend who’s from Louisville, Kentucky. Not spotting a carbon-fibre conveyance won’t worrry me. I’m only here to enjoy some music.
Are the HQ Holdens racing? What? No Nitro Funny Cars? My interest in F1 parallels Fev’s passion for the Large Hadron Collider. Agreed, it’s like going to Glastonbury just to admire the tents. Trackside, Seasick Steve, I trust, takes the idiotically named Coyote Stage. Cultural hegemony anyone?
I’d love to visit Kentucky, home of the Derby, Hunter S Thompson and the Louisville Slugger. It also hosts the original Lebowski Fest, a celebration of the cult Coen brothers film. The Big Lebowski features the finest lines since Caddyshack.
That rug really tied the room together.
Mr. Treehorn treats objects like women, man.
Is this your homework, Larry?
At least climatically, the blues fits here, with its muggy airlessness suggestive of the Mississippi Delta. Ash Grunwald did an outdoor gig in Clarke Quay in April. With his whirling dreadlocks, Dobro and BB King-inspired voice, it was hot, and it worked.
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominos was my initial excursion. As the title track was a constant on the then catholic SA-FM, my harmonica playing, air-traffic controller friend and I bought the vinyl during my final year at school. A critique described the seminal opening riff as a maelstrom. Scandinavian words (and images) are exciting to adolescent boys.
With a searing rock section, and the exquisite piano and slide guitar coda, “Layla” is incongruous on this blues album. Meandering across ten languid minutes, “Key to the Highway” still charms me as improvisation tsars, Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, have too much fun. It’s casual, soaring and laughably brilliant. A musical version of Darren Jarman, really.
Touring Adelaide’s beachside playgounds, I’d play Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs for my boys, supposing, like natural sugar, there’ll be enough pop in their acoustic diet. Only four, Alex’d ask, “Dad, can we hear those long songs?”
Where some see aural cruelty, I see schooling. The Wiggles are The Beatles for kids. Genius. But, without the blues’ swampy misery, how will they grow up happy?
One day I may even sneak some Chad Morgan on for them.