Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower

The most fitting tribute I can think of to our new poet laureate – my current favourite version of one of his greatest poem/historical novels by the immortal Eddie Vedder. It sums up the reason Dylan is one of our greatest literary figures – in this short verse he creates a whole world, a drama bigger than Game of Thrones and a cast of characters that fire the imagination.

 

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Make Art, Not War

Federal Election time in Australia. Meh. We don’t even have a reality TV moron to spice things up – we just have politicians. The real problem is that the two major parties are starting to look worryingly like each other as well. I’m sick of the pathetic knee-jerk slogans – stop the boats, back to basics : the latter always used in educational matters, as if any of these idiots even know what the basics are. Not since Whitlam have the arts even been regarded as fundamental in education. As soon as the conseravtives took over, waving slates and chalk and chanting “back to basics!” the arts have been shoved in a corner, becoming more and more the refugees of Australian culture, thrown  scraps and set adrift in leaky boats. Yet those in the arts retain their grip on our senses, with music, books, art, films and other brave sttempts to remind who we truly are. Imagine what they could do in a society that realises how lucky it is to have them?

But this election year, there is a small glimmer of hope. It’s cslled The Arts Party and it wants your vote to triple funding for the arts and make Big Corp pay up to chnnel more money into our cultural renaissence. It even has a poet in residence composing haiku.

Want one million votes

For the balance of power

Wear an Arts T-Shirt

OK, it sounds more like an ad than poetry but all artists have a sense of  humour that can’t be kept down. And that’s what we need. More art, more humour, more music, more books, more films – more encouragment and a better environment for Australians who want to make art, not war.

You’ll find the Arts Party here I hope they get their million votes, and more, because that is one way to tell these politicians that It’s Time.

 

A Place in the Country

While staying in Sydney with Jack Perry and my daughter Chi, of the rock band A Girl’s a Gun, I accompanied them to a gig at Laguna in the Hunter Valley – well, just outide it, as this small hamlet is known as the Gateway to the Hunter Valley. Our destination was the Great Northern Trading Post, an eclectic assemblage of amazing old buildings and antiques where good food, good wine and good music are the order of the day. But the first thing you notice is the view…

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And after that, the Mad Max wildlife…

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When they are not rocking the Sydney music scene with their band, Jack and Chi play gigs like this as a duo where their repertoire of blues, soul, jazz and rock suits the ambience.

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While they played and sang, I wandered about and found some things just begging to be photographed – like this overgrown whatsit that reminded me of the krynoid from Doctor Who. In fact it concealed a far more mundane secret. It’s the public toilet.

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The room where Jack and Chi played had wonderful views from this airy little balcony, where I caught them relaxing between sets.

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It was the most atmospheric, peaceful room, full of glorious little vignettes like this desk…

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…and this window….

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These ‘Kraken’ bottles seem to be quite a feature of the GNTP. They remind me of Captain Jack Sparrow, but that’s water, not rum.

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I loved this antique (vintage?) pram sitting in state on its pedestal, just one of the quirky little vignettes dotted about the place – honestly, it’s just like a box of story prompts.

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Mismatched windows and panes of glass like boiled lollies – everything offered itself as a work of art. In every way, a most enchanting day.

Learm more about the Great Northern Trading Post here.

 

The Connectedness of All Things

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When I listened to A Girl’s A Gun (my daught Lucia and her partner Jack) perform Me and Bobby Mcgee recently, it was bittersweet – a song I’ve always loved, done so well, in a beautiful setting, but one that always reminds of the people I lost along the way. It’s a Traveller’s song, from the busted flat and looking for a ride, to the giving of all your tomorrows for just one yesterday in some place with someone long gone.

But then, as is sometimes the way with these things, a whole lot of other things started coming together – I watched Man on Wire with Jack and Lucia, the film of Phillipe Petit’s walk on a wire strung between the Twin Towers in 1974, and I heard the melody La Strada playing in my head. Petit reminded me of the romantic young aerialists  I met as a young girl travelling with the circus – especially one of the Renz troupe who joined us briefly in Spain. His reputation as a daredevil had proceeded him, and we gathered to watch the fabled opening of his act, when he walked up one of the long guy wires that anchored his high wire to the ground. It was superb, something we had never seen before, and the music of La Strada swelled all around us. My friend told me the music was from a Fellini film of the same name – “You must see it,” she said. “It’s about us, circus people, travelling people – it made me cry.” So did I, when I saw it.

The strongman, played by Anthony Quinn, cries too at the end, when he realises he has let slip away the greatest treasure of his life, like the singer of Me and Bobby Mcgee. In the coincidental way of things, I then came across an interview with Kris Kristopherson, explaining how he came to write the song. He wrote the song about a woman called Bobby who sang the blues, and he said that he thought of La Strada when he was writing it, and how the strongman ends up “howling at the stars on the beach’ girl he let slip away. Later, of course, Janis Joplin recorded it and any connection with La Strada faded away. But it became a classic song that meant so much to Travellers like me.

All of these little threads came together in a six degrees kind of way, weaving everything into the fabric of my life, and telling me the story of how none of the people we have loved are really lost, they remain in our hearts and in the music of our memories forever. Everything is connected.

All Along the Watchtower

I am currently doing a course in world music at Open2Study and the teacher (Dr Dave) started talking about the differences between the Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan versions of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower. It got me thinking. There have been many, many versions of this great song, which I have always loved. There are some I hate – the Bryan Ferry version comes to mind – and some I can take or leave – Bruce Springsteen, Santana and the Allmon Brothers both sound kind of turgid – but as I dug through YouTube, I began to see the possibilities…

I have always believed All Along the Watchtower to be cinematic – it begs to be a movie. When Bob Dylan first released it, it had a synopsis quality – a movie pitch, with a clanging cliffhanger at the end. It wasn’t the full script, but you could make out the characters and get a feel for the action…

Then Jimi Hendrix did it, and it was a movie, cinenamascope and technicolor, shot in a rugged Scottish location, with Sean Connery swinging a sword and a kilt, Michael Caine as the Joker and David Bowie as the Thief.

Eric Clapton and Lenny Kravitz made it glitzy and CGI, you could see Jennifer Lawrence as the Thief and Lenny himself as the Joker, arrows flying everywhere, and one of the Hemsworths providing the muscle.

And then there is Eddie – Eddie Vedder turned it into a rampaging, slay all before it HBO series with Sean Bean striding the watchtower, Lena Headey leading the women, Peter Dinklage as the Thief and Jerome Flynn as the Joker. Now this is the one I want to see!

 

 

South Bank Dreaming…

South Bank in the late afternoon is ambient and wonderful – drinking a strawberry smoothie from New Zealand Natural, gazing across at Little Stanley Street, with its left bank atmosphere and sidewalk cafes.

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The sounds we can hear are the bubbling little water fountains, and musicians performing at the Plough Inn, just a few metres to the left. One of my favourite songs – “Better be Home Soon’ written by Neil Finn.

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On the tables is a gentle warning against feeding the Ibis, the water birds that frequent South Bank. They can become a downright nuisance to rival Sydney’s seagulls if you give them half a chance.

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On the way back we pass the Plough Inn and pause to watch the musicians we were enjoying earlier.

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Duet in A Flat

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This is the photo prompt by Roger Cohen for this weeks FF challenge. I think it’s gorgeous, and even a little erotic.

Duet in A Flat

“Two cellos in one small flat is ridiculous! One of us has to leave.”

“The cellos don’t seem to mind.”

“Of course not. They’ve taken up the loo. But I mind having to move them every time I have to go.”

Tessa and Stephen glared at each other across the tiny breakfast bar. It really was a small flat.

“One of us could take up another instrument.”

“Well, not me,” Tessa huffed.

“Or we could take a hint from the cellos.”

One passionate embrace later, there was no more talk of breaking up. But they did start looking for a bigger flat.