These days I’m a full-time worker (ah, yep — nice-sounding studio albums don’t pay for themselves!), and I have learned to love the mornings*. The air is crisp. The light can be starkly vivid, and I love the smell of coffee and hot breakfasts, especially at airports for some reason.
But there’s a ‘night time me’ that makes life hell for ‘morning me’. And he’s been around for a lot longer.
My childhood was peppered by many a night being awake ‘after bedtime’. You see, when the cousins of an only child (me) go to bed, and the adults stay up to play cards, eat peanuts and drink KB and Tia Maria, it becomes a fascinating world...
City living. I love it, and being in Melbourne doesn’t hurt. The coffee. The food. The culture. The weather (jokes).
Having grown up in a new estate suburb, similar to that found on any Australian city fringe, I’d grown familiar with the isolation resulting from a lack of public transport, and the estate being so young that it had virtually no historical identity. And you couldn’t WALK anywhere; any kid who couldn’t drive—which is every one of them between the age of 0 and 16—was tethered to the neighbourhood to ‘make their own fun.’ It was like living in the countryside without the charm.
To me, writing very personal songs in the blues, at first anyway, seemed like a strange thing to do.
Usually, the lyrical subject matter comes across as a more generic formula — subjects like, "What happened to me this morning/today/this year", "Aren't we all having fun drinking and eating Southern-style food?", "That's it, I've had enough of yo' shit; I'm outta here" are the poetical go-to places for content.
But a member of my own family—a blues-loving road nomad of sorts himself—deserved a song of his own: Bill Carroll (Sr). And I thought that more people should know about him, via "Wild Bill".
For blues lyrics that talk about relationships, sentiments usually fall into two loose categories — pleading someone not to leave, and threatening your other half that you will do exactly that, if they don’t start behaving. And then there are the stories told in past tense — “she/he did this, and now she/he is no longer here”, to paraphrase just about everyone. And if the person who has left takes everything including the dog, well…you might even have a country song.
What is worse, however, than taking everything of value in the blues is someone having the audacity to take the trivial stuff, like in Albert King’s ‘I Got t...
Lyric writing can sometimes be like drawing blood from a stone. But sometimes the pen just flows. After an amazing trip to the US in June 2014, I realised where the blues really came from. And subsequently, I absorbed via osmosis a little bit of how to write about your home town.
And it’s not just the human rights history that has had the blues as a soundtrack. What I noticed about a lot of US citizens is their ease of conversation. Complete strangers will exchange life stories on a Greyhound between cities, or during the few minutes they’ll spend waiting on a mocha in Starbucks. A kind of call and response, if you will,...