Words, don’t come easy

I’m going to see my one true love Frank Turner on Sunday night. Those who know me know my absolute obsession (I’m truly sorry, not sorry) with this “skinny half-arsed English country singer“…he is skinny but he’s not really a country singer. Ex Million Dead singer, punk/folk/rock/acoustic…bloody genius.

I’m obsessed with him because of words. I’m all about the words when it comes to music (movies, friends, relationships, Dan Savage “use your words”). He is a wordsmith…and I love me a wordsmith.

Like it was yesterday, though it was five years ago, I remember the night FT was gifted to me. I’m pretty sure it was my first visit to The Joker’s little house in Blacktown. He’d made me dinner (A MAN HAD MADE ME DINNER!!) and we were sitting on his sofa when he asked me if I’d heard of this guy. Nope, I said.

He proceeded to play me Substitute and it was a moment, a big moment. I looked into his sparkly but sad blue eyes and thought “how the absolute fuck do I not fall in love with this man”. Because if this was the song he wanted to share with me first up there was deep shit behind the facade. Quickly realising his error he played Photosynthesis, probably to lighten the mood, but it only made things worse. I was in deep baby. And Frank Turner was to blame.

Anyway this isn’t the story of my doomed love affair with The Joker, it isn’t even a story about my ever deepening love affair with the newly engaged Mr Turner.

This is a little story about words. How I love them; how they have all the power. To make us laugh, cry, despair and hope. To give us strength and to shatter us beyond redemption.

I’m not much into instrumentals and I don’t have any time for orchestral music. I understand intellectually that some music might be good but if there are no words or if the words don’t resonate in my mind and heart than it means nothing to me (oh, Vienna)…sorry…

It doesn’t always have to be deep and meaningful. The Ramones’ Hey Ho Let’s Go is a clarion call without being Shakespearean.

I love clever word play, I love humour in songs, the darker the better. Love me a musical comedy genius…. Tim Minchin, Weird Al, the Tenacious D boys, Flight of the Conchords…is there anything better? Rhetorical question.

Then of course there’s the dark without the humour. When I want to rub salt into the wound there’s always Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits. Suffer, baby.

What I wouldn’t do for that talent. To make people feel. To be able to wrangle words in a way that encapsulates a moment of the human condition.

As Tim Minchin said, us humans “we’re just fucking monkeys in shoes”…true, but we do have words. And I’m all about the words. When they’re wrapped in a song they are truly a gift that keeps on giving.

If music be the food of love, play on

I’m using this Shakespearean quote out of context, sort of. Stay with me.

It’s been a weekend of music. Both Friday and Saturday nights I went to Strange Tenants’ gigs in two different venues. The Tenants are a Melbourne ska band so intrinsically linked to my teenage years that I’m not sure I can imagine who I’d be without the countless gigs of theirs that I attended during the mid 80s and beyond.

Their music is the soundtrack to a large chunk of my youth and that I’ve been able to see them again sporadically over the past few years has been nothing short of miraculous.

I went to the first gig on my own, quite happily intent on dancing and immersing myself in the music. By happy chance I bumped into two old friends from the 80s and we went on to enjoy both gigs together; reminiscing, dancing and just having a bloody wonderful time.

As I left both gigs, hot, sweaty and exhausted I reflected on the joy of being 50 and not giving a fuck. Finally I can dance and actually not care if anyone is watching and better still not care what they’re thinking if they are watching. That’s meaningful shit right there. I can definitely say that’s not always been the case.

I ended the weekend by taking my kiddos to see Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic. I had low expectations but I just loved it. I sang along and loved the music, catapulted back to the 80s, Live Aid, the Top 40… I shed a few tears at the loss of one of the absolute rock gods of my generation.

This musically immersive weekend has given me an opportunity to think about what music has meant to me. Basically, everything.

There are few life events that don’t have a musical association for me. I met both ex husbands at gigs. I stayed with the biggest but probably wrongest love of my life (largely) because of music. Music is intertwined with all my life experiences and all my emotions. I can think of songs which will instantly trigger joy, anger, sadness, heartache, hope.

I’m so very grateful for this weekend of music and for all the music that has weathered me into the person I am today.

To finish on a quote which, while not quite Shakespearean, I think eloquently sums up how I’m feeling right now: thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing… (you know the rest).

Two is the loneliest number

It’s taken me a long time (right up until the age of 50 and a half) to fully understand and accept that it’s much harder and more soul destroying to be lonely in a couple than on your own.

It’s counterintuitive that you can actually be lonely when you’re part of a couple but it’s nevertheless very possible and very painful.

Looking back I think I’ve consciously and subconsciously spent my life doing my darnedest to avoid loneliness. I’ve always thought I enjoy being socially busy and amongst people. Since I’ve been in relationships since my teens I’ve always had a significant other so I’ve never really had to face personal loneliness for extended periods.

During the past five years, since the end of my marriage, I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy chasing love, chasing away loneliness and generally chasing my tail. Now that I’m willingly and happily single again I’ve very clearly recognized that loneliness cannot be cured by simply being with another human and being alone doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely.

Obviously I’m a bloody slow learner. Well into middle age I’ve finally slowed down, I’ve found some calm, I’ve come to clearly see that I’m enough (excuse the new age bs). I actually quite like myself and my own company. I don’t have to pretzel myself to please someone else and in the process loathe myself. I don’t have to apologize for being me; for not being enough or being too much.

So simple yet so hard. Yet here I am. Not a minute too soon and luckily not too late.

People have the power?

I’m ridiculously invested in the US midterm elections coming up this week. The election two years ago took everyone by surprise and has unleashed evil onto the (not even close) best democracy in the world and onto the rest of the world by default.

I’ve gone from asking “why Trump?” and “how could they?” to understanding that there is an agenda and that agenda will be achieved at all costs. Even the so called moral cost of the totally immoral (non) Christians behind this nightmare.

I feel like a curtain has been drawn back and I finally see the puppet masters. I guess I’ve been cocooned in my safe, middle class bubble; surrounded mostly by left leaning friends.

Trump and the voters are tools and are being used to achieve financial and social control. The need to roll/claw back the advances of the last half century is paramount to these people and all ideas of human decency are meaningless. It’s quite simply about money and power (as it has always been).

It’s not enough to say they don’t care about gay people or disabled people or poor people or refugees. They openly despise them.

We have seen the horror show called Jair Bolosaro become president in Brazil, the audacity of the Saudis in a ridiculously not subtle murder of a journalist, the disappearance of the Chinese head of Interpol, the every day crazy of Putin and Rodrigo Duterte. Just to name a few. We are so desensitized to this now.

I’m deeply concerned about how Americans are going to vote because I have to cling onto hope that people power is still the ideal, that we can overcome, that fear will not win over decency. Because I have been watching Australia follow down a similar right wing path and I’m afraid. Behind ScoMo and Mr Potato Head’s inane grins is the same agenda being rolled out in the US and elsewhere.

I don’t want to live in a fearful world where those with a “difference” are marginalized, persecuted, ridiculed, ostracized. We are all the same and I want leaders who inspire us to hold out a hand not put in the boot.