A Little Peace…

Recently I have been told by a few people that I write very well. One suggested I contact a music magazine and lodge an application to work for them. This person had written articles themselves for the magazine in question and they gave me the email address of the editor.

I didn’t do anything about it. I would fear pursuing it. It is one thing to write at one’s own leisure your own thoughts and feelings or to write your own musical reviews and share that content on a blog that you have sole say over. It’s quite a different thing to work for someone else and work to a deadline. I’m not sure I could do it.

Just today a person asked me if I write professionally. The answer is no I don’t. There is one minor thing I do in which I write small pieces of text, but I don’t work to a deadline and my “boss” for the most part gives me free rein over what is written.

But could I ever write like this?

That, I strongly doubt. Granted, I have not spent over 40 years of my life writing professionally. And for many years prior to that most likely being quite good at English, enjoying the language and writing stories. Jim did.

I never had the imagination to create imaginary places. Never felt I had “the gift” for that kind of thing. Compared to what I’d hear from others in class, my stories sucked. So as a consequence I guess I felt like writing was just “not my bag”.

Until I read Anne Frank’s diary. To read her diary is to find that, no matter how insular you feel. No matter how insignificant your world may feel to you, you are living a life and you have your own dramas, hopes, fears and dreams. And yes, ultimately her story was so much bigger than what was going on in that tiny annex…but the way she made the minutiae of that circumstance feel is just SSOOO compelling!

Could I have worded how I felt about her diary like that as a 13 year old reading it for the first time? NO WAY! But it was an impetus for me to keep a diary myself. And YES, my life was far, FAR more insignificant (in no way suggesting Frank’s was). BUT…I was writing. I was using language. Trying hard to teach myself a level of expression that was escaping me from not being at school. I just kept wanting to teach myself.

I read books. Not sweeping epics of prose, just regular novels. I tried with Shakespeare. Lord knows I tried. But I attached myself more to James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. I read the poetry of Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson and children’s books by May Gibbs and read the 87th Precinct detective novels of Ed McBain. I read “trash” too. Sidney Sheldon novels and Anne Rice vampire novels. I went from Anne Frank to Anne Rice.

I asked for a concise dictionary for my 15th birthday and read it like a novel.

At the library, I would look at the encyclopaedias and VOLUMES of dictionaries and wish to have them at home. You weren’t allowed to borrow reference books. I could never understand why.

To be asked in recent times whether I write for a living is amazing. To be told by others that I have some kind of “flair” or “way” is wonderful. And just maybe on the odd occasion I allow myself to accept such compliments and think I am worthy of them. But for the most part? No.

Beyond Jim’s beautiful way with words and expressing himself was this…

How could someone believe “an eye for an eye” is good? Because, isn’t that ultimately what war is? An eye for an eye? Fighting fire with fire? Two wrongs don’t make a right, do they?

Why is it such a childish thought to want peace? Not to have wars? And why do we never learn? Why are we destined to make the same mistakes over and over?

How is pacifism NOT the answer? How is love not the answer?

I want to end with this. Because it is just so beautiful in its simplicity. No big words. Just the basics and the question of “why”?

Say Who You Are!

The album that did it for me. The one that, during my exploration of the Simple Minds back catalogue, “sealed the deal”. Empires And Dance put me into a state of…I dunno…suspended animation. I quite literally could not believe what I was hearing…that the band responsible for Don’t You (Forget About Me ) – subsequently I learned how much involvement there was in that, obv. – Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, etc, had also made stuff LIKE THIS?! It just blew my tiny frigging mind. I’m not holding up the songs mentioned to belittle them or say they’re inferior in ANY WAY….it is just a fact that Simple Minds within a 5 year period became a very different band musically and that I had NO KNOWLEDGE of how they sounded in 1980.

So, again for me personally, in 2014 listening to Empires And Dance for the first time was like discovering an entirely new band. And with the anniversary of its release this week, I just wanted to talk about it a bit, share some of my art inspired from the tracks and just give it and its content some praise.

I wouldn’t be the mega diehard (but has she earned her stripes yet?) SM fan I am now without this album existing, I don’t think.

Today I share what is at this point possibly my very favourite live version of Thirty Frames A Second. Jim stalking around that stage like a freshly uncaged animal. Leaping about like a jack rabbit…never faulting vocally…but being raw and emotive and just….GGRRRRRRRR!!! I love it!

‘Til Wrong Feels Right – Lyrics And More by Iggy Pop

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News on the Virginia Turbett front. There’s a book on Iggy Pop coming out. In his own words, it seems. Not quite a memoir, as such, but more the printing of his lyrics with notes and photos complimenting and elaborating on the thought processes involved in the craft of songwriting.

It sounds really good. And a bit of a left-field choice for a publisher like Penguin Books!

Some of Virginia Turbett’s photos of Iggy feature in the book. And wow, she has taken some AMAZING photos of Iggy over the years. Along with continuing to expand upon my own personal Simple Minds archive of VT’s work, I plan to get some Iggy photos from her as well.

Check out Virginia’s website to view some of her wonderful Iggy stills – https://virginiaturbett.com

You can pre-order the book from the Penguin website, just CLICK HERE to be taken to the site.

Why I Love…Oh Jungleland

Glasgow is now a city I am longing to live in. The first time I visited Glasgow was in November, 2016. I felt an instant affiliation with the place. It had been many years I had wanted to visit Scotland’s most populous city. My first (and subsequently ONLY one up until that point) visit to Scotland had been a 16 hour whirlwind visit to Edinburgh and, to be honest, Edinburgh really didn’t do much for me at the time, and so I had always wished to see Glasgow to compare and contrast.

Well, it only took me another 15 years to get to Glasgow! It was a “freebie”. I had auditioned and secured a place on quiz show Fifteen To One, so my trip was all expenses paid. I arrived on the evening of November 5th – Bonfire Night. I was up on the 11th floor of the Jurys Inn on Jamaica Street. I may not be a “kid called hope” and the only reason I was holding out my hand was to film the view of the Clyde from “this highrise land”. And I wasn’t seeing the Northern Lights, but I was seeing fireworks being fired off all over the south and east sides of the city. It was beautiful.

Obviously my soundtrack for that night WASN’T Oh Jungleland but Colours Fly And Catherine Wheel.

The first thing I did when I arrived in Glasgow was to get a cab to the Old Dumbarton Road and to Tantrum Doughnuts. I bought three of them to go so I could enjoy them once I got to the Jurys Inn. As I waited for the taxi to come and collect me and get me to the hotel, I was offered a cigarette by a very dishevelled (in all likelihood homeless) but kindly gent. “No, I’m sorry. I don’t smoke, but thanks for offering anyway.” Even a Weegie that hard on his luck would offer a complete stranger a cigarette. Was I a little scared? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. That section of Old Dumbarton Road at that time was not exactly teeming with people and it was already dark and I was alone. Despite feeling a little vulnerable, I felt a huge sense of being welcomed.

Anyway…on to the song itself!

Uplifting from the get go with a fun little keyboard melody and a great guitar riff from Mr Burchill. Subtle yet perfect basslines from Mr Giblin and immaculate Gaynor drumbeat.

Only Jim could make a bleak and cold winter in Glasgow sound romantic “you’ve got the long nights” – put a parentheses of lines around it “you’ve got the love drugs” and “you got the heartbeat that spirals to heaven” and you have an irresistible romantic image of the city.

It has been a favourite Simple Minds song since I first heard it back in 1985. The only album I ever had of Simple Minds’ for many years was Once Upon A Time. I played the whole album regularly once I had it…but I never really kept up the momentum of being a Simple Minds fan. Never felt compelled to explore the back catalogue. Lost touch with them after a year or so after OUAT was released. Remember liking Belfast Child a few years later…but that was it.

Oh Jungleland to me is much more a homage to Glasgow as a whole. Waterfront concentrates more on the Clyde to me. Mr Kerr may tell me otherwise.

It’s uplifting and gives a sense of belonging. It feels like it says within the context of the lyrics…“This is my city. My people. It’s the city that made me.” The place has a beauty all its own. I see it every time I’m there. And that phrase…the city’s moto has never been a truer symbol of a city I have ver seen “people make Glasgow”. They do.

They place I grew up in is an area of south-western Sydney called Busby. On a street called Ayrshire Street. The family surname is McInnes (that’s the Scottish version of the spelling, either this or Mac). I have a mixture of Irish, English, German and Aborigine (the Scots blood is in my siblings – I should have actually been a Lawson, but took the McInnes name for convenience – well, more had it foisted on me). I can’t tell you what kind of annoying hell that was growing up – having the name Larelle – which NOBODY in Australia seems able to pronounce properly! – combine that with McInnes – then put Ayrshire Street, Busby into the mix and I DREADED being asked for my name and address over the phone! At least in person I could just ask for a pen and spell it all. Phone calls that I knew I needed to make where these questions would be asked became ritual “Larelle = L – A – R – E – double L – E. McInnes = M – C – I – double N – E – S. Fifteen – ONE FIVE Aryshire Street: A – Y – R – S – H – I – R – E street. Busby = B – U – S – B – Y. I DO NOT miss those days! And, yes, I still do have to do spelling of my name and address, but now in the days of the Internet, not so much. Phew!

Back then I would have NEVER foreseen the notion that one day I would be moving to Scotland. It was never really something on my radar. There was always more of an allure to the UK, culturally. The music in particular. I think I would have described myself as (erroneously) as an Anglophile. But I suppose the pull was stronger to England, initially. But the pull to Scotland gained more force. And over the past 10 years became a pipe dream of getting out of England and moving to. But it never seemed something remotely tangible until about 12 months ago.

So soon, somewhere in Scotland will be home. And with any luck, “Oh Jungleland” will be the place I call “home sweet home” – or as a little plaque I saw in the market stalls in Merchant City on my most recent trip up had said “Hame Sweet Hame”. I was SO tempted to buy it, but I didn’t. Hopefully the market seller will be there in several months time when there is a wall to hang the plaque on.

And that is a rather personal account of why I love Oh Jungleland.

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