History is fleeting: it lives in nature and is constructed by humans, who fuck nature over and then write about it. The internet is a source of history. To me it seems really weak, so destructible. Delete this blog of mine and everything is gone. Gone. Which is what history is kind of like. So fragile, subjective, awkward but grand. The people are grand. But yet everything we do, all the poets and the strange words – from “wreck” to “fedjhguveibcuao” will be gone. Nothing’ll matter. Not Robin Hood, not Sarajevo, not Hiroshima, not the time I fell in love with a stationhand, not Dubya, not Shakespeare, not Genghis Khan. So what’s the point if you’re to be forgotten?
I am a musician, an artist. That’s my point. It’s a recent phenomenon, est. late 2011, at Christmas. I knew one song called Cocaine that Bob Dylan’d covered, and practiced it on my aunt’s lawn in Bellingen. C,F, G7, Am. Woot. Bellingen is one of my dream towns. I will always be happy there, no matter what. In January, on a routine summer family holiday to Urunga, an estuarine village near Coffs Harbour, I remember my first man who started this stuff. My dad and I were walking across the road to the convenience store and he was talking about Woody Guthrie, about Bob Dylan. Guthrie’s a nice surname I thought. No idea who he is though.
My man is Bob Dylan. My boy may become Angus Smith but my man is him, my confidante and friend who can surpass all identification.
I’ve never had a near death experience as far as I know. At home today because I damn well near fainted at school. Was in history extension with my big silk-lined red military jacket on and symptoms beyond period cramps, verging into appendicitis. Excused myself from the room, walked outside and just kneeled down in the middle of the quad in the cool wet gravel, head spinning and eyes blurred. Wobbled on my ligaments like I could collapse any second to the office, fell again to my knees and just stayed there with my head on the coffee table. I couldn’t hear what people were saying, couldn’t see, couldn’t feel anything but fatigue, and pain – and fear.
I’m a teenager, so I’m interested in danger, in violence, in war, in what makes a bad person tick. I reckon I have a thing for this boy called Angus Smith, but I wish I didn’t. He was the apprentice to a shipwright where I worked down the road since February. His nickname was Anchor. He quit on the last day of October: Halloween. I quoted Les Murray on that “the month goes out facing backwards.” – the month went out facing backwards and he went with it.
Yet I called him to rearrange stuff. He’s going for new job interviews at Cameron’s Marina and Noakes. Noakes. If you’re not a Sydneysider you don’t know how big a shipyard that place is. He’s joking to think he can get in there. We talked for a while. His dad has a property in Sofala and now near Glenorie where Angus bought a sawmill, to turn trees into boats. The kid’s a weird one. He’s barely literate, can read books better upside down than the right way and smokes but wants to quit. He fascinates me, I’ve written 3 songs about him under the Scottish Anchor project, and have had 4 dreams. In each one he either failed to rescue me, cycled off from me in a balinese village, and etcetera, all not positive hero-type daring my subconscious expects from a boy.
We went sailing on Saturday. He didn’t talk much cause my dad was there but when my dad wasn’t, we would wait outside on my front porch and talk heaps. He’s racist, too. And has a motorbike, which he crashed in July. He has so many goddamn scars and burns. 3 songs is enough, I think. And that’s enough of him, I hope.
I wonder why we can write and think so much about a person?
I’m looking at Taylor Swift’s old myspace. “Really hard work is fun to me.” Only because you get the opportunity. My experience is strange. I love hard work. When I can’t get it in music I have to go looking for it somewhere else. Proof of my little latest unmusical ventures to stop me from going insane:
– crew on James Craig ; 2RRR Radio Host ; doorman for The Newsagency (music venue) ; farmhand at Madison’s Mountain Retreat and John Nixon’s chicken farm ; crew sailing Tuesdays nights on my dad’s boat ; Hanmudo martial arts ; President’s Shipwrights ; Outward Bound ; writer for online magazine The Point (I strongly strongly recommend you read it)
Music wise, I’m in a school band with 3 friends where I do bass and vocals. Our repertoire includes The Black Keys, The Killers, The Temper Trap, Florence + The Machine, Arctic Monkeys. We’re pretty goddamn unproductive.
Worked with a guy called Cainan who was a creep and would kiss me on the ear when I moved too fast as I dropped him off at the ferry. But he helped me write my first song. March.
Guitarist Rob McCormick who was nice: he liked Deep Purple but would still solo to St. James Infirmary Blues. We never performed live though. He’s doing his HSC at the moment. April.
Drummer: Mitch Hodgman. I fell in love with him. He lives in the country outside of Canberra, in a tiny gold mining town. He was 16. I was 16. His favourite musician was Lee Kernaghan and I can remember him scanning my face to see if I laughed when he told me that. I did my best to suppress a giggle. And he loved John Wayne. Dyed in the wool country. He wants to be a stationhand in Coober Pedy. He was dead jealous when I told him I’d played at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Why I went there I will never ever know. It was a scream. But we did Pogues songs, and he was gorgeous. So incredibly good looking, and kind and his voice trembled when he spoke. I had dinner there and looking back it was like it all happened in a dream, in his band-shed on the hill in June. That it was another universe where I was happy. I couldn’t keep away from him. Went home the next day, and a week later drove back. He was working on a sheep station. My dad and I stayed in Braidwood, a slice of my childhood soul from a particular film. I went scrambling over property fences and barbed wire to reach the spot where the bartender had said The Year My Voice Broke had been filmed. That film dammit. The country was exactly the same, nothing had changed. Went home the next day, and a few weeks later wrote a letter to him. It wasn’t a love letter, don’t worry. Though I listened to the Nick Cave song on repeat. Admittedly I stalked him in Manly a bit cause there was a highlands band gathering, and his group was there. I saw him. We matched each other exactly step for step on opposite sides of the road, and if he’d so much as glanced right, he would’ve seen me.
Producer: Darby Jarvis. Used to tour with Midnight Oil and Cold Chisel, as a roadie. He creeps me out but he has equipment for producing. Though he wouldn’t like my music.
Electronic kid. 21 years old, Max Brading. We’ve been working together for about a week now and on Friday came up with some really sick stuff, I loved it. He likes Joy Division, Flying Lotus, Earl Sweatshirt, Tom Waits. And a weird William Shatner thing. Plus I got him into Flume, so we’re deconstructing some of Harley’s stems from his deluxe production disc whilst doing some other covers and originals. I have high hopes for this shit.
This music isn’t as easy as a Taylor Swift. I can’t just walk up, say hey I’m a country pop musician and I write songs about heartbreak, high school, family and love. I do Kanye West, Leonard Cohen, Major Lazer, The Pogues, traditionals, Lead Belly, Julio Sagreras, Kaki King, Van Morrison. I literally can’t do Bob: we’re too close.
In wrapping up on the idea that History will die, that what has mattered from Herodotus to Rihanna to the butcher near the public school to the Orient will be gone, I’m gonna present a quote here, from the Capuchin monk brothers who died between 1528 and 1870 in Rome:
“WHAT YOU ARE NOW,
WE ONCE WERE;
WHAT WE ARE NOW,
YOU WILL BE.”