“Rustling whistling leaves, turning breeze to speech”

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Close up of autumn leaves, edited with Snapseed and Stackables. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Autumn leaves. Image Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

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My engagement with NZ Music Month is leading me down all sorts of byways, coupling my visual imagination with audio memories.

This week’s theme for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally is nature. And wouldn’t you know it, Nature is the name of the song that in 2001, the association which represents Australasian composers, lyricists and music publishers (APRA) named as the best NZ song ever written.

Caveat: this is not the choice I would have made, though I like the song very much.

Written by 19 year old Wayne Mason of the band The Fourmyula, Nature topped the local music charts in December 1969.

In 1995 ‘Nature’ was covered by another Kiwi band, The Mutton Birds. This is a slightly “rockier” take on the song; reflecting not so much the mellow colours of autumn, but perhaps the increased energy we feel when Auckland’s summer humidity departs).

I really like the The Mutton Birds’ cover; but I’ll leave you to decide which version you prefer.

The Fourmyula (1969)

The Mutton Birds (1995)

 

Sensitive to a smile

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"Beautiful children have come into my life; Beautiful people, oh young and bright." Dilworth Karaka, Charlie Tumahai, Todd Casella, 'Sensitive to a Smile.' B&W portrait of young boy with cropped spiky hair.Image: Su Leslie, 2002

“Beautiful children have come into my life; Beautiful people, oh young and bright …” ‘Sensitive to a Smile.’ Image: Su Leslie, 2002

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Herbs is a NZ reggae band that formed in 1979 and is still performing — albeit with a much changed line-up.

Sensitive to a Smile was released in 1987, and I remember it mainly, in a fairly abstract way, as a political song. It wasn’t until the boy-child was born in 1998 that the political became personal.

There comes a time in everyone’s life
No room for mistrust, no room for hate
Open up your heart, don’t look away

When I found myself responsible for that tiny bundle, grown from the love between his father and myself, I realised how invested I had become in wanting a better world, not only for my child, but for all mothers’ children.

"Quality in life that’s hard to find, Like a child with an open mind" Dilworth Karaka, Charlie Tumahai, Todd Casella, 'Sensitive to a Smile.' Portrait of smiling toddler. Image: Su Leslie, 1999

“Quality in life that’s hard to find, Like a child with an open mind …” Dilworth Karaka, Charlie Tumahai, Todd Casella, ‘Sensitive to a Smile.’ Image: Su Leslie, 1999

"... Love for them is love for all ..." Dilworth Karaka, Charlie Tumahai, Todd Casella, 'Sensitive to a Smile.' B&W portrait of young boy. Image: Su Leslie, 2005

“… Love for them is love for all …” Dilworth Karaka, Charlie Tumahai, Todd Casella, ‘Sensitive to a Smile.’ Image: Su Leslie, 2005

Poetry in music: intoxicating lyrics

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"'Cause tomorrow's keep on blowing in From somewhere." Bic Runga, Listening for the Weather, 2002. Storm surf at Takapuna Beach, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

” ‘Cause tomorrow’s keep on blowing in from somewhere.” Bic Runga, Listening for the Weather, 2002. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

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This week at Where’s my Backpack, Ailsa’s Travel Theme word is poetry.

As someone with very little musical ability, but an enormous love of language, it is usually the poetry of the lyrics that draws me into a song.

I could probably have chosen any of Bic Runga‘s songs for this post. Her single Sway was voted the 6th best New Zealand song by members of the Australasian Performing Rights Association, and I will enthusiastically warble my way through every song on her second album Beautiful Collision if there’s no-one around to hear me.  But I’ve chosen Listening for the Weather, because I just love the opening lines:

Listening For The Weather

So, I’m listening for the weather,
To predict the coming day.
Leave all thought of expectation
To the weatherman.
No it doesn’t really matter
What it is he has to say,
‘Cause tomorrow’s keep on blowing in
From somewhere.

All the people that I know
In the apartments down below,
Busy with their starring roles
In their own tragedies.

[Chorus]
Sunlight sends you on your way,
And those restless thoughts that
Cling to yesterday.
Never be afraid of change.
I’ll call you on the phone.
I hate to leave you on your own,
But I’m coming home today.

And this busy inner city
Has got nothing much to say,
And I know how much you’re
Hanging ’round the letterbox.
And I’m sure that as I’m writing,
You’ll be somewhere on your way,
In a supermarket checkout
Or a restaurant.

I’ve been doing what I’m told.
I’ve been busy growing old,
And the days are getting cold,
but that’s alright with me.

[Chorus]

Yes I’m coming home today.

I’ve been doing what I’m told.
I’ve been busy growing old,
And the days are getting cold,
But that’s alright with me.

[Chorus]

 

NZ Music Month: for today

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Self-portrait taken in 1985. Image: Su Leslie

“If you had told me this time last year that I would feel like I do now, I wouldn’t have believed you.” Old-school selfie. Taken with Franka Solida 1. Image: Su Leslie, 1985

 

NZMM2016_jpg1985: six of us in a Grey Lynn flat. It’s in a block of four, and most of us have boy/girlfriends who stay over, so at any one time there can be up to thirty people resident. We’re mostly students, or in first jobs after university. Our flats face into a communal courtyard, so our existence is a very sociable one. There are parties most weekends, and we hang out together a lot.

My room is decorated with some seriously garish wallpaper, but that’s ok because I only really spend time there when it is dark. Except when I’m playing with the camera my dad has given me.

Musically it’s a great flat to be in. People with different tastes all sharing a single turntable.

One of the things we listen to is Netherworld Dancing ToysFor Today.

New Zealand Music Month: “all it takes is one song to bring back 1000 memories”

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May is NZ Music Month.

For those of you outside NZ (expats excepted), it’s understandable if you don’t know that New Zealand music totally rocks. For a small nation, we produce some extraordinarily talented musicians.

Although I’ll never stop feeling Scottish, I haven’t actually lived in the country of my birth since I was a child. So the soundtrack of my life features a lot of Kiwi music.

This month I’m going to have a little musical nostalgia trip. Maybe not every day, but as inspiration takes me, I’ll post a song and maybe a little about what it means to me.

I have to start with Poi E; one of the most joyous pieces of music I know. Sung entirely in Maori, this was a huge hit in 1984, and remains an important way-point in our nation’s musical history.

I’d love you to join me in this impromptu gig. Dance along; tell me what you think about my choices; share your own Kiwi music play-list. Or tune out and enjoy the soundtrack to your life. It doesn’t matter. My music, your music. As Nietzsche said:

Without music, life would be a mistake. — Friedrich Nietzche