Posts from the ‘Thoughts’ category

Perfect

We make music, and we must have made it so perfectly, because a song that I haven’t heard in five years or more began playing and I could repeat it word for word. A little prompting needed for the second verse, sure, but from then on I was singing too. All of these songs, their melodies and lyrics are tendrils racing in through our ears and weaving such strong memories, unconscious memories, tying neurons together and stamping them firmly that years later we can conjure them up again.

Sarah Blasko, Perfect Now, for reference.

Goodbye Gough

Noel Pearson says Australians are like John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin asking “what did the Romans ever do for us”?

Apart from Medibank and the Trade Practices Act, cutting tariff protections and no-fault divorce and the Family Law Act, the Australia Council, the Federal Court, the Order of Australia, Federal Legal Aid,the Racial Discrimination Act, needs-based schools funding, the recognition of China, the Racial Discrimination Act, the abolition of conscription, the Law Reform Commission, student financial assistance, the Heritage Commission, non discriminatory immigration rules, Aboriginal land rights, paid maternity leave for public servants, lowering the minimum voting age to 18 years and fair electoral boundaries and Senate representation for the Territories.

Apart from all of this, what did this Roman ever do for us?

Via the Guardian

Kate Bush

Late to the Kate Bush bandwagon – not my fault, it’s a generational thing – but the hype around her first concert in thirty-five years was overwhelming.

Reading the Guardian post-concert, the devotion of fans who travelled across the world to attend the concert, the mystery around her, that she had last sung on stage in 1979 at the age of twenty; it is completely impossible not to want to dive into her body of work try and catch up to everyone.

Listening to her music is easy (thanks Spotify) but for learning about the history as it was happening, the BBC special on Kate Bush was an excellent introduction.

It is hard not to be pre-wired given the nearly universal acclaim that Kate Bush attracts, – and hearing artists like Elton John or St Vincent describe her impact on them generates a certain expectation that *you should like this* – but the music and performance, especially at the age she struck the scene, *are* remarkable. The favourites, Wuthering Heights, Babooshka, Man with the Child in his Eyes, Running up that Hill (shivers, genuine shivers) and her album concepts show such deep thinking and creativity that even now it is very easy to see how she could make such a huge mark.

I’m most touched at the moment by the album 50 words for Snow – in the BBC documentary St Vincent describes how the interplay between Kate Bush and her son, then with a chorus-boy voice, gives her shivers. To hear mother and son make music together, knowing that the care of Bertie is one of the main reasons she retreated from the public eye, feels like being let into a very private space.

Get it while you can on Vimeo.

Blighty

My phone is out of space so I’m browsing my photo gallery to find some room, and I found a photo of our old place on Colebrook Row.

colebrook-row.jpg

We’ve come a long way since then, but thinking about this tiny apartment at the top of four cramped flights makes it feel like we only just left.

What the hell’s the presidency for?

This passage from Gary Younge, writing in The Guardian, is worth keeping in mind whenever we have the opportunity to do great things and are instead steered towards ‘realistic’ things.

* * *

A few days after John F Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson sat in his kitchen with his key advisers working his first speech to Congress. It was the evening of Kennedy’s funeral – Johnson was now president. The nation was still in grief and Johnson, writes Robert Caro in The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power, was not yet able to move into the White House because Kennedy’s effects were still there.

He had been a hapless vice-president; now he had to both personify and project the transition from bereavement to business as usual. In the midst of the cold war, with Vietnam brewing, the Kennedy administration had been trying to get civil rights legislation and tax cuts through Congress. There was plenty of business to attend to. Johnson’s advisers were keen that he introduced himself to the nation as a president who could get things done.

For that reason, writes Caro, they implored him not to push for civil rights in this first speech, since it had no chance of passing. “The presidency has only a certain amount of coinage to expend, and you oughtn’t to expend it on this,” said “one of the wise, practical people around the table”. Johnson, who sat in silence at the table as his aides debated, interjected:

“Well, what the hell’s the presidency for.”