The Power In Naming

I had forgot all about this. Just spell checked etc. Don’t no why I didn’t back when i wrote it.

Steve Lucas... and the workings of a dishevelled mind

http://stevelucas.bandcamp.com/album/all-too-human

WE have been told many times how in many cultures you never give someone your ‘real’ name or ‘soul’ name as it gives whoever knows it the ability to command a certain amount of power over you. I was thinking about this as I drifted off last night and how it also works in the naming of songs and even albums. There is resonance in the naming as much as there is resonance in the very vibration of sound let alone music. So naming or connection the two can cause – let’s call them issues.

Now I am not saying this applies to all songs but with some songs the writer becomes especially attached to and they kind of lead to an almost prophetic glimpse into his destiny. A classic example John Denver’s Leaving On A Jet Plane seeing as how he met his death while flying an aircraft…

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“WE BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF YOUR VOICE”

Not a bad tag line to have for a commercial going to air during the Emmys and Country Music Awards in the United States of America. Part of my mind just thinks ‘this is so cosmic’ another part is just processing the ‘congratulations, you deserve it’ texts and emails and part of me is just thinking ‘validation’. How often do we really get it? Validation, I mean. A partner or one of your kids (if you have them) can ‘validate you at anytime by sharing their love or belief in you you. A boss can do it in the corporate world too, I guess. But after 35 years (started around 1977) of writing and singing a championing (in my own small way) the belief in and power of the the independent music scene something like this takes on a whole new meaning. When a company as big as Yoplait ‘decides to react to a little girls’ request’ then you start to imagine things in a bigger arena. Coincidence becomes something other than coincidence.

I wrote the song because I was mucking about on a piano one morning – after one of my daughter’s sleep-over’s – when one one of her friends (a little girl in fact) asked “What are you playing?”  I said, “Nothing, just making it up, why do you like it?” She told me yes, and then asked “Can you make it into a song for me?”  So I said “Yeah, sure…” and noticed a memo pad by the piano with the legend ‘Make It Happen’ written boldly across it and used it as a motivational or starting point. The rest just flowed and she said that she liked it, her parents picked her up and that was almost the end of it. It was a catchy tune, not really the type of thing I’d normally write but I thought maybe I’ll just throw it down on the good old 8 track- just in case… so I did.

Not long after I decided to do an album in the ‘old fashioned way’ dedicated to the 60’s and early 70’s with a bunch of friends and fellow musicians in Sydney for something to do. Jim Dickson, Geof Holmes, John Butler and myself were the core of the group or sessions. Later I got Rebecca Hancock and John Gauci to throw on some embellishments. We all shared a similar love and appreciation for that wonderful part of pop music’s blossoming. The sessions themselves were ‘organic’ in themselves and something kind of special grew from them. It was an album called A Once And Future Thing, it was a return to the past, at least stylistically and emotionally.

We did some shows in Sydney and Melbourne and we sold a bunch of CDs and as a writer and arranger/producer I got the best reviews of my career. That, as they say, and $3.50, will get you a cappuccino. However, 60 seconds of the song were inserted into a U.S. TV drama called Over There which was the biggest payment I’d ever received for a piece of music at the time)  and that was a significant change in the way I I had seen myself up until then.  Previously I only just lost out to a song being used (guess) in a campaign for Adidas. I was beaten by The Kinks. Ok, if you are going to come second, second to the Kinks is not such a bad thing.  So I kept on playing and kept on singing and writing because that is pretty much all I ever really wanted to do anyway.

Years slid by and a few months ago I decided it was time to dust off the old releases, as the ownership of all my works and releases had long ago reverted back to me. I figured it was time to draw some attention to them and try to make something happen. I was fooling a bout with the Movie Maker program and decided to make a youtube thing for Make It happen. Why? No reason, I just thought due to the nature of the song it would be the most accessible. It took me a day and I posted it, and it went by seemingly unnoticed but something happened somewhere… The next day I got a call from my publisher saying there was interest in the song Make It happen for a commercial. I greeted this with my usual healthy slab of cynicism, but was told no, “This time for sure”… So then the long wait, the haggling, the negotiating and all the time I am thinking, hoping and even praying “Please Make It happen” It became my mantra, well almost. Of course it finally did. I wouldn’t be writing this otherwise. It is strange to think that the requests from 2 little girls, on 2 different sides of the world so many years apart could actually (for me) Make It Happen. My good friends that helped me record it, I thank deeply and warmly from the very heart of my heart. To my publishers at Perfect Pitch (especially Peter) and to Ryan and Pam in the U.S.A. I offer my profound gratitude. To all my friends and supporters that have come to see me play over the years and believing in the “power of my voice” I say thank you, so much. Of course I have to thank Yoplait for choosing to go down this path, I am most humbly appreciative. And to those closest to me,  who stood by my side, believing in me and the love and the dreams we have shared, and especially to my partner Joey thank you, thank you, thank you. You have enriched my life. You have blessed me with your belief. YOU, made it happen, But you also gave me the chance to help and inspire other people to ‘Make It happen; What a fantastic (even if so simple) a thing to be able to promote., positive affirmation. Ok, it’s not Give Peace A Chance, but it is a positive statement in a world that to me seems to be constantly struggling for direction. Here is the youtube link, should you be interested…

and here is the link to the album A Once And Future Thing, that the track was lifted from, again, should you be interested…

http://stevelucas.bandcamp.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Sea8ch

CCount Yourself Lucky my boy

The Power In Naming

http://stevelucas.bandcamp.com/album/all-too-human

WE have been told many times how in many cultures you never give someone your ‘real’ name or ‘soul’ name as it gives whoever knows it the ability to command a certain amount of power over you. I was thinking about this as I drifted off last night and how it also works in the naming of songs and even albums. There is resonance in the naming as much as there is resonance in the very vibration of sound let alone music. So naming or connection the two can cause – let’s call them issues.

Now I am not saying this applies to all songs but with some songs the writer becomes especially attached to and they kind of lead to an almost prophetic glimpse into his destiny. A classic example John Denver’s Leaving On A Jet Plane seeing as how he met his death while flying an aircraft he built himself… An example closer to home was Ian Rilen with Bad Boy For Love; it’s is almost as if once written he felt obliged to live up to the title if nothing else. He was indeed ‘a bad boy to love’. Songs become attached to you by the public as well which also gives them (the song ) a certain power. ne has to wonder if Keith and Mick still Can’t Get No Satisfaction?

The song that I think (as a writer) that resonates mostly with me is a song called Don’t Cry No Tears. The lyric content could almost have been composed by a ‘future’ me in order to console and encourage the ‘developing’ me through the tragedies that all too often would plague my life. Tied in with this, the first complete song I ever wrote – Movin’ On – also seemed rather predictive, but then the sentiments of that tune could apply to most people.

What got me thinking about this specifically was an album I wrote and recorded called All Too Human. I thought it had a certain irony as the way it was recorded it was the most un-human recording I’d attempted at that time. Instead of an amp I used a portable Rockman guitar processor (very unlike me) the drums were all electronic, though played manually and then dumped on to the one inch tape. You see, I demoed all the song to imple loops and gave them to Doug Falconer who the ‘arranged the drum parts, recorded them on midi and gave them back to me  and put them down to tape. Then I did all the guitar parts and demoed the bass lines I wanted. I gave a copy of this to Raggsy (Anthony Ragg, Kings Of the Sun) and asked him to “Use these lines but make them sound like a bass player” which he did beautifully. He then came back to my place and recorded his passes through a DI and that was that (apart from some keys laid dow n y Herbie Mayhem)

I need to backtrack… I had borrowed the Hunters and Collectors mobile 16 track recording unit for this project. It was huge and completely filled the lounge room in the weatherboard cottage I lived in with my wife (at the time) Amanda. She was pregnant with our daughter Madelaine song I wanted to keep it as quiet and (ironically) unobtrusive as possible, Hence no amps and no live drum kits. Doug was to take care of the drums and my vocals as co-engineer and I was to do the same with the guitars. We both were on hand for the bass and keys. So with all this automation and the personality quirks it developed, I thought it would be ironic to call it All Too Human. Machines being as subject to quirks and  idiocentricities, as we mere mortals were.

On completion Doug was obliged to o overseas on tour with the Hunters and Collectors and I got left holding the bag.  We pitched to the White label before he left and they turned it down.  Rather than sulk about it I enlisted Mike Duffy ( a good and close friend by then) to help produce the album instead of waiting for Doug to get back. I had my usual budget of fuck all but manage to get enough to get 2 days in Sing Sing to mix the album. Mike had something like 23 international gold records as a producer under his belt at that stage. he was and is am wonderful man with a very patient and gentle soul. Anyway, we blitzed the tracks and then once more went out into the world to shop it around.

My dear friend and sometimes manager Nick Chance found a home for the album with an independent label called Mighty Boy. Moira particularly loved it and contracts were exchanged and everything seemed to be going ahead nicely. A single – Count Yourself Lucky was chosen to lead the charge but meanwhile other things were developing and unravelling. Looking back I don’t know what or how it happened but things got all confused. Confusion.. an all too human trait. I was having troubles with Nick and Brian DeCourcy was making overtures for management and another good friend of mine Simon Smith was in the picture somewhere. I would say ‘this is what happened’ but I honestly don’t know exactly what or how.

In a very condensed version this is what unravelled. I needed a ‘live band’ to promote the single/album and Doug and Raggsy were fat too busy to go to so I enlisted my friends Chris Gormly, Boris Falovic and his partner Paula Sheldrake to become The Groody Frenzy (the named inspired by the voracious breast feeding of my newborn daughter (Groodies being slang for breasts in Clockwork Orange speak). Boris taught Paula all the bass lines (he was a fantastic guitarist and Paula did a great job delivering them through an enormous W bin normally used for PAs. Boris fleshed out and gave some extra flourish to my leads and I played guitar and sang as usual. Chris was a dynamo on the drums, I’d played with him before in a band I had called The Feel back in the early 80’s. Simon Smith I think was managing or booking the band by now and we were doing some fantastic shows. One that stands out in my memory was supporting the Cramps at The Palace (Melb) while members of The Sweet watched from the VIP lounge. (I was later called up for an ‘audience’ with them and they asked if I’d finish the tour they were on and go back to the States with them (as lead vocalist) if Brian didn’t recover from a ‘breakdown). I thanked them but declined, I had my own band and I didn’t want to blow them off/ I must have been nuts, but loyalty was everything to me then.

So we were gigging in Melbourne and the occasional Sydney show. The single finally came out and was given high rotation on 2JJ! Things alway look brightest before the storm…  cracks were beginning to show in the band and I was really wanting more than anything to just be with my wife and child. Music seemed not so important anymore. But the next thing I know is that the single has entered the FOX FM charts with a bullet! My publishers were starting to congratulate me on my ‘hit’ when it all went to shit. Mighty Boy folded and went into liquidation. All the stock was ceased, store could not be serviced and my world imploded. Simon was on my back about getting a new and ‘better’ bass player (inconceivable, I couldn’t separate Boris and Paula. Chris was getting more and more obvious in his lust for said Paula. Though projected in jokes or innuendo it was becoming more and more stressful. But I couldn’t sack Chris because he was my friend (even though I was being advised to by other parties. Avarice, lust, anger and envy all too human traits were beginning to raise their ugly heads. So the band was already imploding, at least from where I stood.

Then everything started going wrong, our dog (Mr bear died) and anyone who loved a family pet knows how hard that can be. My label was bust, the songs were no longer getting air play and the final most devastating blow was my wife leaving me. My world was in pieces and a black and oppressive depression settled over my life blanketing out just about everything but the love of my baby daughter and my son. I lost everything and called an end to the band. I don’t know. I don’t know what was said. I just knew everything was over. I could not see the point in carrying on… sound all too human?

But I survived. I was approached by a band called Bigger Than Jesus, they needed a new front man and wanted me. The band and the music gave a chance to really vent and get a lot of shit out of my system. I began to come back into myself again. So here’s the thing that started all this remembering. last night, in the middle of the night I was bombarded by a series of texts, sometimes abusing me, sometimes saying I fucked the ‘Groodies’ around by breaking up the band, how I fucked around so and so (people and names I have no recollection of at all) and getting the most ridiculous and incredible versions of what went down around that time. 45 text messages!!!! Rejection, another All Too Human trait. I figured out who the anonymous texter was early in the rants, but hung on waiting for them to fess up.

“Groody Frenzy must not die with me? There is a piece of rock and roll history missing? The JJJ live to air needs to be released…  “so and so hates you… etc,etc, etc. If there is one lesson that has been drummed ceaselessly into my head over the year, when it comes to music especially my music – YES, MY MUSIC – I wrote it, words and music – I arranged it and recruited the lineups. Nobody and no-one has the right to tell ME what to do with it. Call it egotistical, call it selfish, call it whatever you want. If and when I choose to release the JJJ live to air tapes I will. AND I will graciously and most humbly thank all those involved in making it happen. As it is I lost my only copies of the session and am now in the process of tracking down the masters. If the anonymous texter wishes to hand over a copy of the live footage from the Palace claimed to be in his possession I will gladly put it up on youtube. But at the moment they are playing games. I get accused of historical neglect while they sit on archival footage!!! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black (another all too human trait) Below are pics of Groody Frenzy (the live line up) Me and Boris, Paula and Chris… though not necessarily in that order.

Here is a homemade clip… the rights of sourced images from the net are are graciously acknowledged as well as my own rights pertaining to the music from the album All Too Human.

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Congratulations, You ARE A Businessman

I didn’t get too far into the news today. The first two headlines fisted into my face and were enough to put a stop to that. It should come as no surprise but well, it did. 4.5 billion or was it 5.4 billion (?) dollars slashed from foreign aid. Ok, let’s try and see it from the Government’s side. What have foreigners ever done for us? Ok, they may have had a hand in building the Warragamba Dam and the Sydney Harbour Bridge… they may have help make Australia a thriving multicultural nation but hey, we (the Government were here first, if not a close second). Not counting the indigenous inhabitants because after all, they don’t count. They had this country for what…? 40,000 years and what did They do with it? Fair is fair!

Oh yeah, I noticed that Church Leaders are outraged, especially the Catholics… well, as a Government who cares? They, the Churches, are only a bunch of peadofiles and hypocrits.  They no longer enjoy the confidence of the flock OR the support of the media, nicely done boys – let him without sin… etc – so they no longer have the voice or right to be heard. The media crucified them, you’ve got to laugh at the irony of it all, don’t you. …No?

And of course it’s only right to seek out ex cops and agents in order to gang bust the unions! That’s what they did in the 50’s isn’t it?Who in their right mind would want a bunch of filthy, long hair, tattooed, drug dealing bikies running our build industries when you can have greedy, clean cut, alcoholic coke snorting suit wearing businessmen far more well trained in the art of graft and corruption than those doped out junkies. I mean, it’s all about how things look and getting the job done, cheaply as possible with kickbacks for all your mates. So long as it looks good it is good. That’s what the public wants, isn’t it. That was the resounding mandate delivered by the polls.  We are only after all, getting down to business. Claim your rights to negotiate your wages now you greedy working class parasites! By the way, you gave us the mandate to whatever we want, so let’s not hear any complaints huh? You wanted this.

Also Australia is to abolish its emissions trading scheme, disband a climate advisory body and institute a carbon reduction policy that experts say will fail to meet its meagre target. We all know what you can’t see can’t hurt you. We all know that trees need carbon to breathe, the more carbon the more trees for us to cut down. It’ a win win situation. Is that what you’d have us believe? And while we’re at let’s repeal the anti discrimination reforms. If you can think it say it, it’s not racist or like that other sticky one … err … sexist. We all know what goes on inside. If you offend someone you can always say you suffer from ‘Daggy Dad Syndrome’ or DDS as we like to call it. It’s all for the sake of moving forward in a backwardly kind of way. You’ll all understand before too long. Tough love means tough decisions.

Is itime to break out the love beads and peace signs and bring back flower power, get green and mean or is it time to break out the brass knuckles and hitch up our belts and suck it in and kick and beat this country back into reality. Money talks, but bullshit (no longer) walks, it rides in limousines. Lets go back to the Menzies era and start again. Australia is the USA’s little brother, what else do we need? WE don’t want any other friends but we’ll still tip our hat respectfully to the Queen and co.  We are strong and united. We are  The Island Continent that other countries and nations could only ever dream to be.

Hail to thee Atlantis!!

err, and Congratulations!!!!

http://youtu.be/kCR62FbgGSs

 The video says it all.