Monthly Archives: July 2015

Mars Beat

I don’t know whether an “Our” music, that Mikel is speaking about in his last blog, is possible for a culture or a country anymore. For that to happen there would have to be a kind of musical isolation in which there was a limited amount of outside input. Same as with the evolution of species. And because modern Australia is a young country I suspect the chance for a uniquely Australian form of music (outside of the ancient Aboriginal music mentioned) probably passed by with the advent of the radio. Radio introduced crossover on a big, international scale. Television and the Internet have only increased that crossover. Hybridisation is, I suspect, with us for good. In every context, not just music. At least until the first, brave human pioneers  colonise another planet far from home.  In fact based on the fact that Australia is quite other worldly (in a lot of the photos I’ve seen anyway) Mars Beat may yet prove to be the first truly Australian genre.

But aside from all of that, I don’t personally think that the creation of new, unique genres matters that much. If they happen they happen by accident anyway. What really matters is that people continue to create new things. Because we have to. That means that great creative new music can and will still be made.  And if the person making that music is Australian, it will always have an Australian taste, if the art is coming from an honest place.

Mikel’s blog reminded me of a song I used to love by Midnight Oil called Beds Are Burning. I just listened to it, and it moved me even more than when I first heard it. Partly because it is a fantastic song, partly because it speaks some powerful truth,  and partly because it took me back to a different time in my life. It was also a sad reminder of how slowly change comes. It takes more than simply the desire for it to happen, or the recognition that it needs to happen. It requires us (in my case, me!) to do something.

So I’m greatful for those Aussie boys for putting passionate, convicting words to a sweet pop/rock melody and a primal beat. A force of nature emerging from the outback like a giant, diesel truck from a heat haze . Top of the Rocks plugged into Alice Springs. It connected with me.



“Our” Music

Does your country have something you all call “our” music?

Australia does not.

Aboriginal tribes have their own forms of song and rhythm tools and the magical didgeridoo.  White Australia has often borrowed the digeridoo and some successful bands have been of Aboriginal origin and driven by a desire to share an Aboriginal experience of being Australian via their music and performance.

However, White Australia, us later comers who have lived here only two hundred years, after stealing the land the Aboriginal tribes and clans had been custodians of for forty, fifty, sixty THOUSAND years, have not yet created our own music form.

We generally have a lot of live music venues, pubs and the like, so emerging artists of the popular ilk can find places to practice their craft with the immediate feedback of a positive or negative audience.

We borrow other forms of music,  blues, pop, rock and do them really well, but they are not OURS.  We also do a lot of classical music really superbly, but again, not OURS.

Every now and then an artist will come along who writes songs about our experience that makes our cities and our streets sound as cool and important as the songs we love from the UK or the US make their cities sound.   I’m thinking of Paul Kelly or Richard Clapton as examples, or Midnight Oil or Skyhooks or ………..    more and more as I think about it.

As wonderful as these artists are, we still have not created OUR music, there is no form that originated with us.  Not yet.

How about your country?

Do you have a music that you all say is “our music”?



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The Scale of Your World?

I was stunned the first time I discovered that there were teenagers living in Australian cities who had never seen a living sheep or a living cow.

I grew up being taken on touring country holidays by my parents and just assumed that ‘everyone’ had travelled outside the city limits.

I was equally astonished to discover that you could be elected President of the USA (George Bush Jnr) without ever having left the United States.  Astonishing to consider someone with that kind of power in the world, never having visited that world before acquiring that power.  More than a bit scary frankly.

See, I assumed that the wider world was INTERESTING to everyone and that if you had the money to visit the world, you would absolutely want to do that.  I was wrong.

I know the first time I visited the UK as an adult, it opened my world UP hugely.

That “opening” continues to do this day.  Indeed this blog is hoped to be part of that ‘opening to the world’ process – conversing with people from around the world to learn from them and share with them.

That first adult overseas trip not only opened me up to the World – I came home with an entirely deeper and richer sense of my home country and new eyes to see it and appreciate it.

One country I visited quite a bit in the past astonished me when I met a number of people there who felt comfortable saying to me, as a visitor from another country, that they did not care what happened to my country as long as their country did as it pleased.   I was mildly astonished at the attitude but mostly astonished at the fact that people felt comfortable SAYING that to me – telling me how unimportant my country was to them in comparison to their country.

That was the point at which I started to understand the old statement “patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings” (I heard that first in a Bob Dylan song but it pre-dates his usage of it.).

Some of us are comfortable living in a very local world.

Some of us are comfortable living in a totally global world.

I suspect most of us are somewhere in between those extremes.

My own path has been that the more I have experienced the world which is NOT “mine” – the richer I feel as a human being, the deeper I grasp my connection to others and to the planet and the more powerful and nuanced my experience of “my” local world becomes.  Your mileage may differ.


Mikel Azure.