Category: music

30 for 30: France

30 for 30 – as I reach my fourth decade of being, I’m writing about some of the things that made the three that came before what they were. 30 – mostly trivial – things that have been a part of 30 – mostly trivial – years.


The view from the Sacre Coeur
The view from the Sacre Coeur

I love France and French culture. I am essentially a Francophile.

Paris. Just the word evokes images of style, fashion and romance. It occupied a lot of my thoughts before I ever went there. It is still one of my favourite cities in the world – if not the favourite.

The place reeks of cliché. Walking around a beautiful courtyard, it’s easy to see a man in a stripey shirt busking with a piano accordion. It makes me want to scream “For God’s sake turn down the French!” But why would they? French is brilliant.

The government actually actively turns up the French. No matter how rich your company is, you can’t fuck with large parts of France. Apple wanted to build a store on the Seine and was told to fuck off. It took Apple years to build their first proper flagship store in Paris. The French still hate the new modern entrance in the Louvrethe Pyramide du Louvre.

The list of marquee landmarks are as long as any city and more than most. The Eiffel Tower. The Louvre. The Seine. Hotel De Ville. Notre Dame. Père Lachaise. Pompidou Centre. Arc De Triomphe. Sacre Coeur. But it’s the small things. The merry-go-round near Abesses. The street signs and lamp-posts. Even the most insignificant bridge is amazing.

And the people. The most beautiful women, just walking along the street, smoking. Old American couples on holidays along the river. Trendy French kids dressed in the latest crazy fashions.

There’s not a corner of Paris that I find boring. There’s just something in the water.

Before I got there, Paris was already the main place I wanted to visit. In my naivety I thought this was true for everyone. Paris! I mean, come on!

Yet I know people who’s heart – even far away Australian hearts – belong to different places they’ve never been. Some it’s New York (Amy), Italy (Kathleen), London (Liam) or Egypt (Jeanette). This only makes me love Paris more. I studied maps of Paris before I even earned enough money in my life to afford a flight.

I don’t know why I was drawn to it, but I was.

But this is not a post about Paris. My courting with France began in, as with most things, the music. Being a huge music guy. Being a huge music guy, it’s easy to com across plenty of non English music. For me, something caught my ear with French music. It also began my interest in the language.

It’s small things at first. Nada Surf singing a French song. The original “My Way”. Que Sera Sera. The Grapes song Je M’appelle. Francoise Hardy dated Nick Drake.

Eventually you get yourself some Serge Gainsbourg. Then the chanteuses. Hardy of course. Brigit Bardot. Jane Birkin. Each more beautiful and swoonworthy as the next. Then you get some Edith Piaf. Some Telephone. Some Sebastian Tellier. And you’re stuck.

Then there’s cinema. I discovered Jean-Luc Godard when SBS showed a film of his every week for months. A bout de soufflé, Pierre le fou, Weekend, Masculine Feminine – all great (Sympathy For the Devil is also pretty good, but super weird). Amelie and the work of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Jacque Tatu, etc. To this day, I am happy to see almost any French film at the cinema, be it arty like Diving Bell And the Butterfly, romance like Priceless or even teen dramas like LOL. If it’s on and I can make it, I do.

I love French cinema more than French music. But there’s also the films set in France. Charade is one of my favourite movies – the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made. Before Sunset, little more than two people walking and talking in Paris – so many great moments. Everybody Says I Love You. Even French Kiss. Even the Da Vinci Code. Perhaps my favourite film version of Paris is Ratatouille. It really glistens bright like that cartoon.

I really loved the food in Ratatouille as well. I’ve tried all the delicacies and liked them. Escargot. Steak Tartare. Raclette. If it’s French I’ll try it. I have thought about getting that Julia Child book. And then there’s the wine. Even the crappiest 2 euro bottle from a shop is pretty good. And my favourite beer is Kronenbourg.

Then there’s everything else. Architecture. Painting. Cabaret. Even mime. It’s the same culture that brought us A Remembrance of Times Past and A Void. There is something about the French. They approach everything with a touch of flair. A je ne sais quoi. They lead artistic lives. If you’re going to do something, do it with class.

Man On Wire was a 2008 documentary on Phillipe Petit, a French tight rope walker and stunt artist. Amazingly, he walked across the New York Twin Towers in 1974. When the American press got to him, they wanted to know one thing – why he did it.


Petit did not know the answer. He barely understood the question. He was expecting “how”. He just did something amazing, that brightened people’s day and fuelled imagination and possibilities. Do you really have to ask ‘why’?

Such a French way to look at life.

I studied some French in high school, and did more years of it in London. I can get by in France. On a good day I can get by without using English at all. I even managed to buy drugs in French once. They should put that in a test.

I have a few French language podcasts and plenty of French apps on my phone. I even tried to read Le Monde every morning for a while but I thought that was taking Francophilia into Wankery. I bought the first Harry Potter book in French and I’m working my way through it – and getting better at not reaching for the dictionary. What I really want is the Roald Dahl books in French.

I will get back to lessons as soon as I can. I started to write a story in French once. I’ve translated some of my own songs into French (badly). I’m still very much a beginner when it comes to the language, but I love it. Studying something has never been so easy.

Last time I was in Paris, I had a strange feeling. In my first couple of years in London, I went to Paris almost every month. I’ve been to many other French cities too. I really got to know the place.

I have my regular things. Train into Gare Du Nord, and walk through Abesses to Tim Hotel. Breakfast pastry from that little boulangerie around the corner that make awesome chocolate croissants. I have the places I like for dinner, for drinks and all around Monmartre. It also all ends at the steps of the Sacre Coeur, looking over all of Paris. I know my spot, the backstreets, how to get anywhere from my spot.

I’m not a tourist, but I’m still a stranger.

It’s like I dated this city for long enough. Time to step up or get out. I wouldn’t have left London if it wasn’t for this. Next time I go to Paris, I have to spend some real time there. Like live there.

So, I’m going to get the language up. I’m going to save. And then I’m going to go back. And live an artistic life.

30 for 30: Record Shops

30 for 30 – as I reach my fourth decade of being, I’m writing about some of the things that made the three that came before what they were. 30 – mostly trivial – things that have been a part of 30 – mostly trivial – years.


Bruce from Minus Zero Records, his now defunct shop

I love going into a record shop. I’ve hung out in them all my life.

I worked in a record shop in high school. I pretty much wrangled my way into the shop. It was called Countdown Music, and it was next to the supermarket where I worked. Every break I had I spent it at the record store.

It was run by Vicki, a lovely woman, who owned a series of stores with her husband. The Campsie store was Vicki’s baby. She was there every day, usually on her own. And she was a music fan but not a huge music nut by any means. It was chart shop in a mall.

It was a very small store too. So I’d be there, browsing the shelves and I could hear someone ask Vicki a question. And if she didn’t know it, I would just interrupt and answer them myself. I did this for a while until Vicki trusted me enough to mind the store when she went for short errands. Christmas came around and Vicki finally hired me. I had left school by then and started working there full time.

I have many stories about working at that shop. Almost all of them fond, although that might be dreaded nostalgia kicking in. But those stories are for another time.

(Best record I got here was with my first pay check I bought the Beatles Box Set, the one that came in a black bread box, which is long out of print.)

Before that awesome job, the record stores in my life were either chains, or the CD department of a bigger shop. Years of shopping with mum would have me running off to look at CDs while she did actual shopping.

As for chains – Brashes and HMV in the city were the main ones. Brashes in Pitt Street is where I used to go every day after school. There was a whole week where I would listen to You Am I’s Hourly, Daily on a listening post until I saved up enough to buy it.

Funny thing is, that was around the time I discovered indie record shops. The chains were great behemoths, but there was this little shop by the cinema that actually had an Hourly, Daily display in the window. It was the old, small Utopia Records. And although I listen to the album at HMV, I bought it at Utopia.

(And I’m glad I did because I got the “Beat Party” bonus disc. It’s also still my favourite album in the world.)

Utopia Records was primarily a metal shop. Dark, gothy and full of tattooed people all the time. I was a small kid in my school uniform. But Utopia had records I never saw in the chains. A Japanese version of Blur’s Modern Life Is Rubbish? Huge crazy box sets? Second hand but rare CD singles. Obscure bands no chain would stock. And – of course – vinyl.

It was love. And even though I wasn’t a metal head, there was plenty of records for me to buy. I think it was the point. Because a lot of smart music fans went to Utopia, so they stocked stuff like Nick Drake and Big Star – even though they are wussbags compared to Metallica. So I pretty much bought all the non metal albums I could find in that shop.

(Best thing I ever got there was the then-rare first Modern Lovers album, with the members of the band on the cover)

From there it was a small descent into the Indie Record Shops of Sydney. I had started to read street press and all those ads for all these amazing shops drew me in. Red Eye and Waterfront were the main ones – and I’m not sure I’ve ever been out in Sydney without at least dropping by one of those shops.

And I learnt so much. Both Red Eye and Waterfront would sticker their CDs with helpful information. “Rare Demo Recordings” or “Awesome album for fans of sunshine pop” or something. And it’s not like they ever stocked bad albums anyway. I remember asking for a Neil Finn CD single (his charity cover of I Can See Clearly Now) and a snobby person behind the counter said they didn’t stock that kind of stuff.

I did a lot of asking anyway. Ray from Utopia, Frank from Waterfront and various people at Red Eye, but mainly Michael. These were my teachers. Frank was one of the funnier ones – I would bring up an Uncle Tupelo CD to the counter and he would tell me to go buy Gilded Palace Of Sin instead.

There’s a lot of talk about the death of the record store – and the death of counter culture. Back in the mid to late 90s, the internet was nascent to say the least. You still had to ask, read and learn the secret corners of music history. Now we have Wikipedia.

Waterfront, which became my favourite, was bought out in the early 00s in a failed bid to start an online retailer. It closed altogether shortly after. Red Eye moved to a bigger location in a great part of town, still fighting the good fight. Utopia – well, it moved several times and started branching out into merchandise and memorabilia. It still has a lot of cool records, but has loss it’s underground vibe.

In the early 00s I was working as the Indent Manager for Warners – not worth explaining what that is but it did lead me to travel, and I had to look after all the indie record stores in Australia with obscure records.

Melbourne was probably the best music store city in Australia. Great Record stores akimbo. First time I went into Gaslight Records I had a nerdgasm. Add AuGoGo, Polyester, Greville and this little chain store JB Hi-Fi and you can spend many days doing nothing but shop go to record shops.

Again, it was a learning experience. Chuck from Gaslight turned me onto Charlie Rich, as Mel would point out big expensive box sets that I would no doubt buy. AuGoGo was more punk and had heaps of great Australian unsigned bands. Polyester was all about pop, in the indie vein, a music food staple. I loved going to these shops.

But the one I spent the most time in was Greville Records – mainly cos of Warwick. Oh Warwick. A great man, and funny as hell. Always enjoyed holding court with his customers, talking about how great specific words are in Bob Dylan songs, or going on and on about the Grateful Dead. He was pretty good with bootlegs and weird stuff too. I love that store – it may still be my favourite one in the world.

The Warner job and touring took me all over though. 78s and Dada in Perth. Big Star in Adelaide. Rockinghorse in Brisbane. Stores in Byron Bay, Canberra and even Ballarat Music and Tapes.

But that little JB Hi-Fi store in Melbourne opened in Sydney. Then every other city in Australia. By the time they got to Canberra, they literally bought out the competition. Gaslight and AuGoGo are gone. Australia was mainly JB Hi-Fi when I left. My life was back in the chains.

I went more obscure anyway. Frank from Waterfront started working for Mojo Music, a jazz specialist that branched into 60s and 70s underground stuff. I would live there – and have diet cokes with Frank, and talk about the Monks. Then over to Red Eye to talk to Michael for a while and pick up some new stuff.

JB opened several stores in Sydney, including another big one in the CBD. It’s amazing how quickly it grew and destroyed the competition, and now the music business is at it’s mercy.

I soon left the country anyway.

Wherever I go, I would always check out the stores. In Montmartre there was a little store like Mojo Music. And there’s the big chain FNAC. Barcelona was heaven – lots of small vinyl shops, with an eye for indie and underground. Pet Sounds in Stockholm. Heaps in Glasgow. Newbury Comics in Boston.

But sadly, they are dying too. Many times my dated Lonely Planet guide would lead me to a shop that had just closed. Legendary shops are dying all the time.

But there’s still the chains. The big HMV in Hong Kong. Virgin and Best Buy in the US. Virgin is even in Dubai. And yes, of course, I duck my head in every time.

London has the best record shops in the world. Even in a dying industry. Even though the island of Manhattan itself is about to have no record stores left, London booms. Sure, it had hard times and businesses go under. But it’s still remarkable.

HMV are the biggest chain left. But then there are the big indie stores. (Rough Trade, Sister Ray, etc). Then there’s the specialist stores – be your poison Jazz, Soul or whatever. Honest Jon’s in Ladbroke Grove was a reggae specialist. Then the collector scene – the second-hand world – is the greatest I’ve ever seen.

I really loved Minus Zero Records. And it was scary how quickly I fell into conversation with the people there, and how I still have so much to learn from these wiseolds.

Record shops are in trouble. Along with the entire industry. They have been hit hardest by the digital revolution. They are bleeding. Such a shame because I love them so. I love the knowledgeable staff. I loved working in one too.

I don’t use Amazon for CDs. They have limited vinyl anyway. I also don’t trust the shipping. So I will probably always need a shop to go into.

I hope there will always be some.

30 for 30: Birthdays

30 for 30 – as I reach my fourth decade of being, I’m writing about some of the things that made the three that came before what they were. 30 – mostly trivial – things that have been a part of 30 – mostly trivial – years.


Happy birthday

I was born on October 11th, 1980.

I have a pretty good memory, a collector’s bent, many on-and-off diaries and a list of all the shows I ever attended til around 2003 – which is how this little column can even exist.

Yet I have no recollection of birthdays until I was 18. It was just never celebrated. I never had a party – we just weren’t that kind of family. It was never a big deal.

I remember other kids birthdays. In particular I remember Josh’s bar mitzvah at Randwick Racecourse where in an inspired moment for one so young, he showed Star Wars on all the betting screens.

I don’t even remember being punched at school for it, or anything. And to this day, I don’t treat my birthday like a big deal.

October 11 is a day when very little happened/happens. Compared to friends of mine who share birthdays with Woody Allen, Alex Chilton or Bob Dylan, I have Luke Perry. And Marcus Graham from E Street.

The number one song when I was born in the US was The Police’s Don’t Stand So Close To Me. The Police are one of those bands I just think I will never get into. If it hasn’t happened by now. It’s not going to.

In the UK, it was Another One Bites the Dust by Queen. I love Queen, but this song is pretty average. When compared to the pop delights of You’re My Best Friend or Don’t Stop Me Now, it seems very second rate.

In Australia it was Upside Down by Diana Ross. Ok. I give this song a pass. It’s a pretty good pop song. And an important song for many people. It was disco though.

In the end, 1980 was a pretty shit year for music.

(The Goldie Hawn vehicle Private Benjamin was the US number one movie when I was born)

The first birthday I can remember doing something specific and interesting was my 18th. It was the end of high school and everyone was studying (I perhaps should have been). So with no one around, my brother’s girlfriend took me to see The Truman Show at Auburn cinemas.

Life became music after that – and that’s what I think of. I would see bands on my birthday. I spent my 19th birthday onstage with my favourite band – You Am I – and support band Shihad, in a small NSW town called Tumbi Umbi. I was serenaded on stage for a little bit, got embarrassed, walked off, tripping over Davey’s guitar lead, unplugging him. Great night.

I’m not sure how the Thai restaurant Doytao came into my life. Maybe cos it was close to my first flat out of home and it was recommended. I had a birthday dinner there with my parents the first year I moved out of home, and that tradition continued. Ross told me recently that the place has changed – I hope not.

Mainly though, I took my birthday off work and would just wander into Sydney city and do whatever the hell I wanted. Spend hours in record shops, talking to friends who work in the city, walking by the harbour. Not drinking meant not having a party was expected. Some simple drinks sometimes. It was never a big deal.

My best birthday was 24, because that was the day the very first album by my band – Last Impressions by The Reservations – was released. Nick, the guy who owned our label, did this. Even though we moved it back a week, it is still an amazing gesture. So it took me 24 years exactly to make that first album.

Even without people knowing it’s my birthday, people were calling all day about seeing our album in this shop or that shop. MySpace and digital was still quite new in Australia (our album only just got on iTunes) so you had to get it from a shop. Anyway – it was old school and it meant more. Before digital tore up the rule book, I’m so happy to have made an album that was released the old way.

And that was my 24th birthday. When I look back at all the amazing things that happened to me on my birthdays, I’m not sure how this one could be beat.

Second favourite was my 26th, where an amazing woman cooked me a steak.

In the last few years I’ve had some big birthdays. Maybe cos it always feels a little like a holiday here. A big night at the Westborne. A big night at North Nineteen. I even spent one at Berlin, after Popkomm. Thomas and various friends helped me to live it up. I’m also not very used to getting presents – that’s something new.

This year will be quiet, once again. I am so disorganised. And the next few weeks will be a lot of farewells. As interesting as they are, they are just a day. And it’s more important to get these farewells right.

I was pretty obsessed with Beth Orton’s Central Reservation album, from 1999. I still am.

Since it’s come out, there’s a song – the title track – that I listen to every birthday. It’s my only real birthday indulgence. It’s like a little prayer. If you have the album with various mixes, it’s the “Then Again Version”. Those bubbly William Orbit keyboards kill me. But it’s got that escapist spirit of Thunder Road. It fills me heart with life. But the line, the chorus, is why it’s great.

Today is whatever I want it to be.

(A different remix but still pretty great)

30 for 30: Stephen Sondheim

30 for 30 – as I reach my fourth decade of being, I’m writing about some of the things that made the three that came before what they were. 30 – mostly trivial – things that have been a part of 30 – mostly trivial – years.


Stephen Sondheim

My current obsession is the works of Stephen Sondheim.

This 30 for 30 column has a rule – no musicians, albums or songs. I’ve written enough about those in my life. Sondheim, however, straddles a line into theatre. He’s not a songwriter, more a composer. He doesn’t sing or perform his own pieces. So he’s not in the same world as any of the musicians I like from the rock/pop world.

More importantly, discovering Sondheim brought together a lot of things I liked about musical theatre. And it’s my new and growing passion for that world that makes me love Sondheim.

So, straight at it then. Sondheim’s musicals are not fucking camp.

There. I said it.

Sondheim himself only started liking musicals when he realised they didn’t have to be showboat-y, big costume, jazz hands bullshit.

In fact, Sondheim is the opposite of shit like Glee. Not camp, not cheesy, not mass market, not re-appropriating familiar songs.

The reverse is true. Sondheim can be very dark, very confronting, very challenging and completely original.

Music can be used to tell or enhance a story. It can be used with such sophistication and finesse. In Glee, the people stop, sing, dance and fuck off, with no thought. I look at Glee and it makes me want to kill people.

So put your 2010 notions of musical theatre, as summed up by Glee, at the door. There is no common ground between the two.

Did I mention I fucking hate Glee?

Sondheim started work in the theatre in the 50s, and is still, to some degree, active today. He celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year, and the tributes came thick and fast. A new show on Broadway (Sondheim on Sondheim), a BBC Proms and more.

His most famous work is probably the lyrics for West Side Story – also the first major production he ever worked on. And West Side Story is probably when I first heard Sondheim too. Songs like America and Somewhere have become standards.

I always liked musicals, especially as a kid. Grease, My Fair Lady, Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins etc. The big ones everyone knows. And I grew out of them, but never stopped liking them. But without even trying to connect with Sondheim, I connected with Sondheim for years.

Comedy Tonight was taught to us at school. It was a shortened version, but what a melody and what a lyric. The song saved the play, Something Happened On the Way To the Forum.

Then there’s the million versions of Send In the Clowns. And Madonna’s songs in Dick Tracy. And the songs used in the film version of The Bird Cage. He’s a cult artist, but he’s not invisible.

What made me really take the leap though was a renewed interest in 40s and 50s American song. The Johnny Mercers of the world. Those songs sung by Chet Baker. I’d heard about Sondheim for years now. I decided to do the thing I sometimes do with a new musical interest. I bought the most expensive multi disc box set I could find and made my way through it.

From early demos to the troubled Road Show in the last few years, his career is amazing. Around a dozen flawless classics, hundreds of great songs, thousands of memorable moments.

Mandy Patinkin calls him the Shakespeare of our times and he’s not far off. He does farce (like …Forum) and he does dark, dark tragedy (Assassins – a play about killing the President – it did badly), and the full range of human emotion in between. He comments on love, on youth, on art, on revenge, on the nature of stories and more, over the course of his many years.

Let me talk about my favourite 5.

A Little Night Music

This is probably my favourite. Hard to say. When I write about the others they will probably my faves.

This musical is about a bunch of star crossed romantics, several couples and their entanglements that ends with a wonderful act in the forest, under the stars. It is romantic, fun and fanciful.

All the music is written in 3/4 – waltzes mainly. It opens with one of my favourite opening themes, as memorable as any movie credits by John Williams or Danny Elfman. Then it hits the show stopping Now/Soon/Later. Three characters sing their tales, seemingly one after eachother, before they sing their songs altogether, the music and melodies dancing together.

Send In the Clowns comes from this show. But the best song is A Weekend In the Country. The massive end of Act 1, every character comes together for a weekend in the country, where everything comes to an end.

What a masterwork. It encapsulates what made Sondheim great. No more musicals where a person feels a way, stops to sings about it, then moves on. This multi layered, multi vocals 8 minute piece actually traces the characters changing their minds and is part of the plot. And it’s pretty funny as well.


Released in 1970, it was a ground breaking work, but also a product of it’s time. The end of the swinging sixties, a man, Bobby, visits 4 married couples he knows in New York City. A very modern look at love, marriage and relationships, it also featured the music most closely associated with pop/rock.

It was another breakthrough work for Sondheim. He was such an American legend that this point that DA Pennebaker followed up his Don’t Look Back doco on Bob Dylan with one about the making of Company.

The “problem” with Sondheim is that he’s a chameleon – like Bowie. None of his works sound the same. He uses more guitars and accented New York voices, adds in some doo wop and blew away audiences.

I wish I could bury you with songs with this one. But I will post just two.

Another Hundred People – an ode to New York, sang to pieces by Pamela Myers. The clip from the Pennebaker doco is also great. Utterly modern. When I hear this song, I think Brian Wilson was making his West Coast masterpieces, and Sondheim was taking care of the East. There’s also great footage of Sondheim getting right in there and making changes.

The Little Things You Do Together. Company is fun. So here is one of the hilarious numbers. Before Company, Sondheim’s reputation rested on his wordplay. He worked hard on his music, but his wordplay never left him. This is the second song and when it breaks into that bossanova bit, I melt.

(How great are the New York voices. Jack Donaghy’s mum from 30 Rock, Elaine Strich, is the lead of sorts)

Sunday In the Park With George

The second half of Sondheim’s career is marked by James Lapine, a young avant garde stage producer. Even though Sondheim had decades under his belt, Lapine breathed new cool into Sondheim’s name. The staging and the ideas were like little anyone had ever seen.

Sunday In the Park With George is a surrealist fantasy about the characters in the George Seurat painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” (stay with me, people). The story then travels to the future, finding the descendents of our heroes, dealing with the same issues.

But basically, it’s a story about Art. George, the painter, struggles. His lover Dot struggles to understand him and leaves. The story is replayed in the future, with some lessons learnt.

The songs. Sondheim could do no wrong at this point. He abandoned any thought of writing standalone songs and smashed out stuff like the opening track which Elvis Costello would struggle to fit all the words in.

The heart of the musical is Finishing the Hat. The oblique metaphor comes from George painting a characters hat. And how creating a hat is what his life is about – what ultimately tears him and Dot apart.

Many see George as a stand in for Sondheim himself. The things said about art his this musical certainly reflects what Sondheim has said in interviews.

Into The Woods

This musical is a wonderful mash up of various fairy tales – Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and more. They all find themselves in the woods at the same time and work together to defeat a giant and all sorts of fun things.

It’s one of Sondheim’s most popular pieces, because it’s his most ‘family’ work. I saw a production in London recently, and saw little kids running around afterwards, trying to remember the lyrics, singing “into the woods! To grandmother’s house!”

And it’s all about Children. The musical has an excellent, ambitious 9 minute opening number. The hilarious Agony. The loving It Takes Two. But the song that gets the kudos is Children Will Listen.

The line – “Children may not obey, but children will listen” – kills me. And Sondheim has no children of his own. He just nailed it.

Here’s Bernadette Peters, who originated the role of the Witch, and was the first and most famous performer of this song.

Sweeney Todd

Romantic waltzes, sophisticated trysts, surrealism, fairy tales. If Sondheim’s range is not clear yet, lets look at his last work to hit the cinema – Sweeney Todd.

It may seem like nothing now, but having horror on Broadway was groundbreaking at the time. The blood, the chair, the gory subject matter…. people thought the producers have gone mad.

Some people think that Sweeney Todd is Sondheim’s masterpiece. It’s certainly great. The bizarre and memorable plot, and some of his best songs. The hilarious Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir (smells like piss), the holiday fantasy of By the Sea and long pieces tying in plot and storytelling.

Then, there’s A Little Priest. Who the hell can even come close to writing a song this great. It amazes me that this song could even be conceived.

That bit where Depp goes “Ah”, and Carter sings “Good you’ve got it!” is written into the song. How great is that? If only it was the full 7 minute version but they cut it down in the film. But the film version looks great.

Actually, I have to throw in Pretty Women.

I guess I don’t know that much about Sondheim, the man. I’ve listened to a lot of interviews, but he is pretty reclusive. And I love me a recluse. He seems like a grumpy man.

I can’t download musical theatre. I can’t pirate it. Most of them I can’t buy on DVD, or find the albums. Wikipedia plot summaries are woeful. So basically, I have to go see it. So I rearrange my whole life to do this.

I have tickets to see Passion next month, the main reason I’m staying in London so long. I am making plans now to see West Side Story in Brisbane. Coming back to London next year to see Sondheim on Sondheim.

This things is a part of my life now, and Sondheim is my door into this world. These writings have been about aging, and maybe it’s the path I’m supposed to take now. Nirvana at 10, Dylan at 20, Sondheim at 30…seems like the path a lot of people take. I’m happy to be on it.

I had to post this one. Sondheim is great, but he had some fantastic singers to prop him up. Watch how great Pamela Myers, Susan Browning and Donna McKenchie nail this complicated song, strutting their hips and looking like characters in Mad Men.

30 for 30: Filing

30 for 30 – as I reach my fourth decade of being, I’m writing about some of the things that made the three that came before what they were. 30 – mostly trivial – things that have been a part of 30 – mostly trivial – years.


My collection looks a bit like this, but I have better shelves and more stuff.

I have a complicated music filing system that has taken me years to develop, and I have spent years maintaining it.

Actually, I don’t right now. Most of my stuff is in storage (in order). There is some stuff in my current house. Then there are 8 boxes in the hands of the people at Anglo Pacific of books, CDs, records, DVDs and more. Oh God I hope that stuff is ok.

(A quick shipment track tells me it’s in Antwerp. Yes, that £60 copy of the first Left Banke album I found is in Antwerp)

I am excited about being home and joining my collection together. Yes, it’s nerdy. Yes, some people will find it creepy. But it’s the thing about music, books and stuff for me. I love that stuff, and one of the many things it does to me is bring out my inner librarian. I could spend a whole day just looking through my records. Scary.

Most big music fans have a filing system. Now, you might think you have a system. And you might have a small beginnings of one. But I have met some of the filing greats. People who have been collecting for decades, and/or owned record shops. Where knowing exactly where something is in 10K+ records is a very special skill.

I have a clear memory of Rusty looking for an record once. It was just as I was developing my interest in vinyl. We were looking for something at his house. He found the spot it should be in and pulled the record out. I could barely make sense of the thin record spines. I asked him how he found it so fast.

“You develop the eyes for it after a while.”

Now some kids see sportsmen, or action heroes, or James Dean, and say I want to be like that. I wanted to be the guy who could see records from across the room.

Here are the basics of the filing system. I think it is pretty close to a standard. Most music nerds I’ve found have come to similar conclusions.

Before we begin, one thing that has come up when people have come over and seen my collection. They say, you’ve got your CDs backwards.

What they see is this – if I was listing CDs named 1 to 10 in order, they would appear on my shelf thus:

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Now the reason for this is CDs face right when you stand them up, spine facing right. This is the logical way of doing it for me, although I have seen people go “forwards”. I go with the way my records go.

Now, they could still face right and go 1,2,3,4, etc. But then the last part of the sequence faces out, and the first part has it’s cover buried and the back showing. That doesn’t look right.

Now – I have argued with two people about this in my life. I would like to state that I am right. That’s what a blog is for.

The rules

Firstly – Alphabetical.

Easy, sure.

Alphabetical by Surname.

So, Hendrix is in “h”.

Band Name Trumps Surname.

This is controversial. But it needs to be brought up early. Ben Folds Five lives in “B”, where Ben Folds’ solo output lives in “F”.

Yes. I’ve heard it all. Fuck off. I have good reasons for this and we will get to them in a second.

This also means Sonny & Cher goes under “S”, being a rare case of a duo who uses their first names.

Band Name follows Surname

So Paul Simon comes after Simon and Garfunkel. Carly Simon comes in between the two.

It feels wrong when you get to David Crosby (all things do). Crosby Stills and Nash just looks better before David Crosby’s solo album. But, alas, rules are rules.

Numbers last

Sorry 78 Saab and 4 Non Blondes. And no, I don’t use the words for the numbers.

I have been meaning to buy that best of by ? & the Mysterians for about ten years but never have. I would file them right at the very end if I did.

So we have artists sorted. Lets explore the inner world of the artists.

Albums first, in release order.

This includes live albums.

So, for Blur, I have their 7 albums in the order they were released (Leisure to Think Tank), plus the (wonderful) Live At Budokan record from 1996 (a Japanese only release no less, bonus nerd points). On the shelf it would look like

TT, 13, B, L@B, GE, PL, ML, L.

Best of compilations next

If there is more than one, then the order for which they appeared. I don’t own that new Blur compilation ‘Midlife’, but I do own the 2000 collection ‘Best Of’. If I had ‘Midlife’, Blur would look like this.

ML, BO, TT, 13, B, L@B, GE, PL, ML, L.

(you know I am having so much fun writing this)

Other compilations next

This is where it gets a bit complicated. So many types of records fall into this category that it all gets a bit funny. Let’s continue with the Blur example. They have two other compilations I own. The Japanese ‘Special Collectors Edition’ – a collection of early b-sides – and Bustin & Dronin’ – a weird collection of remixes and live tracks. What records fall into this world are in order.

So for Blur

BD, SC, ML, BO, TT, 13, B, L@B, GE, PL, ML, L.

Where it gets weird is for someone like Bob Dylan. The guy has his 7 volume Bootleg Series, and a number of strange compilations on top of that, released within the years of that Bootleg series. So Bootleg Series goes next for Dylan, then things like Biograph and that strange (again Japanese only) compilation of live albums.

The other thing I do with Dylan is some weird things like early demos have been released as promo discs. They live in this ‘other compilations section” (after Bootleg Series) – but I put it chronological.

…now this might sound like nitpicking, but I am a collector and this is part of the fun of collecting for me.

Singles AND EPs next

Again in chronological order. This includes EPs that may have come out before a band started recording albums, or in between albums.

Some people put EPs in with albums, but I like keeping the albums on their own. I am a big fan of the album being the major works of an artist. So for a band like Even, who released an EP after their first album, that EP is relegated to singles.

Giveaways/promos etc.

These are officially released and pressed CDs. Single artist newspaper giveaways, bonus discs with a purchase from a certain shop, etc. I have a Blur sampler from the paper when that last live record came out. It would live here. That Elvis Costello promo interview disc I have. And so on.


There are two types of bootlegs really. Live, and not live. Not live goes first – bootlegged Go-Betweens demos, 2 whole CDs of outtakes for Good Vibrations – in order or recording date. New stuff is being found all the time, it’s impossible to find bootleg release dates. They also get repackaged all the time.

Then live stuff, in concert date order. Wilco and Dylan sections of my record collection have 50 albums that fall into this category. Mostly doubles too.


Finally, CDRs. Friend recorded radio sessions, my own b-side compilations, demos given to me by friends. These are roughly filed in the order of when the CDRs were made.

So each artist has their own internal logic. Which is the problem with Ben Folds. I see his solo career as a separate story in his career. And Going through Ben Folds Five then Ben Folds album, then going back to BF5 singles then BF singles – that makes no sense to me.

That’s only the artist side. It makes up a bulk of my music collection, but by no means all. Here are the cut-outs.


I have quite a few comedy records, and they live in their own world. Filed by surname.

See, this is where


In title order. This includes musicals.


This is a big section, all filed by title.

I have often thought about splitting this out further. I definitely tried pulling out Label compilations out (that is, compilations that showcase a certain label) and file them in label name order. Regardless of what they are called, it would be that Bloodshot Records comp, then the Creation Records one, then the Tommy Boy one etc.

I might still do this, because it’s a bit hard to keep track of those Label comp names. It’s just “That Creation Records compilation”.

But this section is mainly one big A-Z. Any better ideas, please let me know.

Mix CDs

I keep many of the Mix CDs people give me, and some people make me works of art. Not just the music on the disc, but some great homemade packaging as well. Alphabetical by title.

Deluxe Editions

I have plenty of deluxe versions of albums, and many are similar to DVD box size. Some are the size of a 7” single. These are filed together on a separate shelf – alphabetical by artist, then chronological from release date.

Box Sets

For space considerations, Box Sets live elsewhere. They have an artist section, chronological from release. Then a compilations section, by name. Some of the odder shaped ones, like Rhino’s Girl Group Box Set, or the deluxe edition of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, live wherever I find space for them. The Simpsons TV show album deluxe edition, the only soundtrack box set I have, also lives on it’s own.

Vinyl follows the same rules, except box sets are usually the same size as single albums, so they just slot right into the artist logic.

I’ve got two shoe boxes of various cassettes of things I don’t want to throw out. There’s only one commercial cassette I look after – a cigarette case style package for the You Am I single ‘Good Mornin’. It lives with Deluxe packaging.

It all makes sense to me, and there is a home for every type of record there is, or at least I have. I know where everything is, and where it should be. It keeps me from drowning under tens of thousands of CDs.

Which is perhaps the best reason I do it. If I didn’t allocate a place for thinsg to be put away, then I would never do it. And my collection, and my houses, would be a mess.

So there you have it. Easily the second nerdiest thing I’ve ever written.

The nerdiest is the spreadsheet I have that logs all this stuff. Yes, it’s mammoth, and I have to input it manually because the excel sort doesn’t follow my logic. I’ve been a bit slack with it of late but I do intend to get back into it.

The odd thing I’m running into is what do I do about digital albums? It’s something to consider.

A friend saw the spreadsheet once and she asked me if I kept that for insurance reasons.

I totally said yes. Even though it’s not true.

(I was going to write something about shelving but this has already been too long. If you got to here, let me know. Lets grab a beer and talk shelving)

No Expectations: The Rolling Stones C90

Jones, Jagger and Richards recording 'Sympathy For the Devil'

In the age old argument of the Beatles vs the Stones, I am a Rolling Stones man. One of the reason this seems incredulous to people is when you look at the Stones today, they are a bit of a joke.

Hence the C90 test.

No Expectations: The Rolling Stones C90 (click on the link to play in Spotify)

Taking a cue from the old 45 minutes-a-side cassette, if you were to throw my favourite 90 minutes of Stones tracks onto a tape, and did the same for the Beatles, there would be no contest at all for me.

In this digital era, I can easily recreate a C90 for the Stones on Spotify. 10 tracks a side, under 45 minutes each. It’s not like the Beatles are digital anyway.

So many great tracks missing – Angie. Brown Sugar. Honky Tonk Women. Time Is On My Side. Play With Fire. Under My Thumb. I just couldn’t fit them in. The Stones would hold up in a C180 test. Heck, I could even live without (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

I have also avoided later era gems like Beast Of Bourbon, Waiting On A Friend, Start Me Up etc. We kept it to pre 1973 – so we are still dealing in roughly the same number of years that the Beatles worked in.

What we do have is some of the biggest and best singles. The era defining, genre trashing, mind blowing highest achievements of the Stones canon. The yet to be beaten evil of Sympathy For the Devil. The far-better-than-Satisfaction riff of Jumping Jack Flash. The psychobabble intensity of Paint It Black. The mean streets soul Gimme Shelter. Is there are more beautiful song than Wild Horses? And You Can’t Always Get What You want has become part of our every day language.

I’ve mixed that in with some lesser known tracks. Not to be clever, but these are some of my favourite songs. In fact, Moonlight Mile is my favourite Stones song. The bittersweet Dead Flowers has been covered by every country artist worth a damn. She Smiled Sweetly is pop bliss.

The breadth of which that band travels is amazing – from 7 minutes soul, 2 minute blues punk and perfect love ballads and back. It’s a pity since 1974 they have been rewriting It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (not included here) – both musically and in sentiment. They played the dumb rockers card and are still playing it. But there is so much more to the Rolling Stones

The tracklist (and tracknotes) for those without Spotify. And if you don’t have Spotify and you live in a country that has it, you’re an idiot.

Side A.

1. Sympathy For the Devil

It could open with no other song. Their greatest achievement – their Day In the Life. But instead of peace and love, they rip it all up. The percussion track is fantastically devilish, Keith Richards is tearing it up on bass and Jagger is at his vocal and lyrical best. Best to avoid the strange Jean Luc Goddard movie that captures the recording of this song.

2. Bitch

Before it became a joke, the Stones mastered the blues rocker. With it’s frantic riff, it rocks the place.

3. Ruby Tuesday

It’s forgotten how great songwriters the Jaggers/Richards team were – and it was this song that first proved it for many.

4. No Expectations

One of their very, very best songs. The romance of things never returning, a beautiful country guitar – the Beatles could never get this direct and emotional.

5. Paint It Black

Whole books have been written about this song. Anti-war? Depression? Drugs? Who knows. But how many 1st year guitar players have learnt that riff?

6. Sway

Stones at their bluesy, sexy best. A ballad of sorts, it’s sweet and enveloping. One of many highlights they hid away on album tracks.

7. Gimme Shelter

Thanks to Scorsese, this song just sounds like violence. And rightly so. I feel like ducking behind a car when the intro starts.

8. Rip This Joint

Exile is a great album, but hardly the place to start with the Stones. But this side of them, the bar-room honky tonk punk, is something they do better than anyone else.

9. Get Off Of My Cloud

A product of the times, but still a clear sign they were more dangerous than any of the other bands in the era, with their naff matching suits and dated old men producers.

10. Moonlight Mile

One of the best songs I’ve ever heard, full stop. As cinematic as Springsteen, as deep as Dylan but still Stones all the way. Ending with a string section climax that proves the Stones are far, far more than a good bar band.

Side B

1. Street Fighting Man

One of the greatest side two, track ones ever. If a knife fight in a phone booth was a song, it’d be this one.

2. Let’s Spend the Night Together

The Stones invent glam rock. That chunky, chunky guitars and urgency propelled it 6 years into the future for Bowie to take it to the net. An early song, it was when the stones really hit their stride.

3. She Smiled Sweetly

A lovely folk rock number, showing a tenderness not usually thought of as very Rolling Stones.

4. Love In Vain

An update of an old blues song, this is a showcase for the guitarists – Richards and Jones, just riffing like mad, as Jagger sings the blues as soulfully as a white man can.

5. 19th Nervous Breakdown

They spent the mid 60s being the brats of the UK “pop” scene. And put-down songs like this was what made the working kids love them. A shimmering riff as good as anything by the jangling 60s.

6. Jumpin’ Jack Flash

If you look up the word ‘riff’ in the dictionary, it would just be the tablature for this song.

7. Wild Horses

Used in a million movies and touched a million hearts, this is not just their best love song, but one of the best love songs ever. Without resorting to wussbag sentimentality or flowery sentiments either.

8. Live With Me

Manager Andrew Loog Oldham creating a media storm with the headline “Would You Let Your Daughter Date A Rolling Stone?”. It’s songs like this, playing up the careless, useless, rock n roller image that helped cement the fear – and excitement – in young girls.

9. Dead Flowers

For a song about death, it’s surprisingly upbeat and positive. Used in a million weddings, and played for a million musicians passing away. And yet another hidden away track.

10. You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Alright! The full blooded, seven and a half minute version. Rock ‘n’ roll gospel, a hymn for the hipster, a bit of warm relief in a cold. It’s been covered to death and the phrase is now clichéd. But the original version is still a knock out.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

This is an interview I did for WGTB Georgetown radio in Catherine Degennaro. It was very random – she found my 100 for 2000 article about Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and got in touch. I have been involved in a lot of radio in my life and was missing it – so I jumped at the chance.

Re: Stacks – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by WGTB Blog

Check it out and the rest of the Re: Stacks series.

How odd to have this online, possibly forever.

30 for 30: Guitars

30 for 30 – as I reach my fourth decade of being, I’m writing about some of the things that made the three that came before what they were. 30 – mostly trivial – things that have been a part of 30 – mostly trivial – years.


Kurt Cobain with a Fender Mustang guitar

I play guitar, and have done so for fifteen years. I have owned several over the course of my life.

My first guitar was a Fernandes Les Paul. Now, Les Paul guitars are usually made by GibsonFernandes was some knock-off company.

I only got the guitar because Neil Finn played a similar one. It broke down a lot, and it was very heavy. At this point, I thought all guitars were this heavy. Trying to do jumps and rock moves were very hard. I didn’t realise Pete Townshend’s Rickenbackers were a lot lighter.

I did my first ever gigs, in high school, with it. In my first ever band – Parker. But the guitar was just a pain. I don’t think I ever even sold it, and it’s likely at the bottom of the stairs at my parent’s home.

My second guitar was my first acoustic. It’s a lot easier to practise on an acoustic as you don’t need an amp. My poor parents put up with me and my amp for long enough.

I don’t even remember the brand of this guitar (maybe Takamine). The cool thing about it was it was black – not like ordinary wood colour – a la Johnny Cash.

It was an ok guitar. It did the job. But by then I was playing around Sydney a bit and needed a decent guitar. I was also about to meet Casey, who knew more about guitars than anyone I ever met. I sold this nameless acoustic to the drummer of some band I was in that went nowhere.

And I never bought another bad guitar again.

The Maton EB808

My first proper guitar is still my favourite guitar. Maybe there is something in that – maybe she’s affected how I feel about guitars. She’s a Maton EB808 – with no cutaway or pickup.

I was never a great guitar player, but I loved playing this guitar. I know a lot friends who learnt guitar in their teens and 20s and have given up save the occasional strum. And they always have average guitars. A cheap Yamaha or something.

This guitar cost me almost every cent I ever saved up to that point. I never bought ANYTHING even a quarter of the price. And she was totally worth it.

Again, I decided to buy it because Neil Finn uses it. It’s slightly smaller than a normal guitar (three-quarter size) but it sounds rich and full. There’s no strap bolt where the neck of the guitar meets the body, so you need to strap it to the headstock – old school 60s Dylan style.

I think every musically hearted person just needs to find their right instrument. This Maton EB808 is mine. I learnt everything cool on her. Finger picking, Travis picking, harmonics, odd tunings and more. My guitar playing got a lot better very quickly. I wrote my first ever songs with her.

It’s with her that I started my practise of putting stickers on guitars. I know some people who think this is horrific. For me – I figure I’m never going to sell them. I liked customizing my guitars. So this Maton EB808 is covered in stickers of bands that I’ve collected from many years. And it’s something I did to all my guitars.

I also had to get a pickup installed (A pick-up is the bit of electronics that’s added to this essentially wooden box, so you can plug it into an amp). Jeff worked at Maton at the time so it was sent to the proper factory for a proper Maton pickup system. It’s a little thing, but it now means you can’t find one in a shop quite like mine – no cutaway AND a pick-up.

This will be my last possession on earth. The one thing I would save in a fire. Please bury me with this guitar. It is, in short, the most important physical item I have in the entire world. What else would it be if not a guitar?

A '69 Thinline Telecaster

My first decent electric was a reissue of the ’69 Fender Thinline Telecaster. Small, thin – it’s like a spear or a machine gun. It’s a very sexy guitar.

As usual, these were bought because heroes had it. This time, both Sloan and the Posies played 69 Teles in photos. I had no real idea about electric guitars at the time, but I was learning. And I knew I wanted to sound like Sloan and the Posies.

(Photos are, of course, misleading. Who knows why they are playing a guitar live, and if it has anything to do with their recordings. Annoying case in point was the Zombies, where the front of their box set Zombie Heaven, has Chris White holding a Gibson SG bass. But that amazing bassline in Care Of Cell 44 was played on a Fender P-bass. False advertising, I say)

I still have this electric guitar and it’s the electric I’ve used the most. Telecasters are such well used guitars – they are work horses. They are tough to break – and tough to sound shit. They were light and I battered mine around, sometimes hitting it on things to make sounds.

It’s my favourite electric guitar. I’ve flirted with other things, but this is the meat-and-potatoes of electric guitars for me. I’ve bought other guitars for strange or particular sounds. But 99% of what I like can be used on this fantastic guitar.

Before I got pickups in my Maton EB808, I needed to get an acoustic guitar I could use to play live. For reasons unknown, I decided to buy a whole new guitar. A Maton 325.

The Maton 325 is the guitar that everyone in Australia has. Maton being an Australian company, and the 325 being the entry level model. It’s a very good guitar, but nothing special. It’s good to have a spare but I could live without it.

I have no idea why Maton calls their guitars crap things like 325. How good are names like Stratocaster and Mustang? I have the same problem with companies like Nokia and their 4410s, 5510s, 8847s and crap like that. Just idiotic.

Chris Murphy of Sloan with a Mustang Bass (cherry red with racing stripes)

At some point, I realised I was never going to be a great guitar player, so I decided to go wide. I bought a piano, a drum kit, and even cooler – a Fender Mustang Bass.

Again, it’s a small body bass – bass guitars are usually big and cumbersome. But I found the Mustang to be very playable, and it sounded great.

I chose the Mustang bass because, again, Sloan used one. The Rolling Stones also had one – but both had these cherry red coloured ones with two yellow racing stripes. I couldn’t find one of those, so I bought a simple white one, and used it for years.

My band always had problems finding bassplayers and there was times I’d play bass. Then Lazy Susan needed a bass player and I took it up very seriously. I often think that I am actually a bass player – I love everything about bass.

Playing bass opened up my musicianship as well. I got to play for a variety of bands that needed a fill-in guy. From the blissful Australian rock of Modern Giant, the clever indie of Arbuckle, punk bar band Free Beer, the fiddly and melodic songwriting of Bryan Estepa, and the weird tunings but stunning songs of Josh Pyke. With guitar I have a style (I call it Teenage Fanclub), but with bass I’m a confident soloist and versatile.

I did eventually find a cherry red one with those all important racing stripes – and I sold my white one to Joel. After my Maton EB808, this is my favourite musical instrument. I can not wait to get back to Australia and become a bass player properly. Who wants me?

I was gigging so much at one point, I decided I needed a spare electric guitar. Because I was in love my with Mustang bass, I got a Fender Mustang guitar. Bright blue and has racing stripes. Mustang guitars are the sexiest guitars in my book.

It’s kind of a weird guitar. It’s got a particular, jagged sound. Similar guitars are favoured by Elvis Costello and Kurt Cobain. It’s an attack guitar – and I wrote some very nasty songs on her.

Unlike the Tele, this guitar is odd. That oddness led to an amazing moment for me. My friends, Red Riders, supported the Shins, and they let me guitar tech so I could meet them. I got my records signed and they noticed my guitar, and asked if they could try it. So there I was, Sydney’s Metro theatre, wacthing the Shins play amazingly with my guitar.

I must have been earning too much money at one point. I went guitar crazy. I ended up buying a 12 string Rickenbacker 330 off eBay. It’s what George Harrison uses in A Hard Day’s Night, the Byrds on Mr Tambourine Man and so many more. This was a weird colour too – cherry red with black details.

This was a mistake. I never used the thing. I spent more time tuning it than playing it. 12 string guitars are a pain. The sounds it makes don’t interest me – but I had to learn that. I sold it when I left Australia. It was a cool guitar to own, but it was not a guitar I loved.

I also acquired a Fender Lap Steel. Why? No idea. I thought I’d learn. I can make sounds on it, but I know nothing about playing it. It’s very cool though – it came in a very cool case. I thought about selling it, but now I think I will spend some time learning this instrument. It might take, it might not. We’ll see.

My Art & Lutherie Ami guitar, with stickers

When I decided to stay in London, I bought a guitar. I went down to the legendary Denmark Street and played around on several guitars. In the end I decided on an Art & Lutherie Ami. It is again quite small – the size of an old fashion parlour guitar – and blue. Again, no pick-up and I am looking at getting one installed.

It’s covered with stickers now – when I travel, I buy a sticker from a souvenir shop and put it on this guitar. Paris, New York, Morella, Rye – wherever I am. It’s now the souvenir of my travels. I have played it live in London pub open nights and written some songs on it. It sounds great.

It’s a weird shape so I’m looking at options of how to get her home. I might need to pay for a custom guitar case. We’ll see.

I went one step further than a sticker with this guitar. I superglued a music box to the frame. It plays La Vie En Rose and the body of the guitar amplifies the sound quite nicely.

There’s no guitars I have my eyes on at the moment. Maybe one day – but right now I’ve lost the dream of owning a fuckload of guitars. I don’t go to guitar stores all the time anymore. I don’t use all my spare change on guitar strings.

God, there’s even a good chance I will never buy another guitar again. Is there a better sign that I’ve found my instrument?