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To my friends

To my friends,

So I might seem like I’m an open hearted, emotional, sharing kind of guy but sometimes I’m not. With the big things definitely not. So I’ve been wavinh away well wishers like flies – “I’ll see you next week!” – in an attempt to keep things normal and grounded.

Well, it occurs to me that as much as I didn’t want proper goodbyes from my friends, maybe my friends deserved proper goodbyes from me.

So, thank you to everyone for everything. I’m going to miss you so much. Keep in touch. Write regularly. Send me photos. I’ll do the same.

Love, Danny

Last day

7:29am: I’m awake. Put on the Darren Hanlon record and showered. Got so much to do.

8:57am: Helped Dad with his blood test. Packed away some more stuff. Listening to Supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp.

9:23am: Had some food. Reconfirmed flight. Window seat! Yay! Put on Hourly, Daily now. Full circle right? This is just like that show 24. But with 7 million less people caring.

10:14am: Being There is on. Disc one. Called Bec. Called Tara. First cigarette of the day. Threw out lots of old magzines. Where is my USB thumb drive?

11:19am: Casino Twilight Dogs. Talked to Casey about plans for tonight. More stuff under the stairs now. All blockmounts in the wardrobe. Second cigarette. I think my Belle And Sebastian best of next.

Things I love about Sydney part 6

For previous entries, see here…

6) The Religiously Confused Part Of Castlereagh Street

When I was in the early years of high school, I found religion very interesting. Mainly it was because I was attending Sydney Boys High School, quite a way out of my comfy ethnic suburban upbringing. There were lots of nationalities and cultures there, not just the same five or six. Josh was the first of many Jewish friends I would make in my life.

I went to Josh’s Bar Mitzvah when he turned 13. Man, it was so awesome. His parents hired out the Panoramic Room at Randwick Racecourse, and over the monitors that usually displayed racing statistic, Josh had put on Star Wars: A New Hope. It was cool.

(Note: in these openly communitative times, I’m noting that all names used maybe false)

Anyway I point this out because at age whatever-I-was-at-the-time, religion, God and all thought of with equal curiosity and cynicism by Josh, who would never come out with us on Friday nights cos he had something on, and me, the son of the few unbelievers in an Church going/Salvation Army kind of family.

I mean, I for one was fascinated by Judaism. Such a rich long culture, with such a respectful grace about it. And of course a history of hardship. Lots of far out looking Synagogues.

There was a kid at school who was a Seventh Day Adventist. His name was Tom and he was a really great guy. Very funny. He ran funny too, but not in a way you could make fun of – he just had an odd style about him. There was another Jewish kid, who was a little awkward, had glasses, and wore a kippah, one of those Jewish skullcaps. And kids used to take it off him. Ah – kids are shits.

There were, of course, your garden variety Christians, Catholics, Muslims, etc. Even things like the Korean kids, or some of the Lebanese kids – some had it tough with their parents being really strict. They couldn’t go out after school etc. That seemed to come from the same place as religion. It’s how your parents are making you live your life. Maybe that’s cruel, but it was fairly true. In most cases, talk of religion was like showing other kids what your parents made you for lunch. You’re a little embarrassed, but everyone knows that there’s nothing you could have done. Five minutes later we’d all be equal on the touch footy field anyway.

There were two other religions that we were fascinated by. Two that were kind of new to me around this time, and I never met any kids who were these religions. The first was the Mormons. They were amazing to look at, first and foremost. So clean cut. I did spend an afternoon with a couple of American orphans years later. But I really need to move on to the second of the two…Scientology.

Firstly, the name. I don’t get it. Were these people the ones who believed in Science? It was like sex education all over again. There were kids who would somehow have that knowledge that we didn’t have – about girls, about drugs. And a couple, they kind of knew about Scientology.

We all agreed it was weird. We knew that it involved giving money a lot, some weird mind games and strange astrological beliefs (that was just the girls – ha ha). But we were willing to find out more. Josh, who has the best sense of humour you’ll ever meet, decided to come with me one day, to the Scientology building on Castlereagh St in the city (it was across from Kings Comics anyway).

So one day after school, we decided we were going to get some literature. This was almost the same situation that would happen that same year, when we tried to get Alex to buy a condom at the Condom Kingdom. That boyish curiosity mixed with a sense of danger. So Josh and I approached the building. We were looking at each other nervously. It was like we had chocolate in our pockets and as soon as the shopkeeper stirred, we’d run.

And that’s when the hat rack style pamphlet holder near the door of the building decided to fall over and die. On a windless day, it just went ker-plunk, leaving Scientology literature scattered at our feet. We had no idea what happened. It occurred to us, right away, that it could well be an act of God. All I know was that we looked like two little shits in scruffy school uniforms who just pushed over some poor people’s display thing for kicks.

Needless to say, we ran.

I haven’t thought about that incident in years, but even as weird and amazing as that was (and how far we dined on that story), that’s not the reason I love that area of Sydney. I love it because it’s right next to an Anglican Church. I remember it was years later that I noticed this. Sad, cos the Church is quite interesting to look at, but it’s kid of dulled over the years that I missed it completely.

I do wonder what, say, the roaches who live in between the walls of the two places believe in. Surely they are in direct competition. I wonder if one kicks a football over the fence, if it’s returned, or deemed lost. It’s all so confusing. All of it.

Getting Further/Let It Go

Every year I make a 2 disc collection of the year’s best music – one disc of new stuff, one disc of reissues.

This year, I’ll be travelling over December so I might not get a chance to make one, so I thought I’d post my virtual one.

Also, every year I rip off a record cover for my own record cover. This year’s a nod to Bob Evan’s Suburban Songbook.

As with most of my compilations, there are liner notes. Here’s what would have been in this year’s collection for disc one:

1. Don’t You Think It’s Time – Bob Evans

From the album Suburban Songbook (Capitol)

The album of the year. Simple, heartfelt songs about the biggest things – love, loss, sadness, the future and all that. Everything that makes pop music great and an integral part of our world is here on this record, in spades.

2. When You Were Young – The Killers

From the album Sam’s Town (Island)

The single of the year. I used to hate this band and out of nowhere this impassioned Springsteen rip-off just bowls me over. So confident, so ambitious and so crazy. Great clip.

3. Let It Go – Youth Group

From the album Casino Twilight Dogs (Ivy League)

It’s so obvious for me to like this album, but damn it they did it again. This song in particular took me through hard times and helped inspire me to move on. The power of song, eh?

4. Funny Little Frog – Belle And Sebastian

From the album The Life Pursuit (Rough Trade)

B&S become T.Rex and grab bits of 70s strut-rock and stick their unique view on it. Maddeningly sad, naïve, heartbreaking but also danceable!

5. You Needed More – The Sleepy Jackson

From the album Personality – One Was A Spider One Was A Bird (Capitol)

Over-the-top it is, but moments of great beauty. And to a scale so few Australian bands dare to even look at, let alone climb.

6. Who Taught You to Live Like That? – Sloan

From the album Never Hear the End of It (Murderecords)

They put out a 30 song album, maybe as a nod to their hardcore punk roots. Punk it ain’t, however, but it’s the most fun sounding they’ve sounded in many, many years.

7. Elbows – Darren Hanlon

From the album Fingertips And Mountaintops (Candle)

Dazza’s third keeps with his low key vibe, as he quietly gets better at painting details, such as this masterful work about meeting someone famous.

8. Telecaster – The Crustaceans

From the album I’m Happy If You’re Happy (Popboomerang)

Debut record proper by Sydney popsters. Too clever by half, and so much fun, especially this gem which should be an anthem!

9. By My Own Hand – You Am I

From the album Convicts (Virgin)

What song to choose? You Am I’s first record in ages was a kick to the face, hard rocking classic.

10. Cocaine Habit – Old Crow Medicine Show

From the album Big Iron World (Nettwerk)

Every song by these guys sound the same. And each one of them is great. The only really countryish song on this year’s collection.

11. How Can You Live In The Northeast? – Paul Simon

From the album Surprise (Warner Bros)

Bob Dylan, Neil Young and the Boss all put out records this year and Paul trumps them all. It’s like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot part two… beautiful Eno production with thoughtful, playful lyrics about the now. Surprise indeed.

12. Givin’ It Up – Josh Rouse

From the album Subtitulo (Nettwerk)

This man can do no wrong. It’s perhaps I’m getting older, but this thoughtful songwriter shit really gets to me. And the strings!

13. My Valentine – Rhett Miller

From the album The Believer (Verve Forecast)

He continues to try and crack it as a pop star, and continues to write fine pop hits that don’t threaten any chart. This should have been a radio smash.

14. Love It When You Call – The Feeling

From the album Twelve Stops & Home (Island)

This is what liking Supertramp will get you. Pure cheese, pure fun. No apologies. Sounds like it’s from some 80s teen flick!

15. Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further? – Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint

From the album The River In Reverse (Verve Forecast)

From a groovy but samey album, this duet is a highlight. Again, a politically charged record. It’s about time.

16. Heartland Truckstop – Beth Orton

From the album Comfort Of Strangers (Astralwerks)

This album came out so early in the year and it just smells of late night whiskey and somberness. It’s a beautiful acoustic record. Gosh I love her voice.

17. Mardy Bum – Arctic Monkeys

From the album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (Domino)

Out of nowhere, these guys played one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen, recalling the rawness of Billy Bragg, the anger of early Costello and the frenetics of the Buzzcocks. And they played this breezy tune late in the set and it was the clouds breaking.

18. Wave Goodbye – Kelley Stoltz

From the album Below The Branches (Sub Pop)

Crazy lo-fi guy makes another great record of pop bliss with old age hum.

19. Take A Chance – The Magic Numbers

From the album Those The Brokes (Heavenly)

The Magic Numbers record isn’t even out yet, but it’s bound to be great right?

20. Still (Reprise) – Ben Folds

From the soundtrack Over The Hedge (Epic)

One of Fold’s best, recalling his epic ballads from the Five era.

Funny how it seems I always I wind up here with you, blogspot.

So, I’ve decided to restart a blog proper…away from the myspace page o’ mine.

So hellos seem to be in order. My name is Danny Yau. I am 26. I’m a writer (of all sorts). I’m about to set off to do some travelling. Just like Gulliver. Yup.

Also, my friend Tara has expressed interest in a blog.

So really, there’s not much to say in this first post.

Oh I’ve got one week left in the band I play in, Lazy Susan. We played a big show in Sydney this weekend and my friend Cath sent me this photo from it.

(Don’t worry if you don;t know any of these people I talk about…it will all be come clear…I hope).


Top Sellers part 3: Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours – 1977 – over 30 million albums

I love this album. I love Tusk too, for the record. This should be owned by another 30 million people.

What kind of album is this anyway? It’s not really a rock album. Or a guitar heavy album. Or a touching singer songwriter album. It’s very much of it’s time. And of course, it’s full of heartbreak and loss, but most importantly, a bit of optimism. Don’t Stop, the Chain…it’s the album to help you get over a break up, and take you for a smooth ride back to OK.

There’s so much story to this album that I’m sure you can find it elsewhere. There’s even a DVD of it! But here are some personal highlights:

– Don’t Stop. All of it. What a song. The sweeping, Beach Boys-y intro. The great bass playing. The guitar solo!

– The ba ba ba solo in Second Hand News. I mean, Lindsay B, you’re one of the underrated guitar gods. Why not sing a solo though.

– Dreams. Mick’s crazy backwards sounding drum rolls.

So there’s a lot of heartbroken people in the world. And it’s definitely an older, more mature record. There’s more depth to it than, say, I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine. I mean, …Sunshine… is a great, great song. But there’s more intellegence here. Listen to it when you next break up with someone and you’ll feel like you’re being mature about it.

Top Sellers part 2: The Beatles

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 1967
The Beatles – The Beatles a.k.a. The White Album – 1968
The Beatles – 1 – 2000
(all three over 30 million each)

Talk about shelf life. But it’s interesting what the top Beatles albums actually are. Sgt Pepper is iconic. If you’re going to buy a Beatles album and you knew nothing about them, you’d reach for that one. It’s the one people know about. It’s like how Belle And Sebastian’s Boy With the Arab Strap is continually their best seller cos it has a strong title track, a Brit award and it’s just the one people knows. Yes, it’s exactly the same, divded by about 300.

The White Album is a bit funnier. Maybe I’m underestimating the masses, but this is probably the Beatles at their least accessible. Okay, maybe it’s another iconic status thing. But 30 million people own Wild Honey Pie?

Finally – we have 1. 30 million plus sales in 6 years. Holy shit. I don’t actually own this but, but I kneel to such pulling power. How can 30 million music fans not already own most of these songs? Are the Beatles gaining 5 million fans a year? And 5 million casual, just-want-a-best-of-please fans at that. More mind boggling than the end bits of Day In the Life.

Top sellers part 1: The Eagles

In a conversation on Friday night, that lasted all of 2 minutes, it occured to me that I own and love some multi million selling albums. Sure, I own Hoolahan albums that maybe 200 other people own. But I also own Bridge Over Troubled Water, over 25 million in sales. That’s more people than Australia and New Zealand COMBINED.

Taken from wikipedia –

Here are the highlights:

The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) – 1976 – over 40 million albums

#1 was Thriller. I don’t own Thriller but sometimes I think I should. Both for historical reasons – I won a lot of albums just for library upkeep. I imagine there will be a time where there will be a nuclear apocalypse and I will be forced to live out eternity with only the things I’ve collected. This is the same reasoning I use to justify the purchase the Simpsons on DVD. There may be a time where I am stranded, on a dead planet, and I’ll want to watch the Monorail episode, so lucky I bought it!

But back to the Eagles. I don’t actually own this version of the best of, which is the blue one with the weird skull thing on the cover. I own another, 2-CD best of, that is mostly kept for the above historical purpose, and it’s also quite a pretty double CD/slipcase thing (I didn’t pay for it though). I don’t really listen to it, and I know you’re supposed to hate the Eagles, but I have to hand it to them for a couple of songs. New Kid In Town for instance, I really like. So the best way to own it is on two discs, with great liner notes. I have spent more time reading the notes to this package than listening to the actual music.

What amazes me about this title selling so much is that sales would have trickled to almost a stop by now, surely, by superior collections. This ten track album doesn’t even have Hotel California, or for that matter New Kid In Town. It has Take It Easy. Tequila Sunrise. Take It To the Limit. So what the hell? This this collection, even being quite generous with my estimate, sell over 35 million before 1994? A new, better, one disc best of was put on the market around then, and there’s been box sets and other things since. This is simply AMAZING.

Thriller would surely have sold millions upon millions in the last 12 years. So would have Black In Black, Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zep IV (all 40 million plus). That’s quite an opening lap there.

Belle And Sebastian @ the Enmore Theatre

Belle And Sebastian played at the Enmore Theatre on June 13th.

The gig was fantastic. Opening with a great, sinister (no pun intended) version of The Stars of Track And Field, the set proceeded to cover most of their new album, the Life Pursuit. It’s a strange album, the Life Pursuit, as it’s more T-Rex and 70s rock than the lightly strummed Forever Changes-isms of ‘classic’ Belle and Sebastian. But just as Dylan took literacy and imagery withn him, kicking and screaming into rock ‘n’ roll, so has Stuart Murodch and co., who has brought hs stories and wit into a new sound.

And it’s a sound that suits the live setting. The rockers kicked ass – White Collar Boy, Jonathan David and the current single, the Blues Are Still Blue. All were fantastic. But whenever Murdoch sang one of his signature songs – be it The State That I Am In, If You’re Feeling Sinister or Judy And the Dream of Horses, the tenderness and confidence in those songs are overwhelming. So slow, so quiet, so great.

And of course, there are many songs I would have liked to have heard – top amongst them is If You Find Yourself Caught In Love, which we didn’t get to hear.

SITE: Belle And Sebastian

MP3: The Stars Of Track And Field – Belle And Sebastian
From the album If You’re Feeling Sinister (Jeepster, 1996)

MP3: If You Find Yourself Caught In Love – Belle And Sebastian
From the album Dear Catastrophe’s Waitress (Rough Trade, 2003)

MP3: The Blues Are Still Blue – Belle And Sebastian
From the album The Life Pursuit (Rough Trade, 2006)

Billy Preston: RIP

Billy Preston passed away yesterday, from kidney failure. He was 59.

If by some chance you don’t know, Billy was the man who added his keyboard wares to the Beatles’ Let It Be sessions (performing on songs like Get Back) and was credited with easing the tension of those sessions in some way.

He also recorded with and toured with the Rolling Stones. He was also a significant soul voice in his own right, and co-wrote “You Are So Beautiful To Me”, that awesome over-the-top ballad.

He is perhaps the world’s most known rock keyboard/organ player, defining it for generations. I’m assuming you know the Beatles stuff, so I’ve included Can’t You Hear Me Knocking? by the Stones in all it’s glory, and one of Billy’s earlier recordings, keyboards for Sam Cooke.

WIKI: Billy Preston

SITE: Beatles, Stones Sideman Billy Preston Dies – Billboard

MP3: The Rolling Stones – Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
– from the album Sticky Fingers (Virgin, 1971)
MP3: Sam Cooke – Little Red Rooster
– from the album Night Beat (RCA, 1963)