Songwriters Speak turns 15

This month I’m taking some time out to celebrate the 15th anniversary of my book, Songwriters Speak, on my social media platforms. So I thought I really should acknowledge it here, too, now that I’m expanding the content on Debbie Does Music to cover the Australian music I was raised on and worked with prior to moving to Los Angeles.

Because I am in fact starting work on a new book about music, I’ve been diving back into the memories and archives of the conception, writing and publishing of Songwriters Speak.

My first music love… like no other love

Sherbet and the sound that is ever sweet

When the present is so precarious and the future is uncertain, there is one thing that is sure and true – the past. It can’t be altered, and if we are lucky it’s a trip back to some of the happiest times of our lives and culture…

The beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere means my mind is playing and replaying the best summer pop song I know, Sherbet’s “Summer Love”, and wishing life was like that song instead of what it currently is.

Where I’m Not

I’m not at an Eagles concert, which I would have been, twice, this weekend.

I’m not at any concert now or any time for the foreseeable future, as one by one the music events I was looking forward to – Joan Osborne at Pepperdine University’s Center for the Arts concert hall, Beth Nielsen Chapman at McCabes Guitar Shop, a Julie Andrews talk at the Skirball Cultural Center, the Eagles Hotel California shows at The Forum – were crossed off my calendar, along with other music and non-music happenings. My calendar is a mess of things crossed out. I sure hate a messy calendar.

My Favourite Superstars

The live Australian Cast Recording of Jesus Christ Superstar and Remembering Jon English

Or: How to Clean Your Home When You Don’t Want To

Easter has come and gone for another year, Passover is just about passed over, the Angel of Death didn’t get me thanks to my parents’ mezuzah on my doorpost, and I have a clean bathroom thanks to my favourite stage musical. Read on to see how these things are connected.

Chicago – hard habit to break

3 March 2020, Fred Kavli Theatre, Thousand Oaks, CA

I guess it’s just complicated. Like so many relationships in life. Relationships to family and loved ones, relationships to work and relationships to certain music. Music I love, musicians I am ambivalent about as time goes on.

“As time goes on I realise just what you mean to me…”

It’s hard not to throw in lyrics and even pun some when it comes to talking or writing about Chicago.

Anniversaries – Chicago Transit Authority turns 50

Fifty years ago I was just six years old. I was growing up in Sydney, Australia. The major music landmarks of 1969 in the United States were worlds away. Yet this year I will find myself preoccupied with many anniversaries of great albums and monumental events. Woodstock, for one, and Crosby Stills & Nash, Sweet Baby James, Morrison Hotel… and today I am thinking about Chicago Transit Authority.

Rick Springfield – heart on his sleeve, strings on his bow

30 March 2019, Saban Theater, Beverly Hills, CA

I’ve been a fan of Rick Springfield for 45 years or so, and yet I only know a handful of his songs well.

I have several friends who are die-hard super-duper travel-all-over-the-country Rick fans, who have met him and talked with him and gone on music cruises with him and he knows them too. Of course they know every word to every song and so they might be appalled when I say I knew him long before they did and yet I hardly know the words to his songs. “Jessie’s Girl”, you bet. “Don’t Talk To Strangers”, pretty much only the chorus. Ditto “I’ve Done Everything For You”. I love Rick, I do, but my admiration for him is about something greater than the songs themselves.

A Heart torn asunder, now on the mend

“How can you mend a broken heart?” So sang one sibling group, the Bee Gees, and now the last man standing from that musical family, Barry Gibb, carries on, brilliant as he is, with an inescapable sadness over lives ended too soon, things that can never be said, or unsaid. Maybe that notion of the shortness of life is what’s prompted Ann Wilson to reunite with her sister Nancy Wilson and go back on the road as Heart this year. The what-can’t-be-said-or-unsaid concern, or just the lure of big money, has brought these goddesses back together for a 39-show “Love Alive” tour that will culminate at the Hollywood Bowl in September.

On the yellow brick road of Elton John’s sweet farewell

22 January 2019, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

Elton John just completed the six-show Los Angeles run of his very long worldwide farewell tour – Elton’s never done anything in small measure – and how very thankful I am that I saw a concert, because it was a glorious and preciously poignant occasion indeed. Elton’s signalled his intention to quit touring before – I’m pretty sure there was at least one “farewell” tour some years back – but I really got the impression he means it this time.