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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
If you’ve been reading my words on music for some time and have an interest in hearing my voice, here’s an impassioned Debbie being the latest guest on The Music Dissectors, an Australian-produced podcast that devotes each episode to an album that has made an impact on the life of the guest. There are many albums that have had that impact on me but I could not go past Hotel California as the number one. So this is 90 minutes of me talking about that, with various tangents as well.
It was 40 years ago today that Chicago’s original and most brilliant lead guitarist, songwriter and vocalist, Terry Kath, died here in Los Angeles. He shot himself in the head. It was a horrible, ghastly accident; he thought the gun was unloaded. He was eight days short of his 32nd birthday.
The news came through to me in Sydney as I lay in bed on a summer morning during school holidays in January 1978.
or: The Interview You Do When You’re Not Doing An Interview
23 July 2017, Dallas, TX
Sitting in the front row at Don Henley’s Runaway Tours Q&A in Dallas the day after his 70th Birthday Concert, I could almost have been at a press conference, except that most of the questions being asked at this fan event were more thoughtful, and for the most part more educated, than anything the average journalist would ask.
15 July 2017. Dodger Stadium, The Classic West, tonight, starring the Eagles, and I was not there.
My summer concert season has been in full swing and I have a backlog of at least seven reviews and reports to write with a lot of great photos from great shows. And yet here I am on a warm Saturday LA night writing about a show I didn’t even go to. An absence that has caused me much more anguish than I expected. An absence I will regret always.