Saturday, August 29, 2009

meeting Clem (aka i'm a creep)

I've got an article on the boil at the moment. Well, I've only just started writing it and the thought of continuing with it tires me a little because I imagine it's going to pan out to be a long article. I'm just procrastinating really. The article is about Neil Finn and my love/hate relationship with him. The temptation (into temptation, yes indeedy) will be to scrutinise every bloody song and write a thesis on why I love it and why I hate it, but I realise I'll have to trim it down and keep the thing short when I do get around to actually writing the body of it. I've started it, but....

The 2nd year actors approached me some time ago at work asking for my involvement in their 'battle of the bands' fundraiser night. At first I was trepidatious about involving myself with what is essentially a student project because I like to keep my nerdy 'staff' veneer. To be seen only as a serious librarian. I do have a job to do, I thought to myself, and the job entails collecting late fines and organising replacement costs for books etc, that is, roles that involve technical difference between the student member and the organisation I'm working for. Besides, I'm happy to be a librarian by day and a moaner-stringer at all other hours. I decided that it's for a good cause so I said yes, and I had involved myself in the last 'battle of the bands' back in 2005 anyway.

The organiser gave me a song to sing. 'Creep', by Radiohead. I had many weeks to learn it but only picked up on the song six days beforehand, spending all that time since trying to memorise the relatively simple lyrics to this great song. It's funny how I find it easy to remember harder lyrics like bob Dylan's but the easy, dumber lyrics are just that much harder to synchronise to memory.

So last night I wore my top hat and a loose unbuttoned black shirt over my stripey long sleeve t-shirt. I walked on stage to a welcoming applause. The spotlight was on me and I couldn't see the audience, all blacked out in that lovely theatre. I was accosted by the rather sexy mc and I went with all the jokes and baits, which was to be expected of course. A drag queen she may well have been but she was a bit of an alright! She accused me of touching her arse. The crowd laughed. Not much I could do, and I hadn't anyway.

I sang the song. People liked the swear words in it. I remembered all the verses and the words and felt strangely calm yet utterly elated up there. The applause at the end was rapturous, deafening. I love you I spoke into the mic and walked away. I felt so appreciative of the response. I was warmed, and felt like I was on the right path doing this sort of thing. Even if most of the time I'm playing to either two men and their pet rabbit, or, other singer-songwriters who have either just performed before me or are waiting to hit the stage to take their hit of performance adrenalin.

Disappointingly the final song was canned due to time. I was to play piano on that and sing a verse of the song. It would have been bluesy and funky and downright awesome, the Stones' 'you can't always get what you want'. The main thing is, that in the end I did get to savour this wonderful stage and with it a large enthusiastic audience of not only students, but their friends, partners, colleagues and parents. The Parade Theatre is damn wonderful. Beats the vanguard and basement any ol' time. So I'm thankful for that moment and the opportunity to deliver a song there. And I hope the students raised a lot of funds, we'll find out on Monday.

But even better than singing a song in the packed Parade Theatre was meeting a quasi-famous Australian playwright at a singer-songwriter gig the night beforehand. On Thursday night I played at the Freeway Hotel in Artarmon. There weren't many booked to play that night. One of the first acts was a gentleman who looked in his early sixties, playing the piano and singing rather sprightly, lyrical songs. These were verbal and humorously anecdotal songs that were a take on modern living. When he finished the compare said to 'please give a hand to Clem G......'. I started. I thought, is that the name I thought I heard?? Later when it was my turn to play I used the opportunity for extended playing time to work on my stage act. Standing with the guitar and telling stories in between songs, generally engaging the audience. I played some piano (poorly) and guitar (adequately). Clem had to leave just before I finished and he came up to me in between songs and told me he and his wife have a long drive and they need to go.

What's your name again??, I asked from the stage, bending down towards him, shaking his hand.


Clem who?

Clem Gorman

Are you a playwright? I asked

He looked taken aback by this question as if he certainly hadn't expected to be sprung for his alter-ego at that time and place, but with his eyes and face shuffling around him he answered "yes".

At this point I almost jumped for joy. I told him where I work and he broke off into a broad smile. In hindsight I realise the first year students performed one of his plays a couple of years ago but I didn't go. But I was glad to meet Clem Gorman. I love Australian playwrights. I don't know why but I love them more than Beethoven, and songwriters. Maybe it's because I love Australian plays. I can't write plays. But I love those who can write them, particularly of the local variety.

In parting he made an understated joke about a 'career change', noting to the move to live music performance. We laughed together.

Meeting Clem, yeah that's the highlight of my week!

...and I'm keen to explore some more Radiohead now! ;)

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