Monday, 1 January 2007

New Year Greetings

Happy New Year to you all - I hope it brings you what you wish for.
I knew I'd forget something in my end of year round-up, and sure enough, I omitted to mention that my favourite 'old' album of the year was the reissue of The Triffids' Born Sandy Devotional. OK, so the extra tracks were no great shakes (just demos, really), but the booklet shed interesting light on the making of what has always been one of my favorite albums.
I can't claim to have bought it when it first came out in 1986, but I did get it in 1989, just after seeing the band in Newcastle on what turned out to be their final tour. By then, they were probably getting fed up of the fact that constant critical acclaim stubbornly refused to transmute into commercial success, but they were still great live. Hailing from rural Western Australia, they played what I suppose was a sort of country-rock, but it's hard to describe accurately. All I can say is what I thought the first time I heard them - that their sound seemed to perfectly describe the wide open spaces of their homeland. Add to that David McComb's literate, occasionally genuinely poetic lyrics, and you were left with a pretty heady brew. BSD was their masterpiece, ten songs packing a massive cumulative emotional punch.
There's another reason I mention them. On their last album, 1989's The Black Swan (fine, but a bit too eclectic for its own good), was a song called New Year's Greetings (The Country Widower). Musically and lyrically it summed up all their usual themes of romantic disenchantment, loss, isolation and delusion, but only years later did I discover that it was based on Les Murray's poem The Widower In The Country. Finding that out sent me off in search of the poem, and fired up my enthusiasm for poetry afresh, it having flared on and off a few times since school. This time, it actually got me writing, for which I'm very grateful.
It's got me thinking about what got me finally, well and truly hooked on poetry, and several of the reasons involve rock music, although sometimes in a quite tangential way. More on that to come later...

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