Sunday, May 17, 2009

Kev Carmody

I'm excited to write about Kev Carmody.

I don't know much about him; but I love his voice.

The one song of his I'm familiar with at this point is From Little Things Big Things Grow.

I don't really understand the part where he points to his t-shirt and says make indigenous poverty history. I mean I'm all for making indigenous poverty a thing of the past. But he seems to emphasis the word indigenous; almost as if we should make poverty history for only indigenous people. Shouldn't we want to reduce poverty for ALL people? Maybe I'm misinterpreting something here.  Or overinterpreting.

I love when Carmody asks people to sing along.

This is such an awesome song.

When I hear this song, I have one of those moments where I'm so grateful for my Australia obsession.

All right. I'll go talk to Lord Wiki.

Lord Wiki doesn't give Carmody's birthday; just says he was born in 1946.

Carmody's birthplace is Cairns.

Carmody's dad was Irish.

His mom was a Murri woman.

I shall now read about the Murri people. Have I encountered them before in my research? I can't remember.

Okay, Lord Wiki says the Murri people are the indigenous Australians from the Queensland area. I guess it's a similar term to the Koori of New South Wales.

In 1950, little Kev and his family moved to Southern Queensland. They lived in a place called Goranba. His parents worked as drovers at a cattle station.

I'm looking at Google Maps now. Goranba is about a four hour drive west of Brisbane.

When he was ten, Carmody was taken from his parents. He was sent to a Christian school. I guess this would have made him part of the Stolen-Generation.

Lord Wiki says Carmody eventually returned to the rural life, and worked as a country worker for seventeen years. I wonder how many years he was separated from his family?

Well, I could make the guess that he returned from the Christian school around the age of sixteen. Lord Wiki says he went off to university at the age of thirty-three. I subtracted the seventeen years of farm labor from that and got sixteen. I could be right. I could be wrong.

For school, he went to the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education. I think this school eventually became the University of Southern Queensland.

Carmody went far in his education, eventually obtaining a PhD. Before that he got a Bachelor of Arts and another degree in education.

I think Carmody's story shows how people do not always need to rush to university/college immediately after high school. I feel the same way about college as I do Bar Mitzvah's. I think it's the two things my family wonders about in terms of my grand plans for Jack. Is he going to college, and is he going to have a Bar Mitzvah? I think they see these things as required rights of passage. I think of them as things you do when and if you're ready to do them. If Jack wants to go to college when he's seventeen or eighteen, great. If he wants to go when he's twenty-five, that's fine too. If he finds a career path in which he doesn't need college, good on him.

Carmody used his guitar while in University.  It's something to do with oral history. I'm a little confused by what Lord Wiki says. I'm going to guess he meant Carmody used his guitar to help get his teaching across. This led him to the music career.

His first album was called Pillars of Society. This came out in 1989.

That's about it for Lord Wiki.

I shall look elsewhere now.

Here is the official website.

In January, there was a concert called Cannot Buy My Soul: The Songs of Kev Carmody. It featured various music people singing Carmody's songs. Cool!

There's a recipe for glazed chicken wings on his site. They sound good. I shouldn't be saying that since I'm a vegetarian. Ah, but maybe I can make a vegetarian version.  Actually, it's more a matter of me asking Tim to make a vegetarian version of it. My cooking ain't something to brag about.

Carmody gets quite political in his newsletter. I like what he says here. When we have to go downs to the public swimming pool with a bucket to get enough water to boil a cup of tea, perhaps the supporters of the "it's just a drought" argument will wake up.

Will they wake up? Maybe. I doubt they'll admit it though. I don't picture them saying. Oh all you people were right all along. We really screwed up. They'll either say It was natural. Nothing we could have done would have stopped it. Or they'll say You guys should have spoken up louder. It's your fault for listening to us. You should have pushed more.

OR...

They'll just shrug their shoulders and give us a sheepish grin.

The website has a list of his songs along with their lyrics. I'm going to read some of them.

Here's some lyrics from "Refugee."

Find which lock fits which key See why ideologies and theologies divide humanity The idea of one God shatters nations and countries Producing hate and dispossession for millions of refugees For millions of refugees

I agree with that to a point. But I think the idea of multiple gods could cause an equal amount of problems. Our god is better than your god!

It's like children.

Children might fight with their friends. My dad is stronger than your dad!

And children will fight with their siblings. Mom and Dad like me better than you.

Although maybe the latter disagreement is more intense and painful.

I've tried to teach Jack that as he's my son and I love him the most in the world, and other parents love THEIR children the most in the world.

Maybe we'd all be better off if most of us believed in multiple gods.  And we believed as our god loves us, in our country, the most; other gods love other people, in other countries, the most.

I don't know.

No matter what...people are going to fight. If it's not about a god thing, it will be about something else.

Here's more lyrics from the song.

Their crime is seeking shelter from a human livin' hell they've been captured and imprisoned as dangerous criminals.

That refers to detainees. It's very sad.

I like the chorus to the song "Dirty Dollar".

Just wanna know which side you stand For the dirty dollar or a pristine land

The rest of the lyrics are good too, but that one kind of just says it all.

"Dubbya Luvya" isn't too bad for an Anti-Bush song, but I prefer Pink's Dear Mr. President. I haven't heard "Dubbya Luvya" yet though. I've only read the lyrics, and that's probably enough to make me appreciate the song.

I love these lines from "Pillars of Society".

It's said religion is the opium I say the media's the cocaine 24 hours of propanganda druggin' my poor brain

I strongly agree with this.

It all fits together.

I'd say greed is responsible for most of our environmental problems. And I think the media is responsible for most of the greed. We're bombarded with the message that in order to be decent people we must decorate our paper thin bodies with jewels and designer clothing. We have to have the right car, the best computer, and the newest mobile technology.

I really love his song about Jesus. "Comrade Jesus Christ". I think I like all the lyrics, but these are my favorites.

He began a three year public life But he never made a buck Because he spoke out against injustice Saw that capitalism bled the poor He attacked self-righteous hypocrites And he condemned the lawyers' law

But they've commercialised his birthday now The very people he defied And they've sanctified their system And claim he's on their side! But if he appeared tomorrow He'd still pay the highest cost Being a 'radical agitator' They'd still nail him to a cross


I don't know though. We all have our different ideas about Jesus. I would love it if Carmody's vision was the right one. But maybe it's not. Maybe Jesus IS God. Maybe he's this awful conceited vengeful God that cares less about how you treat other people, animals, and the earth, and cares more about the matter in which you worship him. Maybe he's so vain he'd send you to hell simply because you chose a religion outside of Christianity. Maybe this God really does hate homosexuals and prefers America over any other country.

If the bigots are right and this is God, I'm going over to Satan's side.

All right. I'm tired of lyrics. I'm going to move onto something else now.

Here's the biography page.

It says his early childhood was simple and happy. Before the age of seven, he didn't spend much time with other children. He hung out mostly with stockmen. His racially mixed family was not well-liked by their white neighbors.

Carmody says the Christian school he was sent to was like an orphanage.

When he went to university, he hardly knew how to read or write. The professors allowed him to use his guitar in the classroom. I guess that was his way of expressing himself. I love hearing stories of teachers who allow people to learn in the way that's best for them.

Carmody visits prisons around Australia.  He sings for the inmates.

ABC has a website regarding a program called Message Stick. Carmody was featured on the program along with Paul Kelly.

Carmody is known sometimes as the black Bob Dylan. Here's some synchronosity in my life. Yesterday's subject (The Waifs) are huge fans of Dylan, and now today's subject is compared to him.

The show was done on 12 February 2007, about a year and a day before Sorry Day happened.

The interviewer/host says that Carmody is suffering from health problems. I wonder what those are.

Carmody talks about spirituality....how it's all connected.

Oral tradition is very important to Carmody.

Paul Kelly says that he and Carmody wrote From "Little Things Big Things Grow" on a camping trip. He also gives more insight into Carmody's health problem. It involves his back and arms.

Carmody was confused when he first heard about the idea of a Carmody tribute album. He thought that happened only after you died. Kelly convinced Carmody that they didn't need to wait until his death.

I'm trying to think of the tribute albums I've heard. The only one I can think of offhand is the one for Elton John. And no. He's not dead.

Now I'm looking at a bunch of tribute albums. I see a lot of nondead people....Bob Dylan, Metallica, Joni Mitchell, Prince, Rolling Stone, etc.

Here's an article about Carmody. I'll see if there's anything interesting here.

It talks about his childhood. His mother tried to get him to do correspondence school, but he preferred working outside...helping his dad.

He went to the Christian school for awhile. He hated that.

I was wrong earlier. He did not spend sixteen years there. Instead, he later moved to a Toowamba boarding school. Carmody seems to have resentment regarding that school. He feels they wanted him and his brother only because of their athletic skill.

It sounds like he really did have great teachers at university. They not only let him bring his guitar to play/sing about his oral history. They would come see him playing on Thursday nights at a pub. They sound very supportive. After all that time in the Christian school, being torn from his family and the life he loved.... I'm glad he had a good experience in university.

The article says he never finished getting his PhD because it clashed with the beginnings of his music career. He did later get an honorary degree though.

Carmody is yet another musician who doesn't like his singing voice. I'm starting to see a trend here. At first I believed these people. I thought they really didn't like their own singing voice. Now I'm starting to have some doubts. I think there's a difference between true modesty and false modesty. The latter is usually about fishing for compliments. At least I think so. I'm not saying Carmody is fishing for a compliment. Maybe he truly thinks his voice isn't that great. I just think it's interesting that I've encountered two or three musicians lately who say they don't like their voice.

Carmody says his biggest break was his first ten years of life; being with his parents and grandparents.

He says he doesn't have any regrets. Life is about learning; you're learning all the flamin' time. I feel this way too, in a way. There are things about my life that make me very sad and very angry. There are things about my life that make me feel very ashamed. But I'm afraid to regret them. My feeling is that things happen for a reason. And if not that, they lead to other things happening that might be very good. Maybe the mistakes I made in the past will prevent me from making bigger mistakes in the future. Maybe the sad things that have happened to me will make me work to prevent the same sad things from happening to someone else.

Carmody says his best investment is being with children.

He says his worst investment was getting involved with the music industry. He says, Getting into the music industry! Fair dinkum, all the money goes to the big companies and the publishers.

I'm going to check out Twitter now; see what people are saying about Carmody.

Kristianstupid
says, Saw Kev Carmody tonight. How have I never heard this guy before? He put me immediately THERE, just like that. I've never heard that phrase before--put me immediately there. Is that an Australian saying? Is Kristian even Australian? Maybe she is. Maybe she's not.

Onelouder11 says, Drones at the metro. Amazing. Kev Carmody - best story teller in Australia. Drones - best. Band. Right. Now.

Oh! It seems Onelouder is actually an artist management group. They represent The Drones. By the way, Onelouder has their hands full and are not accepting new artists. Do not send them unsolicited material.

What Onelouder is referring to, in their Twitter statement, is a show in which Carmody played with The Drones. The Drones played their music and Carmody told stories. At one point, he sang From Little Things Big Things Grow.

Well, I think I'm going to end this here.

See you guys later.....

6 comments:

matt said...

Hi Dina,
I absolutely love Kev Carmody. To me he is a living legend of Australian Music and its a shame his not more widely known. My favourite covers on the tribute album are Archie Roach's Cannot Buy My Soul, he's brilliant singer/song writer himself, and Troy Casser-Daley's On the Wire. I love Comrade Jesus Christ as well but its not actually a song its just a spoken word poem on the album. I also agree with you and Kev about 'life is about learning' i wouldn't change anything about my life, as it has made me who i am today, the good and the bad.

Dina said...

Matt,

I totally agree with you. Sometimes I wish I could change things about my life, but then I worry that I'd no longer be me.

I need to still check out the tribute album! I forgot. Jack's on my computer now so I can't access my I-tunes.

The funny thing is this morning my I-Tunes came on. It went directly to the music store. I thought I must have accidentally pressed something, but maybe something out there was trying to remind me to try to buy some of Carmody's songs!

Art in Melbourne said...

Hi. I found this post googling for the words to "Comrade Jesus Christ".

I just wanted to let you know, if you were curious, that Koori is a general term for an indigenous person from South East Australia, New South Wales or Victoria. I'm sure that Murri is the name of the actual tribe that Kev Carmody's mother was from.

Also, while I agree absolutely, that we need to make all poverty history, poor indegenous Australians in traditional communities live in third world conditions (and, in fact, many urban Aboriginal people live in signifcantly worse conditions than their non-indigenous neighbours). I would imagine for Carmody that indigenous poverty is personal in a way that global poverty is not.

Now that I'm thinking about, it's also possibly a reference to political and cultural poverty facing indigenous Australians. Hmm. I'm going to have to follow up on more Kev Carmdoy stuff, all I have at the moment is my parents CDs of Pillars of Society and Bloodlines.

Dina said...

Art in Melbourne,

Hi! I've heard the term Koori before. I think you're probably right. The Murri is a specific group. Is there a term then for all Aboriginals from Queensland...I mean as Koori is one for NSW and Victoria.

You have a good point about the poverty--and it not being only the financial type.

I can understand why Carmody cares most about Indigenous Poverty. But I think you can care most about one issue, and still care about other issues as well. I'm not sure if I'm making sense.....

Maybe he was just emphasizing and clarifying that the money raised by the concert was going only towards Indigenous Poverty.

Anonymous said...

Re indigenous poverty:
-bear in mind that Australians (of all racial, cultural and religous backgrounds) live a fairly affluent lifestyle EXCEPT FOR indigenous people living in remote communities, who often live in 3rd world conditions with little or no access to basic services. If you are talking about real poverty in Australia, this largely ammounts to indigenous poverty. Get out to the odd town camp or remote settlement and you'll see what I mean. This is very different from the U.S., where poverty is less confined to one group of people. Most Australians really don't want to know about this -there is a real apathy about the problem. It's a complicated problem too -people who live hundreds of miles from anywhere can be easy to forget about, and are hard to deliver services to. Also poor English language skills and illiteracy often makes it hard for indigenous people to acess services which are available.If a community of whites, chinese or black africans lived like that, however, it would be news here, but there is an acceptance that communities of aboriginal people should live in these conditions.

Dina said...

Anonymous,

Thank you so much for your explanation. It makes a lot of sense, and it's something I hadn't really considered. You're probably right. I'm used to America where poverty is probably NOT restricted to one group of people.