Saturday, May 2, 2009

Paul Kelly (Thanks Jack)

I don't know much about Paul Kelly, but I 've heard some of his music and I really like it.

I woke up feeling a bit depressed this morning. Writing these posts are often therapeutic for me. Hopefully Kelly will help me out in some way. I'd appreciate it.

The first Kelly song I heard was either "From Little Things Big Things Grow" or "To Her Door".

Sometimes I sing the former and accidentally mix up the words-singing From Big Things Little Things Grow. It ends up sounding like a song about acne.

All right. It's time to talk to Lord Wiki.

He was born on 13 January 1955. I feel like I keep getting January birthdays.

Birthday website time!

He's a Capricorn.

And he has the same numerology number as me. He's a 7.

This website has some information about the 7. I can relate to a lot of it.

The overwhelming strength of the number 7 is reflected in the depth of thinking that is shown; you will garner knowledge from practically every source that you find. Intellectual, scientific and studious, you don't accept a premise until you have dissected the subject and arrived at you own independent conclusion. 

 I'm not sure I consider it a strength, but this is me. It actually drives me quite crazy. I read one side of an issue. Then I read the other side of the issue. I don't know who to believe or trust. I stress myself out. It's one of the reasons I'm feeling depressed right now.

It's easy for you to detect deception and recognize insincere people. This is me too. And another reason I'm feeling depressed.

Wow. I'm ALREADY getting therapy from this post.

You aren't one to have a wide circle of friends, but once you accept someone as a friend, it's for life

That is NOT me. I think because I've moved around a lot, friends kind of come and go from my life. I don't really think of it as a bad thing though. I think people change. Circumstances change. Like the lyrics to that certain song....

And you know that I love you
Here and now not forever
I can give you the present I don't know about the future
That's all stuff and nonsense

In the most negative use of the 7 energies, you can become very pessimistic, lackadaisical, quarrelsome, and secretive. Yeah. That's me. I'm not sure about lackadaisical, but definitely the other three. I can especially relate to secretive. That's my top defense mechanism. If I get angry and depressed, I retreat under my shell. It's that along with a promise not to eat anymore. So writing this post today is hard for me. I'm usually either one of two extremes: VERY open or very secretive. I'm forcing myself to be the former when I feel like being the latter. But I feel maybe it's healthier this way.

Okay. Enough of the self-therapy for now. Back to Kelly.

He was born in Adelaide. When I think of Adelaide, I think of bookstores. I'm not sure why. I think it might have something to do with Bill Bryson. Maybe he mentioned bookstores in Adelaide? Anyway, I picture a lot of bookstores and cafes.

Kelly was born in a taxi.

His dad was a lawyer.

He had eight siblings, but one was stillborn.

Kelly's ancestors were Irish; at least on his father's side. His great-great grandfather fled Ireland in 1852 and settled in South Australia. I wondered why he fled. Was that during the big famine thing? I don't know much about Irish history.

Well, no. He fled right AFTER the famine. The famine began in 1845. This website says it lasted six years.

Kelly's maternal grandfather was an Italian opera singer. She was on tour; came to Australia; fell in love, and decided to stay.

When Kelly was thirteen his dad died of Parkinson's disease. Speaking of Parkinson's, I read recently that scientists might have found a connection between pesticides and Parkinson's. It sparked my interest because I remembered hearing that Michael J. Fox was one of four people from his old Canadian TV show to get the disease. Maybe it was all a coincidence, or maybe they were all exposed to the pesticides.

Kelly attended Rostrevor College--a Catholic school in Adelaide. He was already into the music thing; played trumpet and the piano. He was also captain of the Cricket Team and Dux his senior year. I have to look up Dux.....

Okay. Lord Wiki says it's what we in America call Valedictorian. It's funny. I never pictured Kelly as being this way. I kind of pictured him as being more of a rebel; one of those people who fails out of school and succeeds despite all that.

Ah! Well, he IS a drop out. But that didn't happen until his university days. He studied art at Flinders University but dropped out after a year. Lord Wiki says he became disillusioned about academic life. It's interesting that this would happen to such a top student.

For the next three years, Kelly traveled, worked odd jobs, and learned to play guitar. I bet he learned more in those years than he ever did at school. See. Yeah. I'm disillusioned with the academic world myself.

I like Kelly so far. He seems to be my type of person. I'm glad to be spending my depression day with him.

The first time he sang in public was in 1974. He would have been about nineteen. He sang at a folk club in Hobart.

Around that time, he also wrote his first published song. It's called "It's the Falling Apart that Makes You". I'm going to see if I can find the lyrics.

Nope. I can't find it; at least not through a basic Google search.

In the beginning of his career, Kelly wrote a lot about trains. I wonder if he liked trains as a child. It's one of those things that a lot of kids get obsessed with.  Trains and dinosaurs.

In 1976, Kelly moved to Melbourne. It looks like he jumped from band to band. First he was with the Debutantes, and then the pub-rockers. There was the The High Rise Bombers. After that came, Paul Kelly and the Dots.

In 1980, Kelly got married, and soon after had a son. That line just sparked one of my very random unconnected memories. Like Gina and the French toast. I suddenly pictured my grandma's dining room. I have no idea why. Maybe it's the year? Maybe 1980 reminds me of my grandma? Who knows? I used to love that dining room though.

If I'm reading this right, his first song to hit the charts was Billy Baxter. It went to #38 in the singles charts. That song title reminds me of Buster Baxter from one of my favorite TV shows.

Kelly's career didn't take off like a rocket. It looks like he got a slow and rough start. He had failures. His songs didn't top the charts. Some of his albums failed.

I like that. It's inspirational to know he had hurdles to get through.

In 1982, Kelly did music for the soundtrack of a movie called Starstruck. This was a Gillian Armstrong movie. She's the one who directed My Brilliant Career and Oscar and Lucinda--two movies I haven't seen yet. But I did see Little Woman. I need to add her to my list. Speaking of the list, it's awfully long right now. If you gave me a name to add, please know it might take months for me to get to it. And don't think I'm ignoring you. Okay? Thanks.

Kelly met his second wife while working on the film. She was an actress with a small role.

Lord Wiki says his involvement with the Melbourne drug scene caused his marriage to end in 1984. Is he talking about the first marriage or second? It's kind of sad if it's the second. Two divorces in four years? Yikes. Well, I guess it does happen.

In 1985, Kelly moved to Sydney.

He formed another band. This one became known as Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls.

In 1986, he participated in one of those charity songs. It was for the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse. Did he stop with the whole drug thing, or was he being hypocritical?

Also that year, he and his band released an album called Gossip. This one did well. It reached #15 in the charts. And the song "Before Too Long" went up to #15.

Kelly came to the United States, changing his band's name to Paul Kelly and the Messengers. There was worries about the racial connotations of the other name. In America, "Darling it Hurts" went to #19 in the charts. I can't say I remember ever hearing that song. But I've always been out of touch when it comes to music.

In 1987, Kelly released an album called Under The Sun. This is where the song, "To her Door" comes from. Another song on the album ("Dumb Things") was included in the Yahoo Serious film soundtrack.

The album that the song "From Little Things Big Things Grow" comes from is Comedy. This came out in 1991. That's the year I graduated high school. It's also the year that Kelly said good-bye to his coloured messengers. They had their last performance together.

It seems since then, Kelly has worked independently, sometimes collaborating with other artists.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1992.

I'm not sure how long he lived there.

During our current decade, Kelly did a lot of composing for films. He did the music for Jyndabyne. I've seen part of that movie.

I'm skipping stuff here. It's getting a bit extensive. You guys are free to fill in the blanks. Share your favorite songs and albums that I failed to mention.

I'm going to look at his personal life now. He did NOT get divorced two times in four years. He got divorced from his first wife in 1984. Soon after he married the actress. They were together for a fairly long time.  Seventeen years. In 2001, Kelly, his wife, and one of their daughters starred in a short film together. One Night the Moon. It was written and directed by Rachel Perkins. Her name sounded familiar so I googled. She's the one who did The First Australians!

In 2002, Kelly found himself a new woman. He met her while doing an interview. I wonder how that happened. Maybe I'll read about it elsewhere.

All right. I'm done with Lord Wiki.

What next?

How about his official website?

His latest album is called Stolen Apples.

The website has a lot of resources. I might be able to find everything I need here.

I'll start reading.

Kelly says, I'm not trying to tell my life and my experiences. The first thing I'm trying to do is write songs, rather than make confessions or bare my soul.

This surprises me. If songs aren't about what comes from your soul, what are they then? When I wrote fiction, only one or two novels were autobiographical. But the other ones still had parts of me in it. I can't really understand how they couldn't.


That being said though.....

I have had to explain to people that certain novels weren't autobiographical. It happened with my first novel; a diary type book about a girl with Cystic Fibrosis. I brought it to school and let a guy read it. He thought it was about me. I thought, why the hell would I bring my personal diary to school and let you read it? Now that thought cracks me up, because look at the blogging world now. So many of us are sharing our personal diaries with the whole world.

The other novel that caused a lot of confusion was my Thirty Cats--the story of a young adult with Neurofibromatosis. I published it online and explicitly said it was a novel. I guess people missed that though. I got several emails from people with NF saying they knew exactly what I was going through. They believed it was all true. I took it as a huge compliment. But I also felt very bad having to explain to people that I really don't have NF. I felt like I was betraying them. But even though I don't have NF, a lot of the stuff WAS autobiographical. The troubles in PE class, the fine motor difficulties, the rejection from the opposite sex, the embarrassment over a minor disfigurement.....that all was me.

I like this quote from Kelly, I think, my staple song is the love song. Happy love songs are much harder to write than the sad ones. More and more as I've gone on, they're the songs I want to write. To me as a songwriter, that's a challenge: to write happy love songs without being banal, sentimental or smug. Kelly surprises me again here. As I didn't picture him being someone to get top grades in school, I also don't picture him the type to write happy love songs. I picture him as being the type of person who turns up his nose at the type of song. Funny.

Ah! The website even has links to recent articles so I won't have to go to Google News. That's good because I'm feeling tired and lazy....a little less depressed though.

This article talks about a song called "How to Make Gravy". It sounds really sad. A guy in jail calls his family for Christmas. He passes on his regrets and recipes because he knows he won't be able to attend. Well, my depression hasn't returned, but I do feel quite melancholy. That's just so sad.

I know there's no real comparison, but it reminds me of when I first moved to NYC. I had been away from home before...college. But this was DIFFERENT. It seemed more real. I was very homesick.

I know that makes it sound crazy that I want to move to Australia. But I think I've grown up since them. Well, maybe not that. I just understand that I can be away from family and still be part of the family. I also understand that I'll still get homesick. And that's okay. If we move to Australia, I know there will be times where I really miss my family. But the sadness will pass. And I won't be in jail so it will be okay. Well, at least I don't think I'll be in jail. Never say never. Right?

All right. I'm actually going to take back my word and look at other websites. I feel it's better to do that...and not stick to one site. Why? I don't know. Well, maybe I do. But I can't think of the right words to explain it.

You know, there are other Paul Kelly's in Australia. There's a guy who writes political stuff. I read his book about Bob Hawke. Then there's also an infectious disease expert. He's working with the swine flu thing....telling everyone to panic a little bit.

Ah! I found an interview. Good. Enough Rope. I like these interviews.

His first guitar was named Buddy. I should name more things in my life. Like this computer.  He definitely deserves a name.

Kelly said he wanted to be a writer from the age of fifteen or sixteen. He wrote poetry and then later became a songwriter.

Kelly isn't always impressed with his own singing. No, I think I'm an OK singer. Don't get me wrong ...It's not any false modesty. I mean, I know...I'm a certain kind of singer. I think there's quite a few of my songs I probably sing better than anyone else. But, I'm not what I would call 'a singer's singer'. So sometimes I write songs that I think other singers can do better. I like that. It's not false modesty. It's aware and honest modesty. I think it's good to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. I like his voice a lot, but he might be right. Maybe some songs he writes are better off sung as someone else. He knows better than I would.

His mom was very involved with community work; managed this despite being a single mom of eight kids. Kelly doesn't seem to have any resentment, so it seems she wasn't the type to abandon her children to help other children. I'm guessing she kept things pretty well balanced.

Kelly says he learned a lot about his dad from his brothers and sisters. I think that's so important. If we talk about people of the past, we bring them alive for those who never had a chance to know them...or not know them well enough. I like talking about my grandparents to Jack. I like that he knows their names. I like when he asks me questions about them.

Here's another interview with Kelly.

He talks more about the autobiographical aspects of songwriting. This quote makes more sense to me than the other one. People might get some clues. But I know from my own experience of writing songs that even when you're writing from your own life by the time you put them into songs you're changing them anyway. So I think it's a bit of a wild goose chase.

He says a good example of a happy love songs is Beautiful Feeling. I can't say the lyrics do much for me personally. Maybe I'm not in a happy romantic mood. Maybe you have to be in that place to appreciate the song.

I think I'm going to look at one last website--an unofficial site.

Maybe I'll read some random lyrics; see if I find anything I totally love.

I like these from "The Lowdown"

You wear your face behind your face and you know me baby I wear my heart on my sleeve.

If I'm reading it right, I think I can relate. When I'm not in one of my secretive moods, I'm extremely honest and upfront about things. I often bare my soul. And that's really hard when people don't do the same thing back to you. It's hard to wear your heart on your sleeve when other people hide behind so many barriers. It's like an uneven playing ground.

Here's a song about the Bicentennial celebrations.

The lyrics to "You Can't Take it With You" are probably my favorite so far.

I like the whole song, but don't want to put it all here. I'll try to find my favorite lines.....

You might own a great big factory, oil wells on sacred land You might be in line for promotion, with a foolproof retirement plan You might have your money in copper, textiles or imports from Japan But you can't take it with you.

I can relate to these lyrics from Sydney from a 727

Now the red roofs are catching the first rays of the morning sun My eyes are full of sand from my midnight run And the captain says belt up now we'll be touching down in ten So I press my seat and I straighten up I fold my tray and I stash my cup As the red roofs are catching the first rays of the morning sun

I remember noticing all the red roofs when we got close to Sydney. Although our flight got in during the afternoon.

I like these lines from Difficult Woman.

A difficult woman Swings between shame and pride A difficult woman Has strong, strong stuff deep inside And getting her is no easy affair It's like working a mine You'd better prepare to pay the price If it's treasure you want to find A difficult woman needs a special kind of friend.

Are there any women who are NOT like the description above? If there is, I'm not sure I'd want to be friends with her. I'd rather have deep difficult friends than easy shallow ones.

I like this line from "Would You Be My Friend".
And if I said I wished I'd never been born And my mouth could only curse And if I'd passed the point of no return Like a poor, puking child in church Would you be my friend?

Isn't that what most of us truly want....a friend who will stick with us even when we're at our worst?

Well, I'm ready to go.

Bye. See ya later.