Friday, May 8, 2009

John Butler

John Butler is my Aussie of the day.

I'm trying to remember what I already know about him.

I'm guessing he's the main man of the John Butler Trio. I don't know much about their music, actually. I think I have a few things on my YouTube playlist from them, and I think I saw some of his stuff when researching Missy Higgins.

I think I remember reading he has some connection to America. Maybe he's part American?

Well, let's go see.

Hi Lord Wiki. How are you today?

Baby John was born on April 1st 1975. That would be a funny day to be born. I'm trying to imagine what kind of tricks you could play on new parents in the hospital.

Birthday website time

John  Butler is an Aries and a 9.

My brother-in-law is an Aries.

Another 9, just like Rachel Griffiths. I wonder if Butler has her grave passion for things like the Holocaust.

Butler DOES have an American connection. Like Nicole Kidman, he was born on American soil. Butler's place of birth is California. I wonder if his parents were Australian like Kidman's. Or were they Americans who migrated?

Here we go. Lord Wiki answers the question.  Butler's father was Australian. His mother was American. I guess they spent time in one country and then moved to the other. Butler's life in Australia began in 1986. That would make him about eleven at the time of the big move.

Lord Wiki says they came to Australia on Australia Day. That's pretty cool.

It seems the family lived in Pinjarra Western Australia. I've never heard of that place. I definitely need to look it up.

I'm looking at Google Maps. The closest city I've heard of is Mandurah. It's about a thirty minute drive from there.

According to Lord Wiki, there was a big battle scene there. Many indigenous people were killed by the British colonists.

It's also the location of Fairbridge Farm; a place were British migrant children were sent.

Butler later moved to Fremantle and became a busker. The word seems familiar to me, but I forget what it was.

Okay....basically it's a street performer. I'm often fascinated by these people. I've wondered if any of them make good money, and I've wondered if any of them find success. Well, I guess Butler did. I wonder how long he did the busker thing.

Lord Wiki has the names of other famous people who started out as a busker: The Blue Man Group, Steve Martin, George Burns, Bob Dylan, Penn and Teller, Simon and Garfunkel....Wow. That's an impressive list, and there's more that I didn't even include.

I like street performers. Well, most of them at least. I don't really appreciate the ones who exploit animals. But I do like the musicians, magicians, and that bubble blower Jack watched in Hyde Park, back in 2007.

I've heard of Fremantle before. When I did the Bridge Climb, I met a Canadian man traveling via cruise ship. He mentioned that they visited Fremantle. I think it's near Perth, but I shall check Google Maps to make sure.

Yep. It's about thirty minutes southwest of Perth. It's a port city.

Butler slowly rose to fame. He had two albums that were moderately successful. Then in 2001, his album Three came out and that was more successful. Two of the songs from that album ( "Take" and "Betterman")were often played on alternative the radio station Triple J.

Here's something I didn't know. Triple J is part of ABC. Has it always been? Well, it's not like I'm a Triple J expert or anything. I did get obsessed with their Unearthed jukebox for awhile; but then I started listening to music on Pandora instead.

Butler promoted himself via various festivals including Big Day Out.

I need to read about this. It sounds interesting.

The festival started in Sydney in 1992 and then spread to other cities. It takes place in January.

Performers include Australian ones, but also people from different countries as well.

There was controversy in 2007 because the Big Day Out gods decided to ban the Australian Flag. They felt it was creating racial tension. Both John Howard and Kevin Rudd opposed the rule. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's sadly true that some pale folks (both American and Australian) now use their flag to represent racial superiority. I think for some people waving the American Flag no longer means I love my country. It means I hate Muslims and black people.

I love the Australian flag though. It's beautiful to me. I do understand some of the negative connotations; both current and historical. I'm not sure if banning something like that is the right choice, though. I think it creates more tension. And where do you draw the line? I wouldn't feel comfortable seeing t-shirts with Swaztikas. But what if someone else is offended by something I wear? I really don't know what the answer to this dilemma is.

Racial tensions aren't the only problems that have occurred at Big Day Out. There's a lot of drug users as well. A young woman died this year in Perth after taking three ecstasy tablets. Supposedly what happened is she saw police and their sniffer dogs at the entrance. She had already taken one pill at home and panicked about being caught. She quickly swallowed the other pills. I don't know who you blame in this situation. The police were there to catch people who were breaking the law. She was breaking the law. But I feel outlawing certain drugs is ridiculous anyway. Why is ecstasy illegal and alcohol is not? I feel the young woman made the wrong choice by taking all the drugs. But I can empathize with her panicking. We don't always make the right choices when we're under pressure. It's very unfortunate that this wrong choice made her lose her life.

Back to Mr. Butler.

Lord Wiki says in 2006, he heavily promoted himself to the United States. I didn't notice. I don't pay much attention to music. At least I didn't back then. I'm paying a little more attention now.

Like Griffiths, Butler fits his numerology number quite well. He's compassionate about causes. He's an advocate for peace and protecting the environment.

He used to have dreadlocks and cut them.

Maybe I should have dreadlocks. My hair is so gross lately. I don't know why. It gets so knotty in the back. I comb out the knots after I take a shower, but then way too quickly the knots return. It might be the curls, and I'm just not used to that. I had fairly straight hair most of my life. I think maybe straight hair has less knots.

Anyway, I've been thinking of cutting off all my hair and just start fresh again. I hate myself with short hair though. Dreadlocks could be an option I suppose. But I think they'd be hard to sleep on. And....Well, I don't know. I think it might make my hair feel even more gross.

Butler and his manager have their own record label. Sometimes the Waifs record under them.

In 2005, he started something called the JB Seed. It's an art fund grant. They give money to Australian musicians. That's cool.

Butler can play many instruments and does so in his performances. I'm very impressed. Some of these include the harmonica, didgeridoo, drums, and the banjo. My goodness. I really can't see the word banjo without thinking of Gina now. It's crazy. Drums now remind me of my sister Dawn.

My dad wanted us to go around the table and say what our secret dream profession is. Not many people did it, but later Dawn asked me to guess what hers was. I guessed actress, singer, dancer, reality TV star.... They were all wrong. I was quite surprised when my sister said it was drummer. I had NO idea. Usually, I know stuff about my sister. She's kind of an open book. Once when we were younger, we got in a huge fight. My sister yelled that I don't know anything about her. I went home and proved her wrong by emailing her (yeah, well we weren't THAT young) a huge list of random facts I know about her. I think she was quite impressed and shocked by how much I knew and remembered.

Butler's nickname is the Million Dollar Hippie. He's wealthy. The world might be a better place if we had even more million dollar hippies. Maybe?

Butler got married in 1999. He has a daughter and a son. His daughter's name is Banjo. Wait. Wasn't that the name of Rachel Griffith's son? Is that a trait of parents who have the 9 numerology number. You name your kid Banjo? Maybe I should tell that to my other sister, Melissa. Maybe little Javier's upcoming sibling will be Banjo.

Okay. I'm done with Lord Wiki. I shall move on to other stuff.

Here's his official site.

Butler has strong feelings for Broome. It's where he got together with his wife.

He speaks out against exploiting the Kimberly. I remember Missy Higgins campaigned for this as well. He says, How can a big gas plant and billions of dollars bring community together and enrich it while destroying it's very soul. History has shown that this kind of industry and the money it brings only divides and brings humbug.

Now I'm looking at the tour dates.

The last date shown is 18 April. They were in Fremantle. Then the next one shown after that is for July. Butler is going to be doing a solo show in California. He's leaving America on the 4th to go to Canada, then traveling around Europe a bit. Then on 19 July, he's returning to America. That seems strange to me. Why didn't he just stay in America, get the concerts over with, and then go to Europe?

Now I'm going to read the site's biography page. Maybe I'll find something Lord Wiki forgot to tell me.

It was 1998 that he was a busker in Fremantle. He sold his own cassettes.

His single "Better Than" has done quite well.

It seems he's no longer going to be working with the members of his trio; Michael Barker and Shannon Birchall. Why? He says it was purely for artistic reasons. What does that mean? I don't know. Do I believe him? Maybe. Although I can imagine some behind the scenes soap opera happening.

Butler says he will soon announce the new trio members.

He has his own MySpace page. His last log in date was April 28. That's not too long ago.

He has won ARIA awards. His most recent wins were in 2007 for best indie, best blues and roots, and best performance.

He lists people who have influenced him. These include: Bob Marley, Martin Luther King, Jr, Red Hot Chillie Peppers, Paul Kelly, Noam Chomsky, Kev Caromody, and Tracy Chapman.

He connects himself to various campaigns and organizations.

There's Oxfam's Close the Gap. This is for improving Indiginous health.

There's Getup!-Action for Australia. They're the ones that did this awesome song. Maybe one day I'll be able to watch that video without getting emotional.

The organization itself looks like something I could really stand behind. Their campaigns include increasing Rudd's 5% climate target, Internet censorship, maternity leave, the Murray River, and ending mandatory detention for asylum seekers.

All right. Well, I'm not going to list all the organizations he's involved with.

I'm going to see what people on Twitter have to say about Butler.

Let's see.....

says, john butler is amazing. don't know how he doesn't bust those massive fingernails as he plays. Oh yeah. Lord Wiki told me that and I forgot to mention it. Butler has long acrylic nails. Why? I don't know.

Kachinaaa says, i wish i could write as amazingly as john lennon. or bob dylan. or jason mraz. or john butler. -sigh-

Let's check out Google News now.

This Perth newspaper talks about the John Butler Trio playing together for the last time. It was at a blues and roots concert. The article uses the term farewell as a verb. Australians do this a lot.  At least I see it in the media. The first context I saw it in was when Heath Ledger died. The news articles talked about the mourners farewelling him.  I don't think Americans do. I don't think we have a verb for saying good-bye.

Another Aussie term that I don't think we have is clucky. I heard it first from my friend Suzanne in an email she sent. I was able to figure out what she meant from the context. It's wanting to have a baby. An example sentence might be going to my cousin's baby shower made me feel clucky. I don't know what we'd say in America....maybe mention the biological clock ticking?

Oh yeah. Back to the article.

Paul Kelly was at the concert. Cool!

Butler wore a black shirt and stylish pants. I'm sure that's very important for us to know.

He made a political statement about the Kimberley. Missy Higgins was there too, and she did the same.

At the end, he sang a song called Peaches and Cream. He dedicated it to his children.

He talks in the video. I can definitely hear an American accent there. I think there's definitely a mixture there; not quite American and not quite Australian.

The speech he makes about his children is very poignant, by the way. It's about how the status of the world can make us really down, but then we look at a child and can realize there's still good in the world. He sounds like a really sweet guy....almost shy. I'm just getting this from watching his speech.

He has a Andrew Denton interview. Good! I love these.

The episode was done in August 2006.

As a child, he wanted to die for his country. Wow. I'm glad Jack hasn't said that to me yet. I'm really not sure how I'd respond. Well, I'd probably figure out someway to brainwash the child.

I mean I think it's great that people sacrifice their lives. Without these people, we'd all probably be even more screwed than we already are. I'm just not sure how I feel about people WANTING to sacrifice their life. I mean if I had to die to sacrifice the life of a thousand people, I'd do it...VERY reluctantly. But I really hope to never be in that position.

As a child, he went to these things called Young Marines. Butler says, it's where you send children to be abused by older Marines, which is really funny.

Supposedly, he was a skater dude in California.

When he moved to Australia, he stuck out as being the American kid. You know I can imagine it's a little different than an American moving to Sydney or Melbourne. If you move to Sydney, you're one of many expats. I wonder if there were any other expats in Pinjarra.

Both his parents were self-employed. Butler feels this might have helped him with the business aspects of buskering.

I love this quote from Butler. I don't have a problem with business. I mean that's ridiculous in this day and age, to have a problem with business. I have a problem with a big business that goes to a place and trashes the hell out of it and leaves the community there with nothing and leaves the country with nothing and pisses off with a bunch of cash. I have a problem with that.
Amen to that!

There are good businesses out there. I think the right thing to do is give more money to them and less money to the ones who are doing bad things.

He talks about having self-doubt and says part of this is from being a little bit outcast and a bit teased or harassed. I'm sure most of us can relate to that. At least I can. We have so many little negative encounters during our childhood and teen years. It all begins to add up. I wonder if that's why I so often believe people are mad at me. I think there's a part of me that thinks how can they NOT be mad at me. How could they like me? That wouldn't make any sense. It makes much more sense for someone to dislike me.

I'm guessing this is common. Although I think some of us have it worse than others. Why? Is it our experiences that make us like this? Were we born that way?

Or maybe we were born just a little different. And because of those differences, we were less tolerated by the people that encountered us. Maybe then our self-esteem was lowered. I don't know.

I think what hits me hard is reading about celebrities who have low self-esteem....pretty common, by the way. So, it's not a problem that can be solved with fame and wealth.

Oh! the other possible cause...and probably the most likely one. I think people like us are born sensitive. It's part of our nature. So the teasing, invalidating, insults, and harassing, that wouldn't bother other kids as much, eats away horribly at our self esteem.

Will we ever be okay?

I don't know.

I'm not...yet.

Maybe some day.


  1. I didn't know it was only aussies who used the word farewell as a verb. One of my pet hates it how americans use the verb "reveal" as a noun. As in "after the commercial we'll be back to show you shannon's big reveal"

    that's just weird.

    Triple J is the station I listen to in the car. maybe you should check out some of their podcasts. Have you heard Dr Karl? He can be really interesting. And the Hack Report at 5.00 pm is always good.

    Maybe you could do a post about triple j. It used to be double j a long long time ago. a lot of comedians have worked there as well as journalists and people who are now tv presenters.....

  2. Hi Dina
    The reason the organisers wanted to ban the Aussie flag as because it was just after the Cronulla riots and they were worried that it might create more trouble and the reason there was a back lash was because the festival was held on Australia Day so naturally people were going to wear the flag.
    I like John Butler and for what he stands for and i love his quote about big business but he definitely has a weird accent where some words he says in Australian and some in American accents

  3. I love John Butler. He is an absolute legend as far as the Australian music scene goes and I have a huge amount of respect for his ethics... Including his work for independent artists.

  4. nursemyra: I don't know if it's only Aussies. I've just never heard it in America. Canadians, British, Kiwis, etc. might use it.

    Hey, but I never heard reveal as a noun, so maybe we DO use farewell as a verb and I just haven't heard it yet.

    I do all my research posts around individual people (don't know why...just my anal thing). If you can give me a person associated with Triple J, I'd love to add them to my list.

    Matt: The accent is interesting!

    I think the flag thing is really complicated.

    Alison: Yeah. I think it's great that he supports independent artists.

  5. interesting post on John Butler


  6. You should listen to his music more. One of my favourite Australian artists.

  7. Sarah: Thank you : )

    Materix01: Which songs do you recommend the most?

  8. I understand the 'anal' thing as I have a touch of OCD myself.

    How about Lindsay McDougall? He's one of the breakfast show announcers and he used to be in a fairly well known band.

    Or maybe Dr Carl Kruszelnicki. He's clever, funny and self deprecating and has written loads of books

  9. nursemyra,

    Thank you for the names! I added them to the list.