Wheels and Wires
Of Wheels and
Wires Originally Released Oct 1996 as Larrikin LRF 467 Through
Festival Records Australia
Re released 1999
as Shoestring SR-14
Primarily, 'Of Wheels
and Wires' is an album of worksongs. If 'Laughter Like a Shield'
(Larrikin LRF 294) was about the things that we, as Australians,
believe; then this album is about the things that we actually
do; about the ways in which we choose to spend the precious years
of our working lives. Written between 1994 and 1996, the songs
were based on interviews with transport workers, writers, timbermillers,
dancers, officeworkers, farmers, nurses and others. They focus
on the way in which work may give, or fail to give, meaning and
dignity to our existence.
The images within
the songs were selected to deal thematically with the linear nature
of Time and the seasonal cycles of Life and Work that overlay
it. The star wheel of the universe, spoken of in 'The Colours
of the Cross' and the 'Cable and the Wheel', is mirrored, in microcosm,
by the turning of the engine pulley; the spinning of the sawmill
blade and the moving hands of a wristwatch; elements that surround
us in our daily lives. The passage of Time is reflected in the
recurring linear elements; the run of the ferry cable, the span
of the tightrope wire and the arrow straight line of a beckoning
country highway. Lines and circles, clocks and cables, wheels
and wires; it is by such as these that our working lives are lived.
Original Extra Notes edited from CD cover due to space considerations
On songwriting : I have often been asked in the last
seven years how I define myself as a writer. Labels like Country,
Folk, Acoustic Rock, Australiana and Pub Cult have all been thrown
at me with equal inaccuracy; as if musical style was actually
of any real importance. I don't think I have ever been as confused
about this as others seem to be, for in the end I have always
viewed myself as a writer of stories; a journalist of sorts. Unlike
most songwriters, who look to the wellspring of their own creative
spirit for their inspiration, it has become my lot to look beyond
it, into the lives of others. The motivation, I suspect, is both
social and personal.
Social, in that I have attempted to construct a jigsaw puzzle
of the value systems that pervade contemporary Australia and;
personal, in so much as each of these stories represent a Voss-like
journey through my own spirit; a journal of my continuing search
for some kind of judgment on the chaos of the world that surrounds
me. Humour, pathos, fear, hatred, greed and love. The style of
each song is the musical canvas on which each tale is told; and
it's stylistic genesis seems to me, to be always inherent within
the nature of the tale. 'Bully Boys' (from Skooldaze) could never
have been anything else but a rock song. 'Somewhere in the Car'
(from Laughter Like A Shield) could only have been Australiana
and 'The Honky Tonk From Hell' just had to be a Bootscooter!
What seems to matter in the end to me is authenticity. I have
been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism over that assertion.
People whose experience of modern Australian society has been
brutal, unjust and negative have been scathing about songs such
as 'If A Man is a Man', 'Molly and Me', 'The Blessing' and 'The
Spirit of The Southern Shore.' People whose experience and hopes
have been accurately reflected by these songs have been equally
upset by the appearance of 'Kelly Option', 'The Battler', 'The
Ballad of Robert Askin', 'Bad Pennies' and 'Do It Easy'. I can
do little about that. Like most bearers of good or ill tidings,
I suppose from time to time I will be held accountable for the
news I bring.
To return to the
problem of musical placement, Eric Watson, a man I deeply respect,
once said that Country music had three main facets. an acoustic
base; a narrative form and a direct connection with the experience
and concerns of rural people. By that definition Graeme Connors'
'Let the Canefields Burn' is great country and 'Achy Breaky Heart'
is a load of shit. I like the definition. I have always loved
great country and detested with a passion the worst of it. It
is the genre with which I feel most comfortable, and the one which
I feel has the most to offer in an age of lowest common denominator
mass production entertainment; but like anything else for Australians,
it is not sacrosanct; and where the story leads elsewhere, so
then must the style follow. This applies equally to accent, approach,
rhythm, instrumentation and all the other colourations that define
style. Make of it what you will, this album represents Volume
3 of The Local Rag; a further glimpse into the way other Australians
lead their lives and and as to where the next album might lead
me, that is, as ever, uncertain. Musically or geographically;
it has never been the destination that has been important to me,
only the journey. Only ever the journey.
Pat Drummond - October. 1995
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