Despite the historical fact that not many generals or politicians have ever consulted songwriters and poets before launching their various wars and policy initiatives, the bloke with the black shirt and the beard on Volume 1, persists in believing that songs of political activism really can change the world. Like a succession of national and international political figures in recent history, he's all too fond of invoking the language of religiosity in order to give moral weight to his own often faulted political objectives. Such folks seek to co-opt the power of religious meta-narratives simply to remake the world in their own image.
The problem with changing the world, however, is that, in the main, it just will not do what it's told. Ceaser and Hannibal, and more recently, Bush and Hambali have given it a fair shot. Granted, such people might make an impact for a while; but in the end it's never the kind of contribution that endures.
Confrontation, violent or non violent is above all about domination. About having your world view prevail over others. And the problem with any sort of struggle which involves winning is that winning is a very temporary condition. Civilisations rise and fall. Politicians come and go. Their personal goodness, or the lack of it, and the example they become for those around them, are in the end far more influential than any of their political or military victories.
The culture of the Western World only really began to achieve tolerance, justice, equality and liberty, not when legislators decreed it or revolutionaries demanded it, but when the individuals that formed it's civil societies were themselves transformed enough to respect those values.
Conversely, where greed, self interest and the quest for ascendancy dominate the mindset of the majority of any society, the characteristic of the national psyche will eventually transform itself to reflect that reality.
One cannot change the underlying nature of any culture through dissent, resistance, terrorism or any other political process. The Black Knight is quite simply wrong.
Buddha, Christ and any number of the great teachers throughout history realised this. Which is why, much to the chagrin of many of their contemporaries, most of them never took overtly political stances. They all knew that the real challenge was to transform humanity by transforming the inner life of the individuals that comprised it's populations.
The real quest for those who seek to change the human condition is to nurture the potential for peace and growth within themselves and those around them. It's not achieved by attacking and condemning people for their perceived faults and failures. It's achieved by accepting them as you find them. And that takes some degree of personal acceptance and resignation. Not surrender, but the active pursuit of inner harmony.
Quite opposed to the increasingly popular Gospel of Prosperity preached by so many modern day evangelists, Faith, of any kind, doesn't change your material circumstance, it only changes you. You can't control the way the world around you behaves; but you can control the way that you respond to its 'slings and arrows'. In the end, it's all we ever have had the power to decide. And it is enough.
For some reason, it often seems that children and older people are closer to that realisation than the rest of us. Perhaps there is nothing like personal helplessness to lead us to understand that the real issues are the small ones.
Like the songs on the last five albums, these songs deal with the personal lives of their subjects. Many, though not all, are about aging and the various issues it raises. There are songs about the interaction between younger and older people, about the inability to accept change and one that celebrates a 'never get old' attitude that I couldn't help but admire. There are a few songs about facing mortality, a process which I now know forces acceptance on us all.
It's not the stuff that changes governments or reforms the national agenda but like so many of 'The Local Rag' stories in the past they are, as far as I can make them, authentic snapshots of people going about their lives and seeking to make some sort of sense out of the experience of being human. For some that search is a quest for personal identity and meaning, for some it is the struggle to survive loss and grief with dignity and for yet others it is the search for 'Marguerettaville's' eternal party.
For all of us it is about a sense of connection to something larger than ourselves. And, for me, it's been a journey as startling and as endless as the one that has worn out a succession of trucks and traveling companions over the last 30 years. It's a journey that has been as much about being an audience for the those who tell me their stories as being a performer for those who listen to them.
If any one of these stories divert, amuse, amaze or instruct then I have served some sort of purpose. Not one of society's choosing, or as far as I know, of any divine predestination; but one of my own choosing. For in the end, it is our own choices and responses that define us and the reason for our being. Such is nature of free will.
This album is dedicated with
love to my eldest brother, Ron, in long overdue recognition of
his massive input to the shows and the albums over many, many
years. Ron, who was often my audience and my inspiration, passed
away in October 2003. Among many other things, he taught me that
the 'Road Less Traveled' and even less understood, was often the
more rewarding. He also taught me the value of eccentricity and
the power of lateral thinking. If 'The Chess Set', and the internal
debate it frames, is a little eccentric, then perhaps that is
as it should be. It would have amused him.
"Eyes and Teeth, Mate. Eyes and Teeth"
Pat Drummond 2004
P.S. The Black Knight on Volume
1 takes himself far too seriously. He would do better to allow
others the luxury of forming their own opinions by being silent
occasionally. He should realise that it doesn't do any harm for
him to use his gift to spread a little happiness from time to
Most people prefer his funny songs anyway.
Rather than regaling his hapless audiences with his endless diatribes on political injustice, he should try to leave them a little more uplifted and inspired than he found them. Attacking people is hardly the best way to 'win the hearts and minds of the masses'.
In the end, he would be better
off seeking Peace within himself rather than trying to force it
down the throats of everyone around him.
Loving Humanity is one thing. Getting on with people is quite another. I'm not sure he's capable of it.
I know I should really take
this opportunity to apologise to Max, Joy, Dobe, Rob, Roger, Jeff,
Nick, Denise, John and all the others he's offended over the years;
but it's probably pointless. I know him too well.
He'll only do it again.
Thanks to the Lord, as always, for the inspiration. To my family, particularly Josie and Carol for putting up with me; and to Pete for making it happen. To Karen Lynne for so much loving support across the miles; to my soulmates Dawn Egan and Nigel Foote for the endless encouragement; and to Denise Toorenbeek, my very own personal critic for keeping me honest. To Brian De Gruchy, for the magic he weaves into his extraordinary Guitars.
Special Thanks to Greg for his patience and dedication and to Abdul Khaliq Samadi, Daniel Emmad; Phillip and Wendy; Paul Hayman and 'The Clipper' and 'The Hamilton Family'; Philip Goodyear and the Adelaide Bell Ringers; Alan and Marilyn Tubman and Family and Russell Wilson; Frank Hackett Jones; Charlene, Darlene, Maxine, Pauline, Cheryl, Sharon, Drew and Louise at The Marlin; Duncan and Carol Cole; John Stephas, Greg Crispo, Cindy Budai, Theo Niessen, Lynette and Keith Rasheed; Ron, Claire, Timothy and Amanda, Rebecca and Jason Drummond, Sandy and Bobby Miller and Gina and Alan Frost; The workers at The Eden Cannery; to Albert Namatjira; William Wallace, Ned Kelly, David Hicks whose stories individually or compositely formed the basis of these songs.