Category Archives: THOUGHT OF THE DAY

In The Pines Goes A’ Wandering

For those of you who have been following the radio show and blog for a little while and have begun to wonder where I have disappeared to, let me tell you it’s been a busy couple of months. I have packed up my life (read: sequin dresses and record collection) and moved to Nashville, Tennessee.

It is exciting and intoxicating and just a little bit scary to be living on the other side of the world, in Music City, a place that has been home to just about every one of heroes at some point in their careers.

While I am no longer presenting In The Pines on FBI Radio, you will occasionally hear me on ABC Radio talking about Americana music (follow twitter for the scheduled, it’s haphazard!) and I’m also writing for Rhythms Magazine, an excellent blues and roots specialty rag. In between, I’m thrifting like a mo-fo, singing songs and learning how to drive on the wrong side of the road. EEP! As I am not doing the show, I won’t really be updating this blog. But I would love, love, love it if you followed my new blog (music, travel, existential crisis memoir) I Dream A Highway.

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In The Pines: A Whole Lotta Catching Up To Do

ImageSweet, sweet neglected blog, how I’ve missed you! I know, I know, I have been terribly absent this year, despite the fact that the show has continued to air every week on FBi 94.5. Now that we have hit June (without a single post…eek…) I am making a mid-year resolution to get back to writing more, so here is the first of (hopefully) many posts about new music and program highlights.

First things first, in case you didn’t know – FBi now has STREAMING ON DEMAND. 

This means that you can listen to In The Pines whenever you want. It’s a huge and exciting step forward for the station. You can listen to the program here. Without forcing you to make an extended trek through the archives, let me tell you it’s been a super busy year. Our international studio guests have included Nashville legend Jim Lauderdale, Canadian harmonisers Madison Violet and UK five-piece AHAB. Ex-pat guests Audrey Auld and Fiona McBain (Ollabelle) have also joined the show, with Ms Auld contributing to an incredible International Womens’ Day special. We have also been joined by local artists Suzy Connolly, The Falls, Jack Carty and Liz Martin. All of these shows are there in the archives. Go check ’em out.

Secondly, In The Pines has a facebook page. 

If social networking/ procrastinating is your thing, join us on Zuckerbook. The In The Pines page is regularly updated with the latest info on program special guests, touring artists and retro videos I obsess over and feel the need to share (More vintage Linda Ronstadt anyone?)

Thirdly, tomorrow night’s show is going to be AMAZING. 

Earlier this year, Australian music lost a true legend: Jimmy Little. This Tuesday I have invited Jimmy’s friend and collaborator Brendan Gallagher (Karma County) to share stories and the musical history of Jimmy’s life from late 1950s onwards. Jimmy Little was the first indigenous Australian to have a number one single, 1963’s ‘Royal Telephone’. He was a wonderful singer, inspirational musician and was also an ambassador for Aboriginal culture and health. In The Pines tomorrow night will be dedicated entirely to celebrating his life and contribution to Australian music. Tune in.

xxx Emma xxx

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Tammy Wynette’s Wheels: Getting Around Nashville, Tennessee

They say you need a car to get around Nashville. It’s sprawling suburban wonderland is just too sparse to go catching buses all the time. And getting cabs every day is hassle. A car. It’s the practical, sensible, economically efficient thing to do.

The thing is, I’ve never been a practical, sensible or economically efficient kind of gal. I have some life skills, sure. I can musical gargle. I have wiki-like knowledge of the back stories of my favourite singers. I am fluent in Sagittarian. And I can sniff out a thrift store within 200 metres. But I can’t drive.

And so, every lovely night of this three-week stint in Music City, after I’ve wrestled with my suitcase long enough to find something suitably bedazzled, after I’ve bronzed up and put on enough mascara to rival the lashes of Bambi, after I’ve almost suffocated on a near toxic mix of hair spray, dry shampoo and Coco Chanel Mademoiselle, I call my driver to come and pick me up and take me out on the town.

I know this is a little bit ridiculous. But then, so am I. And dare I say it, befriending the one cabbie and getting them to drive you around is actually a lot more practical than relying on Nashville’s non-committal taxi service.

Sometimes we don’t have to drive very far. If I’m going to The Station Inn, it’s a flat five dollars. It’s ten dollars to the Bluebird. On last night’s trip to the aptly named Loveless Cafe, which is about 20 miles from my humble apartment in East Nashville, he turned the metre off and only charged me 30 bucks.

Adam is my cab driver’s name. He came to Nashville from Sudan 15 years ago. He is knowledgable, reliable, friendly, and as I have told him many times, what we’d describe in Australia as “a bloody champion”.

Having a driver is fun and it does allow me to do what I do best: watch music and drink. But… and there’s always a but… all this reliance on being chauffeured around is, of course, hugely at odds with my infamous, emasculating, throw-me-another-adjective independent streak and yet another reminder that I really need to get my license. A mere 55 days or five million, five hundred and forty-four thousand heartbeats away from my 30th birthday, it just might be about time.

So this next year, I’m going to learn to drive. And next time I come to Nashville, I will rent a car. A completely over-the-top, inappropriate and impractical car, and I will drive around on the wrong side of the road like a True Blue American.

In the meantime, for my last three days in this beautiful city, I will continue to be driven around. And I’m cool with that. And… if I don’t learn to drive by the next time I’m in Tennessee, some research today has yielded a positive alternative option.

For sale description, as listed on craigslist, today’s date:



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Some people are just born legends…

“I don’t really talk dirty to be dirty. It’s just a way of communication. Some people are just born cussers.”

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They’re Playing Your Song: Little Soundtracks For Everyday People

At various times in my life, I’ve taken on different songs as themes. Little anthems that seem so plugged into how I felt that I could almost have written them myself, had I the musical skill/ genius/ time/ ability to stay out of the bar long enough/ ability to withstand solitude/ I could make a million excuses/ ability to stop making excuses…

Theme songs find us in two distinct ways. Or at least that is how it has always been for me. The first way is the best way. A perfect song, discovered in the perfect place, at the perfect time. A lightning bolt. An explosion of your spirit.

The second, more common method is to rediscover an old song when you are ready for it. Sometimes the rediscovery is a happy accident. Other times it is a deliberate seeking out. It’s all good. The mystical romantic falls in love again and it’s all Stevie Nicks Rooms On Fire. The jilted heart wants to break over and over again and so it loops all six minutes and forty-seven bitter seconds of Elvis Costello’s I Want You.

I’m always thinking about music and I’m always over-sharing. Because of this, most of my themes find their way onto the blog or the radio show. But I would love to know what other people’s themes are. Other people do this, surely?

When I was growing up, my Mum would amend the lyrics to Paul Kelly songs to match them up with her circumstances. It was funny and cute. But also sad and beautiful. In ‘To Her Door’, the number of children in the song’s soon to be broken home was multiplied thus:

They got married early
Never had no money
Then when he got laid off
They really hit the skids
He started up his drinking
Then they started fighting
He took it pretty badly
She took seven kids

At the moment, I’m fixated on a Joni Mitchell song. It’s not the first one of hers that I have found myself drawn to, even though it took me many, many years to get over my initial uncertainty about whether or not I even liked her. Certainly ‘A Case Of You’ and ‘Both Sides Now’ have been up there as themes. But at the moment, I’m on vacation and I’m all romantic and wild-eyed and so I’m here:

Joni Mitchell – You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio

If you’re driving into town
With a dark cloud above you
Dial in the number
Who’s bound to love you
You turn me on
I’m a radio
I’m a country station
I’m a little bit corny
I’m a wildwood flower



For The Long Haul: Obsessive Compulsive Romantic Seeks Faraway Country For Enduring & Impossible Love Affair

Twenty hours in the air might seem like a long trip for some. Too far to go for a holiday. Too many hours in transit. Too much expense – of time and dollars – only to land and have your body-clock feel as though it’s been fucked sideways for about three to five days. It is a long way, yes.

I’m on the road at the moment. I have been for about three weeks. For better or worse, it means I’ve shaken the feeling of being fucked sideways. But when you’re on the road and you’ve traveled many, many hours to be somewhere, you are constantly asked by locals about time in the sky, so you spend a dumb amount of time thinking about it.

How do you cope?

Is it worth it?

Why would you do it?

I always say the same thing, a little monologue about my homeland, how it is nestled way down at the bottom of globe. Far from London. Far from Paris. Far from Rome. And far from America of course, a distance I have known too well for too many years. I have never been to London. I have never been to Paris. I have never been to Rome. But, oh how I have been to America.

I am nothing if not obsessive compulsive.

I have walked jet-lagged and bleary-eyed and dumb-struck on American streets so often. Too often? Perhaps too often. The trick when flying far is how you divide the time.

Two weeks ago: Sydney to Seattle via LAX (Swift’s Adventures in America: Trip Four, aka Too Early To Be Named Yet But Off To A Bloody Good Start)

*Arrive at the airport stupidly early because you’re stupidly excited.
*Consume five processed meals, six in-flight films and more than a few standard drinks.
*Have a brief nap but wake with enough time to obsess over a song or two, re-imagine an old love and remember why it’s an old love.
*Stop-over in LA and stretch legs, fire off an excited email or four and cue your favourite traveling song on the iPod so that when the plane that’s become the second leg of your journey takes off, you can let the excitement outweigh the exhaustion:

Four months ago: Sydney to New York via Vancouver, Montreal and Prince Edward Island (Swift’s Adventures in America: Trip Three, aka In The Interests Of Diversity – For The Love Of God – Go Further North)

*Arrange to meet an old flame in Vancouver. Obsess over this for the entire distance between Australia and Canada. It will kill the hours more quickly than you could ever know.
*Decide old flame is a bit of wanker.
*Drink. Meet new flames. Watch bands. Repeat until you arrive in NYC:

One year and five months ago: Sydney to New York via LAX (Swift’s Adventures in America: Trip Two, aka Seven Days In Total Is A Stupid Length Of Time To Try And Do This)

*Stay out until four in the morning in Sydney the night before and arrive at the airport with a half-packed bag, almost no dignity and certainly no sleep.
*Sleep all the way from Sydney to Los Angeles.
*Miss connecting flight to New York and become stranded in LA:

Three years, three months ago: Los Angeles to Sydney (Swift’s Adventures In America: Trip One, A Lesson In Breaking Your Own Heart, Really, Properly, Better Than Any Man Could)

*Fall head over heels for the country you are about to leave so much so that even the thought of getting on a plane home makes you feel unshakably sad.
*While waiting around LAX, in between drinking margaritas and staring vacantly at ugly airport walls, use public computers constantly and pick up swine flu.
*Sniffle all the way home, happy and sad and confused, love-sick and actually, really pandemic sick.
*Decide to find out how many times Steve Earle’s Fearless Heart can be played on a 14 hour flight.

*Land sleepless on the tarmac in the mother country. Feel a dumb sense of awe and happiness and craziness restored with the knowledge that LA to Sydney is not merely a 14 hour flight to you anymore. It’s 206 plays of Fearless Heart.