Tag Archives: Willie Nelson

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.



From the Vault Friday: You Will Hear The Locust Sing

It took five hours in the car, four aspirin, three stops along the way (a petrol station, a roadside diner, a driver reviver), two cans of Coke Zero and one excellent cassette collection to get my sister and I back to Wagga Wagga in time for Christmas. A sleepy city in south-west New South Wales, the place my family call home boasts sixty thousand residents and the state’s highest rate of teen pregnancy. And on this particular visit home, the second of my bi-annual stopovers to coincide with religious holidays I don’t actually celebrate, Wagga Wagga was also boasting a plague of locusts and a generous number of mosquitoes the size of cats. Happy times! Pest-ridden times! Family times!

With presents unwrapped, mosquitoes swatted and crackers cracked, I’ve made it back in Sydney in time to encounter pests of another kind for New Year’s Eve. But it has been so long since I made a From the Vault post I thought I’d share with you some of the classics from the aforementioned excellent cassette collection.

Waylon Jennings, ‘Ladies Love Outlaws’

Nothing says road trip like the sweet wail of Waylon Jennings as you wind down the highway. The cassette I packed was actually a Waylon/ Willie combo, which to my ears is the best of both worlds. It kicked off with this beauty, ‘Ladies Love Outlaws’.

More than any other Outlaw, Waylon had the combination of charmer/pervert perfectly balanced. Have a listen to the half-smile in his voice as he sings

Ladies touch babies like a banker touches gold
Outlaws touch ladies somewhere deep down in their soul

Smooth driving, ladies.

Kris Kristofferson, ‘Loving Her Was Easier’

Ah Kristofferson, the ‘intellectual’ Outlaw. With both of us nursing hangovers, it was important to allow for some quiet time in the car. Someone to lull us into the rhythm of the road and reflect on the year that had so quickly passed us by. Someone to make us think of past loves and future loves. Someone who I could fantasise was a past or future love…

If you doubt the worthiness of my declarations of lust for Kris Kristofferson, do yourself a favour and check out some youtube clips from A Star Is Born.

Hell, if KK was good enough for Joan Baez, Rita Coolidge, Babs Streisand and Janis Joplin, he’s good enough for me.

Beaches / 100% Hits Vol. 14

We’d just past Goulburn (home of Australia’s ‘most secure prison’) when it was decided we needed a break from country music for a while. And who better to change the vibe than Bette Midler? We could laugh as she sang about tit-slings and cry as she sang about sickly best-friends.

It was a ladies only road trip.

Do not judge us.

But just as we were gearing up for some quality power ballad sing-a-longs, I opened the cassette case to discover that some joker at St Vincent De Paul had replaced Beaches with 100% Hits Vol. 14. Lucky we both love early ’90s Top 40 as much as we love The Divine Miss M!

This cassette gifted us with many great surprises, including ‘Dreams’ by The Cranberries, R.E.M.’s ‘What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?’ and ‘100% Pure Love’ by Crystal Waters, which disturbingly, I still know all the words to.

But the car favourite was definitely Warren G (featuring Nate Dogg) ‘Regulate’.

Gang violence, horny bros, slutty hos, Michael McDonald… Bette who?

Conway Twitty, ‘Heartaches By The Number’

On the homeward stretch it seemed only fair to end the journey as it began: country style. So it was Conway Twitty who serenaded us into town, just as a swarm of horny locusts hell bent on crop destruction flew towards the car windscreen as fast as their tiny wings could carry them.

Although I found it intensely amusing to be going home to a natural disaster of biblical proportions (I spent much of the road trip penning a new festive bush ballad called ‘There’s A Locust In My Chardonnay’), the reality for local farmers was not at all funny. Just weeks after torrential rain turned the former drought zone into a muddy brown waterworld, in buzzed the locusts for round two of farm sabotage.

Heartaches by the number indeed.

Catch y’all in 2011 xxx

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Pines #6: Don’t Smoke Weed With Willie

The Happy Confessor Spills Again

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Willie Nelson fan. The silver plaits, the ranch, the legend status: he’s the dreamiest 77-year-old walking the planet. If I were the tattooing type (don’t fret Ma, I’m not!) I’d get something crass like this on my inner thigh in perverse tribute:

But since I’m not too keen on getting inked up, and since I do not care for living with jokes about having Willie between my legs for eternity, I’m left with little option but to show my adoration in other ways. Like by playing him on a new music focussed radio station in Sydney, in celebration of his recent arrest for marijuana possession.

As the daughter of a massive stoner (don’t fret Ma, I don’t mean you!) I find Willie’s lifelong love affair with weed kind of endearing in my own creepy, Oedipal way. EEP. Oh dear, I think I just felt the collective shudder of my six horrified siblings. Anyhow, where was I? Willie Nelson, pot, arrested, released on bail, what a dreamboat….

I’m a bit sad that the outlaw was handcuffed this week. But like most Willie fans, kind of amused and just a little bit thrilled to find that he still goes On The Road Again with his stash. So sandwiched in between all the new releases on In The Pines tonight, I played this duet he recorded with Waylon Jennings many, many decades ago.

Destroyer, You Destroy Me/ Forgive Me Father etc

Just over half a decade ago, I spent way too much time trapped in the musty, underground office of Sydney University’s student paper, Honi Soit. It was a strange and awkward year, not just because I spent most of it holed up in a two metre by two metre space with a bunch of bickering student politicians, aspiring Christopher Hitchens types and drama geeks, but because my aforementioned pot smoking father had recently died and I was doing my best to make Sylvia Plath look like Shirley Temple.

You have no idea how happy I am to repeat that it was more than half a decade ago.

Anyhow, in between wallowing in self-pity and learning how to binge drink,
I buried myself into two contradictory but complimentary tasks: editing the student paper with Ita Buttrose like dedication, and avoiding my university course work with a passion I’d previously reserved for poetry readings in the quad. Like I said, strange times.

What’s the point of all this incessant over sharing, say you?

It was in this miserable context that I first discovered Canadian musician Dan Bejar’s dream-fused melodramatic folk pop. His over-wrought, post structural masterpiece (Oh! To be back in a Cultural Studies tutorial!) Your Blues had been sent to the paper as a review copy. I snapped it up eagerly and for better or worse, listened obsessively as though his haunted, synthesised despair was my own.

Feeling fine/ Well it must be the wine/ ‘Cos It’s April 27/ And my baby’s still dying on me

Many years, beers, tears and fortunately a whole lot of good, happy times later, Destroyer has returned to my stereo, this time in the form of tonight’s In The Pines playlist. Tonight we heard ‘Chinatown’ from the upcoming album Kaputt.

I’m pleased to observe that despite his continuing association with the reasonably straight up New Pornographers, Dan Bejar still makes solo music of the decadent, sadcore variety. And equally pleased to discover he’s unafraid of the saxophone.

Pipe Down With Your Confessions, Sylvia

It’s just past two a.m. and although I’m currently experimenting with a writing philosophy I’ve dubbed ‘What Would Helen Garner Do?’ I think enough memoir has been shared for this week, so I’ll quit with the prose and leave you with a few clips of other songs that also featured on tonight’s show. And just in case you’re going nineties on the gig front this week, if you’re going to see The Lemonheads at the Metro in Sydney on Wednesday, I’ll be the one in the floral dress and docs. Likewise, if you’re going to see Nic Dalton at the Petersham Bowlo on Thursday, I’ll be the one in the floral dress and docs. And if you’re going to see Mick Thomas & The Sure Thing at the Vanguard on Friday, I’ll be the one in the…

Peace out, y’all xxx

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Bustin’ Outta Nashville

What can I say, I’m easily distracted. It’s been some months since I gave the blog the love it aches for. We took a holiday from each other. In the downtime, I managed to visit New York, start a new job and indulge in more pints than a pint-sized lady should be able to. But it’s time for a return to writing. My restless feet, twitching fingers and aching liver say so. In the next few weeks I will share my thoughts on seeing Willie Nelson play at the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom, rant about some new records and post interviews with James Murphy, The Yearlings and Ruth Moody. So that’s all in works. But in the meantime… can I direct you to something I’m going to shamelessly rip-off in the near future?

American music critic Nathan Rabin writes a wonderful blog for the website avclub.com. It’s called Nashville Or Bust and if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, it’s definitely worth a squizz. Basically, Rabin is a hip-hop writer who had grown tired of writing about hip-hop and decided to go on a rather epic exploration of country music. For just over a year Rabin has written tender, sad and amusing musings on country artists past and present (mostly past) in a way that has totally reinvigorated the way I think about music writing. He’s up to Week 42 in a series of 52 entries so there’s plenty of previous posts to trawl through, but I thought I’d point In The Pines listeners/readers to some of the gems I’ve enjoyed the most before I embark on my rip-off project.***

Check it out:

Townes Van Zandt

Waylon Jennings

Gary Stewart

***Okay, so it’s not a full-blown rip-off and you’ll see why soon but credit where credit’s due, eh?

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