Happiness as Anarchy #32: Clever Lyrics

Good lyrics are hard to write, and it’s twice as tricky to make them appear at the same time as a good tune. The masters could do it, and threw in some curved balls, just to keep us on our toes. Unless you’re a singer, most people will remember the words to the first verse and chorus of a song, but no more. When you have to learn lyrics properly though, there are all kinds of delightful surprises in store. Burt Bacharach’s “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” is one such song. Over that refined 60s arrangements, the second verse floats:

What do you get when you kiss a girl?
You get enough germs to catch pneumonia
And when you do she’ll never phone you
I’ll never fall in love again.

Happiness as Anarchy #23: Long Weekends

Waking up on Monday morning and realising I don’t have to go to work – that makes me happy! The novelty of public holidays is still exciting even though I’ve been in my job for seven months. Instead of being at my desk today, I’ve cooked and gardened and done the dishes and the washing and fixed the chicken door (to their house, not mine) and tidied and played music. So nice!

This is the last of the quinces on the tree out the front. I’m letting them hang like Christmas tree decorations until they drop.


Happiness as Anarchy #21: Realising I Know A Few Songs

Once upon a time I found it very difficult to remember chord changes for songs. I just wrote a set list for tomorrow morning’s gig at Clunes Market – tunes I know from memory and can play on uke. When I started, there was a little nagging question floating around the back of my head: will I have enough songs to fill an hour and a half? Much to my surprise, the list has 40 songs on it! It makes me very happy to sit briefly in the realisation of how far I’ve come on my musical journey.

If you’re out and about tomorrow morning, you can find me playing at the Clunes Market from 11:45-1:15. Do stop and say hello if you see me!

Travelling Uke Amie

Photo: Nicole Cleary

Happiness as Anarchy #19: My Audience

My audience brings me joy every single time I get on stage. I don’t know if they realise how special they are and how much I love them. I do a little gig once a month at Craig’s Hotel in Ballarat, down in the cellar, and every month I go home with a smile on my face and a heart full of love. We share a space and time each month and I’m very humbled that everyone who comes gives a few hours of their time to listen to the music I make. The atmosphere is very relaxed and we often have a conversation in the middle of the set about songs and stories and experiences. And there are always a few songs where everyone joins in to sing – that’s one of my favourite moments as a performer – when we all make music together.

One very special thing about this particular audience is the way they let me experiment – with new songs, poetry, different instruments, and occasionally a new song of mine. Thank you, if you were there last night, for letting me share that new song in such a loving environment. It was hard thing for me to do, but you made it you made it possible.

Here’s a little clip from last night of a song written in 1928 – I Can’t Give You Anything But Love – by Jimmy McHugh (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics). I’m playing my new ukulele, Petunia.



Happiness as Anarchy #17: Faith

Faith. George Michael. 1987.
I haven’t listened to it for a decade or more, but managed to put my finger on the CD in seconds this evening. The song is as good as I remember it, which is a pleasant surprise, given my taste in music as a school girl (A-ha, Pseudo Echo, the soundtrack to La Bamba … need I go on?)
May it bring you happy memories of the late 80s, shoulder pads and all.
(Faith starts at 14 seconds)

Happiness as Anarchy #16: A Good Piano

I started playing piano when I was 8 years old and not long after my grandmother gave me her piano. That piano – an upright with walnut panels – and I are good friends. We’ve been through a lot of years of practice and joy and heartbreak together. Sadly she’s not really playable any more (it happens to the best of us when we’re over a century old) but I can’t let go of her.

Having spent most of my life dreaming of having a grand piano, a few years ago I bought one. Just like that! It was time to get a new piano and a grand piano isn’t nearly as expensive as you might think. Mine is a Yamaha G1 from the early 1990s, when construction quality was at its peak, and it’s an absolute delight to play. One of the wonderful things about having a lovely instrument is that it makes you want to play all the time. So now I will have an argument with myself about whether I go to bed or play some tunes.

Here she is:

Grand Piano 1

And here’s the piano movers bringing her in:

Grand Piano 2

Happiness as Anarchy #14: Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams

There’s nothing quite like happy music to put a skip in your step. It’s terribly unfashionable but I do love Dean Martin, particularly in the car. At the moment I’m listening to an album of his greatest hits that I picked up in the op shop. No chance of getting bored because there are 25 tracks on the album, most of them happy. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams is on there and keeps me smiling while I’m driving. Written in 1931 and first recorded by Louis Armstrong in November that year, it’s been recorded by so many great artists you could listen to it all day in different incarnations.

Happiness as Anarchy #4: New fingering

New ways to do familiar things often come from unexpected places. One of my work colleagues has recently discovered the ukulele and we have a lunchtime uke session once a week. Today we soaked up a little autumn sunshine on the deck and played Blue Moon. It’s a pretty straightforward tune, except those couple of bars of Eb in the middle. I was showing her how to play the Eb chord, looked at her fingers and realised her way of playing the chord was much easier than mine. I was pretty happy with that little discovery, but it got better – I was playing around with the new shape after work and realised why I’ve been finding two note finger bars so tricky all these years. (I won’t bore you with the technical details!) In short, that nice little communal strum at lunchtime has led to a discovery that will change my playing for the better. And that makes me happy!