Saturday, October 15

how to make gravy

the soundtrack of my days

How many notes in a saxophone and how much tomato sauce should you put in the perfect gravy?  Paul Kelly, Australian national treasure and a personal favourite was in Ubud to answer these question, launch his “mongrel memoir”, speak about his craft as singer/songwriter, and perform for eager fans at a fundraising concert.

For almost twenty years, the songs of Paul Kelly have been the soundtrack of my days.  I borrowed his lyrics to communicate with an ex-boyfriend when the confusion of dysfunctional young love shrouded my own voice.  I received scribbled replies from another track on the same album - a relationship commentated through a play list.  Paul’s songs carried a force of brevity and poetry that my own words lacked.  When I hear the songs again today, they crack the fragile surface of my memory. I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.  

Before ipods could fit an entire music library, I travelled with five mixed tapes and a walkman; PK’s music a link to home, a haven on a crowded train and the accompaniment to a daily changing visual world.   His music was there at my wedding ceremony, the melody of ripe love, and each album meets me at a new page of experience, binding together the chapters of my adulthood.

I have stood jammed against the stage at many concerts, from Perth to Edinburgh, and amassed a precious collection of play lists from beneath his feet.  Acoustic and full band, sit down auditorium and intimate pub rock; the man in black has captivated my spirit through his raw story telling. 

I was one of many crowded in to hear him speak about his craft and read from the pages of his “mongrel memoir”, and not the only one to be moved by his lachrymose acoustic renditions of “How to Make Gravy” and “Careless”.  He charmed long time fans and made new ones;  all in a bright pink floral shirt.

Saturday night he performed with legendary slide guitarist Lucky Oceans at the new Betelnut club next to Casa Luna.  For some unknown reason the ticket numbers were capped at a number far less than the venue could hold, which left a gaping hole at the back of the bar, but for those up close it was a treasured experience.  I witnessed what must be the first ever male paper-fan-dance to Paul Kelly music; think middle aged Aussie channelling a female Balinese dancer after a few beers and you have a visual. 

I was helping to run a silent auction in the foyer so I didn’t get to see the entire concert, but was able to steal away and catch a few favourites. At the conclusion I souvenired the playlist and asked Paul to sign it like a hopeless groupie.

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