Cheeseburger Gothic

Balls! After Dark, EP 14

Posted August 5, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

Beeso and the Doc talk Metallica for toddlers, old school music theft, their famous Twitter stalkers and classic albums from terrible bands.

It's all good.

Be the first to respond to ‘Balls! After Dark, EP 14’

Respond to 'Balls! After Dark, EP 14'

Apple Music is complex, opaque, inconsistent and buggy. But I don't hate it

Posted August 4, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

I'm feeling left out. Apple Music hasn't deleted any of my songs or albums, and the only duplicates I can find in my library were already there – created by an app called Boom. (It's a great audio app which does something to your sound files to make the crappy little speakers on your laptop, or even your desktop, sound way more awesome. Unfortunately it creates amplified copies of the songs to do this. Hence the duplicates all the way through my library).

It's been about a month since the blessed fruit company's streaming music service launched and most of the coverage has been lukewarm at best. Taylor Swift famously scolded them for expecting musicians to cover the cost of the three-month long 'free' trial period. Long-time Apple observers like Marco Arment, John Gruber and The Loop's Jim Dalrymple have all aired their issues. Dalrymple's involved an embarrassing misadventure in which he thought Apple had deleted about four and a half thousand songs from his library, potentially forcing him to buy them all over again. That turned out not to be the case, leading to the aforementioned embarrassment when Dalrymple had to clarify a pretty gnarly blog post on the matter, and cut out a big chunk of a podcast with Gruber.

Initial reports from the other streaming services, mostly meaning Spotify, seem to indicate Apple Music hasn't landed any crippling blows yet. In fact it's only effect so far might be to grow the streaming market.

I've been using it for a month, after subscribing to Rdio for nearly a year. I still have my Rdio subscription, a family plan costing a little more than $20 a month, but I haven't used the app since I got Apple Music. This isn't because Apple Music is a superior service – in many ways it's really not – but rather speaks to the inertia of having a bunch of accounts already set up and configured to everyone's personal taste. You can transfer your playlists from Spotify and Rdio to Apple, but it's not simple or free to do so.

One popular method involves buying an app like the prosaically named Move to Apple Music 1.1 For five bucks it will move most of your music across, but it's not perfect and if, like me, you don't like giving login details to outsiders, you're shit out of luck.

I moved my two most played workout lists over by hand. It took half an hour and cured me of any enthusiasm to repeat the process with my other playlists, such as ‘Writing’ which has hundreds of jazz and blues tracks carefully selected to fade into the background while I tap away.

So, apart from not paying their suppliers, i.e. musicians, and then losing Jim Dalrymple's Ozzy Osbourne collection (since recovered) how is Apple Music shaping up? I can only answer for myself. I use it every day, and I find myself impressed by the power of the service, and frustrated by the experience of using it. The user interface, especially on the desktop, is terrible. Complex, opaque, inconsistent and buggy. The exact opposite of “It just works".

This is partly because Jimmy and Dre are trying to pack so much into the service, but mostly because they've built it atop the layered ruins of iTunes. It’s a bit like building your shiny new mall atop a haunted housing development, which buried an accursed graveyard, that replaced a city of the damned, which sank its foundations into a Hell Dimension. iTunes is not just a music library it is a massively complicated device and content management system that has grown wild and achieved a malign sentience over the years. It is inevitable that Cupertino will eventually split off Apple Music as a pure standalone app, but untangling the Gordian knot of iTunes will probably take a couple of years re-engineering. Until then, suck up the pain.

Apple Music on iOS is simpler, or perhaps just easier, than its OS X counterpart. Mostly because it can live free as a separate application. The iPhone app in particular is less confused and confusing than its companion apps. It is still diabolically complicated, but not as intentionally malevolent. The language of multitouch speaks more fluently to the interface than Yosemite’s point and click. You can already see where Force Touch will fit in, possibly as soon as iOS 9 is released in September or October. For instance, pressing and holding your finger on a suggested playlist or album in the For You section brings up a series of options such as adding it to your library, making the selection available off-line (by downloading it to your device) or even telling Apple you hate this stupid choice and you never want to see it again. (Seriously, Apple, stop trying to make Rhianna happen to me). There are, however, so many options that sub menus exist under the main menu. This is a blindingly obvious use case for Force Touch.

Putting aside the complexity of the interface, there are certain simple actions which appear to be universally available to other streaming apps, which simply don't exist in Apple Music. In Rdio, for instance, whenever you see an artist's name, or an album, or a song, you click on it and go straight to the relevant track or page. This is not so in Apple Music. I'm not always sure what happens with Apple Music. And I say that having used it heavily for a month. The UI is just not intuitive. Or logical. Or even coherent. Often this seems to be a result of an inability to say no.

Apple still boasts that for every Yes there are 1000 No's. While it might be true in hardware design, and even in other software and service offerings – the redesigned Photos springs to mind – the same discipline has not been applied to music. Example? You can add a song to "Up Next" or you can mark a song or album to "Play Next". Two very similar instructions with two very different outcomes. I have learned to avoid hitting Play Next because it deletes everything in my Up Next list. One slip of the finger and hundreds of songs in a stack can disappear. This has made me sad more than once. By way of contrast, Rdio's Play Later option is less powerful but more functional. Programming my set list for the work day was always a pleasure with Rdio. On Apple Music it feels like a gamble.

And yet I'm still using Apple Music. Why? Because for all of the failures of design and execution, the intent and the vision behind it are still great. When it workds as intended, it's brilliant. As much as I came to love Rdio, it rarely surprised me. The delight that I felt in using it was the glutton's happiness at beholding the vast banquet table before him. More often than not, however, I would simply pile my plate high with the same toasted cheese sandwiches I had yesterday. Rdio, and I presume Spotify and the other streamers, do attempt to introduce their listeners to new music, but I never much liked the picks. What new music I did find, I found for myself.

One thing Apple is very good at, is telling you what you are going to like. (And by God you'd better like it, or else you’re gonna find out why Eddie Cue’s nickname is Da Cueball). In the month I've been using this complex, opaque, inconsistent and buggy service it has delivered more surprising and delightful new music discovery than a year on Rdio. I enjoy the way it surfaces playlists depending on the time of day. Workout choices in the morning. Driving lists in peak hour. Cocktail tunes at sundown. I find myself dipping into Beats 1, the radio station, whenever I have a couple of minutes to spare. I sometimes hate what’s playing, but when I don’t, I might just love it with the same intensity and will always add the track to my library. (Again, a process which is not simple or easy. *Shakes head*). The curated playlists, thousands of them, with more being added every day, are often close to perfect.

I have even bought more music after finding one or two artists whose work I enjoyed so much I felt obliged to pay for it. (And one or two artists whose albums were available to stream one day, but not the next – a common enough occurrence across all the streaming services.)

Of course, I bought those albums on iTunes. The UI for gving Apple money works as well as it ever did.

36 Responses to ‘Apple Music is complex, opaque, inconsistent and buggy. But I don't hate it’

Lobes puts forth...

Posted August 4, 2015
Apple Rant Incoming---

OK late to the party here. Ive just started using iTunes to purchase music because I really feel its the right thing to do and support artists who give me such enjoyment. BUT just today I was bewildered when 39 out of 42 tracks on my latest album were not available to my iphone offline. Instead I had these little cloud symbols next to them that apparently signifies the tracks are in the cloud and must be downloaded to be played. This is not bloody good enough. I already paid to purchase them, paid for the bandwidth to download them and now I am being slugged a THIRD time just to listen to them on a phone where they've already been installed. This costs me about 5-10 cents per song. I am being punished for doing the right thing. The rational thing to do here would be download illegal copies that dont vanish from my phone to reppear in the cloud and can be used, transferred and played on any device I choose. Sheer idiocy from iTunes you are driving away someone trying to do the right thing.

/rant

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted August 4, 2015
Wait? You've already downloaded them? But they're back in the cloud?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2015
Oh, and you need to turn off iTunes Match.

Respond to this thread

Lobes mumbles...

Posted August 4, 2015
Yes thats what appears to have happened.

Someone else mentioned Match when I had a big cry on FB about this. Will have to look into that (whatever it is)

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted August 4, 2015
If you turn on Match, the iDeathStar looks at all the music in your library, including everything you stole, and 'matches' it from the iTunes library servers, replacing shitty MP3s sucked off the torrentz, with smooth, creamy, street legal versions from the original publishers. You can then stream the music over the net when you want it, saving storage space on the device. But of course, if your reception is crap, or your data allowance minimal and your provider charges like a mad bull for overage, it's a very bad idea.Also, sometimes Match just deletes your library and forces you to use Match. Turn it off.

Lobes would have you know...

Posted August 5, 2015
Thanks for the explanation JB. I shall dive into my apple ecosystem and try to extinguish this Match before my library goes up like Alexandria.

This is an important lesson in reading the EULA which I will still probably never do.

Respond to this thread

Surtac asserts...

Posted August 4, 2015

Dunno about Apple Music, but I have to agree that recent versions of iTunes are iCrap.

Just last night I was trying to pull some purchased tunes down to my desktop,, when iTunes complained I needed to authorise this computer, but then wouldn't let me do it because it thought there were already 5 machines authorised. Ok, it might be true but 2 or 3 of those machines are now dead, kaput, non-existent landfill machines.

And my only option is to de-authorise all machines from the account and add the extant machines back in. This is madness.

It doesn't care about the 4 ipads and 5 or 6 ipods in use in the house, but Ghu forbid I try to use more than 5 computers.

Rob mutters...

Posted August 5, 2015
with google music, you just buy the album and download it as a zip file and put in your library. And if you're me, those 320kps files just go on your PlayStation and ipod.

Respond to this thread

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted August 4, 2015
Sort of disappointed that the "Boom" app didn't alter your entire collection into covers of your existing collection by Boom Crash Opera.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 4, 2015
MacRumors says that's totes gonna be a feature in El Cap.

Respond to this thread

MickH asserts...

Posted August 4, 2015
I love the picture of Dave with his Ipod thingy

Respond to this comment

MickH has opinions thus...

Posted August 4, 2015
I don't bother with all that.Every single piece of music i want to listen to is available for free on Youtube

Respond to this comment

HAVOCK21 would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2015
Don't fkn start me on IFKN MOONES! MUNTERS!
SO..here goes, no swear words. I just upgraded all three phones for the two boys and Mrs H to IP 6's and Mrs H got the 6 S ....DONT ASK WHY!
Anywho. That required back up and that in turn required we UPDATE the ITUBNES on the puters and that req EVERYBODY to have log in and then we needed to DOWNLOAD everything back and how well might one ask diod all that fare. Well It still gets a we bit better, because!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I happen to still be running a very well oiled and operating perfectly well IPHONE 3S and its a cracker. BUT GUESS WHAT! I need to do the upgrade. Several attemps tlater and thats also the other issue I might add. When apples ITUNES we are miunters department on we shall send you an e/mail says that!..it shopuld happen inside of the FKN YEAR YA CLUSTER FKS! I'M STILL FKN WAITING ON MY {ASSWORD E?MAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So...where were we...thats right!..duplicates, ever changing software, never ending down lkoads and up dates and OH.....BTW if you run WIn 8. whatever the fk it is ya can then run the current version of POX TUNES...if NOT ya fkd...KNO WHAT THAT COIST ME...A NEW FKN LAPTOP FFSAKES!....
FKRS. Computer p[rogtramming well stick it in ya kester withoiur fkn lube bastards!!!!!!!

Rhino puts forth...

Posted August 5, 2015
3S. <snort>. Luddite.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted August 5, 2015
What the horned one said. Let us review. Mrs H chose the 6+ because she is a woman of refinement and acumen, and being a lady of some elegance she never leaves home without a properly accessorised bag, into which she can now place a sizeable but light and extremely powerful computer. I may have to talk to her about the advantages of teaming the Plus with an Apple Watch. Yes. Yes I may. You, on the other hand, are using a six year old phone which you have never backed up. And I suspect you get Mrs H to print out your email which, in this instance, has been eaten by a goat.

Respond to this thread

Rhino puts forth...

Posted August 5, 2015
Sorry, off topic, but sorta', kinda' in the same vein ... reaching out with Seppo power.
http://www.news.com.au/national/b-52-bombers-demonstrate-their-long-reach-in-mock-bombing-run-from-us-to-australia/story-fncynjr2-1227468948636
Murica, Fuck Yeah!

w from brisbane reckons...

Posted August 5, 2015
B-52's! How quaint. Who was the squadron leader? Jimmy Stewart? (The actor, Jimmy Stewart, an airforce Brigadier General in real life, flew B-52s towards the end of his military career. That plane from the 1950's seems so quaint to me. I imagine it has been updated. As is obvious, I know more about old movies and old movie stars than I know about modern military matters.)

Rhino mumbles...

Posted August 6, 2015
Quaint works ... especially when it can deliver a payload that size.
Kinda' like me.

Albion Love Den mumbles...

Posted August 6, 2015
On the off-topic, I got to finally see the 52 up close for the first time this year. And I was bitterly disappointed by how bloody small it was! And right at that moment of deflation, I got an acute insight into how all of my sexual partners have ever felt...

Respond to this thread

damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 5, 2015
Different experience for me. Mine basically consisted of an incident when I needed to play Pretty Paracetamol by Fischer-Z to someone on my phone (a 6+), shortly after the iOS 8.3 upgrade. First, I had trouble finding the Music icon because of the changed colours (though I admit these are pretty). Then on launching, it started asking me to sign in to something or create an account - not what I expected since, as Lobes noted, when you have music physically on your device, you expect it still to be there. So a quick trip to Settings->Music and flipping "Show Apple Music" to off, and frankly good -ing riddance.
I'm not against streaming services, but to me they are the radio to the milk carton full of tapes that lives on my phone (and on the 10-year-old iPod in the console box in my car).

Respond to this comment

beeso ducks in to say...

Posted August 5, 2015
A few things. I'll give Apple music a year to spin it out of iTunes and turn it into a decent app. Apples new apps are rarely kick ass out of the gate, but apple music on the mac is a giant pain in the arse. Doesn't mean it will be forever.
I've spent almost all my music listening time in spotify the last 18 months. I've never listened to more music i've never heard before and i ran 2 live music venues where a large part of my job was listening to demos. Granted part of that is the new music thing we do for the Balls After Dark but spotify has also pushed me to a lot of older music i'd never run across. And probably never would have run across if i'd had to shell out cash on a speculation purchase.

Respond to this comment

Keith is gonna tell you...

Posted August 5, 2015
Really liking Spotify's new Discover playlists. While Spotify's idea of similar artists has always been dubious, these new playlists are a much better mix of lesser known album tracks from artists I already like and stuff from people I've never heard of that are actually good. You get a new one each week and haven't had to skip a track in the first 3 I've listened to.
Worth a go if you've been using it for long enough for it to learn a bit about you.

Respond to this comment

Rob asserts...

Posted August 5, 2015
Music is so personal to me and I like finding new bands by using web connections via band websites, The spotifys of the world just generally scare me. Plus I still mostly like getting CDs. I buy the MP3s when its older albums I can't find in physical formats or I just want it now. But why oh why can't I just drag and drop files to the ipod classic? why god why?

( i also suggest that everyone should check out the White Mandigos, for awesome rap/punk rock with a narrative bent)

Lulu mutters...

Posted August 5, 2015
OT, but - why oh why, did I lose my iPod Classic? (rhetorical question) And which iDevice is the most suitable replacement? (not rhetorical)

Rob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 5, 2015
Maybe a Fiio x5?

Albion Love Den would have you know...

Posted August 6, 2015
My 2 classics recently died, so I forked over for the Touch, adding the yearly Match subscription to compensate for the miserly 128GB.

Respond to this thread

Surtac asserts...

Posted August 5, 2015

"But why oh why can't I just drag and drop files to the ipod classic? why god why?"

Amen, brother.

Respond to this comment

HAVOCK21 mutters...

Posted August 5, 2015
LULU
The muppets here do NOT get classic equipment here at all...AT FKN ALL!!!!!!!

w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted August 5, 2015
Damn right HAVOCK! Those who mock old classics should seriously be puzzled why their partners stay with them. Isn't the enduring, raffish, Clooneyesque charm of all us cheeseburgers is that we are old classics.

Respond to this thread

dweeze is gonna tell you...

Posted August 5, 2015
Well, I was reading through the moans that y'all have 'pined and laughing out loud at the way that you iFruitFanbois were trying to justify a bucket of poo. Yeh, me with my superior sticky-taped together Winbloze box and 10 year old clamshell phone.
I've had a very acceptable setup going for the last 2-3 years. Out here in the sticks we have the option of Tel$tra, Tel$tra or Tel$tra for our comms. Too far from exchange for ADSL, satellite options locally are little better than dialup and the string between the cans keeps getting wet. So our mate$ upgrade the local tower enabling 3G wireless - cool, I now have phone coverage. Wireless modem gives the power of internettage - yay. Best available plan is 15Gig downloads for, wait for it, a measly $105pcm. Subtract $25 for discounts and it's a snip @ $80pcm - you city folks dunno what you are missing out on!
Next up they add mog.com streaming service UNMETERED. Holy crap Batman, 7 bucks a month - sign me up now. Some years go by while I pillage bandwidth and stream 30+GB of toons every month on my 15GB plan. Hellsyeah. Revisit all my old faves, check out a few on the must listen list and use the power of mog recommendations to check out about 50 bazillion bands / albums / tracks that I should have known about but didn't. Teh awesome personified. Killer playlists assembled.

On Saturday past, the biatches announce the cancellation of mog on Tel$tra with NO replacement. Today, I get the regular call from a Tel$tra shlepp - "can we upgrade your plan sir?". I tells em to sit down and hang on cos there's a spray a-coming (actually, I was polite but firm cos I know that the schlepresentative don't make no policy and it aint their faut that they don't know what the brass aint told em yet). Whilst we speak, the autobot sends announcement of Apple Music via Tel$tra. Woot, I think. I ask the rep, who stays befuddled and promises to get back tomorrow with some detailed info, what gives?
Mebbe I'll finally have to join Jobsy's iUniverse just to have some 'zak whilst I work. It'd better bloody be unmetered ... or I may get all postal on the nearest Tel$hop.

BTW, cannot export mog faves / playlists.
Grrrrrr, where's my 12 gauge??

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted August 5, 2015
Totes stealing 'schlepresentative'.

Rhino reckons...

Posted August 6, 2015
You people need to get some technology. I know we Seppos lag behind Europe and (especially) N. Korea on bandwidth and such ... but you guys are really behind the curve.

damian would have you know...

Posted August 6, 2015
Hey Rhino, guess what... Our immediate previous Feds had just the plan to do this. However we elected the current lot partly on an election promise to scrap this plan and weld us firmly to mid-90s expectations for the technology infrastructure. Telcos here exploit monopoly status when they can, as you might expect, but unfortunately any means to address this falls against the ideological constraints of conservatives, and is therefore scrapped whenever they are elected.

Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted August 6, 2015
Hmmmm, a shame you don't have any muskets around for one of those pesky revolution things. But your government took care of that too.

Dirk puts forth...

Posted August 7, 2015
To quote our beloved prophet Havock: R U FKN Serious? here in Holland you get 50 mbit up /50 mbit downstream for € 55,- a month Decent ADSL will set you back a € 30 a month. do the math for Au$

How far from the nearest reservation with decent speed are you? Less then 60 miles? You (as a community) may wanna consider investing in a pair of these https://www.ubnt.com/airfiber/airfiber5/

Respond to this thread

HAVOCK21 mutters...

Posted August 6, 2015
HEY!!!...Can anybody tell me how a 777 ( MH370) jumbo hits the water FKN GENTLY!... cos I dont think BIG ARSE FKN JETS hit the water gently. Like this dick head suggests.
http://www.smh.com.au/business/aviation/mh370-intact-part-lifts-odds-plane-glided-not-crashed-into-sea-20150806-git4mq.html
OT JB, but I thought...what a dick some fkn news papers are with their stupid fkn headlines!

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'Apple Music is complex, opaque, inconsistent and buggy. But I don't hate it'

BALLS After Dark. Ep 13 "I dug a hole, Dad."

Posted July 30, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

The music episode is live: ... In which Beeso and the Doc talk 80s hiphop, 90s electronica and noughties disco-grunge, great Amiga games music, off-label Stones ripoffs, how sausages are made, the Four Kinsman's version of Cop Killa, Fucking Off For Ten Years Album Syndrome, and Teenage Protracker Fury.

Warning, there is vaseline and the Doc sings.

2 Responses to ‘BALLS After Dark. Ep 13 "I dug a hole, Dad."’

Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted July 30, 2015
Podcasts are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made.

Respond to this comment

Rhino mumbles...

Posted July 31, 2015
Listening to the podcast. If this took place in the US Beeso and Doc would be castrated and crucified for cultural appropriation and racism for having the temerity to discuss Hip Hop.
RACISTS.

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'BALLS After Dark. Ep 13 "I dug a hole, Dad."'

One song playlist

Posted June 9, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

I asked Twitter to give me one song they put on a playlist if that playlist was only one song long.

Here is that list. It'll take hours to add to Rdio or Spotify but I'll do it as a side project over the next few weeks.

#1SongPlaylist


Guided By Voices - Choking Tara
The Left Bank -Walk Away Rene
Turin Breaks - Painkiller
Foo Fighters - Everlong
Public Image Ltd - Rise
Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Chili
Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel - Make me smile,
Concrete Blonde - Tomorrow Wendy
Tom Waits - Closing Time
Dead Letter Circus - I am
Assemblage 23 - Awake
Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place
Custard - Anatomically Correct
Birds of Tokyo - Anchor
Lou Reed - Romeo Had Juliette
Eddie Vedder - Sleepless Nights
Max Q - Way of the World
Bowie - Modern Love
The Who - Wont Get Fooled Again
Hit Record - You’re Not the Only One.
Nick Cave - The Ship Song
KD Lang - Hallelujah
KLF - Justified and Ancient
The Band - The Weight
The Doors - LA Woman
Leningrad Cowboys and Russian Army Choir - Knocking on Heaven’s Door
LCD Sound System - All My Friends
Katrina and the Waves - Walking on Sunshine
Alt J - Left Hand Free
Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street
Eric B and Rakim - Paid in Full
Lacuna Coil - Losing My Religion
You Am I - Berlin Chair
Dana Lyons - Cows With Guns.
Tool - Vicarious
The Wonderstuff - Maybe
Veruca Salt - One Last Time
Bruce Springsteen - Badlands
Goanna - Solid Rock
Stranglers - Always the Sun
Bird Feeder - Jurassic Park Theme (played 1000% slower)
Buzzcocks - Oh Shit
The Verses - Want Everything
Lana del Rey - Videogames
Johnny Moped - Darling Let's Have Another Baby
The Cows - Shipboard
Mekons - Hard to Be Human
The Rolling Stones - Can’t Always Get What You Want
Spy vs Spy - Clear Skies Ahead
Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill.
Bowie - Suffragette City
The Birthday Party - Release the Bats, ( live version)
The Saints - Stranded
The Stranglers - Golden Brown
Billie Holliday - Gloomy Sunday
Led Zep - Whole Lotta Love (Live 23 mins)
Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
Joan Osborne - What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road
Prince - Raspberry Beret
Ween - Pushin Little Daisies
Grace Slick - White Rabbit
Duck Sauce - Time waits for no one
Marianne Faithful - Why'd you do it?
Triffids - Wide Open Road
Jon and Vangelis - I'll Find My Way Home
Placebo - Loud Like Love
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Mary Jane's Last Dance
Falling Joys - Lock it
Daft Punk - Around the World
Rule 34 - Save You
Tim Buckley - Sweet Surrender
Midnight Oil - The Power and the Passion
Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights
Pixies - Debaser
The Beatles - Eleanor Rigby
New Order - Ceremony
Barenaked Ladies - Some fantastic
Dire Straits - Tunnel of Love
Arctic Monkeys - RU Mine
David Bromberg - New Lee Highway Blues
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Deanna
Michael franti and Spearhead - Oh my god
L7 - Pretend We're Dead
Iggy Pop - The Passenger
Primal Scream - Come Together
Mi-Sex - Computer Games
Rolling Stones (feat Eric Clapton - Brown Sugar (re-release)
The Boys Next Door - Shivers
Lene Lovich - Lucky Number
Louis Armstrong - Aunt Hagar's Blues
Desmond Dekker and the Aces - 007 (Shanty Town)
Blind Melon - Soup
Janis Joplin - Little Girl Blue
The Saints - Just Like Fire Would
Barenaked Ladies - Odds Are
Johnny Cash - Hurt
Journey - Separate Ways
Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb
Regurgitator - Track 1
Waterboys - Whole of the Moon
The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony
The Whitlams - I Will Not Go Quietly
The Saints - Know your Product
Radiohead - Street Spirit
Anaal Nathrakh - Forging Towards The Sunset
Powderfinger - Pick You Up
Divinyls - Boys in Town
Super Furry Animals - The Man Don't Give A Fuck
Government Mule - Beautifully Broken
Son House - Death Letter
Pixies - Where is My Mind
The Beau Brummels - Laugh Laugh
Bowie and Mercury - Pressure
Bill Withers - Harlem
Queens of the stoneage - God is on the radio.
The Clash - Rock the Casbah
Billy Bragg - Levi Stubbs’ Tears
Fontella Bass - Rescue Me
AC/DC - Back in Black
Foo Fighters - Low
Laughing Clowns - Eternally Yours
Metallica - Orion
Black Sabbath - Warpigs
Robert Forster - Let your light in, Babe
Soundgarden - Black hole sun

The Radiators - Gimme Head

The Doors - LA Woman
Nirvana - Come as you are
Bauhaus - Dark Entries
The Mountain Goats - This Year
Louis Armstrong - A Kiss To Build a Dream on

Frank Turner - Love, Ire and Song

Helen Perris - Dancing Around the Subject

Pulp - Common People

Richard Thompson - Wall of Death

35 Responses to ‘One song playlist’

Respond to this comment

Brother PorkChop would have you know...

Posted June 9, 2015
Well JB, at least Lana is on it....

Respond to this comment

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted June 9, 2015
typo for Jimi: Voodoo Chile not chilli.
I am glad to see that the rest of the 10,000 have good taste. Even if mine didn't make the cut.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 9, 2015
What was yours?

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted June 9, 2015
i broke the rules and couldn't decide between Bob Dylan One more cup of coffee and Led Zep No Qtr. In fact No Qtr comes no1 on my own mixtape i made way back when. Quite a few of these songs are on it too.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 9, 2015
Ah, that's why then. Only one song on the one song playlist

Respond to this thread

Nocturnalist mumbles...

Posted June 9, 2015
"Where is My Mind" seems to be in there twice.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted June 9, 2015
Not any more.

Respond to this thread

SZF puts forth...

Posted June 9, 2015
Not being on the Twitterverse I missed the boat, but there's some damn fine stuff in this list. (And a dab of drek of course, each to their own)
Looks like I'm saving my suggestions for #2ndSongPlaylist. :)

Respond to this comment

DNABeast puts forth...

Posted June 9, 2015
So glad to see 2 BNL songs in there.

Respond to this comment

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 9, 2015
I can't just choose one. Bruce's Thunder Road would be a contender. ms insomniac would go for Bruce's Jungleland for sure. Other noteworthy examples would be Airborne Toxic Event's Timeless and Peter Gabriel's The Book of Love, but in the end I think I'd have to go with some Freddy, probably Somebody to Love, closely followed by many others.

Respond to this comment

Tara ducks in to say...

Posted June 9, 2015
That is a damn fine list - my own song contribution is on there, but a lot of the rest of my playlist appears as well.

Respond to this comment

dweeze mumbles...

Posted June 9, 2015
Apart from the odd one out (Anaal Nakrath - I do hope that you know what you are in for there!), it reads like 90s JJJ crossed with GOLD FM. Some choice ones, much ewwwwwwww.Yeh, each to their own...
If I were a twitterer, I'd have sent you Sleepy Time Gorrilla Museum's "Fornicary", but I'm not, so you'll have to go with out my extensive list of 'good' music.

Mog ducks in to say...

Posted June 10, 2015
Clearly the Anaal Nathrakh track is the jewel in the playlist crown...

Respond to this thread

Bangar asserts...

Posted June 9, 2015
Of course Tomorrow Wendy could be the Andy Prieboy original with Johnette on back up vocals. Of the two I can't decide which I prefer, or maybe I should pick Concrete Blonde's live version.

Respond to this comment

Carole mutters...

Posted June 9, 2015
avalanches since i left you

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 9, 2015
I am actually quite pleased about the large number of songs I recognize. It means I'm still hip and with it.

Perhaps Timbuk3's Just Another Movie and/or Concrete Blond's Everybody Knows should be included in that list.

Bangar puts forth...

Posted June 9, 2015
The Blonde really know how to do a cover version.

Spanner asserts...

Posted June 9, 2015
Hahahaha. Still with it nah not so much this list is pure Gen-X nostalgia. It's still freaking awesome but new and hip it ain't.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted June 10, 2015
Gen-X? I'm a Boomer, mate. I have no Gen-X nostalgia. I yearn for the days of the post WWII American Empire at its height - not the decadent slacker culture with delusions of entitlement that drifted along with its collapse.

As for "new" - admittedly not.
As for "hip and happening" - apparently so.

Respond to this thread

Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted June 9, 2015
Taylor Swift didnt make this one either

Respond to this comment

shep has opinions thus...

Posted June 9, 2015
http://www.ivyishere.org/ivy
You could try this service JB, imports spotify playlists from a copy/paste. I haven't used it, but a quick trial of the first 10 tracks here worked with no issue

Respond to this thread

yankeedog mutters...

Posted June 9, 2015
Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' v. Nine Inch Nails' 'Hurt-The Man In Black wins that one every time.

Sudragon would have you know...

Posted June 9, 2015
Especially the video. It tears you up inside. Just rips away.

Respond to this thread

KT is gonna tell you...

Posted June 9, 2015
Damn, I missed this on Twitter. Great list! My contribution would have been "I've Got A Plan" by My Friend The Chocolate Cake.

Respond to this comment

GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 9, 2015

I too missed das boot - quite partial to ELO's The Whale from Out of the Blue.

Respond to this comment

TJ swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 10, 2015
John Birmingham typed the name of my band. Today is a damn good day.

Also, loving that Barenaked Ladies made the list twice. JB fans have taste!

Respond to this comment

Maddoug reckons...

Posted June 10, 2015
What, no Rammstein? Tsk tsk.

Respond to this comment

Peter Bradley is gonna tell you...

Posted June 10, 2015
Interesting to look at the artists that made the list twice or more. Bare Naked Ladies, Nick Cave, Ed Kuepper, Kim Deal, Louis Armstrong, David Bowie. I don't know what it means but all are favorites.

Respond to this comment

MickH mumbles...

Posted June 10, 2015
windmills of your mind - Sting

Respond to this comment

pitpat has opinions thus...

Posted June 10, 2015
Buy me a pony - Spiderbait

Respond to this comment

Dave W puts forth...

Posted June 10, 2015
Depeche Mode- Everything Counts

Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted June 11, 2015
I'll see your Strange Love and raise it to Stripped.

Respond to this thread

Respond to 'One song playlist'

#The Dave. #TheSoundtrack

Posted May 18, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

[Warning - one major spoiler for ASCENDANCE below]

This is my second time through this topic. In more ways than one. We discussed imagined sound tracks after Emergence dropped, and I wanted to return to the topic now the whole season is done. And I tried writing and filing this particular blog this morning, but foolishly did so in my browser, not a note taking app. Hit submit. Lost it all.
Sigh.
Anyways. I had two extra tracks for Emergence. Hilltop Hoods Parade of the Dead as an end title sequence. And Lean on Me by Bill Whithers for the retreat of Her Majesty’s Vengeance from an ass kickin in Now Orleans. For the other two books, the by-no-means definite track list is below. Feel free to add suggestions. At this stage it costs nothing. And there's some obvious holes. Both Trinder and Heath need theme tunes. The final battle needs something suitably sombre for poor Zach.


RESISTANCE
Bad to the Bone - George Thoroughgood (Guyuk in the Inquisitor Pits).
California Sex Lawyer - Fountains of Wayne (Prof Boylan is in da muthafuckin house).
Push It - Salt n Pepa. (The Diwan dar Sliveen gets some respect)
Walk this Way - Run DMC (Threshy gets embiggened)
Re. Your Brains - Jonathan Coulton (A negotiation at Omaha)
Shoot to Thrill - AC/DC (The Battle of Omaha)
Forget You - Cee Lo Green (Dave leaves in a huff).
Lets Get Retarded - The Black Eyed Peas (Dave parties in LA)
She Hates Me - Puddle of Mudd (Dave vs Karin at the Consulate)


ASCENDANCE
California Luv - 2Pac (Jellybean kills a Revenant Master)
Bat Out of Hell - Meatloaf (Hyper speed motorcycle ride)
Risque - Cute Is What We Aim For (Threshy has a crush)
Woman - Neneh Cherry (Karin shows Dave who’s boss)
Feelin’ All Right - Joe Cocker (Threshy at the sports bar)
Song 2 - Blur (Dave and Karen bust some heads at Grand Central)
What’s a Few Men? - Hunters and Collectors (The charge of the fire fighters)
Disco Inferno - Marcia Hines (The Sliveen torch New York)
Last Day on Earth - Kate Miller-Heike (The flight from New York)

43 Responses to ‘#The Dave. #TheSoundtrack’

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2015
John, I think Zach's demise can only be summed up by this song.

The Killers, All These Things I Have Done.

Says as much about Zach as it does about The Dave.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZTpLvsYYHw

Surtac would have you know...

Posted May 18, 2015

The Killers. Good choice, Murph. Though the other Killers choice might be 'Flesh and Bone'.


Murphy puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2015
I like it because of the religious old soul flavor of the music. I also like it because of the line, "I got soul but I'm not a soldier."

In Zach's case, being a Seal, that is technically true.

Respond to this thread

Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted May 18, 2015
Needs more brutal Metal, especially for the battle scenes. First tune that springs to mind for the opening salvos of big battle scenes is 'Progenies of Great Apocalypse' by Dimmu Borgir - its very theatrical music, and the opening lines are quite appropriate: 'The battle raged on and on, fulled by the hatred for man'Here's a clip of an abridged version of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joEAb_y7ZYA
Honourable mentions include War of the Gods by Amon Amarth, NWO by Ministry, Thunderhorse by Dethklok.

Bondiboy66 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 18, 2015
Ooops typo - should have read
'The battle raged on and on, fulled by the venom of hatred for man'. The venom makes all the difference.

Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted May 18, 2015
Maybe Laibach now you will pay. Although one JB is quite scathing of Laibach in Falafel and Iron Sky has taken Laibach into soundtrack making.

Respond to this thread

WarDog ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2015
Led Zep, Immigrant for the horde charge at the end of Ascendance

Respond to this comment

Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2015
Gotta have Disturbed's Stupify.

Respond to this comment

Surtac puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2015
And now I'm thinking Denis Leary's 'I'm an Asshole' might be Dave's personal theme. :)

Respond to this thread

Surtac would have you know...

Posted May 18, 2015
And when I first read about Lucille singing, I kept thinking about early Nightwish, when the classically trained 3 octave range soprano Tarja Turunen was their vocalist.

Respond to this comment

insomniac mumbles...

Posted May 18, 2015
Green Day's American Idiot - Threshy on tv

Murphy mumbles...

Posted May 18, 2015
I gotta say, American Idiot?

Overplayed and cliched.

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 18, 2015
Over there, perhaps ... over here, not so much, but I get what you're saying.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted May 18, 2015
I don't. A classic can never be cliche.

Rob ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2015
Creep by Radiohead- Performed by Richard Cheese might fit the bill.

Respond to this thread

Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2015

Trinder - "Spy" , They Might Be Giants

Heath - "Machine Gun", Jimi Hendrix or Johnny Cash's cover of "I Wont Back Down"

"March of the Pigs" - Nine Inch Nails (the monsters attacking Annie's house)

"Soldiers Things" - Tom Waits (Zach's farewell)

Respond to this comment

GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted May 18, 2015

As soon as Dave starts getting those thoughts about Karin - an itty bitty bit of Barry White kicks in - then cliche needle scratch when she reminds him she can read his mind.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted May 18, 2015
OMFG! That is brilliant. I feel that with this one comment the possibility of a movie adaptation has moved considerably closer.

Lulu asserts...

Posted May 18, 2015
Or Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On

Ceramic puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2015
This is an awesome idea! Can totally picture it.

GhostSwirv reckons...

Posted May 18, 2015

All I humbly ask JB is that for Opening Night at Grauman's Chinese a few dozen rows of seats are booked for your dedicated Cheeseburgers to be as one with TheDave.

GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted May 18, 2015
A decade or so ago I heard Craig Pearce holding court about the pitching session for Romeo + Juliet with the suits.

Baz was trying to dazzle them with his take on reimaging the story as a Western, only the custom guns idea survived, but the suits weren't buying until Baz flippantly said there would be a contemporary kick-ass soundtrack.

At which point they suddenly took notice and got interested cos they could see the dollar signs due to the studios commercial ties with established recording artists and labels.

I wonder what kinda music Shane Black likes to listen to?

Respond to this thread

Ceramic puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2015
I was thinking for a panning scene of the mayhem in a city there could be Mystical Machine Gun by Kula Shaker.Perhaps a montage in Ascendence swapping between Karin and Dave fighting as they go up the apartment, and the residents out fighting in the streets?
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/peasants-pigs-astronauts/id436134324

Ceramic has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2015
Ok, so I've been thinking:
Emergence: Taking a walk with EmmelineEric Clapton: River Runs Deep
Resistance:When Dave wakes after abandoning Compton and no one is on his side.Nina Simone: Sinnerman
AscendenceCity fightingKula Shaker: Mystical Machine Gun

Respond to this thread

w from brisbane would have you know...

Posted May 18, 2015
A great list of songs! Would have liked to have seen 'Take this job and shove it'.

Respond to this comment

Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted May 18, 2015
I think Swamp by Tweaker would make a good ambient soundscape for the Hunn attack on Dave's Father in Law's house. https://youtu.be/3CT7ofyt120 I could imagine the Monsters moving in slowly and the heroes making preparation for the battle with this in the background. And if not a movie, perhaps a videogame? A mixture of Morrowwind and Battlefield 4 guns and axes kicking ass royally.

Rob ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2015
Wrong link for swamp here's the right one http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EM2cdnRVEEI

Respond to this thread

NBlob reckons...

Posted May 18, 2015
Pre-De-Superfication of Dave by the Empath, he & Lucille engaged with the enemy with swagger, with confidence, with Hayseed Dixie.

Respond to this comment

sibeen puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2015
In Dave's chopper ride out to the rig in Emergence, I thought of Parquet Courts "Stoned and Starving". A cool song which reminds me of early The Saints.

Respond to this comment

Sparty2 is gonna tell you...

Posted May 19, 2015
no love for everyone wants to rule the world Tears For Fears?Andhammer to Fall, Queen?And 'I want it all' Queen for Daves party ?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted May 19, 2015
Even though the three novels are chockablock with situations spawned by indecision married with a lack of vision, I'm not quite sure where Everybody Wants to Rule the World would comfortably fit within any hypothetical sound track.

Respond to this thread

ShaneAlpha swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 19, 2015
For Dave's Vegas Orgy - The Chili Pepper's "I Want to Party on your Pussy"
For one of Dave's warping moments - Motley Crue "Kickstart My Heart"
For Dave and Karins embassy fight - Cold Chisel "Yakuza Girls"

Respond to this comment

Brother PorkChop has opinions thus...

Posted May 19, 2015
Tenpole Tudor's Swords of a Thousand Men needs to be somewhere but perhaps not obscure enough for this thread. Personally I think The Dave would be somewhat eclectic majoring in catchy one hit wonders.

Bondiboy66 mutters...

Posted May 19, 2015
Brilliant! Love that tune.

Respond to this thread

Anthony swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 19, 2015

For Dave's flight into the rig I'd suggest "Friend of the Devil" by the Grateful Dead. The protagonist is a bit of a Dave "Got a wife in Chino, babe / And one in Cherokee / First one says she's got my child /But it don't look like me" and it has a nice steady beat perfect for watching the chopper come in.


And please, speaking as a long time rider - no stinking clichéd Meatloaf. Try Bad Motor Scooter by Montrose or Iron Horse (Born To Lose) by Motörhead.

Respond to this comment

Murphy mumbles...

Posted May 20, 2015
I think anytime The Dave is doing his mental whining about Annie he should be hearing this song in his head performed by none other than this band.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBmCJEehYtU

Respond to this comment

Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 20, 2015
Late to the party but am loving this album by London duo Public Service Beoadcasting. The Race For Space is great mix of music, pop culture and technology. Couple of songs on here that could surely find a spot in your oeuvre JB
http://www.thefourohfive.com/music/review/public-service-broadcasting-the-race-for-space-142

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted May 20, 2015
Added to my stack on Rdio

Surtac puts forth...

Posted May 21, 2015
And that's a second recommendation for that work that I've seen in the last few days, so it goes onto my list as well.

Respond to this thread

Guru Bob mumbles...

Posted May 20, 2015
I don't see Wave of Mutilation by The Pixies anywhere on the list, which is a shame given the little reference hidden away in there....

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted May 20, 2015
So true!

Respond to this thread

Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted May 20, 2015
Future Islands would be a good band for #TheDave soundtrack. At first they come across as a pleasant indie/pop band but then their lead singer unleashes his death metal growwl at the most unexpected moment and you're like "where did that come from?!" Hes channeling something huge and evil.

Respond to this comment

Respond to '#The Dave. #TheSoundtrack'

Kate Miller-Heidke, storyteller

Posted April 1, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

I coulda killed a guy like Jimmy. The endearing/infuriating doofus of Kate Miller-Heidke’s ‘Jimmy’ – the sixth track on last years O Vertigo – put me immediately in mind of a guy I knew way back when. Stefan. A stringy haired, barefoot monomaniac whose enormous ego was built of Violet Crumble and self delusion. I road tripped all the way from Brisneyland to Sydney with him and can recall waking in a cold car by the side of the road somewhere in New South Wales. We had no petrol. He had no money. And I was of a mind to end his life and bury the body in a shallow grave.

Yet I didn’t, and now I recall that trip and my maddening road buddy with inexplicable fondness. Or it was inexplicable until I listened to ‘Jimmy’ and found in KMH’s lyrics, almost perfect recall of a guy she had never met. But she knows the type, I suppose. The type of hipster nitwit who can’t help but imitate the barista at the Colombian coffee stand, even though he sounds nothing like the dude, and everyone is watching, and your bullshit five dollar soy chai latte tastes like shit, because Jimmy insists on coming here anyway just to work on his stand up routine.

I said ‘Jimmy, don’t embarrass me.

I don’t want a display

Everybody’s staring, see,

I’m just not in the mood today.

And so what does Jimmy say? Does he apologise or dial it down? Hell no. Guys like Jimmy and Stefan they double down, bro! They come back at you with crackbrained non sequiturs like “What you don’t know is that I have a soul full of guns.”

And the hell of it is, they do. Not just big silly fucking cartoon guns either. To live as they do requires a courage we usually get sold in a very different form. In a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick, or the industrial-scale homicide antics of a 1980s meta-hero, an action doll made up of Schwarzenegger and Stallone parts. When I heard that line – “I have a soul full of guns” – it evoked a teeth-grinding envy for a writer who could bundle up so many truths in so few words. (I’m thinking of using it as a title for the first Karin Varatchevsky ebook.)

Envy is a feeling I’ve had more than once listening to Kate Miller-Heidke’s lyrics. I like her music of course, even though I have no technical understanding of it. She is classically trained, but works in popular music, possibly because of the freedom it offers. A teacher once described her voice as ‘garden variety lyric soprano’, which seems a little sniffy and dismissive to me. But her writing? That’s my game and if I’m playing one of her albums while I work, I sometimes find myself breaking off to listen a little more closely and to wonder at the narrative strength she brings to her writing.

It’s possible to enjoy all of her albums as collections of short stories, with all of the meaning, both surface and buried that comes packed in a really well written piece of short fiction, even a tale as unsettling as the suburban horror story she tells in ‘Sarah’, on Nightflight, the album that preceded 2014’s O Vertigo.

A cold read of Sarah’s lyric sheet threads the disturbing through the familiar – an old Stephen King technique. At the ’97 Livid Festival a girl goes missing. The close and familiar and safe, the playful and adventurous – “Stripy tights and fairy wings” – turned quite literally to creeping dread and mounting panic when the singer “turned around” and found her friend no longer there. The Hilltop Hoods, also great story tellers, talk of panicking on stage “like you lost a child” and that runaway panic accelerates through “Sarah” as wider and wider searches find nothing, until the police fish a blue dress out of a creek the next morning. It is a difficult song to listen to, not because it’s not beautiful, but because it so beautifully realises the horror of loss which most of us might experience for only a few seconds or minutes in our lives. Until the missing loved one pops back into sight. See if you can listen all the way through without goose bumps.

She is a pop artist though, and so darkness must be buried, even banished with light or with ironic shading at the right moment. “Drama”, again from O Vertigo, is another favourite character study, perhaps because it’s narrator, surely a late stage evocation of Lindsay Lohan, is so perfectly suited to the foot stomping tempo. “Lose my shit”, a much quieter but no less droll examination of desire, is possessed of a humour so dry it puts my martinis to shame, and most of that wry power comes not from the circumstances of the song, but the deadpan constraint of Miller-Heidke’s delivery.

I’ve always been more taken with story than character though, and it was story for which KMH first came to wider notice. Teen angst and doomed love are staples of pop music, but “Caught in the Crowd” drills deep under the usual surface details – girl meets boy, stuff happens, Just Like In A Taylor Swift Song! – to mine a deeper and more valuable emotional ore. With a few neat pen strokes she gives us an impressionist sketch of the course of true love totally not running smooth.

There was a guy at my school when I was in high school

We'd ride side by side in the morning on our bicycles

Never even spoken or faced each other

But on the last hill we'd race each other

When we reached the racks we'd each go our own way

I wasn't in his classes, I didn't know his name

When we finally got to speak he just stared at his feet

And mumbled a sentence that ended with 'James'

The awkwardness, the pain and reward of revealing just a little of the self, a tentative connection and it’s utter ruin in the face of cruelty and weakness asks us to acknowledge all of the terrible shitty things we have inevitably done in our own past. Wrapping it up in such a perky little pop song makes repeated play-throughs a strangely pleasant and compelling ordeal, like probing with the tip of your tongue at the raw wound of a tooth recently knocked out. There are those of us who never manage to pull off a story with the honesty of “Caught in Crowd”, even given hundreds of pages and hundreds of thousands of words.

How the fuck anyone does it in a few verses, I don’t know.

But I thought the one who might know would be Kate. I emailed her late last year, wondering if, when she’s putting an album together the tenor of the whole collection inspires the stories, or whether the stories themselves arise independent of any deeper wellspring. There’s a lovely quirky positive energy to a song like Jimmy, for instance, despite the exasperation, and the song is as much a character study as a narrative arc. That energy doesn’t so much change as mature into a really sardonic getting of wisdom by the time Lose My Shit rolls around. I found myself intrigued by all of this, because for a novelist the writing all takes place under one big sky, even when you’re breaking it down into shorter moments.

“So, long story short, what happens when you write an album like Vertigo? Are you deliberately creating a new world, or letting a lot of smaller, unique worlds emerge from each song?”

She kindly wrote back that with Nightflight, the album as a whole was its own world. “We tried to thread it through with stories about decay, light, darkness and death. It's quite a creepy album in some ways.”

(I remember Abe saying something like that here shortly after it came out. Like me, he found it very difficult to listen to Sarah.)

On the other hand O Vertigo! was mostly written by just Kate alone, and she didn't pay any attention to making it a coherent album.

“I didn't want to over-think anything, it was a much more instinctive process. Each song was its own world. Themes did emerge. A lot of it was about asserting myself, my 'voice' (both meanings), and generally being unashamed, being playful. Plus love and heartbreak of course. A lot of the songs were written while walking so it has a kinetic energy. It can be hard to tell a whole story in a song - mostly it's more like lifting the curtain for a couple of seconds, and each listener interprets the scene in their own way. I know 'Jimmy' means different things to different people. I know what the songs originally meant to me, but after I've been performing them for a while, sometimes I forget, because I've heard so many different interpretations from people.”

This is the defining experience of telling stories, of course. Once you let them out into the world, they’re not really yours anymore, they belong to whoever listens to them and in a very real sense there are as many versions of one story as there are people to listen to it or read it.

18 Responses to ‘Kate Miller-Heidke, storyteller’

Andy Dent ducks in to say...

Posted April 1, 2015
Fond memories of being in the audience when she confessed which role she had actually played in the back story to the Facebook Song (AYFKM?). I admire and often enjoy her work but it will never ever ever, be background muzak.

Respond to this comment

Bill Dezell mutters...

Posted April 1, 2015
I write fiction, not songs. I've sent many people with questions about how to fit a lot of story into a small word count to KMH's lyrics. This is especially true of Caught in the Crowd, Sarah, and Fire and Iron.

Respond to this comment

Chaz puts forth...

Posted April 2, 2015
Really love "Sarah" it is a true horror story as you say.

Respond to this comment

Surtac mumbles...

Posted April 2, 2015
Saw her live here in CBR some years back - a good show as I recall.
Better go buy me some albums ...

Respond to this comment

JBtoo asserts...

Posted April 2, 2015
She is amazing. Nice piece.

Respond to this comment

JG ducks in to say...

Posted April 2, 2015
Kate is an exceptional singer-songwriter. I love her classically trained voice (amazing) and her beautiful, witty lyrics. Some of her songs have given me cause to reflect on decisions and actions I've taken in the past. She's certainly a wonderful storyteller.
I saw Kate perform at Brisbane's Powerhouse a couple of years ago, and own two of her albums ('Curiouser' and 'Nightflight'). Her song 'Sarah' is chilling and I've been too scared to listen to it a few times at night alone. Spooky stuff. There are a few other dark songs, but also some lighter, humorous tracks in the two albums. That song about the boy who doesn't fit in at school is sad and yes, captures the awkwardness of youth and regret. I like the mix of light and dark songs.
Kate's created too many good songs to mention, but I particularly like End of the World (which perfectly encapsulates a time in my life), and Ride This Feeling. Funny how music (particular songs) bring back memories.
Kate's voice is, as I said, beautiful: transcendent. She has the voice of an operatic angel, but she can also sound tough when she grinds out the hard-hitting stuff. Yep, Kate's an actress and storyteller through her music.
I have to be in a certain mood to listen to her songs (not always perfect running music, although some songs are right for that). It's a gorgeous journey with Kate. What a wonderful Australian talent.
Joanna

Respond to this comment

Abe Frellman ducks in to say...

Posted April 2, 2015
Bravo, JB. I think she is just wonderful. As hard as Sarah is to listen to, I still can't help but flash back to Albion Heights circa 1986 every time I hear Caught in the Crowd, despite the fact I have heard it a thousand times. It can even evoke the smell of sweat, blood and dirt that stings the nostrils as it fills them, still causing me to gasp nearly 30 years later. I have small list of 'favourite Australian taxpayers' I think about on the hardest of days, when I feel like tossing it in and returning to the private sector. You two are both on it.

Respond to this comment

Rob puts forth...

Posted April 3, 2015
Saw KMH at the Corner a few weeks ago with Damian Cowell's Disco machine. It was a big night , she has an amazing voice live.

Respond to this comment

Spanner reckons...

Posted April 6, 2015
Arrrrgh! I wanted to rant and rave about Jimmy and his bullshit lines. I had a visceral urge to stab at my keyboard, the jam down the caps lock and motherfucking shout that Jimmy didn't know shit and his "soul full of guns" wouldn't last three days humping a pack...
Then I read the rest of the the blog post and I stopped shouting. Jimmy has nothing to do with this.
I'll go give her a listen and maybe just maybe I'll learn not to get all angried up in the blood over an intro because maybe the writer is trying to take me somewhere through the prism of their experience so they can introduce me to something else.

Respond to this comment

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted April 6, 2015
"the writer is trying to take me somewhere through the prism of their experience so they can introduce me to something else."

Who would ever want that? Not me. I consider it extremely rude and alarmingly presumptuous that any "writer" would even attempt such a thing.

Respond to this comment

Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted April 6, 2015
"Presumption, thy name is Boylan"

NBlob asserts...

Posted April 6, 2015
See, now I'm confused. I assumed it was Paul Nasty Boylan. Perhaps Narssisic. Probably not Neat. I knew it couldnt be Naughty or Nervous. Then he told me "In Greek, I'm half Greek you know, we spell Danger with an N." Now His wrinklyness says Presumption is in there somewhere?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted April 7, 2015
There are those who say that the dishevelment I display is endearing. I
cannot name anyone specifically who so holds, but I am sure they are out
there somewhere.

As for the Grey One's implied accusation, I can
say with high confidence that I have never attempted, directly or
indirectly, to take anyone through the prism of my experience to reveal
anything at all. I know this is true because I fabricate virtually all
of the personal experiences I've ever written about - except my story
about being chased by a pack of feral dogs in Oslo, Norway back in 1988.
That happened.

And the only possible revelation derived from that experience is advice to never embarrass a stray dog in public: he or she may have friends that will chase you into a public lavatory and not let you out until the authorities and local news media arrive.

NBlob asserts...

Posted April 7, 2015
Not helping with the confusion. Your disheveled appearance may be disarming, may lull one into a false sense of security, but endearing not so much. I suspect this to be a double blind where one states "oh no I made all that up" in an attempt to throw off investigators, or at least to metaphorically brush one's tracks with a branch. And embarrassing dogs is only entertaining when they started it, like when my old black lab farts in her sleep. Or in a Really Boring place like Helsinki. I have it on good authority that there is always something happening in Oslo. There's something deeper going on here.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted April 7, 2015
Why won't anyone believe me when I say that I always lie? Is it because I'm black? Is that it?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 7, 2015
I admit perhaps slightly stretching the term "endearing."

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 7, 2015
Ahh, N for Noir.

Respond to this thread

Erin reckons...

Posted April 8, 2015
Thanks for this great article! I keep suggesting her music to everyone I know in hopes that she will become as big as she deserves to be, as big as her music is.

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'Kate Miller-Heidke, storyteller'