posted on October 17, 2011 at 10:43 pm

the listeners here as the beholder

if there is one thing that i am very pleasantly surprised about

it is martin kennedys and my decision to plunge into commissioned songwriting

the idea was initially martins which he casually mentioned one day

eventually after some thinking about it i kinda just blabbed it all out

on facebook of course

and left mk to sort out all the details

anyway the results have been astonishing to me i now admit

you see these commissioned songs still must have been excellent

they must have been intensely personal yet pleasantly universal

they must have had had integrity whatever they were about

and whomsoever they are for if indeed that was their purpose

regardless of anything else mk and i purvey integrity

we purvey humour too along with the gravitas

we do spiritual we do pop we do atmospheric ruminations

anyway the songs we have come up with have captivated me

first let me say some things about mk

he is getting incredibly good at this thing and better all the time

martins music is warm subtle understated deceptively simplistic elegant

somehow so far

he has had the inexplicable uncanny ability of creating a perfect track

every single time

he is very very very good at what he does

in this sense he is an artisan

he is realising the directions in your commission as actual music

he interprets your wishes and he is the prime mover in the process

the singing can only be a reaction to the music as per our process

the singing must be married to the music invisibly joined

but hats off to the guy who comes up with the music first

in this sense martin is the other guy in all those duos

those ones that comprise of the singer and the player

such is the division of our labour

although martin is now performing some excellent backing vocals

anyway he just has the knack the gift  the way

he has perceived his niche and he nails it constantly

he tailors this music for a vocal he hasnt heard yet

but  he’s  simultaneously suggesting it and preparing its way

he at this one particular thing is so on form right now

in fact he has proved himself to be an excellent collaborator

every track he has come up with has been of a shockingly high standard

a master craftsman he concocts the music methodically and with calm focus

no wild erratic genius

no touchy prima donna

no sulky ego

martins got the song and its waiting to go

its streamlined its versatile its timeless its classic style

its never messy awkward or bombastic

martins music has a certain intrinsic transparency and honesty

it achieves what it does not thru trickery or sheer grunt

but by an almost mathematical patterning of elements

as the various instruments react with and against each other

always a real sense of that trademark elegant simplicity

a quiet confidence is radiated

martins music has a strange spiritual component

although that is all you can really say and leave it at that

nonetheless it is clean positive healthy logical music

mk does not wallow in noise or discord or racket or dissonance

it is good music in all the many senses of the word

the music implies martins own quiet dedication to his craft

without drugs or headlines or nervous breakdowns or trauma

he sits down in his studio in his house

and he assembles brilliant music thoughtfully and seamlessly

endlessly recycling subtle devices (some of the same ones as me)

when i say this

i mean small phrases repeated against changing chords for example

whatever he does exactly i dont care to analyse that closely

his method is not in itself a mystery and it definitely yields results

yet it has some other mysterious ability to create magic

you can dissect it to a certain extent but the mystery remains

there is a magic at work here

but mk is an artisan in this context

and he is unique too…nothing else sounds like him

so i turn up n he gives me the music he has composed for each piece

but i think of martin as an architect in some sense as well

and his buildings would be sleek if thats what he did

and most of all

above everything else and its something you cant just expect

it is always evocative

and for me as well it evokes/invokes the singing

and this is my part of the gig now

i must sing this persons song for them now

in their words and mine which must and should intermingle

it has been delightful

that i have been able to use whole lines from the brief

ie someone has described something they wanted in the song

and lo! it has fallen into place for me as a complete line

of course like mk i am an artisan here

and i have twenty years on him working on my thing

and here i do my magic if i can

because somehow… these songs …some in particular are good

beyond any reasonable duty to be a good song for 1000 hard earned bucks

yes you expect a good song for that and youve a right to

youve trusted us to come up with something

something you cant even begin to imagine yourself

except you’ll know if its corny or unsuitable or condescending

i will admit now i have adopted other singers approaches more here

you see i am an artisan myself too in this regard as well

and i examine my palette of characters

to see who will sing each song

and i allow myself way more latitude than a normal song

because i am being commissioned to deliver something

for example i believe on albums like desire especially

bob dylan has a good way of approaching narrative lyric

a way of telling a story and certain techniques on many levels

the words themselves the timing the feeling of urgency etc

that strengthen and increase the songs ability to cast a spell

you know its just a singer and a song but somehow you are drawn in

the very best singers and songs draw you all the way in

until they are suddenly creating some actual magic

some intangible and beautiful resonance when it all adds up

mk and i are artisans at the service of any who can afford our expertise

of the 12 or 13 songs weve done so far i believe all but one hit the mark

ie the customers were satisfied (that is a gross modest understatement of course)

we tackled our brief

we got in the stuff they wanted

we got in the feelings and the possibility of personal touch

and then because we are such damn fine artisans

me and mk

weve accidentally come up with a few bona fide 4 minute gems

those people got lucky because some of them are brilliant songs

i mean i dunno what mk and i actually thought we would come up with

i knew theoretically we could make good on our promise of a decent song

listening to some of these however

we have delivered so much more something beautiful and moving too

the one crowd who were unsatisfied got their dough back from mk

they were opportunistic i believe

and could not possibly have complained unless they were ninnies

i recontextualised some mundane stuff and it sounded like lou or van

mk had the perfect music too

they got their money back

but they still had the song to use if they wanted

ironically they were well-to-do too..often it is that way

anyhow except for that we have succeeded in a nebulous gig

we have come up with some fantastic songs

and that in the end of the day

is really the main thing

and for me

it always will be

i know you know that

still i am very pleased at the success weve had

and i am genuinely pleased we can offer this to those who want it

a world class song

melodic concise intelligent and eminently listenable

we make it look easy


file under :

customized pop gems for discerning types

who want to commission a slice of genius for themselves.

results guaranteed















27 Responses to “artisans and sculptures of song”

  1. avatar
    Lara | 17 October 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    I’m pretty convinced that many great pieces of writing would not be so interesting if the author hadn’t needed to navigate around a patron’s desires. Not to say you’re not fine on your own, of course; just that it’s fascinating to see a work of art as the result of a conversation.

  2. avatar
    DavidP | 17 October 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    As the first very happy customer I have to say I agree with everything you have said here Steve, cheers to you and Martin for coming up with the goods! And in spades too!
    Martin was a pleasure to deal with, very accommodating and encouraging of my few small tweaks to the music as were you to the 1 or 2 tweaks to the lyrics.
    Not that there was anything wrong with the original, just that only I knew what exactly fitted better with what I was after. Which I guess is where it becomes a collaboration of sorts between all parties. And Martin’s backing vocal is just so lovely, you’ve got some competition there. It was great to hear the other night of the idea you and Martin have for an album, I think its great and what the world needs. I wonder if my commission helped crystalise that idea?
    Will we see you Wed night? Now all the gang knows your the guy singing their new favourite song, they wanna say thanks!

    • avatar
      Sam Mayfair | 18 October 2011 at 3:21 pm #

      We shall definitely try David, will let you know soon. Last week was lovely, we felt more at peace than if we’d had 24 hours straight sleep?!! We power walked all the way back to the beach. I’d also like to say, I’m so very happy the group like the song, it’s a masterpiece, as are all the others! True wonderment, MK & SK have an innate musical talent, it is us who are blessed that they are in this world.

      • avatar
        DavidP | 18 October 2011 at 11:24 pm #

        proof is in the pudding isnt it on all counts you mentioned there. 😉

  3. avatar
    Freddie | 17 October 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    I know that you and Martin are an awesome team. Making people happy must be rewarding work. Good luck on all future songs. Unfortunately, I can’t afford one at this time so I’m really looking forward to hearing the one David P commissioned for all of us. That is a very nice gift to the world, many blessings to you and to you also Steve and Martin.

    • avatar
      DavidP | 18 October 2011 at 11:20 pm #

      your very welcome Freddie.

  4. avatar
    BROKEN TOYS AND HEROS | 18 October 2011 at 2:04 am #

    Simply said… A Perfect Match : MK+SK

  5. Jmb066
    Jmb066 | 18 October 2011 at 4:33 am #


    I am so jealous of those who have been able to work with you and Martin. I think you have described Martins music perfectly here. There is magic there for sure that pulls on your heart and soul. Everytime I play Unheard or White Magic those songs are in my head for days. Together you make beautiful music, I hope someday you may be able to release these commissioned songs as a compilation with the patrons approval of course. Then again if they did not want to share them I would understand that as well. Look forward to the next KK release for sure.

    Take Care,


  6. avatar
    Anonymous | 18 October 2011 at 5:12 am #

    boxed set of multiple cds? up the road — the collaboration of a universe of voices? just think about the booklet/sleeve/stories (allowing that is appropriate for each, and then floating… to never know specifically why/who, just that the stories are wonderful and brought all this music together…), individual portraits all connected in a brief capsule of time… and it (parts of history) would stay so pretty regardless of everything else going by at the same time (in the world), something given back (by Martin and you) to remain forever… maybe?

    (okay, goofy thought… but way more poetic and forever than “download, please.”)

  7. avatar
    colette | 18 October 2011 at 5:50 am #

    Yes, Martin is a great musician and I think you’re a clever songwriter. Why give people the oppportunity for a refund if dissatisfied if you are then going to call them ‘ninnies’ and ‘opportunists’? Not that I’ve asked for one. I just can’t understand a ‘debate’ about the word ‘verbatim’ (your word). Verbatim is verbatim….You sound a little threatened when you refer to people being well off, it’s not really a way to keep attracting customers, being judgmental. By the way, my husband is fairly well off, but being an accountant is also mean. Therefore, as a casual education worker, I am far from well off and generally try to pay for things I want outside the budget. Just putting you in a fuller picture. I am not a parasite on my husband. I’m used to living at a fairly modest level, having been self sufficient during my youth.

  8. avatar
    colette | 18 October 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Well, correction, I’m not a willing parasite. Were I to leave, I would be on the street, but have decided I owe my kids something anyway. An outsider would tell me I’m lucky and a whinger. If you are my fb ‘friend’ you may have read some of my posts talking about marriage and how I felt forced into compromise. An ugly story. ‘You live in a nice house’ some would say. It is a nice house after 13yrs. Because I spent a lot of time ripping mouldy wallpaper off damp walls (esp because my son’s asthmatic), the place wasn’t even earthed for a couple of years, but the builder’s report didn’t mention that. We did a lot of redirecting of water outside so the place didn’t turn into a swamp, living next to a creek. (Just for starters)’But you have nice holidays’, people say. My husband needs holidays to keep him human. At the start if a holiday, he is an automaton. He is human by the end. We get back, and the cycle starts again. ‘You’ve been overseas’ people say. My husband works for an overseas company, so yes, we’ve traipsed to conferences with him or felt compelled to use up frequent flyer points and visit overseas friends and family who drop hints about feeling isolated! When he goes away without us, I’m a single parent and although from a large family, have 1 brother who lives anywhere near me and he has little time for us. So you see, how my husband’s life style dictates the situation of the rest of the family. He does the job he wants to do.’You spend a lot of time on fb, you should work more’. The work I do with adult immigrants requires a huge amount of concentration and little margin for error in assessing their English speaking and writing. It is exhausting and I could not do that work every day as well as run a house and family and try to look after myself. This is my therapy! This is not sk’s prob as dr gary would say, but these are the facts. I have tried to have verbal intimacy with sk but despite that, still feel he knows jack shit about me and is determine to miscast people like me. Well sorry for being demanding, I thought he was a ‘sage’, but he’s just a ‘popsinger’ – and a once affluent popsinger who admits to frittering money away. I tried to help, but as a reasonably intelligent woman, don’t like to be condescended to.

  9. avatar
    colette | 18 October 2011 at 8:30 am #

    (Oh, re family, I forgot – my m.i.l lives nearby. Why did I try to block that out?)

  10. avatar
    Once | 18 October 2011 at 9:56 am #

    I like Martin. I “friended” him on Facebook, and wondered what kind of person he was. Everything he chooses to share or communicate is either whimsical, clever, humorous or all of the above. I reckon he’s got a nice IQ score. Yeah, I hate breakin’ it down to numbers, but that always seems to be the way. And he’s NICE, too – a gentleman. Cheers to cyber-life, gives me hope that there’s good out there.

    I hope you keep this project going. Once I’ve regrouped financially (I am very inconsistent with money, always flush or broke, no in-between) I’ll have one helluva request. I have complete confidence in your ability to deliver.


  11. avatar
    Steven Krut | 18 October 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Martin really is damn impressive. I like the videos he creates for KK songs as well. A man of many talents.

  12. avatar
    Ron | 18 October 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Sweet! I’ve got both opposable thumbs waving like Siskel meets the Fonz!

  13. avatar
    colette | 18 October 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Thanks for publishing my input so promptly. There’s no selectivity about what is published here is there?

    • avatar
      BROKEN TOYS AND HEROS | 18 October 2011 at 8:43 pm #

      I, if anyone who has been commenting on this blog for years, will tell you that often I find/found myself writing more than I could possibly imagine and offering up way to much opinions or information and wishing I had hit the ‘dont read or publish- deleted button’ . But I was always to late. Hey, its done, how you feel is out there. I find it courageous. Will there be a backlash, possibly…but probably not. The many individuals who read, enjoy, and even comment on this blog are loving…intellectual folks who fully understand the freedom of ‘free TTB speech’. I wouldn’t fret about it. I read it a few times. You spoke your mind, passionately. Everything and everyone will be cool about it. I enjoyed your directness. Always say and write how you feel. You are being true to yourself. I don’t belive it bothered our beloved moderator one bit, he’s had to endure my rants for years and I am still allowed in the club.


      • avatar
        BROKEN TOYS AND HEROS | 18 October 2011 at 10:20 pm #

        Than again, I suffer from extreme insomnia and have been up for over 48 hours, so I forget what blog I am even writing on…is that you Bono ???? Have we achieved world peace yet???? …..snozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…just one my live dvd please…snoozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……

        • avatar
          BROKEN TOYS AND HEROS | 18 October 2011 at 10:24 pm #

          Joking aside….insomnia is very dangerous. And my friends iv tried everything, it’s forever linked to my extreme physical pain. They feed off each other and it is a living nightmare, SK knows…he sees the times that I comment and probably says to himself…”try and get some damn sleep already Darrin !!!”

      • avatar
        Once | 19 October 2011 at 10:33 am #

        OCCUPY! The Time Being!!!

        (Sorry, American joke…oh, and “I’m a Mormon!”)

        **please be glad you don’t live here, society has become a palaver.

  14. avatar
    hellbound heart | 18 October 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    when I get enough dough together I will definitely have to request a song from you guys……
    have been laid up with family commitments the last few days and so I read what you’ve written recently back to back…..just lovely…….
    love always…..

  15. avatar
    eekie | 18 October 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    “the one crowd who were unsatisfied”

    This made me giggle. Not because they were dissatisfied or because you had to refund them, but because the picture that popped into my heard was of a committee sitting around hammering out what would go into the song they were commissioning. In my mind it looked a little like a Far Side cartoon….

    I was very excited when you two announced that you were doing this — just the idea that someday I could possibly have a song of my very own by you was a thrill, but I’m even more pleased that so far the project has exceeded even your expectations. Isn’t it great when an idea comes to fruition so well?

  16. avatar
    Once | 20 October 2011 at 5:04 am #

    Ok, here we go. I heard about this on the radio this morning on my drive in to work. They played a sample of it, and honestly? When I got to work, I was in a glowingly good mood. (And, oh, that is NEVER the case normally).

    Granted, there is nothing about this that rocks – and there are no lyrics, per se, so it doesn’t really “convey” anything in particular…but very interesting and really quite weird. Wondered if you had heard it – if you have a chance to read the article and have a listen, I’d be interested to know what you think.

    (I know, what’s the point of making music that intentionally puts people to sleep?? LOL!)

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