posted on September 8, 2011 at 1:18 pm

fallen into shadow


i was born a genius and a pain in the arse

on some strange no mans land

the symptoms of mild madness could also be a gift

as soon as i could remember i felt music deeply

i felt the words to the songs i heard very deeply

more deeply now i realise than perhaps most children do

except for other people whose vocation it was to write songs

certain songs made strange resonances in me

to me a boy of four i had no idea how to write a song

but my fascination was predestined

the songs that were around in those days were not rocknroll

luckily some of them had other commending attributes

beautiful melodies and some very clever lyrical devices

i was taking notes i guess in my small boyish fashion

i would have been no good for any other job

my only ability is to dream up improbable things maybe strum a guitar

then the beatles liberated my world from the dullness of the fifties in 1963

the beatles are the best

the beatles are the beginning the genesis of everything that followed

i know i was there

i saw it happen

i felt the volcanic shifts in the western world as the beatles evolved

only dylan can truly be said to be outside their influence

a lot of hoo hah was made of the beatles songs

they assumed an importance previously unheard of

suddenly the popular song had gotten out of control

it had mutated into actual bona fide high art eg:  strawberry fields forever

as far as i could see

no one had pulled this off before

no one can convince me they are not the original and the best

paradoxically its still possible to like other things more than the beatles

but their  individuality  their panache and their innovation cannot be underestimated

so at a fortunate time in my life from age of 9 to 16

i had the beatles before my eyes changing evolving and finally shattering

some of their finest work is UNBELIEVABLY brilliant

so i was schooled by the finest via the radio

each new beatles song was an event

where would they go this time…..? the world asked itself

and we saw them go from simple to ornate and back to simple

the importance of the beatles therefore cannot be overestimated

other things sprang up that i liked

dylan was always on my mind

where the fuck was he getting all that stuff from…?

i began to notice his methodology and his devices

i began to notice the way he and the beatles were influencing each other

when bob and george wrote “i’d have you anytime”

i thought that was the most sublime dreamy gorgeous song EVER!

yeah bob dylan so different to the beatles

more raw more visceral

hes like a powerful play

theyre like a powerful film

he is less frills but his songs are more wordy

he is less inclined to step out of character

the beatles often sing as different characters in their songs

all these things i felt and thought about

i was a kid while these giants of music had their purple patches

they influenced my music at a cellular level

i could no more escape them than a flying bird escape the air

but i had to also adopt their obviously high standards

i had to demand from myself what i had come to expect of them

i had to demand that of others too

i judge(d) everything against beatles dylan

thats why when people say to me

oh steve forget the singing on such n such …just listen to the music…

but after dylan n lennon as benchmarks who can listen to such dribble

as 99% of the stuff one must endure at any given time

the sixties were not all brilliant geniuses

there was the same awful stuff as well

the unimaginative cutesy maudlin slop

someone always exists to like and buy that i guess

i learnt to draw influence from the things i really hated

i analysed why i hated them so

it was so i could make sure those things were not in my songs

people have always asked me why i am so vehement in my hatred of some songs

it is because terrible rock music affects me at a deep level

like a surgeon seeing a bad scar

or a hairdresser seeing a bad haircut

this is my field and i can never just have a casual relationship with music

i cant just let it go

someone asked me about the group bread

i liked hearing bread on the radio when i was sixteen

they were not dylan or the beatles

i guess their sheer prettiness got to me

i have guilty pleasures and weaknesses just like anybody else

some things seem to defy my usual heavy handed criticism

but i listened to things on the radio that displeased me

and i thought about why

almost as much as i thought about why i liked the other stuff

it was good for me to be so polarised

many things came along that i liked

byrds donovon simon n garfunkel traffic walker bros the who

all the time i was enjoying i suppose i was trying to figure it out

many things came along i disliked

country n western disco dance pub rock etc

all the time i’m not enjoying i suppose i was trying to figure it out

there were certain recurring patterns that i began to perceive

of course i hadnt picked up an instrument yet

i had some dismal failure at piano lessons at age 11

but i guess i assumed i’d be able to play something when the time came

at this pre 16 age i was gathering information that would be indispensable later

but i have always been studying songwriting and music making

music has always moved me in such unexpected and delightful ways

i wanted to recreate that feeling i felt ….partially for a selfish egotistic reason

its always been there i suppose it always will

some of what i do is motivated by a desire to show off and be the best

nevertheless it is an energy to tap into

i have thought long and hard about rock music

nothing about what i do is accidental

except paradoxically my actual songwriting techniques

which recombine my various bytes of information endlessly

such is my wealth of opinion/knowledge that this produces newish stuff

most of the time……

more tomorrow on ttb



34 Responses to “how i did it #1”

  1. avatar
    simon | 8 September 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    “some of their finest work is UNBELIEVABLY brilliant”
    i cannot comprehend how you go about writing something like “Here Comes the Sun”, “Polyethene Pam”, “Dear Prudence” etc

    “i analysed why i hated them so
    it was so i could make sure those things were not in my songs”
    it was great to read this as being written – i never really knew it, but i do the same thing with television – i almost enjoy seeing things that disgust me because it confirms the things i love

    great stuff SK

  2. avatar
    BROKEN TOYS AND HEROS | 8 September 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    I don’t believe you were being selfish or egotistic. I belive you were being true to yourself. That is what makes each and everyone of us unique. Your path was a pursuit of R n R on your own terms. And you managed to achieve just that. It didn’t matter what you liked or hated. We all have those same emotions when it comes to music or any other media. No, Steve, you were ernest enough to let all guises around you than and now …how you truly feel. Fuck, I can never recall you sugarcoating any fuckin thing. Why in the world would you start now. Maybe so many are attracted to you, like moths to a white hot burning flame, because you have the stones to say whatever, whenever, you feel like ….to whoever. So so many people would love to be able to be that free with dialogue. You have always been free, born and raised free. It is a quality in your life that has made you both famous and infamous, sometimes at the same time. Yet, you never waivered from you ideology.

    Never change SK…no matter what, no fucking selling out… Never change !

    Darrin K.

    • avatar
      BROKEN TOYS AND HEROS | 8 September 2011 at 2:56 pm #

      And fuck criticism … you know who critics are…, jealous fuckers who you beat out in whatever you were creating so they lack the credibility to encourage with positive praise but rather hide in their skinless souls and drool out their dribble to bring some type of attention to themselves at the costs of the real creators of art. Fuck them the most. When they hang all the lawyers, let’s remind the townsfolk to leave some rope for the critics to sway back n forth from.

      Darrin K.

  3. avatar
    Lady Di | 8 September 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    what a great read – very insightful
    thanks for that sk

  4. avatar
    davem | 8 September 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    I’m glad it’s September again. That was a great read.

  5. avatar
    foolonthehill | 8 September 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    What on earth makes you open such a wonderful, personal insight into your conscious with being a pain in the arse? That you are not!! Can’t wait for #2

  6. avatar
    Adam | 8 September 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    Your mind works in mysterious, brilliant, tangential, mystical, and luckily for all of us, unselfish ways – thanks for letting us into an unguarded moment, Steve!

  7. avatar
    Crasher | 8 September 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    The Beatles had a profound effect on me also.
    I’m no muso.
    I once applied for the position of M.A (Musician’s Arsehole).
    I was the only applicant, but still missed out.
    I still remember the devastating words.
    “Son, you’re not a Musician’s Arsehole”.
    I had to settle on just being a plain old arsehole instead.
    I bought many Beatles singles in my early teens.
    The B sides were often better than the A.
    I Am The Walrus (Hello Goodbye)
    While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Ob-la-di ob-la-da)
    Revolution ..preferred to Hey Jude.
    I have 7 of the recent brilliantly remastered versions of Beatles For Sale,
    Rubber Soul ( Girl gives me goosebumps,heartthumps…)Revolver,Sgt.Pepper’s,
    The White Album, Magical Mystery Tour and Abbey Road.
    Eventually I ‘ll get the other Studio albums.
    I don’t like “best ofs” anyone.
    They warp the time space continuum.

  8. avatar
    Ryan | 8 September 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Really enjoyed that walk through your past and your influences. I can relate to this as well: “as soon as i could remember i felt music deeply”. One of the earliest things I remember was a record player I was given, before i was even in pre-school. (that and books – borrowing all sorts of books from the library on my mother’s card – for some reason i was obsessed with astronomy and books about the planets at that same time.) I played that thing nonstop. Growing up, I could never understand how some of my friends could remain unaffected by or uninterested in music, and I was always deeply suspicious of such people. There was a shallowness about them. They didn’t have any depth. I bought so much music over the years, collected so many records (and then tapes), got a paper route in 5th grade so I could save money for a really nice stereo. I spent so many hours in my room with headphones on, lost in those sounds. Sure, a lot of it was the 80’s, but I also found Hard Day’s Night, the Stones, etc. And I remember very clearly the day I first heard The Church – and found music that seemed to express how I saw and felt the world. I like other stuff too, of course, but I’ve still never found anything that nails it so precisely and so perfectly.

  9. avatar
    Sharon | 8 September 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Wonderful read. Evoking such powerful memories of being played the Beatles & Dylan as a toddler by my older brother. Little would I realise back then what an impact it would have to this day. Thank you and looking forward to part 2.

  10. avatar
    andy | 8 September 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    i found this quite an eerie read actually steve!
    have you been inside my head again?

    you really should write a full ‘treatease on rock’…..
    i consider you a major authority on this phenonemon.

  11. avatar
    captain mission | 8 September 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    i don’t know, i missed the beatles, although i love the song ‘fixing a hole.’
    i got into dylan very late, after hearing ‘oh mercy’ which is just incredible and i loved ‘things have changed’ which is a very very good lyric considering it’s him singing it at a late stage in his life.
    for me it was bowie who bridged the gap between literature and music, and i guess he borrowed from a few artists and writers which i investigated but he lost the plot with lets dance and that made me sad and disillusioned.
    these days the only consistent quality stuff is the church and related projects, which have resonated with me through the decades. you’re in good company there steve.

  12. avatar
    veleska1970 | 8 September 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    excellent!! thanks for this.

    lotza love….

  13. avatar
    . | 8 September 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    i remember wearing these huge headphones in first grade
    there was a little girl that some of the other kids used to pick on
    she’d listen to singles by herself on the classroom record player
    i think she came from a very broken family, but she was friendly
    once she asked me if i wanted to listen to a neat song, but i was hesitant
    i’d see her sometimes tapping her feet and shaking her head to music
    music was not played emough for me at home to even know what to expect
    i agreed reluctantly, and then came on ‘get back’
    i was mesmerized
    i dropped the needle down several times to listen to it again and again
    i remember singing in my head ‘jojo was a man…” for the rest of the day
    i still do it now…thanks tammy from a long time ago

  14. avatar
    Wilfred Paradise | 8 September 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    thoughts on Elvis? quite a story, you must admit, from 50s to the bad movies of the 60s, to the comeback, to meeting the Beatles (and Beatles being terrified), to the tours, the Colonel taking 50% of every dollar, to Dr Nick, to death by poly-pharmacy.

    think he only wrote a couple of songs though, but his voice, his looks, his . . . , his . . . .

    Even dylan said he wanted to be Elvis.

    And then all gone at 42.

    almost keeps you up at night.

    wilfred paradise

  15. avatar
    Lara | 8 September 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    My dad gave my sister and I Beatlles albums when we were young kids, together with Jefferson airplane, janis joplin, and other such sf psychedelic era stuff. We loved St. Pepper’s and Magical Mystery Tour more than anything else. Maybe kids can intuitively recognize the imaginative freedom of that music.

  16. avatar
    Narelle | 8 September 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Dylan…less frills…so true
    bands played at pubs…
    thats where most started
    dim bars and clubs…
    for example, did you not go to folk blues and beyond?…the Rex hotel, ANU, the concert under the circus tent at the Canberra showground about ’73, Muddy Waters (probably not you don’t like blues)
    or John Mayall at Manuka oval about the same year etc etc
    the sheer love of music never dies…and it that I trust

  17. avatar
    aida morgan | 8 September 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    You were born a genius yet still come off as humble and grateful. Fascinating read. Thanks for letting us in on how it all began, looking forward to reading more.

  18. avatar
    Anonymous | 9 September 2011 at 12:38 am #

    of the time of the two: The Beatles were The Messiah; Dylan was The Minstrel. and those little pointed black boots all the older boys would wear. how cool! if you were younger (than you), your parents had enough control over you, and you were still in Buster Brown saddle shoes — but we were still listening, planning an escape.

  19. avatar
    Steven Krut | 9 September 2011 at 3:42 am #

    It’s always fascinating getting insight into how you create so many top-rate songs. Interesting that you study why things suck as much as why things are good. Starting as a child with a deep interest in music, it must be very satisfying to have built such an enormous and impressive catalog of songs. I often wonder what it was about the Beatles that put them so far beyond everyone else. Were they just smarter? Did they find themselves at a confluence of potent musical ideas that were ripe to be explored? They definitely had their roots in the best of ’50s rock, but it’s how they inventively they built on that foundation that’s really amazing. I think they were the right people with the right outlook with the right level of talent at just the right time in history. The planets don’t align that perfectly very often.

  20. Jmb066
    Jmb066 | 9 September 2011 at 7:08 am #

    Excellent post Steve, love your insight on The Beatles. I do not have much of their music, my memories as a kid were the cartoons that were on in the late 70’s and I always seem to know their songs when they come on and recognize them instantly as The Beatles, I never really dug below the surface with their music and think I will start to do so further. The Church are the Beatles for me and I amazed at all of the similar aspects of the two bands.

    Looking forward to part 2,


  21. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 9 September 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Sk is arguably one of the greatest lyricists in rock history. Never sentimental or sappy. That is MACCA’S only flaw but it’s a major flaw that blights his boundless and maybe even peerless musical and vocal talents. Lennon’s lyrics were always fab.

  22. avatar
    tangled | 9 September 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    i love dylan live, so free, he is so damn cool, caught him outdoors a few years back, four piece, big sound, band huddled close, minimal gear, the audience was stunned, looking at each other saying what did i just hear, the beatles what can you say, my dad played jazz piano, dad really liked the beatles, occasionally dad would take my brother and i on little road trips, he’d stop for a beer at some country saloon, brother and i would play the jukebox, she loves you yah yah yah, what a powerful song.

  23. avatar
    new thing | 9 September 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    beautiful writing

  24. avatar
    new thing | 9 September 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    oh and I should add
    it’s nice to be reminded of the magic you make
    I suspect it’s much more my fault
    that I don’t notice it more often

  25. avatar
    matthew | 10 September 2011 at 12:24 am #

    I was born in England in 1965, of Aussie temporarily-ex-pat parents, returned a year or so later on The Oriana (ship)… all my adult life I’ve theorised I must’ve absorbed massive amounts of Beatles from crackly radios in that year. Couple that with my parents’ collection of Beatles compilations played throughout childhood (sigh: they never got the album concept)- and I too have a lifelong musical connection. Just lately I’ve been concentrating on the early albums and marvelling at those incredible harmonies, those voices working seamlessly against each other.

    PS Steve, it was great to meet you and Ricky in Canberra last week! That concert is one I’ll remember for a very long time. Had to pinch myself to realize I was actually hearing “The Neverness Hoax” played live! Thanks so much.

    matthew (with a small ‘m’, and the tears that came ‘down to here’)

    • avatar
      BROKEN TOYS AND HEROS | 10 September 2011 at 11:40 am #

      That’s a great post Matthew…very poignant and moving. Great contribution.

      Darrin K.

  26. avatar
    Karen | 10 September 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    awesomeness..blowing my mindgasket once again
    first tune I remember was “sugar honey honey something something and youve got me wanting you” when was 5 years old on a merry go round in the late 60’s..loveeeed music from that moment on
    tried to learn to play an acoustic guitar in high school after learning to play “bottle of wine fruit of the vine when you gunna let me get sober” having very sore fingers..gave up…ill leave it to the experts
    carry on !

  27. avatar
    Karen | 10 September 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    just read about the recent gig in Canberra..( aka Matthew above)missed it found out too late…

  28. avatar
    Michel | 11 September 2011 at 1:39 am #

    “paradoxically its still possible to like other things more than the beatles”

    Thought it was not possible
    Until that evening in february 1988
    When I first heard Myrrh…

  29. avatar
    Cocoamo | 11 September 2011 at 5:01 am #

    I love the Beatles, but I think you are better.

    Two years ago, I was standing with a line in front of a club in Pittsburgh, where you guys were performing that evening.

    Some music teacher had brought his class of tots (maybe 8-year-old?), and Marty was standing on the sidewalk joking around with the group, having THEM sign his duct-taped guitar.

    Marty: “….when we fall off our perch, you will be the ones to take our place”. Marty’s joy and love with this bunch was truly awesome.

    Peter, who had been out for a walk, showed up and watched for a while. He decided to advise the group of kids…”Listen to the Beatles”.

    I was standing next to him, and I said to him, “I think you guys are better than the Beatles”.

    Peter glanced at me briefly, rolled his eyes condescendingly, and repeated, louder and adamantly to the kids: “LISTEN TO THE BEATLES!”.

    Anyway, in my very humble opinion – and I have listened to the Beatles and The Church for many, many, many, many hours, and I think you guys are on a little higher plane, that’s all.

    Your Friend in Pennsylvania

  30. avatar
    hellbound heart | 11 September 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    yup, I know very well what you mean about that great and soundless whallop you experience when you listen to something that truly resonates with you……
    love always….

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