posted on April 19, 2009 at 9:04 pm

i talk to my mother
my mother says
son where do you get all this stuff from
i say what stuff, mum
she says all the stuff you keep writing
she says i got untitled #23 and i cant stop playing it
she says ooh you really are a clever sod arent you
she says ooh your fathers family were all musical
she says your fathers mother was a great pianist
and all her brothers n sisters could play
she says steven, your piano teacher cried when she couldnt
get you to play march militaire
she said you were her most promising pupil ever…
in fact although i was ten and she was 21
we had a lotta erotic frission going on
and our piano lessons were charged with a certain…i dunno
they had this system
where you read these numbers above the crotchets n quavers etc
the number was the number finger you put down
i wasnt reading the notes
i was reading the bloody numbers
the first time the numbers went…i was baffled
i was brilliant up till then
devouring the sodding piano
but when they took the numbers away…
like taking the floaties away at swimming lessons
man i sank to the bottom of the piano
how strange
it was snowing that day
we have it on film
it snowed in canberra deep n crisp n yes even
julie ann the piano teacher is there with me at our crumby cheap piano
an old banger for my dad to bang out his boogie woogie
the house seems so dark
distorted and enhanced by the old time film
the dog runs around in the snow with russell
a close up on russells red nose and his blank blue eyes
hes only about 3
hes a very spacey kid
a real dreamer
hes running around in the snow like a madman
and the dog chases after him pulling at a red scarf
the scarf is so scarlet against the snow
i have a kinda flat top crew cut
as i sit there
with this prim 1965 piano teacher from wagga or gundagai
trying to tame me to knuckle down n learn
cozza she knows “i got the music in me”
but i wanna do my own thing
march militaire is a fucking bore
i wanna play day tripper or something
i wanna play the organ where the sharp keys are white
i wanna explode cos i can feel it all in here
but it cant get out
cos i had to live
and i live and i learn
but believe me or not
i am the slowest learner
so i dont learn
i just make up my own thing
its painfully slow
why i only learnt to sing not so long ago
sing properly
why did it take so long?
cos im a slow learner
i told you that already
anyway my mother says
its a shame you never learnt to play properly son
i say mum i wrote the most friggin popular song for the last 1000 years
she says i know all that…
… just would be nice if youd learnt…properly…!
my old mummy 80 and not out
she inculcated a lotta stuff in me
that i cant get rid of with my own brood
for example my mother hated nay could not abide
bed clothes not neatly made
let alone strewn around a room
let alone the house
but the doodles walk around with sheets n pillows n quilts
the my mother in me freaks out
although “i” cant see why it drives me nuts
but shes bred this into me like a brainwashing
all her foibles and my fathers
watch out what you give yer kids…
we renting a little car for 5 days
and yesterday we end up
down at mrs macquaries chair on the harbour
a bit of the botanical garden thats opposite the oprah house
and the syddy hubba bidge
theres a lot of (especially asian) couples getting married there
theres this rather big bride
and a rather tiny skinny little groom
its beginning to rain
and the photographer wants em out on these slippery rocks
and the bride has got this huge heavy dress on
and tottering around on highest heels
that she has to mount n dismount
like a knight in the old days getting on a horse
the groom who is ultra nerdy with his gelled do
and his thick glasses which made his eyes swim behind them
hes trying constantly and awkwardly to assist his blushing bride
as they stumble and stagger up these rocks
and the tides coming in and splashing em
and the rains starting to get a bit heavier
and the photographers n family
call out instructions to em
and she keeps nearly slipping in the sea
and he keeps grabbing the wrong part of her body or voluminous dress
i mean the dress had enough material to win the americas cup
(eg as a sail)
and shes getting angrier with it all
and slapping him away as he fumbles about
saying the equivalent in his language of
yes dear sorry dear..
and then the photographer musta said kiss
cos they hang there
their lips suspended 2 inches apart
perpetually about to kiss
and looking at the camera
and smiling
and keeping balance on slippery rock n tide coming in
and rain falling down
and trying to look happy
its yer wedding day remember
and trying to ignore all the idiots sitting around
who are beginning to giggle at this unlikely scene
and i’m having a bit of a giggle myself
until the rain starts to bucket down
the big bride casts her littleman aside
and scrambles to the shore
with her slightly wet feet n dripping dress
immediately a swarm of rellies attend to her
one standing dutifully behind
lifting up the huge heavy curtain of a dress
and they all scuttle headlong
looking for shelter
my fambley n i run away
we get drenched
and scarlet wont walk cos her legs are “itchy”
its the rain on them thats doing that
so i’m running along in rainy
carrying this big stupid lump called scarlet kilbey
instant karma for my wedding giggles
but seriously
cannot see much joy in that marriage
if down by the rocks was anything to go by
shes already totally impatient with the little duffer
and they were both only about 21
do they know what theyve let themselves in for?
meanwhile we try to get to a starbucks for hot chockies all round
but can never get a parking spot n its raining too hard
we drive round pyrmont
and stop at another harbourside park
we see another side of the hubba bidge
the rain buckets down again
everyone has a wee wee at the toilet
pile into the corolla
and we’re off down a tunnel
that spits us out back near bondi
gee whiz
how exciting…eh …
what next?

25 Responses to “milk tooth”

  1. avatar
    seoigh | 19 April 2009 at 10:36 pm #

    I suspect it isn’t that you are a slow learner. I feel your problem is one of pride and of discipline.

    “I won’t do it that way!”

    “Why not?”

    “Because you told me to!”


    “I wrote the most popular song for the last 1000 years”

    “Yes, and that shows you what your potential was — with applied discipline, you wouldn’t rely FAR too havily on Fmaj 7 and Em 7, now would you? Maybe you could have written another big one if you had the tools, eh? You certainly wouldn’t have spent about 20 years composing chord progressions outside of your vocal range. And you might have even learned the difference between the words ‘who’ and ‘that’, e.g., hi to all the people who are selling me…”

    You have a sharp mind — but your success has convinced you it is sharper even than it is. And your success has rewarded your laziness. Why learn? I did it MY way and it worked! Did it?

    And now it is that same success that haunts you by its absence. And now the sharpness of that mind gives you the ability to see yourself as you are in stunning clarity.

    But of course, this is the destiny of man. Yours is not so unique a malady. As a matter of fact, I haven’t met an single human that has survived this nightmare of maya we awake to every morning.

    Humans are proud. Humans are lazy. Humans waste what little time we have worrying about things that don’t matter while ignoring those that do. You had the keys to the kingdom in your 20s. You didn’t take them because you had to do it your way.

    And then one day you wake up and your in your mid 50’s, far less capable of anything than you thought you’d be. When you were 25, what did you think your would be like by now? Is this the life you pictured?

    Of course not. It isn’t for any of us. We are tempted into prideful actions and we burn up our youth chasing our own tail (and a few others!).

    But all this negativity is depressing. You DID, after all, learn to sing, even if it did take a long time. The vocals on Momento Siguiente are brilliantly performed.

    And this life of yours is not so bad — sure beats a lot of others.

    I hope you see this little note for what it is — what the psychs call projection. It’s no fun being a rock n roll ghost.

  2. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 19 April 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    a mixture of funny and evocative today, sir….what did my oldies give me? oh yeah, even if there’s only one dirty item in the kitchen sink you gotta wash it up….drives me nuts but i can’t help myself…..
    love always……

  3. avatar
    princey | 19 April 2009 at 11:13 pm #

    Awww, little sk having his piano lessons, side by side with his lovely young teacher, young blood boiling over while she’s tinkling those keys….cute!
    Scenes like that wedding make me giggle too, it reminds me of the fatnskinny Laurel’n’Hardy show and how they used to wack eachother about!:)
    Zooming around in the rain in your little hire car doesn’t sound like much fun, but the choccy treats at the end of it all, makes it all worth it (doesn’t it???) I’m recovering from yesterdays Greek Easter food feast (no lamb souv for me!), Retsina feast, and choccy/sweets feast….was a marathon alright!
    Take care and have a nice day,
    love Amanda

  4. avatar
    i want to take u there | 19 April 2009 at 11:54 pm #

    killer (in my best best MWP impersonation) Steve, did you read my e-mails…

  5. avatar
    CAPTAIN BEYOND | 20 April 2009 at 12:03 am #

    love love love is next…

  6. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 20 April 2009 at 12:47 am #

    Sk is tenably my favorite vocalist and defintely in my top three male vocalists. However, I don’t like his vocals in their entirety until Starfish. Same with my favorite guitarist who I did not appreciate until 1989 when he was 45.

    As for me all I can do is comment on a good day. I just read an interview in an Irish magazine with Morrissey. When asked about fatherhood he replied ” I wouldn’t have the gall to assume that any living thing would want me as a father. What a burden to place on a small innocent child.”

  7. avatar
    lily was here | 20 April 2009 at 1:15 am #

    Your poor ol’mum would’ve had such a hard time keeping you amused, your mind too busy for simple child pursuits ..and way too impatient to learn anything by rote. Different to mine. I wanted proper lessons but she would say “just play Susanna, play by ear, you dont need lessons”. Which I know now was an excuse, its just that they couldnt really afford them. Tunnels that spit you out – a wacky description and image, love it, loved your family day, rain, large brides and all.
    PS how wonderful is Pangaea, wraps you up in its luxury.

  8. avatar
    lily was here | 20 April 2009 at 1:27 am #

    Oh, and i think you could write an interesting song or poem on absolutely any topic; maybe thats a challenge we could give you, to keep your busy mind out of mischief.

  9. avatar
    Richard | 20 April 2009 at 2:03 am #

    interesting seoigh

    but I think you may be taking SK a little more seriously than he does

  10. avatar
    Anonymous | 20 April 2009 at 3:46 am #

    the price of paradise…

  11. avatar
    eek | 20 April 2009 at 6:32 am #

    I’ve often thought the type of person content to learn or do things the standard way isn’t the type of person willing to or capable of going off in a new direction. I think you probably had to figure things out on your own and in your own way, even if it theoretically would have been easier and better to go about it the proper way. You wouldn’t be the same you without your unique experiences and way of going about things.

    the my mother in me freaks outAlways a shock to get these “I’m just like my mom” or “I’m just like my dad” moments, isn’t it? But at least I got the better traits…unlike my siblings. 😉 (of course, they probably think the same thing about the traits they picked up too…)

    Loved the wedding photos story — I was sure that bride was going in the drink! It always seems sad to me that so many people are so set on having the perfect wedding that they don’t actually enjoy what should be a happy day.

  12. avatar
    ross b | 20 April 2009 at 7:32 am #

    I loved the piano and took it up as an adult, but gave it away after two years because I had better things to do…at 22 etc. The great stuff was awesome, like Schroeder all I wanted to do was play beethoven, and then JSBach & mozart & haydn….but the scales, czerny and (especially) clementi were fucking terrible!!! And now I wanna play like Ray Charles and can't-quite cut-it!! (dammit)

    Canberra in the snow sounds delectible, so does the 21-yr old p-teacher…but sydney harbour in the rain (or generally), a little depressing…!

  13. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 20 April 2009 at 9:54 am #

    You never learned to play “properly” because you’re far too intuitive a musician and songwriter to write music in such a restricted manner. At least that would be my (wild?) guess. And I would think that’s probably only made the evolution of The Church’s music that much more inevitable. Don’t you think that’s why you eventually had to write music as complicated as Magician Among The Spirits, Leverage and So Love May Find Us (to name a few)?

  14. avatar
    Anonymous | 20 April 2009 at 10:14 am #

    seoigh said… a lot of crap. those that can, do. those that can’t, analyze.

  15. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 20 April 2009 at 10:29 am #

    ‘everyone had a wee wee at the toilet’…..ever notice that there’s never enough girls’ toilets?
    love always….

  16. avatar
    never satisfied | 20 April 2009 at 11:30 am #

    Yeah, but I never WANTED you to sing ‘properly’ – I liked the old ‘sand in honey’ sing-speak.
    Ah well.

  17. avatar
    Richard | 20 April 2009 at 12:53 pm #


    Not a religion

  18. avatar
    Freddie | 20 April 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    Ah, from reminiscence to humorous. Your Mother sounds like a wonderful person. Mothers…no matter how proud of you they are they’ll always wish you’d done something differently 🙂
    Huge wedding dresses… I thought they were out of style these days.
    Anyway, sounds as if you had a fabulous weekend.
    Heart ya,

  19. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 20 April 2009 at 3:56 pm #

    I vehemently disagree with many of the cerebral but rigid comments of Seoigh. The Church has released a minimum of six masterpieces since Starfish. They have been criminally ovelooked by the commercial media moguls and music industry tycoons. The quality of their music during the last two decades has been invariably vintage with a few average exceptions. I don’t know anything about management or promotional problems that might have impeded them from being unveiled to the masses.

  20. avatar
    John Garratt | 20 April 2009 at 5:25 pm #

    I’ve been in two bands that have recorded albums. I don’t think my mom ever listened to them.

  21. avatar
    mandn | 20 April 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    Orpheus the pianist?



  22. avatar
    catchow | 20 April 2009 at 7:41 pm #

    i did like this blog,cool and funny.
    right!piano should be easier to learn if you could choose your kind of music to work on!
    “i got the music in me” and”i just make up my own thing” resume perfectly your personality,i think.
    keen sense of humour and observation while describing this

  23. avatar
    davem | 20 April 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    Pissed down on my wedding day too. ’twas a warning for missus m.

    Made me laugh today SK. And Poor old Andy – Joycies got #23 mate!!!

  24. avatar
    fantasticandy | 20 April 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    every buggers copy has arrived except mine!

    anon 8:14pm,
    bang on target.

    i’m glad your’e a crap keyboard player!
    (i loved that rudimentary stuff on the first two albums….it was just right.)
    it kinda humanises ya, as do your musings on a mundane day.
    sometimes crap = cool……

  25. avatar
    stealthblue | 20 April 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    Oh, man, that was FUNNY!! Thanks for the "giggles." Yeah, somethings…you just can't help it, right?! I mean, funny is funny! What a visual though!

    Regarding the other post, I guess we can ALL be idiots at some point, eh? It's just that SOME of us (not all) actually LEARN from their mistakes, right?!

    Back to that couple on the rocks…God that was just the chuckle I needed today, Kilbey! Thanks again. It was kind of a weird weekend. Turns out, my younger brother had a pretty wicked seizure (first time) Thursday night and so now, we're all just trying to figure it all out. I say it may have been the strobe lighting at the show he was working. He's a "LD" for concerts/shows, etc. Weird. I guess you just never know, right?

    Ya know, when you were talking about your piano teacher and the "certain frission" between, it reminded me of a certain Swimming instructor I had as a lad. Holy Lord, did she do a number on my world. "Mary" was her name; and I must have been about 11 or so. Wow, was she gorgeous, a right goddess she was. There were times that I just couldn't get out of the water just yet!! (Especially after seeing her "demonstrate" the Butterfly stroke!) Ouch! Come to think of it, I never did actually LEARN the Butterfly…
    🙂 At least I know how to swim though!

    Anyhoo,Cheers, everyone! Hope you're all having a good week.

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