‘Listen now to the wind, babe: listen now to the rain….’

I wandered down along the river last night
Call me romantic? I say I couldn’t sleep
Until the first-light struck me down,,,

I remember Jimmy Barnes coming to New Zealand in the early 1990s – I think he might have appeared on Telethon or something similar.

And hearing a few folk who had met him, backstage, who had expected him to be this wild arrogant Ocker rocker…and who came back somewhat blown away. He was, yes, a wild Ocker rocker, but he hadn’t been the arrogant prick they’d expected. In fact, they’d come away gushing at how much they’d liked the guy.

He was interviewed by Wallace Chapman on NatRad, here.

The best Cold Chisel songs…well, ok, *some* of the best Cold Chisel songs..featured dual vocals by Ian Moss and Jimmy Barnes.

This was particularly so live.

This is perhaps not as well known as some of their bigger hits, but it is a great blues, off of their first album, and it was a live staple, and great crowd pleaser, for much of their career.

Ian Moss’s caramel smooth vocals are followed by a guitar solo which is as fluid and mellow as a Miles Davis muted trumpet piece.

According to band legend, this song served a major commercial purpose when played live: Barnes, who, as well as the main lead singer was also the band’s enforcer, didn’t have to be onstage for the first five minutes.

So it was when he went and collected the money the band was owed from the promoter, with his fists if necessary.

Just so long as he made it back to stage in time to add his sandpaper-voice soul to the song’s climax.

More well known was this one…Bow River.

One week, two weeks, maybe even more
A-pissing all my money up against the damn wall..

This version of Bow River is, to my mind, better than the studio version on ‘Circus Animals’, the album – Chisel’s best, for my money – it came off.

And that is not to knock the studio version, either. It’s pretty good.

But the live version takes flight higher.

It is, mostly, a bloody fantastic band playing their heart and guts and balls out. And it was recorded when they were breaking up, at one of their farewell concerts in Sydney at the end of 1983.

It is one of my few personal regrets  – I have things I am remorseful about, as should everyone who has a conscience, but I think regrets are usually pointless and I try to avoid them.

But…one of those few regrets is missing them on the New Zealand leg of their farewell tour. I was, at the time, sitting in Whakatane with concussion, having written off my first car.

Pranging into a Holden, as it turned out. Colliding with the Aussies in a different way, I guess.



Thought for the day – on gamers

‘What’s we decided to do with this game was to go for the non- psychopathic part of the market. And that was a little hubristic because it really isn’t a non- psychopathic part of the market’

– Douglas Adams, recalling when he got involved with making a computer game

‘Steven..? Grab the cat…’


“Red wire, blue wire…”

I’m not a big fan of shoot ’em up fillums, but this one had perhaps one of the best opening sequences I’ve seen.

Mel Gibson’s psychotic nihilistic side was seldom more in evidence.
Found myself thinking of this scene when pondering the governing arrangement talks going on between New Zealand First and the Labour and National parties this week.

Do I have any great insight? Nothing I haven’t already shared with the readers of NBR. The fact neither Labour nor National are saying anything about what their policy priorities are, and allowing Winston Peters to look like he’s setting the agenda, leads me to think we’re not going to see a deal emerge out of these talks.


Even the losers – RIP Tom Petty

‘God, its such a drag when you live in the past….’

This for everyone who finds the years of, roughly, 18-30, really tough going.

I’ve had dream flashbacks with this song – does anyone else have dreams with soundtracks? – with bits of memories, a lot of them about heartbreak.

It’s a great song, this, and this is a great live version: the defiant, “up yours” surge of the guitars and Petty’s final, defiant howl at the end.

#RIPTom Petty. Dammit.

Election 2017 – on voting

Finding my voting place? (Scratches head…)

Where was the last place I had it?

Ok, seriously… I’m currently sitting in a house deep in a mid-Auckland suburb, at the tail end of probably the most interesting campaign I can remember in 21 years in the press gallery.

And most difficult election to predict I can remember.I don’t know what the results going to be – but there is a feeling that this is very important election.

On the subject of actually a casting vote, I’m not one of those political journalists who feel I can’t or should not vote.

Voting is a sacred act. People died to give us the right to vote. They died defending that right.

There is blood on those ballots. Human nature and a wicked world being what it is, people will probably have to die to defend that right again.

Which doesn’t mean, to use that often heard, simplistic phrase, “if you don’t vote you can’t complain”.

You are always allowed to complain. That’s the whole point of democracy, or at least one of the points of democracy.

You have a say.

Voting is the tail end of that process in which you have a say. Voting essentially picks who is going to form the government for the next three years. It is mostly about picking people, not policies.

Which means you can complain all you like about policies – and the people for that matter – but if the smorgasbord of people on choice, come election day, isn’t to your liking, you’re perfectly entitled to not to vote.

And to go on complaining.

Voting is not democracy. Its a part of it, certainly, but its probably not even the most important part.

Democracy goes on in the arguments, discussions, shared annoyances, shared ideas, shared hopes and dreams, of human beings everyday.

Nor do I believe there is such a thing as a “wasted vote” if you are voting what you believe. That right, to vote what you believe, is what people fought and died for us to have.

To me, the only wasted vote is if you vote for something you don’t believe.

Finally, a more general comment about New Zealand election is this: we’re okay, I think. If you look at the options available for New Zealanders, we’re doing better than most democracies. Views may vary intensely on the qualities of the two alternative prime ministers, but from my observation, and certainly compared with certain other democracies, they’re basically decent and not at all dim people.

And whatever happens at the polls, we do, I believe, have a more economically secure base than we’ve ever had before.

There’s still a long way to go: a country of less than five million people, spread over a land mass the size of the UK or Japan a long way from anywhere else and with geological difficulties, not to mention an inconvenience strip of water across the midriff, is always going to have a high level of economic vulnerability.

But for a whole lot of reasons, the scope for reducing those vulnerabilities now is better than it ever has been in our history. I just hope that whoever forms a government after this weekend maintains a focus on reducing those vulnerabilities.