Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Vale WEG- Melbourne Cartooning Icon

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Vale WEG
Melbourne Cartooning Icon

William Ellis Green passed away on Monday 29th December 2008, he was 85.

With his passing he has left a legacy that reminds us why he was considered a living national treasure.


WEG’s clear crisp lines and pen work were part of my life as his single panel cartoons appeared each day on the front page of the (now defunct) Melbourne afternoon paper The Herald. He was the polar opposite of The Heralds sister paper The Sun’s Jeff Hook,
who tended to more cluttered scenes and shading and Melbourne landmarks featured more
prominently.

Both artists were the influence of a whole generation of cartoonists.

WEG will be remembered in history’s pages if not for anything but his Grand Final posters which have symbolized the VFL/AFL premiership winners for over 50 years and can be found in nearly every Victorian home. 90,000 were sold just for this years winner (Hawthorn) alone. While these iconic images are extremely popular WEG never made a cent on them instead donating all profits to the Royal Children’s Hospital Good FridayAppeal.

It has been that the tradition will continue in his honour.

I’ve met both Geoff (Jeff) Hook and William Green in my life time and can say both were charming and talented men who though retired still loved to pull out their weapon of choice (a thick black marker with butchers paper) and so portraits for people.

I was lucky enough to have my portrait done on my 40th birthday.




He will be sadly missed and condolences to his family.

Here are some links to honor his memory including one fascinating account of his assistance to catch a house burglar by giving Police a caricatured drawing which let to his recognition and arrest.

WEG Robber assistance

Herald Sun Obit

ABC News Obit

ABC Net Obit

The Age Obit

WEGS WORLD

Good Friday Appeal site




Monday, 15 December 2008

Lyrics & their meanings Part 19- Stairway to Heaven

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We tackle the big ones: What the hell is it all about?
PART 19
Stairway To Heaven (1971) Led Zeppelin


Led Zeppelin’s fourth album was released untitled in November 1971 with the only mention of the band being on the spine of the cover so much was their popularity at the time. Side One track four was the song Stairway to Heaven. A song though never released as a single went onto being arguably the most popular song of all time, winning countless polls over the last 30 years and voted for by people who actually care about this sort of thing.
An early review by the Connecticut Gold Coast Review said the song ‘builds gracefully from a beautiful acoustic backing to a fast moving electric finish. With each change you wait for the explosion and it very gratifyingly comes….Stairway to Heaven is the best musical representation of an orgasm I have ever heard.’
This author is prophetically announcing the wankery that the song was going to inspire through to the present.
The most played track in radio history, it began like most Zeppelin classics on a tape from guitarist/co-songwriter Jimmy Page’s home studio. Recording at Headley Grange in England, Page first played the track to Bassist John Paul Jones where both worked on the arrangement. During this, Singer/Lyricist Robert Plant sat down and proceeded to write 80% of the words on the spot. Plant concurs: Yeah, I just sat next to Pagey while he was playing it through. It was done very quickly. It took a little working out, but it was very fluid, unnaturally easy track. There was something pushing it, saying “you guys are okay, but if you want to do something timeless, here’s a wedding song for you.” ‘
In a Cream Magazine Interview Page said the song came so naturally in the studio it took Plant and himself half an hour to get the whole song constructed, which begs the question of how could something so spontaneous have so much meaning
Never once were the lyrics of the 8-minute opus actually explained by Robert Plant, odd due to the fact he has given detailed accounts in interviews for most other songs on the album. Going to California and Misty Mountain Hop were about Plants experiences from his first visit to San Francisco. Battle of Evermore was a period piece in the vein of Steel Eye Span, which is why Sandy Denny was asked to accompany. Rock ‘n’ Roll and When the Levee Breaks are what Led Zeppelin do best great blues based jams. Black Dog was a great riff with ad lib words named after a mongrel hanging around the studio.
It’s widely held that Plant now loathes Stairway to Heaven, though presumably he doesn’t mind the royalties, the sheet music alone selling in excess of one million copies the highest in Rock history. According to author Charley Cross in his Zeppelin bio, ‘Led Zeppelin: Heaven and Hell,’ Plant baulked at the thought of playing the anthem at the Atlantic Records Anniversary Concert in 1988. Corporate push came to shove, however, and Plant capitulated. It has been suggested that one of the reasons he shied away from the Zeppelin reunion was the spectre of doing a fifty-city tour in which he’d be forced to sing what he now termed ’that bloody wedding song’ fifty times.
But what does it all mean? Many fans try to break it into stanzas to the point it’s worked like one of Nostradamus’ Quatrains. Some think it’s just a general poetic ramble about hope in dark times. Others an excuse for Plant to distance himself from Pages Devil Worshipping rumours that plagued the band all through its existence. But the truly confused go to great lengths to voice their opinion. For example this very short extract by Dr Robert Walser, Professor of Musicology, Dartmouth College from his book Running with the Devil: Power Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music.
We might better understand the associate powers of the lyrics by breaking them into categories. We are presented with a number of mysterious figures: a lady, the piper, the May Queen. Images of nature abound: brooks, a songbird, rings of smoke through the trees, a hedgerow, wind. We find a set of concepts (that pretty much sums up the central concerns of all philosophy): signs, a road, meanings, thoughts, feelings, spirit, reason, wonder, soul, and the idea that “all is one and one is all”. We find a set of vaguely but powerfully evocative symbols: gold the West, the tune, white light, shadows, paths, a road, and the Stairway to heaven itself. At the very end, we find some paradoxical self- referentiality: “ To be a rock and not to roll”.The words provide a very often text, they invite endless interpretation. Yet they are resonant, requiring no rigorous study in order to become meaningful.
In other words I don’t know figure it out yourself. Chuck Eddy author of Stairway to Hell: The 500 best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe sums it up better but using a lot less words.
Stairway to heaven is tremendous. Also proof that words don’t have to mean anything to be meaningful. I mean, what’s this “if there’s a bustle in your hedgerow don’t be alarmed now? If I found anything bustling in my hedgerow, I’d get out my shotgun.

And the last word is left to an article written in Esquire for the songs 20th Anniversary in 1991.
The Lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven” are horrible, nothing more than nonsense words enlivened by cliché. If I ever wrote, “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold,” my editor would cancel my contract.





(c)2000 shidot Prod

Monday, 8 December 2008

Rock Lyrics and their Meaning Bibliography

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Bibliography
These works are all my own doing and I don't care who I upset with my opinions. I have tried to keep the information as factual as possible and believe most of it to be accurate. Some parts may be proven wrong for that I apologise in advance. In most cases people who can't accept the truth will scream blue murder that their heroes have been slighted. This book was created especially written for you.
Danny Nolan
The references I used are listed herewith, if a source is quoted during an article chances are it wasn’t listed below.
Bibliography:
Books
A Day In The Life- The music & artistry of the Beatles Mark Hertsgaard (McMillan) 1995
No Direction Home-The life & times of Bob Dylan Robert Sheldon (Penguin) 1987
JAGGER-Unauthorised Christopher Anderson (Simon & Schuster)1993
Bob Dylan Behind The Shades Clinton Heylon (Summit) 1991
Nirvana & The Sound of Seattle Brad Morrell (Omnibus) 1993
Rock 'N' Roll Babylon Gary Hermon (Plexus) 1982
Stairway To Heaven-Led Zeppelin Uncensored Cole & Trubo (Harper Collins) 1992
Rock-The rough guide Various (Rough Guide) 1999
Encyclopedia of Rock Hardy/Lang (McDonald & Co) 1987
Encyclopedia of Rock, Pop & Soul Irwin/ Stambler (McMillan) 1974
Springsteen Point Blank Christopher Sandford (Warner) 1999
The ultimate biography of the Bee Gees Bilyen,Cook,Hughes,Brennan & Crohan(Omnibus)2000
Magazines
Rolling Stone - Ben Gerson 22/6/72
Playboy October 1972
Trouser Press October 1972
And countless Websites to mention ...sorry

I was in a band once....

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*Part 6- Growing up.*


After that last attempt I sort of lost the spark , I had a full time girlfriend who frowned on the time dedicated to silly pursuits, even though Jim and I would sometimes ambush a party when I would grab the guitar out of the car and do a couple of numbers.
Kashmir went from strength to strength and were actually recording demos for working in the pubs when James decided he had had enough and disappeared down the coast, without James support Russell chucked it in to.
The band split up.
Roger and Chris formed a three piece with one of Rogers’s school friends Michael on drums and asked me to play keyboards at their first gig. It was fun but I didn’t do it again and actually lost contact with Roger for a while.
The band didn’t last either and Michael committed suicide.
I don’t think the events were related.
James actually sang all over the place with anyone who would jam and both he and I busked in Kings Cross one night on a tour up the coast to visit family.
Russell and Jim never played in another band again.
Jessy went onto play cabaret and earned a good living.
I met up with Roger about a two years later he had finished his course and was now an accountant and met a girl who sang and they were in a pub band together. He invited me to come watch. I
did; the Bar Tender and me one Sunday night in a pub in Doncaster some where.
Roger eventually married this girl and I was groomsman at his wedding.
Jim went onto be a school teacher teaching English.
Al went onto be a General Manager of an Electrical Engineering firm.
Roger was also a General Manager of a large Company but gave it up to be a teacher at an alternative education School.
It was a good experience and it only happened over the course of 2 or 3 years but a lot of lessons were learnt, a lot of life long friendships made and memories to cherish.
If I had my time to do it all again?
Shit yeah
but I’d probably take singing lessons.

*Epilogue*

When we started back in 1979 in our flannel shirts and runners with our cheap instruments, proudly wearing our influences of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Neil Young and the Sex Pistols on our sleeves. Who would of thought we would pre date Grunge by a good 10 years in attitude if not style. I believe that is why, even at the age of 30, I felt an attachment of sorts, a kindred spirit you could say with Kurt Cobain.

This is something I wrote in another journal about him:

I was sitting watching some kids show nursing my new born baby daughter when a video clip for Nirvana came on. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” It was like hearing Time & Pretty Vacant all over again. The power, the anger, the cheeky smirk. This is magic, like punk but not as primitive, I couldn’t wait to hear more . I rang up my mate Russell who I played with years ago and he had heard it to and was equally charged.
Everyone wanted to pick up their instruments and play again.
I still remember the day I heard that Kurt Cobain had topped himself and feeling a great sense of loss.
I must admit the whole grunge thing was a momentary relief, our wives let us make some noise for a while but parenting, breadwinner duties took over again.

Even at 45 his still my Elvis , my John Lennon, silly poor bugger, he had everything why did he have to blow it all away.
Go Figure.

Thank you everyone who got this far and wallowed in my indulgence.
Danny

Monday, 1 December 2008

I was in a band once....

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*Part 5- One last shot (with a big gun.)*



Though I had no involvement in Kashmir anymore the loss of Jessy as drummer would have implications resulting in me starting another band.
Roger was keen to keep the band going so he advertised for a drummer in the local papers.
One of the people who missed the cut was Andrew a pseudo punk and a neighbour of Tony the disappearing ex Kashmir singer.
He had a brother who was in an up and coming band who were being courted by Record Labels. (this never happened as they were in a car accident just before they signed and it all collapsed) and I think he was somehow destined to live in his shadow.
Kashmir eventually found a drummer in John , though nowhere as good as Jessy he was competent and did what he was told. Like all good drummers should.
One thing I reckon that Roger never really latched on to during this period was how instrumental James was to the continuation of the band.
James was a hugely popular guy and with Russell had a large network of friends through their ability to find a party in anything. James actually held band practise at his flat that was more of a drop in party centre than home.
This network supplied parties and ultimately work.
During this time as mentioned earlier Jim was back hanging around and both he and myself would constantly be bagging Kashmir on how serious they had become. I suppose I must single out how serious Roger and Chris had become because James was often more times than not in for as much as he could get out of it. With Roger there was always an emphasis on what the crowd wanted and which songs were for dancing and which songs were for quiet times, bullshit really, so Jim and I decided to put a band together to do it how it was meant to be: Simple, stupid and fun.
We hatched a plan. Kashmir’s first gig with John was going to be held at the old Youth Club a venue that had been unavailable for some time due to renovations. We enlisted the services of Andrew the reject drummer from Kashmir and named our selves I.Q =O pronounced eye kew equals zero. And we would crash the Kashmir gig as the support. We made no secret of our playing we informed Roger that the Youth club had accepted us.
We just wouldn’t tell him what we were playing or how we were playing.
This drove Roger nuts, Russell and James thought it funny. We even put up posters everywhere saying things like IQ=O in Sydney soon coming to Chadstone, or Kashmir & I.Q=0 in London coming soon to your town. Anything to bump up the numbers. We rehearsed the week before the gig using acoustic guitars and a drum pad, why we didn’t do things this way in the beginning is beyond me, it was so easy and quick. Jim and I decided to do all our songs Kashmir were still doing in their set and change the words on others. Because Andrew was such a pain in the arse we decided to only use him on 5 of the songs. The plan was to start off as a folksy acoustic duo and finish as a hard-core punk band in the course of 8 songs. When the night came Roger kept asking what we were doing we didn’t let anyone know, but we made sure we did a sound check before hand. Al rocked up early and we asked him to control the levels of the mixer for us, he said he’d be honoured and to his credit did a sterling job. The crowd was one of biggest yet at the hall, I don’t know if they were expecting something special or it was the usual nothing to do on a Sunday night in Chadstone thing.
Jim and I jumped on stage early and the crowd weren’t expecting us because all the hall lights were still on.
We started with Leprosy and then moved onto a rendition of Hey ,Hey My, My by Neil Young (since it was his idea we stole the soft to Ultra heavy theme from) We renamed it Ho, Ho Hee, Hee Jim playing the worst harmonica he could. By this time I think the audience were starting to get the picture as we went in our version of Knockin’ On Heavens Door. We then introduced Andrew to a sort of Middle of the road ballad called YUK from our Metal Magistrate set. I used nice clean guitar sounds at this stage Jim was winning everyone over with his ad-lib and happy banter.
Then we turned on the overdrive.
The crowd probably thought we were one of those bands that play in coffee houses up until that moment. Because we had no bass player we had miked up Andrew’s bass drum for bottom end attack. The crowd loved it and were jumping up and down we were as sloppy as shit but they loved it even though we wrote the song Circus the night before. Then we ripped into our new version of Adolescence . By this time Roger and Co had realised we were doing songs from their set and were screaming out rip off. Jim quickly reminded the audience
” the song done by the originals is always better, remember that later on tonight folks”,
and the classic
“We used to members of the next band but we all got kicked out, probably too higher standard “
We finished with our version of Advance Australia Fair morphing into Wild Thing something we did in Metal Magistrate and another part of the Kashmir show that they used as a highlight. When we had finished the crowd screamed for encores and Jim yelling back “ We don’t know anymore songs” So like in the Metal Magistrate gig we just played a couple of songs again.
To Kashmir’s credit they played a good set, even though we reminded them that we warmed up the crowd for them.
We had a ball and did exactly the same thing again a couple of months later at the next Kashmir gig, the highlight would have to be accused of ripping off material, even though we wrote it . We decided to end it there mainly because Andrew was an annoying a person that ever could be put on this earth.
I think we needed to do that to get it out of our system and say at least we did it.