Don McGlashan: On the unpopular edges of a popular field

Don McGlashan, who played North Hagley Park on Saturday, is one of New Zealand’s foremost songwriters. His name appears four times in the APRA Top 100 songs of all time – with Blam, Blam, Blam, The Front Lawn and The Muttonbirds.

This eight-minute interview was  an opportunist one – after his songwriting session at the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival he generously agreed to answer a few questions.

Fascinating to talk to, McGlashan shared his love of “Dickens with cannons”, which Roger Hall put him on to; his belief that he is on the unpopular edges of a popular field; details of his 1930s cowboy guitar which he bought in Christchurch; and some of the  literary-style techniques that he uses in his songwriting.

The book that McGlashan talks about in the first part of the interview is Bounty, by Caroline Alexander.

Did you see Don at Sounday? And what’s your favourite song of his? Or is his style too much for you?

6 thoughts on “Don McGlashan: On the unpopular edges of a popular field

  1. MichaelA 2 February 2010 / 1:29 pm

    Great interview with NZ’s most intelligent songwriter. Hard to pick favourite tracks…from Blam Blam Blam “Don’t fight it Marsha (it’s bigger than both of us)” later revived via the MuttonBirds; “Andy” from the Front Lawn; every track on Warm Hand is a winner but “This is London” haunts my brain. A class act.

    • Richard 2 February 2010 / 4:22 pm

      He didn’t even bat an eyelid when I said about Toy Factory Fire: “That’s a horrific song – and I don’t mean that in a bad way.” Such a mix of emotions and tension in his work; unexpected twists and turns. Dominion Road, Anchor Me, The Heater – so many quirky, Kiwi-flavoured songs… His low-fi version of Inside Story by Chris Knox on Stroke is fantastic too.

  2. Donna 3 February 2010 / 3:55 pm

    He seems like a really smart and modest guy. I think I’d have to go with Don’t fight it Marsha – that’s one of my all time favourite New Zealand songs. There’s something spooky about it.

  3. Guy 5 February 2010 / 5:21 pm

    White Valiant and Giant are 2 of my favs. I was lucky enough to see a few Front Lawn shows in the eighties – breakfast has never been the same since.

    • MichaelA 9 February 2010 / 12:08 pm

      I caught one Front Lawn show (at the repertory Theatre?) and was blown away with the originality and the music. A very treasured memory.

  4. wendyccl 9 February 2010 / 3:07 pm

    Me too – one of the high points of my life was being at the Front Lawn concert in the Repertory Theatre in the 80s, was it? I love Claude Rains, How your’e doing?, Walk around the house. I love Don McGlashan – brilliant man. Harbour Light was another stunning concert. He says it all…

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