The Don

My colleague’s recent post about Don McGlashan  reminded me that Mr McGlashan truly is a living legend (Dick Hubbard awarded him the title so it must be true). I didn’t get to interview him at  Auckland Writers and Readers, which was just as well when the temptation to bow down and intone “I am not worthy” in the manner of Wayne and Garth when they meet Aerosmith was almost overwhelming, and that was from the third row of the audience .

Such enthusiasm in a mild-mannered middle aged librarian caused some amusement to colleagues but I think it’s fully justified in this case.  It seems admirable and increasingly rare to just keep on making good work, year after year, to say that “the work itself is its own reward” and to be almost surprised that when you go on tour in the middle of a recession you still sell out around the country. 

Fiona Farrell talks about ‘poetry moments’  – those times when when you’re doing something else and suddenly a few lines of poetry come back to you. McGlashan did say at the songwriters’ session in Auckland that songs aren’t just poetry but I have poetry moments all the time with his songs, probably because they are about here; Highway One, not Route 66, and because for a long time it seemed nobody sang about here in a voice that recognisably belonged to someone from here. All the singers in New Zealand bands put on American or British accents.

Mount Eden brings to mind “Dominion Road is bending, under its own weight, shining like a strip cut from a sheet metal plate ’cause it’s just been raining” and crossing the Auckland Harbour Bridge it’s “lights across the water, a bracelet in these sky” In Wellington it’s “she loves Wellington, she was born there, she grew up out in the Hutt Valley”

At home in Christchurch it’s  “I sell sporting goods I’ve got a shop not far from Cathedral Square” and when in Aramoana the haunting “And oh of those AK47s for some collector down the line”. I’ve even had one on the Tube in London “talking loud in a Kiwi accent”. How could you possibly pick a favourite? (although mine is Andy)

I make it a rule to see Don McGlashan and whatever great band he’s assembled at least once a year. This year it will be in Wellington at the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, and I can’t wait.

One thought on “The Don

  1. MichaelA 9 February 2010 / 12:18 pm

    “Andy” is classic McG where he makes the social issue so very, very personal:

    “…On Takapuna beach I can still see you,
    I can let myself pretend you’re still around.
    I turned 28 last night.
    If you were still alive you you’d be just short of 33.
    If only you could see your home town now.
    Andy, dont keep your distance from me”

    See it again in the “Toy Factory Fire” with the decision to protect his child or “This is London” with the last stanza turning the disembodied narrator into a father comforting a child in the middle of the night.

    Very powerful magic.

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