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Friday Aug 10th, 2007

Sergeant Death Doth Embrace


"I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy . . ."
'Streets of Loredo', one of the oldest American cowboy songs, written in 1876, by Francis Henry Maynard, tune taken from the 18th century Irish ballad, 'The Bard of Armagh'.



Dear folks,

My dad, back in the 70s, once told me that I would never be on the Ed Sullivan Show because I closed my eyes when I sang. For years, I considered singing with eyes closed a liability, telling myself that it was necessary because it required a lot of concentration to remember reams of lyrics WHILST playing complex guitar parts. This week I read something on Eric Bogle's website that reassured me that I have not been alone in my darkness. Eric wrote: " I usually close [my eyes] when I sing as I don't like to see my audience suffering . . .


Sergeant Death, also an excellent woodpusher, was only able to manage a draw against three great players this month, directors Grandmaster Ingmar Bergman (89 moves), Grandmaster Michelangelo Antonioni (94 moves), and songwriter Grandmaster Tommy Makem (74 moves). I say Draw because Death is not Losing and each of these fine players have gloriously lived world champion Emmanuel Lasker's immortal words, 'Chess is not a game; it is a Struggle.')


I wrote a little anti-Sergeant Death protest song a couple of years ago, while driving to a gig - actually a variation on a well-known classic by Geoff Mack:

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
Travel - I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere

I've been to Broadmeadows, Moe,
Broadmeadows, Moe, Moe, Broadmeadows,
Broadmeadows, Broadmeadows, Moe, Broadmeadows,
Moe, Broadmeadows, Moe, Moe, Broadmeadows,
Broadmeadows, Broadmeadows, Moe, Broadmeadows,
Moe, Broadmeadows, Moe, Moe, Broadmeadows,
(did I say Moe?),
Broadmeadows, Broadmeadows, Moe, Broadmeadows,
Moe, Broadmeadows, Moe, Moe,
Broadmeadows, Broadmeadows, Broadmeadows, Moe . . . . . .

I like the surprise of inspiration that sometimes comes in the very last gasp of a piece of writing. (e.g. The Final Hurrah that closes this newsletter.) Certain short story writers, like Ruth Rendell, are particularly good at doing this, but it's rare in a song lyric. The Sufis believed that a good parable with a twist in the tale was a 'little' form of enlightenment. On my new album, the song, 'September 11th', written by Keith McEnrey and Bruce Watson, has a flashbulb kicker in the last verse - what is initially perceived one way, suddenly illuminates into a bright and quite different panorama. A 'little' enlightenment.

Speaking of a 'little' enlightenment. my brother Frank just sent me the latest YouTube video tribute to 'Shaddap You Face.' (That's right, folks, the song that just won't roll over and die.) I guarantee you that whether you love or hate the song, THIS clip will make you cry: Janisparty

(Here's another short but wacky one. (Deadsqwirl)

I've had to add a Videoclip Archive link to my website. This YouTube thing is getting out of kontrol!)


Favourite Letters of the Week

Hi Joe,
Subject: Sappho
I was interested to read this. Recently I decided to go as Sappho to a Resurrection Poetry Reading where you dress as a dead poet and read their work. I chose Sappho because once in a fit of being unusual I used her name to get an email address even though I knew very little about her or her poetry but I felt as a woman poet myself she was my original ancestor or as far back as I could go towards finding one so I should link to her in some way. Because I'm also a musician I put some of her poems to music. I don't have a lyre so I used my guitar. We have co-incided over [Fragment 64] although my translation is slightly different. It was fun and I'm not sure I could remember now what I did to it. But it was reassuring that someone else has thought to do the same thing. Maybe there are others. BTW I won the prize for the best costume. The best performance was won by the Jim Morrison impersonator (oddly, my ex-boyfriend) Regards, Judith

Hi, Joe,
I just want to thank you for reawakening my senses to the very beautiful and pure voice of Sam Cooke. I mourn the passing of simpler days when the phrase, "You Send Me" was considered cool - or maybe that was just me.........
'Only Sixteen' is somehow politically incorrect today and yet when the song was popular, (covered in my native England by Craig Douglas who, by the way, got to number 1 with the song while Sam's version didn't make the top 20) PCness hadn't been conceived. Having said that, I was a callow youth of 14, so 16 was still an ambition. Terrorism? Well that was a wedgie in the bike sheds. Paul Roberts

(Note: Paul, read on . . . . .)

Re: Sam Cooke Video
I'm getting a copy of this... Stefan A.
sam cook video



Joe & Friends,
Here is my small offering in tribute to the great Tommy Makem RIP. Please feel free to download and share my rendition of Tommy Makem's The Curlew's Song. (the spoken intro is a short Yeats poem) To your good health! Maireid Sullivan Song.mp3

The Curlew's Song by Tommy Makem
and W.B. Yeats' poem, 'He Reproves the Curlew'

He Reproves the Curlew
By W.B. Yeats

O CURLEW, cry no more in the air,
Or only to the water in the West;
Because your crying brings to my mind
passion-dimmed eyes and long heavy hair
That was shaken out over my breast:
There is enough evil in the crying of wind.

The Curlew's Song
By Tommy Makem

I heard a Curlew singing low
On a moor where wild winds blew.
And the sound of his sad lonesome song
Made me feel lonesome too.

Cold winter came and the moorland froze
The winds blew loud and strong
I of'times have gone through the snow
And heard a Curlew song.

Soft sun-warmed days of summer came
Through green-leaved days of spring
I soon forgot that lonesome song
I heard the Curlew sing.

Tommy Makem was sometimes referred to as 'The Bard of Armagh' and here is the notice from the Maken family website:

" Date:   08-01-07
It is with great sadness that I have to report Tommy Makem passed away tonight after a long bout with lung cancer. No arrangements have been made yet. A fund is in the process of being set up. When there is further information, it will be posted here.
Condolences and Mass Cards can be sent to PO Box 336, Dover, NH 03821-0336.
The Makem family asked me to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers." website

The Maken Website also has an extensive message board with tributes and eulogies: website

'The Curlew's Song' has always reminded me a little of Hank Williams', 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry':

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill,
He sounds too blue to fly.
The midnight train is whining low,
I'm so lonesome I could cry.
I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by.
The moon just went behind a cloud
To hide its face and cry.

Did you ever see a robin weep,
When leaves began to die?
That means he's lost the will to live,
I'm so lonesome I could cry.

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky.
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry.

American cowboy songs were very much influenced by Irish folk ballads as can be heard in "The Cowboy's Lament" (also known as "The Streets of Laredo" or "The Dying Cowboy"), one of the earliest known country and western ballads. The tune is the same as "The Bard of Armagh" (which itself is also sometimes called "The Unfortunate Rake," or "Phelim Brady").  website


The Bard of Armagh

Oh list' to the tale of a poor Irish harper
And scorn not the string of his old withered hands
But remember those fingers they once could move sharper
To raise up the strains of his dear native land.

It was long before the shamrock, dear isle's lovely emblem
Was crushed in its beauty by the Saxon's lion paw
And all the pretty colleens around me would gather
Call me their bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

How I love to muse on the days of my boyhood
Though four score and three years have fled by them
It's king's sweet reflection that every young joy
For the merry-hearted boys make the best of old men.

At a fair or a wake I would twist my shillelah
And trip through a dance with my brogues tied with straw
There all the pretty maidens around me would gather
Call me their bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

In truth I have wandered this wide world over
Yet Ireland's my home and a dwelling for me
And, oh, let the turf that my old bones shall cover
Be cut from the land that is trod by the free.

And when Sergeant Death in his cold arms doth embrace
And lull me to sleep with old Erin go bragh
By the side of my Kathleen, my dear pride, oh place me
Then forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.


Sergeant Death Doth Embrace . . .

Group's Estimate of Iraqi Deaths to Cross One Million

 NEW YORK - AUGUST 7 - For the past month, the non-profit group JustForeignPolicy.org has provided an ongoing estimate of the number of violent Iraqi deaths attributable to the 2003 invasion. Sometime within the next week, their tally is expected to cross one million Iraqi deaths. (The group will issue a press release when this occurs.)

JustForeignPolicy.org's estimate is a rough update of a scientific study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University last year, which concluded that 601,000 violent Iraqi deaths were attributable to the invasion as of July 2006. That study, published in The Lancet, relied on a cross-sectional cluster survey, the method used to estimate deaths around the world following natural and manmade disasters. For example, the standard press estimate of 200,000 deaths in Darfur comes from cluster samples conducted by the United Nations and a researcher at Northwestern University.

In the absence of a follow-up cluster survey, this careful extrapolation represents a best estimate of the growing Iraqi death toll.   (article)


Multizone DVD Unlocking Codes

I don't know how many of you are aware of this but if you have a DVD player that is region-specific - in other words, that only plays DVDs on one system ( Australia = Region 4, US = Region 1, etc), there is an excellent chance that you can convert it to a multi-zone machine for $5. It seems that all DVD players have multi-zone capability but in the past have been restricted, with an internal block. (Now days, most DVD machines have a default multi-zone setting.) But I had an older Region 4 DVD player and found a website that enabled me to convert in 10 seconds to multizone. Go to this site, type in the Model Number of your DVD player and they will tell you if they have the simple reprogramming instructions - which you key in via your DVD's remote - to change it over. If yes, you make a payment of $5 and they email you the instructions. Usually about five simple steps. Here is the site: website


Sergeant Death Doth Embrace . . .

The Bloody Failure of 'The Surge'
by Patrick Cockburn

" . . . In 1917, the French commander General Robert Nivelle proudly announced that " we have the formula for victory" before launching the French armies on a catastrophic offensive in which they were massacred. Units ordered to the front brayed like donkeys to show they saw themselves as being like animals led to the slaughter. Soon, the soldiers broke into open mutiny.
On 10 January this year, President Bush announced that he too now believed he had the formula for victory. In an address to the American nation, he announced a new strategy for Iraq that became known as "the surge" . He said he was sending a further 20,000 US troops to Iraq. With the same misguided enthusiasm as General Nivelle had expressed in his plan, President Bush explained why "our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed" and why the new American formula would succeed: in the past, US and Iraqi troops had cleared areas, but when they moved on guerrillas returned. In future, said Bush, American and allied troops would stay put. (article)


Aussie Rules Football Rocket Science IQ

"I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father." Shane Wakelin
"Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein." Mick Malthouse - Collingwood
"I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes." Peter Bell - Fremantle - on his University Law studies
"You guys line up alphabetically by height." and "You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle." Barry Hall, Sydney Captain at training
Brock Maclean (Melbourne) on whether he had visited the Pyramids during his visit to Egypt: "I can't really remember the names of the clubs that we went to."
"He's a guy who gets up at six o'clock in the morning regardless of what time it is." Kevin Sheedy, on James Hird
Jonathan Brown, on night Grand Finals vs Day Games: "It's basically the same, just darker."
Barry Hall (Sydney) when asked about the upcoming season: "I want to kick 70 or 80 goals this season, whichever comes first."
"Luke Hodge - the 21 year old, who turned 22 a few weeks ago." Dermott Brereton
"Chad had done a bit of mental arithmetic with a calculator." Mark Williams
"We actually got the winning goal three minutes from the end but then they scored." Ben Cousins, West Coast Eagles
"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body." Luke Darcy
"That kick was absolutely unique, except for the one before it which was identical." Dermott Brereton
"Sure there have been injuries and deaths in football - but none of them serious." Adrian Anderson
"If history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again. Andrew Demetriou
"I would not say he (Chris Judd) is the best centreman in the AFL but there are none better." Dermott Brereton
"I never comment on umpires and I'm not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat." Terry Wallace
Garry Lyon
: "Have you ever thought of writing your autobiography?" David Swartz: "On what?"
"Well, either side could win it, or it could be a draw." Dermott Brereton
"Strangely, in slow motion replay, the ball seemed to hang in the air for even longer." Dermott Brereton
(thanks to antonio mazzella)


Sergeant Death Doth Embrace . . .

Labor Dept.: 1,001 Contractors Have Died in Iraq
By David Ivanovich
The Houston Chronicle


Washington - More than 1,000 civilian contractors have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion more than four years ago, according to Labor Department records made available Tuesday. In response to a request from Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., the Labor Department revealed that 1,001 civilian contractors had died in Iraq as of June 30, including 84 during the second quarter of the year. So far in 2007, at least 231 contractors working for U.S. firms have died in Iraq. Those contractor fatalities are in addition to the 3,668 military personnel the Defense Department had confirmed dead in Iraq from the start of the war in March 2003 until today.
"We are not getting the full picture" of the cost of the war in Iraq, Schakowsky said in a recent interview. (article)



Add One Teaspoon Blues

Hannes Coetzee was born on a farm in the Western Cape region of South Africa and taught himself to play guitar on a three-stringed home-made guitar built from an oil can with cat-gut strings. Coetzee's teaspoon guitar technique has made him a YouTube sensation. I've tried this myself and it is possible but hard on the jaw! This video has received over 1 million hits. YouTube)
(thanks to Frank Dolce)


Concert and Tour Bits
(from Performing Songwriter Magazine)

In 2003, 'Rockonomics' professor Alan Krueger of Princeton Uni published a landmark study that examined the evolving economics of the concert industry. Among his findings:

1. Concert ticket prices rose 8.9 % annually from 1996 - 2003. Inflaton rose just 2.3 %.
2. The top 5% of touring artists generate nearly 85% of concert revenues. The top 1% generate 56%.
3. Female performers command the industry's highest average concert ticket price. Mixed-sex groups command the lowest.

Figures were crunched to try to determine where ticket dollars actually go. An inexact science, but on average, for an A-level artist's show that earns $500,000- per night, here's the split:

Artist - 32.5% or $162,500.-
Venue - 15% or $75,000.-
Promoter - 15% or $75,000.-
Manager - 9.75% or $48,500.-
Booking Agent - 6.5% or $32,500.-
Production - 6.5% or $32,500.-
Transportation, food, crew - 6.5 % or $32,500.-
Advertising and misc costs - 5% or $25,000.-
Business manager - 3.25 % or $16,250.-

Some Performers' Contract Riders:

John Mayer - Four softhead toothbrushes, two small tubes of mint-flavoured toothpaste (Sensodyne or Tom's Natural), one small bottle of Listerine and two packages of Altoid Breath Mint. Also two tubes of Crazy Glue.

Shania Twain - A K9 sweep of the immediate stage area from two hours prior to performance, in order to lessen concerns for crank bomb threats. Two packages of Mori-Nu Silken Style Soft Tofu, 24 botles of spring water at room temperature, and orange cheese popcorn.

Aretha Franklin - Her rider states ' On the night of the engagement she is to receive, from the promoter, a portion of her performance fee in the form of $25,000 cash.'

Beyonce Knowles - A dressing room at exactly 78 degrees, and fitted with a private bathroom that's cleaned with disinfectant and anti-bacteria products before she arrives. Her main food requirement is 'Juicy Baked Chicken: Legs, Wings & Breast only' - seasoned with fresh garlic, black pepper and cayenne pepper - HEAVILY SEASONED.

Chuck Berry - Chuck keeps it real. 'A drummer with a set of drums. A pianist and a baby grand piano. An electric bass player and bass.' Adding that 'said musicians shall have professional knowledge of artist's songs.' He also demanded, throughout the 70s, that he be paid up front in cash. But in 1979, he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and served four months in prison.

My favourite rider is Billy Connolly's: Band_rider.wav



Ayatollah Sanders Burqa-lickin' Good

Ethiopian Roast Chicken with Berbere Spices

This recipe belongs to Cath Claringbold, principal chef at Livebait and Mecca Bah restaurants, and was in last weekend's The Age GW Living Magazine. I usually only pass on freely available recipes like this when I have actually made them myself and they are so damn good that they become part of my repertoire. Hence, I like to write them down in my Recipe Index - (which I actually use myself) - so I don't forget them!

As chef Claringbold says about this particular spice mixture:
"Imagine if Colonel Sanders had been raised in North Africa: his 11 secret herbs and spices would have been something!"

First, let's visualize the dish. A free-range chicken rubbed with ground and roasted African Berbere spices. Slow-cooked and served on a bed of baked eggplant wedges, red onions and cherry tomatoes, sprinkled with goat's cheese with loads of fresh coriander and mint leaves. The skin is cripsy and tasty, almost like crackle. Ouch~! This is a good one!

Berbere Spice Mix

1 tsp ground cardamon
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ajowan seeds (optional)
10 small dried chillies
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp black peppercorns
8 cloves
2 tbsp sea salt

Toast the whole spices in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat until they just begin to change colour and give off a rich aroma. Grind to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. Roughly cut up the dried chillies, discard some of the seeds, pound them in the mortar and pestle, then mix together with the remaining ingredients.

Ethiopian Roast Chicken

1 chicken, about 1.7 kg
berbere spice (above)
olive oil
sea salt
1 eggplant
2 red onions, peeled
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
40-50ml red wine vinegar
80 g goat's cheese, marinated in olive oil
50-60ml olive oil (use oil from goat's cheese marinade)
4 large sprigs mint
large handful coriander leaves

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Rub the chicken generously all over with berbere spice - use at least half the recipe, or more for a spicy chicken. Place the chicken in a heavy roasting pan, drizzle well with olive oil and roll in the pan until coated and shiny. (Tip from Chef Josephus: Roll the chicken in the pan as well. Boom Boom!) Season well with the sea salt, place in the oven and cook for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Tip: Turn the bird at half hour intervals if you want an extra crispy skin.)

Meanwhile, cut the eggplant and red onions into wedges, place in a separate baking dish with a good splash of olive oil, some sea salt and a pinch of the berbere spice. Cook in the oven until tender - about 30 minutes - turning during cooking so they are golden on both sides. Remove from oven.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add to the eggplant and onions - these will go back in the oven when the chicken is ready and resting.

To check if the chicken is cooked, insert a sharp knife between the leg and the body: if the juices run clear, take it out; if they are still pink, put it back in for 5 to 10 minutes until done. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 15 minutes on a plate covered with foil. Place the vegetables back in the oven to soften the cherry tomatoes.

Tip the juices from the pan into a small bowl, leave them to settle for a minute, then spoon off the layer of fat. Add a healthy splash of red wine vinegar and some olive oil and check for seasoning.

When the vegetables are ready, pour the vinaigrette into their pan, break up the goat's cheese and scatter over the vegetables, then sprinkle with the herbs. Give them a quick toss and distribute among serving plates, leaving a little of the vinaigrette to drizzle over once the chicken is plated.

Divide the chicken and place on top of the vegetables, finishing with the remaining vinaigrette.



I Remember Galileo
I remember Galileo describing the mind
as a piece of paper blown around by the wind,
and I loved the sight of it sticking to a tree,
or jumping into the backseat of a car,
and for years I watched paper leap through my cities;
but yesterday I saw the mind was a squirrel caught crossing
Route 80 between the wheels of a giant truck,
dancing back and forth like a thin leaf,
or a frightened string, for only two seconds living
on the white concrete before he got away,
his life shortened by all that terror, his head
jerking, his yellow teeth ground down to dust.
It was the speed of the squirrel and his lowness to the ground,
his great purpose and the alertness of his dancing,
that showed me the difference between him and paper.
Paper will do in theory, when there is time
to sit back in a metal chair and study shadows;
but for this life I need a squirrel,
his clawed feet spread, his whole soul quivering,
the loud noise shaking him from head to tail.
  O philosophical mind, O mind of paper, I need a squirrel
finishing his wild dash across the highway,
rushing up his green ungoverned hillside.
~ Gerald Stern ~
 (This Time: New and Selected Poems)







A very elderly couple is having an elegant dinner to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary. The old man leans forward and says softly to his wife:
"Dear, there is something that I must ask you. It has always bothered me that our tenth child never quite looked like the rest of our children. Now I want to assure you that these 75 years have been the most wonderful experience I could have ever hoped for, and your answer cannot take that all that away. But, I must know, did he have a different father?"
The wife drops her head, unable to look her husband in the eye, she paused for moment and then confessed.
"Yes, yes he did."
The old man is very shaken, the reality of what his wife was admitting hit him harder than he had expected. With a tear in his eye he asks:
"Who? Who was he? Who was the father?"
Again the old woman drops her head, saying nothing at first as she tried to muster the courage to tell the truth to her husband. Then, finally, she says,

(thanks to Frankie Onions)