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Friday May 9, 2008

Beating Words

"The first poems I knew were nursery rhymes, and before I could read them for myself I had come to love just the words of them, the words alone . . . I fell in love ­ that is the only expression I can think of ­ at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy." Dylan Thomas


Hi folks,

The only way that I play 'Shaddap You Face' these days at folk festivals (with rare exception) is in the aboriginal dialect of Indjibundji. I've made a practice of this for a few years - as a way of acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land. It is also my way of reinventing and reclaiming the song back from The Great MM (Misunderstanding of the Masses.)

Something interesting happened this weekend, however, at the Wintermoon Festival in Queensland. I saw several small children wearing the small size black 'Shaddap You Face' t-shirt in the audience. (I have a box of these small women's t-shirts, in four colours, left over from the 2006 Countdown Tour. I never thought of them being worn by little kids!)

Later I ran into one of the mothers and commented that I had seen it from the stage and it practically threw me. She told me that it was totally her eight year old's idea. He dragged her back to the stand and made her buy it! Now this kid has never heard the song and was probably just a drop of water in a grape on a vine of some future bottle of wine that would be drunk by his parents on the night of his conception when 'Shaddap You Face' was a hit. He just wanted the t-shirt because he liked the WORDS! I forgot that the words work fine without the music. Who says it's not poetry? T-Shirts Online

"Oh, words are action good enough, if they're the right words." D.H. Lawrence

I brought back a Persimmon Pie recipe from Wintermoon. (You think we just play music at these events?) Made with whole slices of persimmons (similar to apple pie) rather than the standard persimmon pulp. Due to the sweet non-astringent variety grown up there. The recipe is later.

A warning to fellow musos flying on Tiger Airlines Australia: they charge excess baggage to artists carrying guitars. First time in my 30 years in Australia that this has happened to me. In the past, with Ansett, Qantas and Virgin, the baggage limit has always been applied to the suitcases, and the guitars were carried at no extra charge. An unspoken agreement between Zeus and Orpheus.

Tricky, these budget airline baaaahstads. Watch yourself! Tiger Airways Australia is a subsidiary of Tiger Airways, a Singapore Airlines backed low-cost airline. Made perfect sense to me when I heard this. The only other time an airlines has tried to whack me for excess baggage was after a full round-the-world trip I took a few years ago. No problems in Europe, Japan or the US. We thought we might stop-over in Singapore for a night on the way home and when we tried to leave, Singapore Airlines wanted to hit us with a $3000.00 excess charge for the same baggage we had been carrying all over the world for nothing! Luckily our plane wasn't leaving until that evening so I had all day to chew their culo off. Which I did. Finally, I managed to get it down to $150. Hmmmm . . . . I wonder if Tiger would be interested in a bulk 'Shaddap You Face' t-shirt deal with a special assicon logo on it: (_x_) ? (See article on assicons down further.


Bach Spricht 1
'I worked hard. Anyone who works as hard as I did can achieve the same results.'Johann Sebastian Bach



Being a fickle, flighty, whimsical, tall poppy stomping, bitter and twisted ( in a quiet conservative way) sort of chap, I was going to unsubscribe; your 'Illusion of Recognition' SONGWRITING WORKSHOP 17 piece has however changed my mind ................. I think you nailed the problem and the solution! 'The truth' and 'The lie'.......There's nothing the matter you, Joe ! cheers, Stephen D.

Hi Joe,
Why do Americans say 'off of' for example 'he jumped off of the ladder' can't he just '...jump off'? Cheers, Eddie C

(Note: Eddie, American children when going off of to school, we're taught off of old grammar books early on and have a hard time changing off of those habits.)

Hi Joe,
Greetings from Prague, where your music will be heard in three weeks time as our production of 'A Stretch of the Imagination' makes its European debut at the Prague Fringe Festival. In their wisdom, the organisers have chosen our image as the poster for this years festival. You can see it at http://www.fringe.cz
You'll probably get a lot of mail on this point, but COW LOTTO is played every year at the Collingwood Children's Farm - the site of your video clip for 'Crop Circles in my Marijuana'. At the annual fair, a paddock is marked out in a grid, and old Bessy (or whoever) is let loose after everyone has placed their bets. Last time I saw it, Bessy was a bit bound up and they had to let her calf loose as well to get a result. Been going for a long time too, because there is (or used to be) a remnant of the old wall that runs down to the river off Paterson St, that has a painting promoting Cow Lotto that looks like its been there a long time. Love to all you see, Pierre (Peter Hosking) Crop Circles in My Marijuana ( video from the album 'Freelovedays.')

aaaahh, prairie camels.... joan besen

So I wondering why I was suddenly getting these spamish joedolcenewsletters in my inbox lately. I had been deleting them, as to my misfortune, I had never heard of you. So yesterday, I was intrigued to check one out...SPLENDID. I am not familiar with your music yet, but I definitely am drawn to your style.
So I put two and two together and discovered that you will be at Lamb's Retreat in Michigan in November, and that is probably where you got my address. Anyway, love the all-encompassing style, the recipes, news, etc. and I hope that I can attend Lambs again this year so that we can meet. Looking forward to more...and peace, Josh www.josh-rose.com

Dear Joe,
Subject: International Disturbed People's Day
Today is International Disturbed People's Day. Please send this encouraging message to a disturbed friend... just as I've done to you:
"I don't care if you lick windows,
Take the special bus,
Or occasionally pee on yourself..
You hang in there sunshine, you're friggin' special."
x Sahyma


Bach Spricht 2
'If I decide to be an idiot, then I'll be an idiot on my own accord.'Johann Sebastian Bach



The newspaper, "The Australian," over a period of weeks sought entries for The Great Australian yarn. This was the winner:

Two cattle drovers were standing in an Outback bar.
One asked, "What are ya up to, mate ?"
"Ahh, I'm takin' a mob of 6000 from Goondiwindi to Gympie."
"Oh yeah ... and what route are you takin' ?"
"Ah, prob'ly the Missus ... after all, she stuck by me durin' the drought.
(thanks to Terry Dwyer)


'Sorry' Flowers

The Kimberley Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation is now urging all Australians to purchase a native hibiscus flower to wear in support of National Sorry Day, commemorated annually on May 26. The Kimberley Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation (KSGAC) aims to regain justice, recognition and respect for Aborigines adversely affected by the state law sanctioned child removal practices, otherwise referred to as the Stolen Generations. KSGAC is a small not-for-profit Aboriginal Corporation in Broome. All profits go into either producing increased numbers of flowers each year, or, when & if they ever make a surplus, a trust fund administered by the stolen generation members, for the benefit of stolen generations people in the region.
Please have a look at the website for more detailed background information. Site
(thanks to Marcus Whitaker)


Bach Spricht 3
"Bring me A bowl of coffee before I turn into a goat"Johann Sebastian Bach


Rockefeller Kin Urge Exxon To Think Beyond Oil

NEW YORK - Members of the Rockefeller family, descended from the founder of what became Exxon Mobil Corp., challenged the oil giant Wednesday to focus more on renewable sources of energy.
They also seek to establish a task force study of the consequences of global warming on poor economies, and called on Exxon to reduce greenhouse gas emission at its own operations.
Exxon is "profiting in the short term from investments and decisions made many years ago by focusing on the narrow path that ignores the rapidly shifting energy landscape around the world, including developing nations," said Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, a great granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller.
The family members, who describe themselves as the company's longest continuous shareholders, said they are concerned that the Irving, Texas-based company is too focused on short-term gains from soaring oil prices and should do more to invest in cleaner technology for the future. article




Dirty Smoke Signals
By Kari Lydersen

As a child, Bonnie Wethington remembers hunting for "star-crossed fairy rocks" and catching lizards in thigh-high grass below the majestic Ship Rock and Church Rock on the Navajo Nation, near Four Corners (where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet).
Now in her 40s, Wethington, a member of the Nation, laments that the grass is sparse and scrubby, and there is hardly a lizard in sight. She says the changes in the land have much to do with the noxious plumes pumping out of two massive coal-burning power plants in the area, and the harvesting of coal from a wide gash in the red and gold earth that runs for miles near her family's land.
"Now we just have a barren wasteland and acid rain from the power plant," she says, adding that Navajo consider small reptiles their evolutionary forebears - so their disappearance is ominous.
"The land is changing," she says. "The rabbits are dying, the lizards, the cattle are dying off, even the horny toads are dying, and we consider them our grandfathers." Then she adds: "I used to think Navajos were immune to cancer. Now I've had a few relatives die of cancer. I think it's the power plant."
The Navajo, like a number of Native American tribes in the Southwest, has found itself in an ironic conundrum.
While this swath of Native land is largely dry, windswept and difficult to farm, it sits in an area rich with mineral and fossil fuel resources - coal, natural gas, oil and uranium. Although Native Americans believe in protecting the earth like a mother, exploiting these resources has provided one of few economic lifelines for a number of impoverished Native communities. article


Bach Spricht 4
'It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time and the instrument will play itself.'Johann Sebastian Bach


From "The Collected Thoughts of Mr. [Joseph] Joubert"
by Rene de Chateaubriand

"To teach is to learn twice."
"Never cut what you can untie."
"Virtue by calculation is the virtue of vice."
"It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it."
"Children are more in need of models than of critics."
"A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve."
"Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth."
(thanks to DR. MARDY'S QUOTES OF THE WEEK: www.drmardy.com)

A Nation of Hysterics
by Paul Campos

Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for The New York Sun, caused quite a stir earlier this month when she wrote about letting her 9-year-old son take a subway and bus by himself across Manhattan. The boy had been begging her to allow him to test his big city commuting skills on his own, and she finally agreed, handing him a map, a subway token, some quarters, and a $20 bill.
She didn't give him her cell phone, nor did she secretly tail him as he sallied forth across Gotham alone.
Within days Skenazy was on various television news programs, explaining why she was not, contrary to the opinion of many commentators, America's Worst Mother.
Skenazy pointed out that for a child to be abducted by a stranger is literally a one-in-a-million event (there were about 115 such abductions in the U.S. in 2006, of which about 50 resulted in the child's death. There are about 75 million children in America). - full article


Bach Spricht 5
'My masters are strange folk with very little care for music in them.'Johann Sebastian Bach



We all know those cute little computer symbols called 'emoticons,' where :) means a smile and :( is a frown. Sometimes these are represented by :-) :-(

Well, now we have 'ASSICONS:'

(_!_) a regular ass
(__!__) a fat ass
(!) a tight ass
(_*_) a sore ass
{_!_} a swishy ass
(_x_) kiss my ass
(_X_) leave my ass alone
(_zzz_) a tired ass
(_E=mc2_) a smart ass
(_$_) Money coming out of his ass
(_?_) Dumb Ass
(thanks to Frank Dolce)



"Too much counterpoint; what is worse, Protestant counterpoint."
Thomas Beecham (on Bach)


Counterpoint is two or more melodic lines, weaving, criss-crossing and intersecting each other. Harmony can be achieved by playing or singing big whacking chords together, as is generally done in pop music - or by playing or singing counter melodies against each other. Counter melodies generally create more space and movement in an arrangement, compared to block harmony.
JS Bach advised composing the melody line (soprano part) of the song first ­ then, the bass line, second. After he got these two working together in a pleasing way, then he would fill in the inner voices (alto, tenor), usually also in creative and moving parts. But the melody and the bass alone would practically be sufficient by themselves! Bach's Two Part Inventions are a study in this ­ an excellent demonstration of counterpoint at its simplest and most elegant, actually designed to teach children.

Here is an example of two countermelodies from the chorus of one of my songs, Hill of Death, lyrics by Louisa Lawson. Just the melody (tenor 1, for men) and high bass ( tenor 2). I have omitted out the other parts. This song can be heard on my album 'Wind Cries Mary.'

Another way to create counterpoint is to repeat the rhythmic pattern of the melody line, using another instrument or voice, by just moving the new part a bar or so over, and then finding the appropriate harmony notes.

Here's a violin and viola counterpoint from Movement 8, 'Flaming Sword', of my choral oratorio, Joan on Fire.


One of the most well-known examples of counterpoint is in Bach's Cantata No. 147, 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben'. Many of Bach's choral settings were old tunes written by Martin Luther himself, and others, in the decades before.

The original melody of this hymn, with part of the counter-theme below it, is as follows:

Bach's countermelody has actually become better known than the original melody!

The ingenuity of this idea is that church members picking up their hymn-books on Sunday would simply turn to page 34 and sing the old hymn melody they knew so well. Meanwhile, Bach's orchestra would be weaving in and out of the hymn with the maestro's counterpoints. The past, present . . . and future, all coming together in the same moment.

THE BEATLES (with the help George Martin's incredible arrangement and composing insights) often used counter-themes.







'Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.' Leonardo Da Vinci



Shelley Inspired Wintermoon Persimmon Pie

I was eating some poached eggs for breakfast up at the Wintermoon Festival this weekend. Michelle Hartmann, from Shelley's Blue Tongues Wizards, was cutting what appeared to me to be a raw persimmon and eating it in slices. I asked her how she could stand them like that. She said this was a sweet non-astringent seedless variation that is actually better eaten firm, rather than soft and squishy. I had a taste and the idea came to me that they would probably be good in a pie so I went right into the Wintermoon kitchen, made sure the old oven worked, cranked up the gas bottle, assembled the ingredients (mis-en-place) and, in the tight window of time between a performance set and a songwriting workshop, I whopped it all together! It was light and outstanding!! Everyone who had a piece gave it four stars. I should note that up in MacKay, there were big boxes of persimmons all over the kitchen, gathered from a local orchard but when I made this pie again back in Melbourne, a couple of days ago, I had to pay $1.20 per fruit! You don't miss your water . . . . . . .

There are two types of persimmons grown in Australia ­ astringent and sweet (non astringent). Astringent persimmons need to be eaten very soft and are the only ones I had been familiar with previously. Sweet non-astringent persimmons are best eaten firm. The best varieties are "Fuyu" and "Jiro" and are available seeded o seedless. This recipe is made with the hard, seedless and sweet non-astringent variety.


12-14 persimmons
80 gms unsalted butter
3/4 cup mixed sugars (castor, raw and brown)
1 teas vanilla essence (or use a split pod if you prefer)
1-2-3 short crust pastry 'pasta frollo' (enough for bottom and top)
extra butter for basting top
icing sugar

Pasta Frollo 1-2-3 Shortcrust Pastry
Named thus so as to make it easy to remember: 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter - 3 parts flour. (This pastry freezes well and is so tasty that you can freeze the left over bits and just roll them at a moment's notice into shortbread biscuits to quickly bake for ten minutes and have with tea or coffee.)

Make sure the butter and the dough are cold when you work with them otherwise it becomes too icky and sticks to everything. I'm using raw sugar this time (instead of castor sugar) as it makes the texture is a little more 'al dente'.

1 egg
100 g raw sugar
200 g unsalted butter, chilled.
300 g plain flour

With a cheese grater, grate the cold butter into a bowl. Add sugar. Cream butter and sugar lightly. Add the egg and continue creaming until absorbed. Carefully fold in flour, mixing only until just combined. The dough will still be a little sticky. Divide into two sections, one slightly larger than the other, for the bottom crust and the top crust. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

Knead the larger chilled dough lightly first to soften, then roll out evenly in all directions with a small amount of dusting powder. Not too thick.

Half Blind Bake: Oil and dust a pie tin and line with the pastry, pressing gently into base and sides. Cut excess pastry around edge, poke the base with a fork in a few places so it can breathe, cover with plastic wrap and chill for one hour. Preheat oven to 180C. Press a layer of aluminium foil into the pie casing and fill with beans or weights to keep the edges stable in the oven. Half-blind bake - just enough to firm it up - not enough to brown it - for 10 -15 minutes. (Remember, you still want to be able to seal the top and bottom layers of the crusts.) Remove from oven. Remove beans and set bottom crust aside.

Wash and peel persimmons with a potato peeler, removing caps (and seeds, if you use the seeded variety). Slice into thick apple-like slices. Melt the butter in a large pan and saute the persimmons for about ten minutes. Add the vanilla essence and the sugars. Continue to turn and saute as the sugar crystallises into a thick syrup. Don't cook the persimmons too long - keep them firm. Drain the syrup into a bowl and set the persimmon slices aside in another bowl. Return the syrup to the pan and reduce by half. Refrigerate both syrup and persimmons.

While the persimmons and syrup are cooling, roll out the top crust pastry, the same way as the bottom. Not too thick.

Fill the pie crust with the persimmon slices and top with the syrup. Dot small pieces of butter over the top and cover with the top crust. Pinch the rim so that the two crusts form a seal. Brush some melted butter over the top crust and poke in a few places with a fork to allow the steam to escape.

Bake in a medium, Mark 3 oven for about 20 minutes. Watch the crust. If the edges start to brown too fast, take the pie out of the oven and place a thin strip of aluminium foil around the edge to protect it and return to the oven until the top crust is uniformly light golden brown. Do not overbake. Cool the pie and dust with icing sugar. Serve with cream.




To understand
A little of how a shaken love
May be sustained

The giant stillness
Of a willow

After a storm.
This morning it is more than peaceful
But last night that great form

Was tossed and hit
By what seemed to me
A kind of cosmic hate,

An infernal desire
To harass and confuse,
Mangle and bewilder

Each leaf and limb
With every vicious

So that now I cannot grasp
The death of nightmare.
How it has passed away

Or changed to this
This clean peace

That seems so unshakable
A branch beyond my reach says
"It is well

"For me to feel
The transfiguring breath
Of evil

"Because yesterday
The roots by which I live
Lodged in apathetic clay.

"But for that fury
How should I be rid of the slow death?
How should I know

"That what a storm can do
Is to terrify my roots
And make me new?"

~ Brendan Kennelly ~
(A Time for Voices)





A newly married couple, devout Christians, hear about a very strict church in the next suburb and decide to go and join. On arriving at the church they are told by the pastor that they are welcome to join the church but first they must pass a test - no sex for a month. They figure that it will be difficult but assure him that they can do it. The first week is OK. The second week they are getting a bit edgy and decide to sleep in separate rooms. At the end of the third week it becomes too much and they are overcome with desire and have a long passionate love making session.

Next Sunday they go to see the pastor and to tell him that they have failed.
The pastor asks them to recount what happened.
The man says,
" As you know we are renovating the house and it was a hot day and my wife was wearing a really short dress and when she bent over to pick up a can of paint I couldn't control myself a second longer and we had made passionate love right there and then".
The pastor replied that he was very sorry but that meant that they could not come back to the church.
His wife pipped in, "Yeah, we can't go back to Bunnings either.

(thanks to Michael from Pomona)