I pulled the car over to listen to a song. Dougie MacLean was playing live on Radio National. He introduced the song and mentioned that he had been singing it for 20 years. The song is Caledonia on my Mind.
I had to stop and listen because I had heard him sing it at the Longford Folk Festival in Nth Tasmania some 20 years ago. I stumbled onto the festival during a 2 year teenage ramble around OZ. I had no idea who Dougie MacLean was then, but half way through this song, in a small wooden hall in Northern Tasmania, I was in tears. I was alone and young, a long way from home.
Hearing the song again I was both grateful to him and melancholy. It was a momentary bookend to my life until now. Family, friends, hopes, dreams… you know the story.
Strangley, only a few hours after, I got to hear an Interview with the singer Rodriguez on ABC radio 774. He spoke of touring with Midnight Oil in the early 80s. He remembered playing at Tanalorn Festival in Oct 1981, held Nth of Sydney.
On the bill were Split Enz, Men At Work, The Church, Sunnyboys, Mi-Sex, Moving Pictures, Goldrush, Billy Thorpe, Midnight Oil, etc and of course, Rodriguez.
I was one of a pimply crew of 19 year old friends who got there. We camped out amoung 28,000 hippies and stoners. I lost the keys to my Dads car in a pit toilet – as you do… We got to see a wilder slice of life than our St Marys existence. I suspect it helped spin me off into more untrodden terrotory … but that is another story. I remember that Rodriguez was either sick, or out of it, or very shy. He mumbled and had to sit, and referred to lyrics that he fished out of his back pocket. Having said that, hearing him was mesmerising. The Oils were next. I remember a young Pete Garret climbing the scoffolding to belt out an anthem – steam coming off his wild scone. (Geeez mate, what happenned?)
….and as a nod to the maxim that things come in threes. I got an email the other day asking me for a copy of tune that our band used to play. Again, this was maybe 18 years ago. The email quoted remembered lyrics.
Some of them are:
A frosty ground is good for walking
A bottle of wine is good for talking
And outside there’s a wind from the north
And in the heat, spray the kids with the hose
And at the railway, there’s a train with a stranger getting on
And she’s gone….
I wrote the song when I was travelling, alone. I now have a home and a warm, beautiful family. However, my spirit is still on a journey, a long way from home.