Stephanie Rose is my sister’s youngest daughter. She was born in August 2006 while I was living in the Australian bush so I didn’t get to meet her for 6 months. I wrote this lullaby just after she was born and sent it to my sister, recorded with just acoustic guitar and a vocal. Last year, back once again in Australia, I composed this arrangement for it.
Today it rained here in the Obi Obi valley. My veggie garden is loving the cooler autumn weather. I’ve been busy constantly writing new songs and arranging old ones, songs that got left by the wayside and now given new life. I’m playing my cello again, inspired by listening to Yo Yo Ma playing the Bach unaccompanied suites. I played some of them when I was a kid and am trying to learn them again.
I talk to my family and friends in the UK and feel like I am on another planet. Here in Australia we are coming out of lockdown as infections are very few now. I wish the same could be said of the northern hemisphere. My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones, including the family and friends of Al Crawford who died recently from Coronavirus. Al had been a great supporter of my music for many years and I felt very moved that his wife Saeko wanted to play my song ‘About Everything’ at his funeral last week.
One of my all-time favourite songs is ‘Save You’, a song by my old friend Ecki, the man behind the White Star Bulb Company. We sang it together at a gig in Cambridge years ago and now we’ve just recorded it (remotely… me being in Australia and Ecki in the UK lockdown).
I’ve just posted on my YouTube channel a new lyric video for a very old, unreleased song of mine called ‘In The Garden’. I wrote it in January 1999 but only arranged it for guitar and string trio when we moved to Australia last year.
The song was inspired by a bereavement – a grief of such depth and intensity I could hardly bear to imagine it. I was thinking when I was writing it why it was that at least 3 people I knew who had all been brutally bereaved had then given up their former careers to become gardeners. It seemed that in nature some solace could be found, or at least ‘life goes on’.
I hoped that some solace might be found in this song too. I am always anxious about playing songs to the people who have inspired them. Most of all with ‘In The Garden’, but the friend who inspired it gave it her blessing so here it is.
Thanks to my wonderful 90-year-old cello teacher Bruno Schrecker for taking the photograph.
I was so delighted to hear my song ‘For Free’ on Aled Jones’s lovely new podcast ‘Oh My Goodness’. With all the hardship and sorrow that people are facing around the world, it’s such a great concept to have a programme highlighting some of the good things that are happening.
I first met Aled back in 2007 when he was presenter of the BBC Radio 2 show ‘Good Morning Sunday’. It was my first interview on UK national radio and all thanks to a fan called Andy Cole who had seen me play at Bournemouth Folk Club and decided to send my album ‘Keep Walking’ (with a box of chocolates) to Hilary Robinson, Aled’s producer.
Hilary clearly loved chocolates because the next thing I know Aled was playing my song ‘Back Home’ on his show. Philip Tennant, the manager of The Waterboys, was listening and the rest is history…
I met Aled quite a few times as he very kindly asked me back on the show to talk about my Buddhist faith, launch my first book ‘Start Over Again’, do ‘Thought For The Day’ and sing live several times. He is a super lovely guy who’d give me a big hug when I came in the studio.
It was so great to hear his voice again on his new podcast – aside from being an amazing singer Aled has the most wonderful speaking voice that makes you feel somehow incredibly comforted and reassured, like everything is going to be all right. Perfect for these times…
I owe a big debt of gratitude to Aled and Hilary for supporting my music over all these years and I’m so delighted they’ve asked me to be involved in their new project. You can listen to the podcast here.
Last night I nearly stepped on a snake. It was dark and I was going up to my yurt to meditate. As soon as I saw it, my torch started flickering on and off. I thought it would be ironic, going to all the trouble of staying virus-free only to be bitten by a king brown.
It is autumn here in the Australian bush which means the snakes are looking for somewhere to hibernate. I’ve been working on songs and lyric videos but my mind is elsewhere, thinking about my family and friends in the UK. Here in Australia we are several weeks behind the crisis in the northern hemisphere. People are self-isolating but there isn’t lockdown yet.
Today we’ve released another lyric video, this time for my song ‘Rain’. Wherever you are and whatever is happening, may you keep safe and well.
Here is a lyric video for a new song called ‘About Everything’ which will be on my next album. The song was inspired by conversations I had a few weeks ago with two friends in Australia, Sammy Lou Jones and Steve Thompson. This is my original demo version as we haven’t recorded it properly for the album yet but I wanted to share it now. I guess we all want to do something to help relieve some of the anxiety people are feeling. I hope a song may help.
A year ago today we got off a plane in Brisbane and drove up into the hills behind the Sunshine Coast to our new home, the old goat farm where we used to live.
After 12 years in a one-bedroom, first-floor flat in Bath with the constant roar of traffic from the main road out front and the clatter of trains out the back, it took some time to get used to the space and silence of the Obi Obi valley. Not that it’s silent though – the sound of the birds and the cicadas are constant. Living here so close to nature, you become very preoccupied with the wildlife.
Latest creature highlights include: our resident cane toad having a bath in my bucket of worm wee (it’s good for the skin apparently), me practically patting the head of a deadly Eastern Brown snake lying in wait among my pumpkin vines, a hyperactive Huntsman spider bouncing around our living room which I couldn’t catch so I pretended to Christian that it wasn’t there, the thin cattle in the valley filling their bellies at last with sweet green grass after the rains came, and the flies landing with precision timing on our ribbon mic just as I’m about to finish recording a guitar part for my new album…
…which is progressing, despite the flies. Guitars are nearly done so it’s the string parts next which could be interesting considering I’m going to try and record all the parts myself. I already have a cello and viola and I’ve just been given a violin by a good friend so that’s my string section sorted – it just remains to be seen if I can play the violin and viola upside down like a cello and not make it sound like a cat being violently strangled. We shall see…
In the photo I’m holding my first corn on the cob from the garden and looking extremely pleased with myself as you can imagine. I have since been brought back down to earth by some ruthless birds who shall remain nameless (my mother-in-law has decided it was crows but they are sacred in Buddhism so I’m not making any hasty allegations) who have eaten most of my crop the bastards. Ah well, I’m sure there’s a lesson in patience here somewhere… or possibly pride before a fall? At least they haven’t eaten my sunflowers.
Hope all’s well in your world.
You can see more photos from my life in the Australian bush on Instagram.
I’m shocked and saddened by the tragic loss and devastation of people’s lives in Australia with bushfires out of control. Here in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, south-east Queensland, you can smell smoke some days and see the haze in the air from fires in the area.
But right now in NSW and Victoria it looks like the apocalypse. Christian’s aunt and uncle were among thousands evacuated this week from southern NSW. His sister is trying to get back home to Melbourne with highways cut off by the fires. It is terrifying.
And all the while the prime minister Scott Morrison ignores the fire chiefs’ warning that climate change is creating the conditions for the country’s worst fire season yet. But this is not about politics, it’s about people.
It’s Christmas Eve here in south-east Queensland, hot and humid at 8.30am.Storms are forecast for today so we’re hoping – praying – for rain.This must sound strange to you if you’re in the UK with all the floods there.
Despite the heat (46 degrees the other day), we’ve been recording my new album.Shane our drummer comes up from Brisbane and we set up in our big open living space at Shaktu, Christian engineering and me enjoying immensely that I don’t have to do anything but sit there and be bossy :).
Having all the patience of a hopeless Buddhist of course I cannot wait for you to hear the songs we are recording.I was amazed to discover that 9 out of 12 of them are in a major key which says something for my state of mind this past year.
And now it’s Christmas which in Australia means prawns and beer.Tonight is our family party on the farm.The goats will get a big serve of the silverbeet I’ve been growing for them in the garden.Months of weeding and watering gone in 5 minutes!
I hope all’s well in your world.Thanks so much for your support – wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.