The music that hangs from your walls
We try to be very grown up now, so we have art on our walls - not posters! We have paintings and drawings and prints. We have photographs and plates. But we have a few posters too - or rather I do. I'm not sure that Katy claims ownership of any of the posters. At best, co-ownership of a couple perhaps.
Most of the musical ephemera that hangs on the walls is relegated to my space - around my desk. That's an important part of Blog on The Tracks really - because it informs the space where this blog takes place, where it's created nightly. And there are other images around the house with something of a music theme in the other artworks we have and hang.
I do believe that Every Picture Tells a Story, as Rod would say.
So I thought I'd talk you through some of the music-related pictures that hang on the wall in my house - why they're there, what they mean (to me); where they've come from.
It's not all trashy posters - there are artworks too, but art is where (and how) you find it and in some cases what you make of it. So we have some found art items too - photos and posters that are framed, that take on something (a prescience, maybe, as well as a presence).
Brian Wilson is a big deal for me - so the one-off drawing that we have by artist Matthew Couper (one of my dearest friends, one of the people I've known the longest in the time that he and I have been on this Earth) very kindly gave me the image you see to the right there. So cool. Brian with the fire helmet. I might even tell you all that I've played a bootleg of SMiLE that I was given by a mate many moons ago while staring at that picture. The whole album. Yeah, well, maybe I won't tell you that actually.
Let's move on.
I have this Head Like a Hole poster on my wall above my computer because, well, it's the first time that Blog on the Tracks was quoted for a poster - and this quote appeared on a giant version of this poster on the Real Groovy window when the shop was still in Wellington. So I have a copy of the (smaller) poster in a frame above my desk. Well, why not. Right?
Directly underneath that HLAH poster is a cartoon (above) that a man drew in a pub one night. The pub was called the Shepherd's Arms. The band playing was my band - or rather the band that I was playing in at the time, over a decade ago. An Irish band called Finn McCool. This guy sat with his pint and drew a cartoon of the band - he gave us a copy and the bass player had copies made to give to each of us. I've hung on to it. Memories flood back when I look at that: gigs all around the country, sometimes, if we didn't get paid on the night, I would borrow money for gas - and one time I used half of that for cigarettes and nearly broke down as a result. I gave up smoking the next day because I was ashamed that it had come to that - choosing cigarettes over petrol.
Wellingtonians might recognise the man turned side-on with his fiddle cocked to his ear. Well, maybe not, it's a cartoon after all. But that is Alastair of Alastair's Music. What a wonderful shop that is - and what a wonderful man he is. Alastair is a great musician, a great friend of mine but something of a hero also. I drove around the country between gigs listening to great stories, sharing tales with Alastair. There was so much to learn and he has much to teach. One of the best parts of being in a band is the people you get to hang with - and I have such great memories of working with Bruce and Tony and Alastair - of chatting with them between sets, between gigs. We all have such different stories and we had a shared-story for a while there.
We stole this Connan Mockasin poster off the wall outside the gig (see right). I say we but actually it was Katy. She was quite proud of herself. You block-mount a poster (or frame it) and suddenly you have a piece of art. It's that simple. Block-mounting is a lot cheaper than framing and for certain pictures/posters it actually works better. I think Connan is one of the great New Zealand musicians - I very much look forward to seeing what he does next.
A friend had an exhibition of images of guitarists that she had doctored - I guess the gag was that the heads of the guitarists were covering the headstock. Well, that's how I figure it. And it was a joke that I liked. I picked up the Slash one - because to my knowledge he's never (really) been a Telecaster guy. I liked that inaccuracy/incongruity. It's now pinned to a bookcase that only contains rock-music books. So, yeah. There you go.
One of my favourite bits of music-related art is the photo below - a photograph of the blackboard that Brian Eno used as part of a lecture. Check it out - you can see how fluid his thinking is as he's explaining world music - where music comes from in the world and where it's going. I like it because I like Eno. And because some very dear friends thought of me when they saw this abroad, snapped the photo and framed it up to give to me for my 30th birthday. Nice.
You can hang vinyl on the wall - there are even special wall-frames. (Currently my vinyl wall-frame houses the B.B. King album that I wrote about recently; a very special treat.)
Well, picture-discs were made to be hung on the wall, right? So I have a few picture-discs - most of them I have picked up in bargain-bins. And only one of them hangs on the wall. It's INXS' Kick. I guess I have this hanging on my wall simply because I always have. I've owned the picture-disc for nearly 20 years and it's followed me from flat to flat, house to house, surviving the student days and some time in storage. I wrote about it here as part of the Vinyl Countdown - that explains more fully my connection to the music; I was such a fan of the Kick album as a youngster. What a great set of pop-songs. Maybe it hangs on my wall now because that's preferable to ruining the memory by playing the music. That's probably it. Something like that.
There are a few things directly above my desk - some more music posters and photos and a cartoon that I clipped from the New Yorker - I'm sure I've used it as a blog-image before (see left). It seems apt.
And I told you all the other week about the Lil' Band O' Gold set-list well I have a Wilco one too. I used to have more - but those are the two that hang in place because they're two gigs that I've really enjoyed; two of my favourites from recent years. Both of them are long set-lists too. I like the idea of bands working hard; not phoning it in. Work matters.
You make your own memories - and an image on the wall is part of that memory; informs that memory. The souvenir. My walls were covered in posters when I was a kid. Guitarists, drummers...I had postcards and set-lists and photos. Every inch of wall space was covered and there were posters on the ceiling too.
I toned it down a while ago. Katy probably had a hand in that. But sometimes the music hanging from the wall is a trigger for a deeper appreciation - my parents bought me a Prince Tui Teka tour poster print and that not only hangs in pride of place, it inspired one of my favourite posts that I've written for Blog on the Tracks.
But just as often it's there for a simple memory - something that might only mean something to you. Something for you. We have a Stereo Bus poster - a very plain/boring poster - tucked behind the door of the study, on the side of the bookshelves. It might not mean much to anyone, but we're both fans of the band and it was great to see the reunion earlier this year; the band's first Wellington gig in some years. And of course I had interviewed Dave Yetton earlier. We loved the gig - but that's not the reason we have the poster. We nabbed it; asked for it even, because it was the first night out for Katy and me as new parents. The first time we left Oscar with his adoring grandparents. That was a big deal for us. He was two months old, almost to the day. So that's the reason for that poster.
And though there are more I could tell you about - and you may or may not be interested - I'll end with another actual artwork - an ex-voto, again by my good friend Matt Couper. I have actually shared this image before when I shared the catalogue essay/response that I wrote for one of his shows; the show that featured this image. We're now so very proud to have the original hanging in our kitchen. It takes a quote from the lyrics of one of my favourite albums: Songs for Drella. The quote is Andy Warhol saying "it's work, all that matters is work". I like that message. You sign up for it and you do it. You commit to it. Work hard. Live it. Hand in your work. Keep working. Keep thinking about the things that matter. And keep painting or writing or singing or acting or working to frame the images that we collect; making the wonderful gig posters that give people a feeling of connection to the music.
There is so much more to life than work. There's so much more to life than music. But I love doing my best to combine the two and have a good time. And I'm very proud to walk past that daily reminder - acknowledging that my artist friend works hard too. This has been today's attempt at work. If might not have worked for you. But it matters to me so I'll be back next week with more. Remind me to tell you all about speaking to Joe Walsh this week. What a treat! I'll be writing a story about that for The Dominion Post soon.
Meanwhile, have a great weekend - check out the lovely Willy DeVille in New Orleans reissue. And tell me about the musical images you've collected; the art and posters; the photos and set-lists. What music hangs from your walls? And what does it mean to you?