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Here's Five: Don McGlashan Shares Songs About Places In Aotearoa

Here's Five: Don McGlashan Shares Songs About Places In Aotearoa

Monday 10th September, 2018 1:59PM

New Zealand songwriting figurehead Don McGlashan (The Mutton Birds, Blam Blam Blam, The Front Lawn) is kicking off his massive Free Flight tour of Aotearoa this week, with over twenty dates announced for the ever-expanding run of shows. With odes to local landmarks including 'Dominion Road' amongst his award-winning back catalogue, we asked the artist to select his favourite songs about New Zealand places ahead of his travels. McGlashan generously took time out to hand-pick the songs below, and provided insightful words to accompany each track. Wrap your ears around the songs, read McGlashan's commentary, and catch him sharing the stage with drummer Chris O'Connor (Phoenix Foundation, Orchestra Of Spheres) on their coast-to-coast journey in September and October, supported for selected dates by Anthonie Tonnon...

1. Voom - Beth's Song (written by Buzz Moller)

Not strictly-speaking about a place in NZ, but Buzz Moller’s singing in a NZ accent, and saying ”...when you went to Australia, I promised I would come with you…”. so he couldn’t be more grounded in this place. It’s so beautiful and simple, and for me it calls up the ancient longing of people who live on small islands, with all the good-byes and promises that come with that territory.

2. Tiny Ruins - You At The Museum, Me At The Wintergarden (written by Holly Fullbrook)

This is a gorgeous, kaleidoscopic day-dream of a bright, unspecified future in a very specific place. Lovely images everywhere: “We’ll lie on the lawn… shock all the cavalry statues watching on…”. And Holly sings it with such restrained beauty.

3. The Windy City Strugglers - Snow On The Desert Road (written by Rick Bryant)

In this strange, dark, apocalyptic song, soul legend Rick Bryant looks at the volcanic plateau and free-associates, grappling with the Greek Classics and his own demons. It recalls to me the feelings of loneliness and disembodiment that can come over you on long van trips.

4. OMC - Land Of Plenty (written by Pauly Fuemana & Alan Jansson)

Like the Proclaimers’ wonderful 'Letter From America', this song seems at first like a joyous name-check of places and sights, but a sense of melancholy sneaks up under it. In the Scottish band’s case, it was because all their friends were leaving and they wanted to remind them of what they were going to miss - whereas for Pauly Fuemana, I think he was pointing out all the hope and optimism that his parents’ generation brought with them to Aotearoa from the Islands, and then he just leaves that idea hanging for us to consider.

5. Dave Dobbyn - It Dawned On Me (written by Dave Dobbyn)

What NZ song-writing (in the English language, anyway) lacks is straight-up love songs to places. Like Gram Parsons’s Hickory Wind, or Georgia on My Mind as sung by Ray Charles, or just about every Irish Folk song in the canon. Here’s a great one, though. This was written at Karekare, and it always conjures up that coastline to me.

“... blood red bloom - pōhutukawa
The black dunes hiss with the grasses' breath
I'll gather my driftwood and light a beacon..”

Devotional, magical, economical. One of my dear friend Dave’s best, and that’s saying something.

Don MacGlashan's Free Flight tour of Aotearoa kicks off on Thursday 13th September at Whangarei's The Old Stone Butter Factory, for tour details head along here.


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