Is it time to get rid of your CD collection?

Posted October 17, 2017 05:53:20

Greg Cooper was going through a marriage break-up the day he decided to sell his CDs.

The 1,000-piece collection had been two decades in the making. But seeing it there, filling a shelf almost as tall as him, he decided it was time to be “cut-throat”. Everything must go.

“I was pretty exhausted, mentally and physically, packing up an entire house, and had had a few wines and wrote this quite heart-felt eBay listing that went through my life, really, through the CD collection.”

There was the more mainstream Green Day and Foo Fighters — “stuff you listen to when you are 13 in 1996” — all the way through to the rare punk and hip-hop of his 20s and 30s.

“It was kind of quite cathartic, actually, and made me feel a lot better about letting go of the past,” Mr Cooper, 35, said.

Pretty soon, he was loading a bundle of 800 compact discs into a stranger’s car, $1,050 richer.

“It was quite a weird experience.”

The question of what to do with your CD collection — throw out, sell, store for posterity — is one music fans everywhere are having to consider.

CD players are becoming rarer in homes and cars, as the take-up of streaming continues to surge.

But like we did with the recent vinyl revival, will we come to regret getting rid of our CDs — and everything they say about us?

‘I’ve kept them because I’m not sure if I want to part with them’

Francesca Von Schreibern has spent 12 years building a collection — mostly New Zealand dub, reggae and hip hop, plus some 70s rock and (she’s embarrassed to admit) a little bit of pop.

For the past four years, that collection has been boxed up, gathering dust. She no longer owns a CD player.

“Records, there’s something romantic about them,” Ms Von Schreibern, 41, who lives in Sydney, said. “A CD just doesn’t have that same quality.”

She placed an advertisement on Facebook — “Time To Get Rid Of My CDs!” — but has so far had no interest.

While she’s keen to clear some space, she admits to a pang of wistfulness about actually doing the deed.

“I’ve kept them in boxes for years, so I haven’t touched them,” she said.

“I’ve kept them because I’m not sure if I want to part with them. I’m just a bit unsure if I am ready.”

For every seller, there must be a buyer

Not everyone is getting rid of their CDs.

Scott Thurling, a longtime music fan in his early 40s, started collecting through record clubs in high school.

The growth of his collection — about 10,000 titles, mostly guitar pop, folk and new wave — has slowed in recent years, but continues, mostly as he takes on the stuff his friends want to get rid of.

“I might offer them a nominal amount, it might be $100 for 100 CDs, or 200 CDs,” Mr Thurling said.

“No-one has high expectations of a high dollar value from the collections I’ve bought. It’s just finding a good home for them.”

Though he does subscribe to Spotify and Apple Music, he admits he doesn’t easily let go of a lot of “music-related things”. The walls of his home, in the Melbourne suburb of Mitcham, feature gig posters taken from pubs over the years. And he’s got his old CD Walkman, though he doesn’t use it much anymore.

“There may be a stage where I bring myself to purge some of the CDs, knowing that they are living on digitally if I needed to hear them again,” he said. “But we are not at that stage yet.”

If he doesn’t, his nine-year-old daughter might.

“She looks with bemusement at my collection. I keep saying ‘you are going to own these one day’ and she says ‘I am selling them Dad, as soon as you are gone’.”

‘The CD is not a beautiful looking thing’

Mr Cooper, for his part, doesn’t think he’s going to miss his collection — and doubts that, like vinyl, the CD will come roaring back into the popular consciousness.

“The dual cases are ugly as hell, they break, they get all scratched up,” he said. “The CD is not a beautiful looking thing.

“The artwork on some of them is great but it’s like 10cm by 10cm. It’s not something you want to put on your wall and admire.”

If he’s ever feeling nostalgic, he said, he just searches YouTube or Spotify.

Topics: music, arts-and-entertainment, popular-culture, australia

Dolly Parton on same-sex marriage, children’s literacy and touring Down Under

Updated October 13, 2017 08:52:21

Country music superstar Dolly Parton has weighed into Australia’s same-sex marriage debate, declaring gay couples should have the right to wed.

“Why can’t they be as miserable as us heterosexuals in their marriages?” she joked with News Breakfast from her home city of Nashville, Tennessee.

Parton said that, all jokes aside, same-sex couples should not be treated differently to everybody else.

“Hey, I think love is love and we have no control over that … I think people should be allowed to [marry],” she said.

“I’m not God, you know. I believe in God, I think God is the judge. I don’t judge or criticise and I don’t think we’re supposed to.”

Parton, who has a large gay following, has been a longtime supporter of same-sex marriage.

Same-sex weddings were illegal in Tennessee until June 2015, when the US Supreme Court ruled that gay couples should be allowed to marry in all US states and territories.

A literary milestone

Dolly is also on the verge of winning a new generation of fans as she releases her first album of songs for children.

She wrote and recorded all 14 tracks on I Believe in You and said it was one of the most enjoyable projects of her nearly 60-year music career.

“I’m from a big family surrounded by little nieces and nephews. I’m a very childlike person,” she said.

“I love kids and I love their energy and when I’m surrounded by them it gives me ideas.”

All proceeds from the album will go towards the Imagination Library, a literacy program the music star set up 20 years ago.

Children in five countries, including Australia, receive a book each month from birth to the age of five.

The library has now given away 100 million books and Parton said she was as proud of the program as she was of anything else she’d done.

“If you can read you can learn,” she said.

“I just think it’s so important that kids get books in their hands when they’re very young and when they’re most impressionable.”

Getting the band back together?

Parton certainly made an impression herself when she, together with her co-stars on the hit 1980 film “9 to 5”, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, made a joint appearance at the Emmys last month.

Fonda and Tomlin used the occasion, and the worldwide audience, to take a not-so-thinly veiled stab at US President Donald Trump, comparing him to their “sexist, egotistical and lying” movie boss played by Dabney Coleman.

Parton looked slightly uncomfortable and quickly moved the presentation on.

She insists she didn’t feel awkward on the Emmys stage and was pleased to be reunited with her co-stars.

“I love getting the chance to go out with them, because the movie was such a big hit worldwide,” she said.

“We got a standing ovation, we came in with a bang and went out with a bang. And it was all good.”

Sadly, for the many fans of the movie, Parton has ruled out a “9 to 5” sequel.

“We’d probably have to call it 95 now. We’re a little old now!”

An Australian return?

Age is also catching up with Parton’s long-time friend and duet partner, Kenny Rogers.

The 79-year-old singer is in the midst of his farewell tour and, later this month in Nashville, Rogers and Parton will sing on stage together one last time.

The 71-year-old Parton said it would be a bittersweet moment.

“I really can’t believe he’s retiring. It’s sad, but I guess we all get to that place. We can’t live forever,” she said.

“I love Kenny. It will be an emotional night for us, I’m sure.”

Speaking of tours, Parton is keen to get back to Australia.

“I wish I could come today. I’ve talked about it and I’ll eventually get back there because I love my fans and I love Australia,” she said.

Topics: music, gays-and-lesbians, books-literature, australia

First posted October 13, 2017 08:49:56

A young musician’s handwritten note on his mental health

Posted October 10, 2017 17:31:06

“I am writing this to open up a discussion on mental health,” the note, shared on social media, read.

It was written in long-hand — fittingly, it looked like a diary entry — and revealed a 10-month struggle with depression, of feeling overwhelmed and failing to see life as worthwhile.

For the author, Miller Upchurch, a member of the Melbourne band Slum Sociable, being so open and honest was nerve-wracking. He didn’t know what reaction his words, posted to the band’s Facebook and Twitter pages last week, might receive.

He needn’t have worried.

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” Upchurch, who with bandmate Edward Quinn started releasing music to broad acclaim in 2015, told Veronica and Lewis on triple j Drive on Tuesday.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

In the note, Upchurch revealed the band would be delaying the release of their debut album while he focused on his mental health.

He said he felt the time had come to speak about it publicly.

“Being in a band and having followers, I always wanted to use this platform to speak out about it, because I am pretty passionate about talking about the issue and showing other people it’s OK to talk about.”

Late nights, alcohol, poor pay affect mental health

It’s a bold move, and one that comes amid a broader conversation around mental health in the music industry, a notoriously difficult space in which to forge a career.

Musicians are up to 10 times as likely to face mental health issues, according to a Victoria University study published last year. A 2015 study was equally disturbing: nine out of 10 musicians have a precarious work situation, and two-thirds drink too much.

“There is no question that mental health is now the topic of conversation in the music industry,” Joanna Cave, CEO of the organisation Support Act, said.

“And I would say that has been the case for maybe the past 12 months.”

The charity, marking two decades this year, seeks to provide professionals in the music business — musicians, but also roadies and support staff — with practical help if they are facing adversity, whether through illness or injury.

That might be financial relief, if bills start to stack up, or assistance in securing social housing or welfare benefits. It also launched on Tuesday a new 24-hour helpline.

Mental health has been a primary cause of inquiries over the years, Ms Cave said.

“We think it is common within music because of the particular environmental factors that are the reality of a music career,” she said.

“It’s mostly night work, [and] often involves touring — so, separation from family and friends.

“It’s often very poorly paid, while people are offered payment in-kind, and the in-kind is often beer.

“[There is] disrupted sleep, if you are on the road. There’s a lot of anxiety and issues around fame, not being famous, making it, losing it — all of that stuff. The nature of working in music does give a kind of heightened risk of mental illness.”

Caleb Karvountzis, of the Melbourne band Tiny Little Houses, agrees. For an industry that rewards emotional vulnerability, it can be gruelling.

“There is so much of it that is good, but there is also a competitive element, and you can feel like you’re not getting anywhere,” he said.

“Also, you don’t make any money, when you’re starting, for a long time, and you kind of make a lot of sacrifices for it.”

It’s a bit of a catch-22, he said: “Those people who write music are generally more emotional, in an industry that is very tough emotionally.”

Leaning into the sadness

It’s important to remember, however, that music can be a salve during difficult times — what the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks called “a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear”.

“Music is my medicine,” the songwriter Ainslee Wills said.

“When I am feeling a little cloudy in the head, and need to find some clarity — which happens quite often — I’ll listen to something like Radiohead’s Subterranean Homesick Alien from OK Computer,” she said.

“That song, and its whole sonic landscape, just transports me to a different place for that duration. It’s almost like I am hovering above where I am currently at and I am able to look at things a little bit more clearly.”

For Kevin Mitchell, who fronts Jebediah and plays as Bob Evans, there is a sense of leaning into the headwinds.

“If I having a rough time, sometimes it’s good to listen to music that helps you embrace that tough time, and feel it properly and process it, and deal with it properly,” he said.

“Sometimes I like to, when I get sad, just listen to really, really sad music.”

Topics: arts-and-entertainment, music, mental-health, depression, melbourne-3000

After sporting career, blind singer-songwriter returns to first love

Posted October 10, 2017 11:12:24

From his earliest memories of living in a Vietnamese orphanage to representing Australia in two sports, blind songwriter David Truong’s road to success as a musician has taken a few detours.

The singer, songwriter and piano and keyboard player — who is completely blind — discovered music as a teenager, but only came back to it a few years ago when his time as a sportsman ended.

Now well into recording his second album, Truong will perform with his band Ambition Road at this week’s Undercover Artist Festival in Brisbane, an event showcasing the work of artists with a disability.

But his story begins at the end of the Vietnam War, when as a young boy he was living in an orphanage.

“You may as well say I have been blind since birth as I don’t remember the first seven years of my life; in other words I don’t remember having sight at all.

“I have been told I used to be able to see and there are a few stories on how I lost my sight.

“One version is that I lost my sight due to malnutrition, and another story is that I got a stray bullet in my left eye which meant they had to remove a part of my left eye and my right eye was affected as well.

“I don’t know which one to believe as it wasn’t documented.”

A new birth certificate and a new life

Truong was plucked at random to be part of an Australian scheme providing refuge for victims of the war.

“They destroyed my birth certificate so I could come to Australia. Apparently you had to be under a certain age and that age I was not, so they made me a new birth certificate,” he said.

“My best friend from the orphanage got chosen to go to America and his plane crashed and he died — I could have been on that plane.

“I just feel so lucky I’ve come to Australia and Australia’s provided me the opportunity to live the life I have now.”

In Australia, Truong was cared for by foster parents and in institutions before ending up in Melbourne at a school that provided facilities and education for people with vision impairments.

As a teenager he fell in love with music but ultimately chose to pursue competitive sport, going on to represent Australia in both blind cricket and goalball — a team sport designed for people with vision impairments.

“Obviously we’re not as high profile as the mainstream athletes that represent their country, but it’s no different to think that you are probably the best that your country is offering,” he said.

“It’s a feeling you can’t describe — when you put on the baggy cap for cricket or the Australian shirt for goalball; it’s exhilarating to know you’ve got the opportunity to do that.”

‘I wanted something else to focus on’

But a career in competitive sport does not last forever, and Truong’s early passion for music came full circle when he met the director of this year’s Undercover Artist Festival, Harmonie Downes.

“A few years ago my body told me it was time to give up the sport, even though my brain said I could go on forever,” Truong said.

“I wanted something else to focus on and naturally I came back to the interest I had when I was a teenager and that was music.”

Truong and Ms Downes met and bonded over a love of music and she encouraged him to “see how far I could go”.

He joined a choir run by Access Arts, a Brisbane organisation providing opportunities for people with disabilities in all forms of art, including music.

Upon further encouragement from the choir’s leader, Annie Peterson, Truong took steps towards forming a band, which became Ambition Road.

“I kind of roamed the streets of Fortitude Valley and South Brisbane and went to all the bars,” he said.

“I just wanted to see what was happening in the live music scene and I heard a few musicians and I went and approached them.

“Luckily for me, the musicians that I chose agreed.”

‘The ability in artists with a disability’

Truong and his bandmates are now working on a follow-up to Ambition Road’s 2016 debut Happy Laughter.

He said events like the Undercover Artist Festival, which is accessible for both artists and audience members, were an opportunity to “showcase the ability in artists with a disability”.

“Once you get established, which this event allows us to do, you can perhaps then go on and find gigs in the mainstream.”

Ms Downes, who also identifies as an artist with a disability, said there were certain opportunities that came with organising an event outside the mainstream.

“I like the fact that I’m able to bring in outside art and grassroots art, but also highly professional art that you wouldn’t normally see in mainstream venues,” she said.

Topics: music, arts-and-entertainment, human-interest, disabilities, brisbane-4000

Silent discos giving dementia sufferers a bit of their groove back

Posted October 06, 2017 06:17:52

A silent disco usually invokes images of twenty-somethings raving to hard-core techno at a festival, but now dementia patients are donning the headphones to great success.

In a world first, silent discos are being used as dementia therapy in New South Wales and sufferers are reaping huge mental benefits.

With the sounds of The Andrews Sisters, Dean Martin, Elvis and occasionally a bit of Taylor Swift coming through their Bluetooth headsets, patients are transported through music and movement.

Agitation and frustration are common among those with dementia but after a session at the silent disco, patients feel far more settled and behavioural issues are reduced for the rest of the day.

The after-class effects are amazing, Moove and Groove program organiser Alison Harrington said.

“One lady who hardly ever speaks a word, for an hour after the class she was going around talking fluidly to everyone,” Ms Harrington said.

“This switches on pathways in the brain that aren’t otherwise accessible.

“Everyone comes out smiling.”

The power of headphones

However, when the event was tried without using headphones, participation, enjoyment and eye contact levels with the ‘DJ’ (group facilitator) were halved.

Dementia consultant Rose Rowlinson, who completed a trial on the patients, put this down to the fact that headphones provide a much more immersive experience.

“It helps them to focus, it’s like someone is talking right to them in their head,” Ms Rowlinson said.

“There’s no distraction when wearing headphones and a lot of people with dementia get really distracted by everyone else and what’s going on.

“The difference was remarkable, the level of engagement and the energy was so different without the headsets.”

How patients have taken to the concept of a quiet party is impressive, Ms Rowlinson said, as those with dementia are not normally able to follow instructions for extended periods of time or show signs of happiness and calm.

But extensive research has proven the power of music in helping those with dementia, as distant memories and feelings are often recollected, even if only for a moment.

“It can bring them into a much happier space,” Ms Rowlinson said.

“Certain people who have really bad anxiety which was really noticeable beforehand became much more relaxed.

“There is also less likelihood of sundowning.”

The only problem encountered was calling last songs.

“They didn’t want to stop…they were really disappointed to stop,” she said.

‘We don’t know how long we’ve got’

Ray McDermott has moderate dementia and he and his wife Kay decided to put their dancing shoes on at Narrabeen’s RSL ANZAC Village in Sydney’s north.

“Kay suggested I sort of get off the couch and do a little bit of exercise and [we say] ‘come on, let’s go and enjoy ourselves’,” Mr McDermott said.

“I was a little bit apprehensive, thought I’m going to get swamped by the ladies… but I’ve absolutely enjoyed myself.”

Ms McDermott said her husband gets swept up in the experience and gets out of his head.

“He has a ball, he really does…he sings at the top of his voice,” she said.

“He just completely forgets all the troubles that can worry us.”

Mr McDermott said the opportunity to really let go to the music gives the couple satisfaction.

“We don’t know how long we’ve got together… but we come here and enjoy ourselves,” he said.

Ms Harrington said the idea of a silent disco seemed far-fetched and she had no idea whether it would work — but the risk has definitely paid off.

“This is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

“We need to change the paradigm of people ageing.”

She is hoping to expand the concept of silent discos for dementia patients and travel to more facilities to bring musical memories back.

This week the NSW Government announced a funding boost for the silent discos for dementia under the Liveable Communities Grant program.

Topics: alzheimers-and-dementia, health, human-interest, dance, music, nsw

Key moments from Tom Petty’s 40 years in rock’n’roll

Updated October 03, 2017 17:57:30

To reduce a highly influential, respected body of work — one that spanned four decades — into a definitive list would be a little hard.

Instead, here are five choice cuts from the career of Tom Petty, who has died at the age of 66 after suffering cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California.

Petty had a slew of hits in the 70s and 80s, releasing records first with Mudcrutch and later with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. He was also a member of The Traveling Wilburys, a super-group featuring Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Roy Orbison.

His work with Heartbreakers, particularly on early albums like Damn The Torpedoes and You’re Gonna Get It!, swung more towards classic rock; his voice on radio hit Refugee is strained in the tradition of 70s guitar bands.

The record went to number 2 on the US Billboard charts — bested only by Pink Floyd’s The Wall — and received critical praise.

The Traveling Wilburys, and some of Petty’s later solo work, you’d probably file under country — it had a much stronger southern American sensibility.

Henry Wagons, a musician and the host of Tower of Song on Double J, said the Wilburys were a precursor to the Americana genre now associated with musicians like Wilco and Ryan Adams.

“Tom Petty was playing this Americana music before the genre even existed,” he told the ABC.

“He helped pave that road in between southern rock, twang and country and classic rock and roll and he walked that tightrope like no-one else.”

As much as Petty was a songwriters’ songwriter — how else do you get to be in a band with Dylan, Orbison and a former Beatle? — he found massive popular success, selling more than 80 million records worldwide.

His later work with The Heartbreakers was more polished, and probably more radio-friendly.

Runnin’ Down A Dream, from his 1989 album Full Moon Fever, showcased his knack for melody.

Petty’s commitment to the heartland — the stories of regular hopes and dreams that formed the backbone of some of his major hits — saw his songwriting compared to Springsteen’s.

It probably also contributed his reach and ability to shift units.

“He was observational, he was funny, he was wry, he was intelligent,” Wagons said. “And an incredibly smart, perceptive songwriter.”

Free Fallin’, also from Full Moon Fever, which is considered his first proper solo album without The Heartbreakers, is probably one of his most recognisable songs, and it has that “real-America” feel.

“She’s a good girl, loves her Mama,” Petty sings. “Loves Jesus and America too.”

Petty’s influence was wide-ranging, beyond Americana and classic rock.

The first time REM’s Peter Buck and Michael Stipe played with a drummer and bass player behind them — while Buck was auditioning to join a band Stipe was in at the time — they jammed on Petty’s I Need To Know.

“I think, because he had so many hit singles and was so famous for so long, people kinda take for granted that he was actually doing really great work,” Buck told Double J’s Karen Lang.

“He was a master of writing catchy hooks. He wrote really personal songs in a way that everyone could listen to them and relate to them.”

Topics: music, popular-culture, pop, rock, united-states

First posted October 03, 2017 17:45:34

Aboriginal elder demands apology from Peter Garrett over McArthur River Mine

Updated October 03, 2017 16:25:28

An Aboriginal elder from the Northern Territory is demanding an apology from former federal environment minister Peter Garrett as Midnight Oil kicks off its first Australian tour in 15 years.

In 2009, Mr Garrett allowed mining giant Glencore to divert a section of the McArthur River in the Gulf or Carpentaria near Borroloola to allow it to expand a zinc mine.

The decision was opposed by many Aboriginal people in the area, including senior elder and artist Jack Green.

He has now finished a painting titled Beds Are Burning/Mine On Fire, which he said he would send to Mr Garrett.

“I want to say to Peter Garrett that he should recognise this country has been damaged,” Mr Green said.

“We told him, ‘if you do this it’s going to agree to this diversion, it’s going to create a lot of problems. Fish are going to be damaged, the country’s not going to be good’.”

But Mr Green said he knew that Mr Garrett would sign off of the river diversion.

“Right or wrong, he was going to do it,” he said.

“We’ve got song lines, we’ve got everything, he just wouldn’t listen, he just wanted to sign off and now he wants to go back and do Midnight Oil in Darwin. What a shame.

“He should have been ashamed of what he done to Aboriginal people in Borroloola.”

Midnight Oil to perform in Darwin

Midnight Oil launched the Australian leg of the global tour in Alice Springs on Monday night, and are due to play in Darwin on Wednesday.

Before the Alice Springs concert, Mr Garrett said Oils fans would have to look at him “warts and all” after his nearly decade-long stint in federal politics.

The band played some of their anthems promoting Indigenous land rights and environmental issues, such as Beds Are Burning, Truganini and The Dead Heart.

But the band has now lost at least one fan because of Mr Garrett’s decisions made when he was a minister.

“I really loved Midnight Oil when they first started, but after what he did to this McArthur River I feel no good about him,” Mr Green said.

“I was just hoping that he’d feel shame for what he’d done, but I don’t think he’d feel shame.

He want to come back and prove it to everyone in Australia that he can do something and get away with it.”

Topics: music, arts-and-entertainment, mining-industry, mining-environmental-issues, indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, borroloola-0854, nt

First posted October 03, 2017 16:16:03