Songs played at Mum’s funeral:
O Mio Babbino Caro – Puccini (performed by Yvonne Kenny)
Into My Arms – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
My Girl Lollypop – Bad Manners
Flame Trees – Sarah Blasko
Protons, Neutrons, Electrons – The Cat Empire
My mother had a piece of cut glass in the shape of a half moon that hung from the rear vision mirror in her car. When she passed away, I put it in my car, where it has hung for thirteen years. I’m surrounded by the ephemera of her life. I have an old brooch pinned to my denim jacket, I put a new leather band on her old watch, and even my cursive handwriting loops and curls in ways reminiscent of hers.
While she was alive, Mum and my taste in music never matched, but over the past thirteen years they’ve converged. I would have loved to have heard her opinion on the brand new album from boygenius, or countless others in the preceding years. Instead, I decided this week to relisten to The Overture & The Underscore by Sarah Blasko. It’s an album that she loved, and one that has never been released on vinyl either.
Ian Moss of Cold Chisel wrote, “Who needs that sentimental bullshit, anyway?/ You know it takes more than just a memory to make me cry”.
Blasko’s cover of ‘Flame Trees’ was never on the CD version of her album, but was added onto the Spotify release as the last track. It’s sparse, melancholic and beautiful, much more in line with the way Moss imagined the song than the way Jimmy Barnes sang it. The lyrics are a lie too; memories do make you cry. I cried a lot re-listening to this album, but it was cathartic and lovely.
Listening to the whole thing through for the first time in forever, I couldn’t help but think that Blasko’s career came twenty years early. ‘Don’t U Eva’ is an excellent song for instance, and would shoot to the top of any curated Spotify playlist of contemplative indie music if it was released today. I think that would make my Mum really happy.
Driving home today the half moon crystal jerked on its thread and broke. It was in bad shape; years of driving over speed bumps had seen a few chips taken out of it as it collided with the windscreen. This time the crack was in the wrong spot and it’s beyond repair. I was sad at first but the more I think about it, the more I think it suits where I am with my grief now. When you clutter up your life with such transient, fragile things as cut glass, there’s no room to move or grow into anything else. I love my Mum and I always will — with or without a pretty piece of glass.
That’s why music is so important. The flotsam and jetsam of a life cut short can tell you a little bit about a person, but the books they read, the food they ate, the music they listened to shines a light on who they were. Sarah Blasko has had a long and successful Australian career, so it’s a wonder that she hasn’t released this album on vinyl just yet. She probably will. The 20th anniversary is next year, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a coloured vinyl with all the bells and whistles is released. Decluttering my life is an act of healing, but to have a copy of this album would be great too.