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 Everett True

something I was wrong about

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I’m sometimes asked if I ever change my mind after a review has been published. Yes, I do. Here’s one example.

A while back, I was sent a free download of the the new album from the Melbourne anti-art collective New Waver, Bohemian Suburb Rhapsody. It moved me, but not in the ways that perhaps Greg Wadley – the man behind it – expected (certainly not, considering he’s collaborated with me in the past). I found it laughably, reprehensibly bad: an amateur hour rendition of more sophisticated anti-art collectives such as Negativland and Plunderphonics. I made it an (Anti-) Song of the Day, writing:

Respect due to Mr Wadley. It’s rare that I find music this objectionable – and that is totally a recommendation in itself. I mean, sure it’s culturally subversive. Music this bad, this deliberately, always is.

I’ve changed my mind. Every so often, I compile mix-tapes of my Song of the Day series, collecting together my … uh … Songs of the Day. I threw the New Waver song on one, not sure why – it’s a part tuneless/part Robert Wyatt rendition of The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ with the lyrics amended to reflect rising property values in trendy Melbourne suburbs, sung deadpan. So bad it was bad. Or so I thought. Not subtle at all … some nice piano and tambourine, though. Eight listens in (so my iTunes informs me) and I now find it gently, sweetly endearing: the eternal cry of pain from artists who witness the gentrification of their suburbs happening time and time again, forced out after they’ve helped make the very area so desirable.

Hey dude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad suburb, and make it better
Remember to let it into your heart
We need your art to make it better

Hey dude, don’t be afraid
Move into this low-status neighbourhood
The minute you walk around looking hip
Then you begin to make it better

And every time we raise the rent, hey dude, relent
You carry investments on your shoulders
Enthusiastically organize events
And decorate retail strips with posters

Hey dudes, don’t let us down
We allowed you to rent our suburb
The minute you open up a cafe
You start to drive our house prices upwards

We let it out so you move in, hey dudes, begin
Exhibit your work in this old warehouse
Don’t forget to spread the vibe among your tribe
Then we can convert it to a sharehouse

Hey dude, don’t you delay
Get creative in this old neighbourhood
The minute the area’s looking hip
We’ll throw you out, and rent it to bankers

The device might be familiar – amending lyrics to popular songs for comedic or satirical value – but the execution is far more subtle than I first allowed. And I’ve grown fond of My Wadley’s trembling tones. And I like the fact he cares enough to share. (I think one of the reasons I had such an initial violent reaction was because I really don’t like the original song.) This is a genuine low-spun curiosity, adjacent to Plunderphonics, but really nothing like it. Here, have a video.

And this song could have been written for me – and thousands like me – don’t you think?

I dug the Birthday Party, idolized Nick Cave
Evangelized their music, converted all my mates
The revolution fizzled, working is my fate
They’ve sold us Bad Seeds records ever since on Triple-J

Media I gave you all the best years of my life
Facebook, MySpace, Mess and Noise for several hours a night
I spend my time convincing folk to pay rock stars attention
I can’t afford to rent a room for my record collection

I go to arthouse cinemas several nights a week
I blog about the classics and buy the DVDs
Directors don’t know who I am, or care that I exist
But I defend their work for hours at parties when I’m pissed

Media I gave you all the best years of my life
I tell the world about you on social network sites
When I’m not consuming you, I’m telling others to
And wishing I could hang around the people who make you

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