Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to be asked to contribute a poem for a very good friend's record. Kaurna is someone whom I have travelled all over the world with and with whom I've shared some of the best and worst experiences with -- if these (the poles of 'best' and 'worst') are the only ones we remember, then it is no wonder that experiences I have had travelling and playing music with Kaurna are at the forefront of my consciousness.
We travelled across Australia countless times, first driving together and busking on the streets, then bigger concerts and flights inevitably followed. We travelled overseas together, following a similar trajectory from the concerts in streets to concerts more frequently indoors. We found ourselves in situations that I would never have approached with the same confidence and open-mindedness had it not been for his friendship -- meeting new people and being confronted with unique problems ('opportunities for new solutions' he would have called them at the time).
Whilst no longer travelling as much (ironically I'm writing this from Sydney, where I am researching at the moment) I reflect upon those years we spent as touring musicians together (he of course is still touring -- more frequently and successfully, in fact than ever!) as being as much about the travel as they were about the music. So much of Kaurna's music, as an extension of his very considerate and self-reflexive personality, has come to be an expression of his life on the road, and his concerts, which are an opportunity for him to speak candidly with a new audience every night, invariably become an opportunity for him to share more tales from the road. In this way, the travel and the music, the music and the travel have become so wonderfully intertwined, that they are now impossible to separate.
In a way, I think we have attained a similar inextricable quality to our friendship, through the celebration of our shared experience, in spite of the many months of the year we go without seeing one another (he recently completed a 100 date tour of Europe). The following poem then, is my celebration of those experiences we had together. It is also a gesture of support to encourage anyone who finds themselves in the hysteria of travelling to keep going, to stay present and to always be moving forward (the command of the super-ego of 'so what next?').
I wrote the poem on a bus in Myanmar with the lyrics from Kaurna's album open on one screen and my notebook on the seat next to me which contained some quick maxims that I had stumbled across whilst being away from home. Most of them were in this very commanding voice -- Don't stop, Keep going, Pay attention -- and for better or for worse, these found their way into the poem, along with riffs on Kaurna's own writing and some ideas that he and I had spent years mulling over.
The poem 'Euphoria, Delirium & Loneliness' appears on the inside sleeve of the album and the album is available digitally, on CD or vinyl at www.kaurnacronin.com
'Euphoria, Delirium & Loneliness'
it begins in the untold darkness
we could be anywhere in the world / it begins
as soon as you close your eyes and start listening
this is your first task from now on:
take a picture of every bed you sleep in
just before you get into it (why not?)
start collecting things / objects
matches coasters ticket stubs
things that will remind you
it was real / and put them
in a box marked 'for when I’m getting comfortable'
find a friend who likes railway stations
but not necessarily trains
find a calendar that leafs through itself
remember love is supposed to free us
but too often it is used as an argument for staying put
& sure / there are things we can't leave behind
these are familiar shadows
that play on an unfamiliar wall
just like how the stars are different here
you know them but not what they mean
we miss all of their mythology in the translation
hell / be someone completely different if you want
we’re all strangers here or why not have a test run
at being yourself? experiment
'is this coherent?' 'what about this?'
it begins when the globe stops spinning
& you lift your finger up to see where you have landed.