Mark J. Keenan
WRITER, TRAIL-RUNNER, ENGINEER, HUMAN
A journey through my music collection.
This is where I share stories about music which has impacted me. If you would like to listen to the music as you read, you can use the playlist below.
This additional playlist has been created as a collection of music intended to promote understanding, inspire hope, build empathy, craft love, support humanity, and help to create long-lasting change through the fulfillment of the requests provided by the people of our First Nations in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. If you have any suggestions for additions to this playlist, please contact me.
Although Business As Usual was the first album I bought with my own money, it would have to be Meet Us inside, a Spy vs Spy EP, brought in at special request to my local record store, which set the course of my life.
I have written about the Spies before, what they mean to me, how they influenced my life. For those who knew me in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, it would be impossible to have been unaware of my dedication to the band. I wore only Spies t-shirts; I listened to them constantly; and I went to see them live at multiple venues whenever they toured Perth.
My favourite song has to be 'One Of A Kind' since it’s where it all started, but I have to also mention two of my favourite “spoken word” segments by Mike Weiley. Not only because they are they lyrically gold, but because I’ve definitely felt like both these statements have applied to me in the past.
‘I’m being used as a shovel to dig someone out of a jam.’
(Mugshot, Spy V Spy)
‘My mind feels like a bucket of wet sand.’
(Mugshot, Spy V Spy)
“Ah, it’s time to relax.’
And I know what that means…..yep, Smash, the third album by The Offspring.
Released two days before my first child was born, this album was on constant replay during my little girl’s first few months of life.
It’s a cracker of a release.
Of course, some might argue, thematically and lyrically, it’s not really suitable for infant ears. To them I would say, “lean back and just enjoy the melodies.”
Last week, I went to the Perth Concert Hall with Karen, where we saw an incredible solo (mostly) performance by John Butler.
At the concert, John talked about he’d never imagined being onstage when he’d first visited back in 1991 and watched the Violent Femmes - at that time he would have been 17.
As a result, I got to talking to Karen about how I saw my second ever live gig at the Perth Concert Hall. I was also 17. Only, I went to see Robert Cray. I reckon there were a lot more 17 year olds at the Femmes show than Robert Cray, but there were a few of us.
One of those 17 year olds, by coincidence, contacted me this week, nearly 34 years after we went to the gig together. We hadn't been in touch in more than three decades.
I have been listening to Robert Cray, on and off, since I got his message; enjoying his blues guitar magnificence, and relishing the wonders of music and human connection over time.
🧡Robert Cray, along with Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, and Jimmie Vaughan, were the last people to play music with Stevie Ray Vaughan.
On the 3rd January, 2019, my wife and I went to see Neil Murray at Ronnie Nights in Fremantle. A teeny-tiny venue, upstairs from the main bar, with a step-up stage, two armchairs on one side, a couch against the wall, and a couple of upturned milk crates in front of the stage. There were around thirty people in the room and we stood behind the armchairs, stage right, a couple of metres from the microphone stand.
From the time he walked on stage to when he left and walked up to the bar at the back of the room, I was mesmerised. Neil is an incredible story-teller, singer and guitarist, and he captivated everyone in the room with his gentle nature, authenticity and humility.
Calm and Crystal Clear is my favourite song. And I don't mean my favourite Neil Murray song, I mean my favourite song. Period. It has resonated with me, grounded me, comforted me, since I first heard it in 1989. And, even though the meaning to me at fifty one is clearly different to when I was nineteen, I believe it will always be so.
📷Karen gave me this book, Songs of Neil Murray, for our 26th wedding anniversary, a couple of weeks after the gig. It is a treasure.
🎶Warumpi Band, My Island Home
When I was 15, I thought Charlie Sexton’s song Beat’s So Lonely was awesome. Now I’m 51 and I still think it’s awesome.
Unfortunately, since it’s not available on the streaming app I use, the only way I have to listen to it is playing it on this 36 year old cassette tape (which, as you can imagine, no longer sounds quite right) or watching the clip online.
Fortunately, the clip hasn’t aged and Charlie still looks totally cool with his rolled sleeves, dangly earring, wristful of bracelets and bangles, and, of course, his epic hair.
Trivia: The second track on the album is Impressed. Also a great song and later recorded by Tonio K, a friend of Charlie. Check his tunes out too.