I just had do an extra blog before bed about Cockatoo Paul – he was amazing! A very interesting, all-ozzie bloke, with a chequered past including two years living on the streets. Incredibly talented musician and song-writer, and passionate about his homeland. His music was foot-stompingly good, with eye-popping didge exertions that provided a ripping base-line rhythm, along with drums and jaw-harp and some spectacular quick-picking guitar playing. I am in awe to be honest. Watching live music in intimate settings like this, and being blown away by the force of someone’s talent is such a pleasure for me.
Cockatoo Paul in full swing.
I also very much enjoyed his philosophy on life. He sometimes descended into stereo-typical ozzie coarse humour for cheap laughs (e.g. a rather amusing, rude version of ‘She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes’ – you can imagine where he went with the lyrics…), but within his set were also some pearls of wisdom, gleaned by someone who has clearly lived a rich and unusual life (for example as well as being homeless and now being a professional musician, he has also worked down the mines and spent time living with aborginals all over the country in order to hone his didgeridoo skills).
I’d like to share two of the pieces of advice that he gave the crowd. Firstly, his parting words, as a life philosophy, were:
“Grab the bull by its horns, bite off more of it than you can chew, and then chew like buggery!” Hear, hear.
Secondly, whilst talking about how he got into music, he advised everyone that, seeing as you’ll spend approximately a third of your life working, you should:
“Find something you like, get good at it, and the money will come.”
That is something I would dearly like to believe in, but I guess that’s the point – you have to believe in something enough to work hard enough at it to become good at it, and it is only then that you reap the rewards.
Also, I felt through his performance that I had finally heard the heartfelt, respectful and passionate apology for the treatment of the aboriginals by the settlers that I had been somehow craving since arriving here. He had written a beautiful song about it, praising their strength and dignity through centuries of ill treatment, and preceded this by stating some horrific facts:
Aboriginals did not get the vote until 1968. The reason for this was because, until this point, they were not included within the national census. Instead, they had been included within the Flora and Fauna Act. Also, it was still legal to hunt aboriginals in the wild for sport in Queensland until as late as 1935. Staggering and totally shameful. I felt grateful to Cockatoo Paul for making efforts to soothe these wounds with his music. I made a number of recordings of him in action but am not sure how to make them accessible to you over the blog. If anyone has any ideas please let me know…