by Dan Morey
Killer set. Loved the “Jingle Bells” cover. You looked like you were having a ton of fun up there. Like a completely crazed, Pixy Stix on Christmas morning kind of fun. Oh, I forgot—you’re from Australia. Pixy Stix is an American candy, basically flavored sugar in straws. When we were kids we’d pour them down our throats and go nuts. No, I don’t think the band was named after the candy. Pixies were great, though. Yeah. Classic. Still can’t get the bassline out of my head. Kim Deal actually sang some backup on Courtney Barnett’s second album. Right. And guitar on “Crippling Self Doubt.” Do you know Courtney Barnett? Yeah, no, I don’t really think everyone in Australia knows Courtney Barnett. But you do hang out with Russell Crowe, right? Of course. When I was in Sydney they told me he was a regular at Harry’s in Woolloomooloo. Isn’t that a great word? It’s my favorite Australian thing to say. Woolloomooloo. That and brekky. So cute. Breakfast is brekky, Christmas is Chrissy, sunglasses are sunnies. It’s really adorable. Sorry, I don’t know why I even brought that up. I hate that kind of lame chatter. Small talk sucks. It’s like that Courtney Barnett song. “Do you have any siblings? I gotta brother (Blake) he’s four years older than me and I guess he always will be.” Love that song. Especially the live version. Her guitar makes me wanna fall into something—a chair maybe—and knock it over. You know? So anyway, Harry’s in Woolloomooloo. Woolloomooloo. Now I can’t stop saying it. Woolloomooloo. I was staying in Potts Point and I climbed down those big stairs to Woolloomooloo at least five times a week to eat Harry’s pies. Huh? Well, I was in town for this festival at Luna Park. And then I just sort of hung around for a while, going to shows and stuff. Doing nothing, really. I spend a lot of my time doin’ a whole lot of nothin’. Right? Anyway, the pies at Harry’s were so good. Curry beef, steak and mushroom… Not very healthy, though. I never saw Russell Crowe there, but if he was eating those pies all the time it’s no wonder he got fat. And I don’t say that to be cruel. I’m not fat-shaming or anything. I think he genuinely enjoys being rotund. And why not? He’s earned it. All those swordfights must’ve been exhausting. Hey bartender, can we get two more? Yeah, PBR me and a Christmas Ale for the lady. Sorry we don’t have VB in Cleveland. Plenty of VD, though. Haw haw. I think I got that punchline from a MASH episode. Do you have MASH in Australia? Lot of STD jokes. Army humor. Well, cheers. And merry Chrissy. And happy Boxing Day. Why didn’t you guys cover “Boxing Day Blues Revisited” tonight? Like a Christmas tree on Boxing Day, thrown away. Yeah. Hey, that reminds me. I was in Melbourne for Christmas one year. Drinking VB at the Hotel Esplanade. Yeah yeah. The Espy. They called me American Dan. There was this bartender in a green elf hat. I only saw her once, but she was so deadpan funny I’ll never forget her. When I paid for my beer with change she renamed me Panhandlin’ Dan. She really got a kick out of that loose change. Years later, when Courtney Barnett got famous, I read about how she used to tend bar in Melbourne. Of course I was totally convinced that Espy bartender who called me Panhandlin’ Dan was Courtney Barnett. She had the same unkempt hair and everything. When I found out Courtney never worked at the Espy I was kind of sad and kind of relieved, too. It sounds weird, but I was worried that I hadn’t made a good impression on Courtney Barnett, and that I might end up as some kind of sad character in one of her songs. Like Billy Joel did to those poor drunks in “Piano Man.” Paul the real estate novelist and all that. What the hell is a real estate novelist, anyway? So yeah, I was relieved, but also bummed that I never actually bought a beer off pre-famous Courtney Barnett. Oh, sure. I used to live in L.A. so I’ve met plenty of famous people. They don’t intimidate me or anything. Like I was in line behind Elijah Wood at the movies in Santa Monica one night. He seemed like a good dude, but maybe that was just a part he was playing: regular guy standing in line. That’s what actors do—pretend to be different people. Who knows what an actor is really like? I’m more into music than movies. Singers, songwriters, they don’t hide behind all those masks. Plus movies are too long…your attention wanders. A good song can hit you right in the gut and totally wreck you in three minutes. So sometimes I do get nervous talking to musicians I like. It’s like there’s all this emotional history between us that they don’t even know about. I just heard your music for the first time tonight and I’m kind of nervous around you already. It’s true. But now imagine me trying to converse with Paul Westerberg, whose words and music I’ve listened to my entire life. A song for every good time and every bad. Or Courtney Barnett. I saw her at the Agora and she played this solo at the end of “Sunday Roast” that isn’t on the record. It was something like pure joy. She felt it, I felt it, everyone in the theater felt it. A sonic hug. Keep on keepin’ on. You know you’re not alone. And when she sang the closing refrain in “Depreston” and the drums fell away and she heard us all singing along and she smiled? Man. My heart was full. Overflowing maybe. Felt the same when Westerberg did “Skyway” at the Odeon. Not alone. But how could you meet Courtney Barnett and tell her all that sentimental slop? It’s too embarrassing. For her too. I’d probably ask her what her favorite pub in Hobart is or something. But I think she’d know what I really meant. As we’re talking about the parmi at the Shamrock Hotel or whatever she’d really be hearing “Thank you for doing what you do, for making existing a hundred times better, and please don’t ever stop.” Westerberg would hear it too. Artists like that, you have to trust their intuition. They’ll know what you’re saying even if you can’t say it, right? Yeah. So where do you play next? Buffalo? Is that a New Year’s Eve show? Cool. I might go if it’s not snowing too bad. But hey. Can you sign my album? When you start headlining, I wanna tell people I knew you before you were famous. And if you ever feel like writing a song about me, go ahead. Just promise you’ll be kind, okay?
Dan Morey is a freelance writer based in Pennsylvania. His creative work has appeared in Hobart, Johnny America, DASH, Airplane Reading and elsewhere. Find him at danmorey.weebly.com.
Photo original: Muneeb Syed/Unsplash