Music

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On the phone with PC

A sort of interview with PC

In November 2022 I did a phone interview with Adam Stokeld of Highlands FM – a promo for an upcoming show. We covered a lot of territory but this short video picks up the bits that help explain where my music comes from and why it takes the form it does.

Waited Too Long

Words/Music © Peter D Campbell, Moss Vale 2020

A recent song, triggered by unprecedented drought and devastating bushfires in Australia and then, in 2020, the social dislocation, financial trauma and the rise of domestic violence with the arrival of COVID-19, became the anthem for the United Nations International Summit on Domestic/Family Violence in the COVID-19 Era. This was a three day online conference out of New York, attended by hundreds of experts and leaders in the field, translated into 6 languages, and opened by the Pope. The anthem was a powerful addition to the Summit and was played 4-5 times a day.

Even before he got the key in the door,
She could barely gather the will to keep going.
He comes in, and everything gets under his skin,
Can she guess which way the wind’s blowing?
The shame, and the bruises, everyone loses
Go grab some memories before they’re all gone
She waited for a change in the wind, for rain,
For angels with miracles and song.

She waited too long

Just after the lockdown, COVID crushed their resolve,
And all their dreams disappeared with his wages.
Alone with a daughter, every lesson he taught her
A little wisdom for the world that she faces.
But there, so shattered and lost, every line that got crossed
Fed their fear and their anger, and left them alone
They waited for courage, waited for a reason to care
When they knew they couldn’t keep on.

Too long, they waited too long
The moment calls, then it moves on
Hesitate and it’s gone
How long is too long, is too long?

Just when her heart was done with its heaving,
And her nightmare rolled off her, and settled
There was a flicker of hope through the pain, in the dark,
She seized it, a fist full of nettles.
Crept to the cradle, the helpless tangle of sleep,
Took her up, love so tender and strong
She waited for silence, waited for their moment to run…
Was she right? Was she wrong?

Too long, she waited too long
The moment calls, then it moves on
Hesitate and it’s gone
How long is too long is too long?

They wouldn’t even know he was there, at the top of the stair
All his four year old fears were forbidden.
Learned not to weep, just rocked himself off to sleep
Learned what to show them and just what to keep hidden.
The eyes that see nothing see everything breaking
See the trampled, the trapped and the torn
He waited for an end to his aching, an end to the shaking
For the reason why he ever was born.

Too long, we waited too long
The moment calls, then it moves on
Hesitate and it’s gone
How long is too long is too long is too long is too long?
How long is too long is too long?

© Peter Campbell
Moss Vale 2020

Pushing 40

Words/Music © Peter D Campbell, Sydney, 1989, Moss Vale 2021

Who’s the old guy up there? Here’s proof that 73 is the new 39.

Eighteen to twenty one, restless water,
twenty one to thirty filled with sons and a daughter.
And then the years of thirty something broke and taught me,
there’s something to be said for pushing forty.

Now some think life’s a boulder you’ve got to roll up hill,
Just the thought of growing older’s enough to kill ’em!
I’m going to roll this rock around like no-one thought I could,
and oh, it’s looking good, pushing forty.

I’m needing reading glasses and my elbow’s gammy.
I’ve traded in my hairbrush for a chamois!
Watching what I’m eating, nothing naughty
I’m not taking any chances pushing forty.

I’ve got the troubled years behind, my love beside me,
she’s brought a cherishing those early years denied me.
I was beaten, going crazy when she caught me
But now I’m stronger by the day pushing forty.

We’re all through with baby-sitters and safety pins.
But now we panel-beat the car and hide the gin!
And though it’s easier to count the scars that tougher times have brought,
we try to count upon a wisdom that all the good and bad have taught.

Eighteen to twenty one, restless water,
twenty one to thirty filled with sons and a daughter.
And then the years of thirty something broke and taught me,
there’s something to be said for pushing forty.

You never know if you’ll survive but when that day arrived,
it’s was good to be alive, at 45!
Might have liked a little more, but the only certainty I saw
was that nothing is for sure, at 54
We all struggle up this mountain, the higher we climb, the less we’re counting,
Maybe it’s true that youth is wasted on the young.
But we just live the lives we’re given, sometimes we walk, sometimes we’re driven
we’re happy either way, at 67

If it was all left up to me,
I’d stop the count at thirty three..
And if you’re wondering, I’m doing fine
Age adds value, it’s just a state of mind|
The older I get, the better I used to be..
So then just when you’re having fun,
and they come to tell you your song is done
Just wave and say goodbye,
and tell them hi from me.

© Peter Campbell
Sydney 1989 / Moss Vale 2020

Different Drum

Words/Music © Peter D Campbell, Moss Vale 2019

Different Drum was written for my wife Jan. It’s a ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ story about a strong woman who had the guts to make something great from some doubtful ingredients.

Who is this kid, all blond and ribbons in her hair?
And these children round her knees? Too young to know or care
Is it love, or is it duty in that stare?
It took a worried conversation to re-imagine those teenage plans
But it set the woman free to turn, and grab her life with both her hands
In shock, and barely breathing as her world expands.

Another place, a different drum
What might this become?

Alone and free, for maybe half a minute
Until her moment catches her up, and she’s right there in it
Holding steady, she’s ripe and ready to begin it
But a day becomes a decade and leaves her spinning her wheels
And the circle comes around, there’s love and duty in a baby’s squeals
And she’s caught between the way she thinks and the way she feels.

Another face, a different drum,
What might she become?

Who’s this at the back door with his life in flames?
Does she hose him down and listen, or let him wait until it rains?
I was there with all my anger, my confusion and my shame
She got me sad and burned and broken, but she took me just the same.

Look at these eyes, all blue and shining through her fears
They can see the shape of a human heart, but then she calls it for what it is
Could be a gift, or it could be trouble, but that’s the drum she hears
It’s wild and warm and willful, restless and real
It beats with the hope in her heart, and the love it reveals
And it lives as it learns as it gives as it yearns as it heals.

A little grace, a different drum,
See what she’s become.
A little grace

© Peter Campbell
Moss Vale 2019

Circle of Wonder

Words/Music © Peter D Campbell, Moss Vale 2021

At about 7 o’clock on the evening of the 4th of January 2020, I was standing on the deck of our home in Moss Vale transfixed by a towering pyro-cumulous cloud rising over the Morton National Park. It came to me as a massive hammer swinging back, ready to shatter the worlds underneath it – which it then did. I photographed it with a sense of dread for the lives and livelihoods of the people in its way, particularly the communities of Bundanoon, Wingello, Penrose, Exeter.. Moss Vale maybe – knowing what happened to communities at the other end of our beautiful Southern Highlands – Bargo, Buxton and Balmoral. Some months later I was commissioned to design a book of photographs and stories taken by our communities during those grim weeks. The book, PhotoVoice: Renewal & Resilience, is a powerful document of a terrible time, but one that brought out the best in people. As I worked on it the idea for this song came to me. I wanted to acknowledge the savage beauty of the fires, the anguish of fear and loss, but also the deep connections made, the bonds forged and the overwhelming kindness shown in those moments of grief. I imagined the community gathering, telling the stories, weeping and laughing together, drawing close and remembering.. gracious and tender, a circle of wonder, a circle of friends. If you would like to purchase PhotoVoice it is available for purchase in the SHOP

First you smell it in the air
Then you see it raise its hammer and swing it back.
The crushing dread under that thunderhead
With the wind and fire conspiring to attack.
We saw it turn and find you,
Heard it howl, and felt it fall
When that hammer fell on you that day
Its shadow fell on us all..

Ah.. circle of wonder
Circle of story, circle of laughter and hope to the end.
Take my hand, take the time to remember
Gracious and tender, circle of wonder, circle of friends

In the thrall of a savage beauty
A hail of embers like shooting stars
The mountain’s blazing surrender
Ash and feathers wild in a crimson sky
Treasures wrapped in tears and panic
A suitcase loaded down with grief
Driving blind through the dark and the terror
That summer was a killer and a thief.

But ah.. circle of wonder
Circle of story, circle of laughter and hope to the end.
Take my hand, take the time to remember

Gracious and tender, circle of wonder, circle of friends

For some it was just the gates or the garden,
The sheds or the orchard by the time it was done.
For others, home and all the memories
For just a few, a husband or a son.
A village followed its heart and found them..
Felt their pain, and heard their cry
Drew a circle tight around them
Hand in hand, arm in arm, eye to eye..

Ah.. circle of wonder
Circle of story, circle of laughter and hope to the end.
Take my hand, take the time to remember
Gracious and tender, circle of wonder

Ah.. circle of wonder
Circle of story, circle of laughter and hope to the end.
Take my hand, take the time to remember
Gracious and tender, circle of wonder, circle of friends
Circle of wonder, circle of laughter, circle of friends.

© Peter Campbell
Moss Vale 2021

 

Hot Water

Words/Music © Peter D Campbell, Sydney August 1980

Creative people often find themselves challenging the status quo.. I’ve found myself getting into trouble for telling it like it is. The song says ‘hot water keeps a body clean’.. says it all!

I’m jumping right back into hot water,
maybe I’ll step a little out of order,
but I don’t want it cold, don’t want it in between
Hot water keeps a body clean.

You got a greedy heart, they say that doesn’t matter,
you got a brain and you got style you got the top of the ladder.
You got the world at your feet if you’ve got the nerve
Well we may never get exactly what we desire,
but we will get exactly what we deserve!

I’m jumping right back into hot water,
maybe I’ll step a little out of order,
but I don’t want it cold, don’t want it in between
Hot water keeps a body clean.

You got a great big smile, you got a sweet disposition.
You got stickers on your bumper, you’re a man with a mission.
You’re making promises, promises but you’re worrying me
Youll trust the AMP for your security
and then youll trust a lollipop to set you free!

I’m jumping right back into hot water,
maybe I’ll step a little out of order,
but I don’t want it cold, don’t want it in between
Hot water keeps a body clean.

You got your conscience trained, you’re hanging onto your treasure.
Why put off till tomorrow what you can put off for ever?
You can invest in the rich, you can invest in the poor
You’re following your heart one way or the other,
but do you really know what your heart is searching for?

I’m jumping,
I’m jumping,
I’m jumping,
I’m jumping right back into hot water,
maybe I’ll step a little out of order,
but I don’t want it cold, don’t want it in between
Hot water keeps a body, hot water keeps a body, hot water keeps a body clean.

© Peter Campbell
Sydney 1980

Interviews

Interview with Adam Stokeld – Highland FM. 24 November 2022

Interview with Adam Stokeld – Highland FM. With Bow Campbell and Brian Rapsey. 10 February 2023

Interterview with Maisy Stapleton, Part 1 – Eastside Arts podcast. 22 August, 2022

Interterview with Maisy Stapleton, Part – Eastside Arts podcast. 22 August, 2022

Just Listen

Hot Water

Words/Music © Peter Campbell, Armidale 1980

The chorus says:

I’m jumping right back into hot water
Maybe I’ll step a little out of order
Don’t want it cold, don’t want it in between
Hot water keeps a body clean.

Says it all really. Mike Haughton is playing flute on this version recorded live in Sydney in 1983.

I’m jumping right back into hot water,
maybe I’ll step a little out of order,
but I don’t want it cold, don’t want it in between
Hot water keeps a body clean.

You got a greedy heart, they say that doesn’t matter,
you got a brain and you got style you got the top of the ladder.
You got the world at your feet if you’ve got the nerve
Well we may never get exactly what we desire,
but we will get exactly what we deserve!

I’m jumping right back into hot water,
maybe I’ll step a little out of order,
but I don’t want it cold, don’t want it in between
Hot water keeps a body clean.

You got a great big smile, you got a sweet disposition.
You got stickers on your bumper, you’re a man with a mission.
You’re making promises, promises but you’re worrying me
Youll trust the AMP for your security
and then youll trust a lollipop to set you free!

I’m jumping right back into hot water,
maybe I’ll step a little out of order,
but I don’t want it cold, don’t want it in between
Hot water keeps a body clean.

You got your conscience trained, you’re hanging onto your treasure.
Why put off till tomorrow what you can put off for ever?
You can invest in the rich, you can invest in the poor
You’re following your heart one way or the other,
but do you really know what your heart is searching for?

I’m jumping,
I’m jumping,
I’m jumping,
I’m jumping right back into hot water,
maybe I’ll step a little out of order,
but I don’t want it cold, don’t want it in between
Hot water keeps a body, hot water keeps a body, hot water keeps a body clean.

© Peter Campbell
Sydney 1980

It’s all over now Baby Blue

Words/Music © Bob Dylan

I’ve been singing It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue for over 50 years. It was written by Bob Dylan and appeared on his 1965 album ‘Bringing It All Back Home’. The song was recorded on January 15, 1965, with Dylan’s acoustic guitar and harmonica and William E. Lee’s bass guitar the only instrumentation. The lyrics were heavily influenced by Symbolist poetry and the song is as much about new beginnings as it is about endings. This version was recorded at a live concert in Sydney in January 1983 with Mike Haughton on flute.

Blue Hill

Words/Music © Peter Campbell, Blue Hill Maine USA 1979

In 1979 I was invited to record in the US by Noel Paul Stookey (the Paul in Peter, Paul & Mary). Travelling and performing across the States with a family of 6 was gruelling but exciting time which ended up in Noel’s home town of Blue Hill in the state of Maine. The family lived in a cottage across the duck pond from Noel’s house while I was recording in his ‘Hen House’ studio and singing around the state at festivals and events. The song was written in the last days of that time.. I was pretty sad to leave!

The turning green of autumn’s patchwork apron round the bay,
her ribbons falling soft along the shorelines.
Weathered board and shingle through the pinewoodâ
and low across the water’s silver, shaken through the birches, sunlight shines.

And beckoned to, these strangers, through New England’s season
climbed among the ragged blue, the wild and knotted coves
and then the moody greys and greens of evening,
to drift into October’s changes, gathering to warm before your stoves.

We long for the snow to fly, but the sun shines still
though older hands all promise that it will!
And in my dream I see them, my children with their hats pulled,
and snowmen down below the old Blue Hill.

And distance turns to trusting, and the first and awkward smiles
into the loving and the giving of embrace.
Hand to hand and heart in heart’s communion, tables laid with candles bright and joyous
in the light of friendship’s face.

And the nights of wine, and music’s gentle honesty
the forgiveness and discovery of caring.
The sunshine Seagull breakfast in the morning
Oh those ladies and gentlemen, the closeness and the love time given brings.

And now the barns have filled, and it’s time for splitting wood.
I would split some of our own if you think I should.
And though this journey’s growing older, and though the nights are growing colder,
we would stay a little longer if we could.

The turning green of autumn’s patchwork apron round the bay,
her ribbons falling soft along the shorelines.
Weathered board and shingle through the pinewood
and low across the waters silver, shaken through the birches, sunlight shines.

© Peter Campbell
1979 Blue Hill, Maine USA

Across The Border

Words/Music © Peter Campbell, Sydney 1977

I wrote this song in 1977.. pondering the Christian story of the crucifixion.

There’s a road that I’ve been walking
since I joined up with this sad
and helpless company.
And now it’s taken years enough
to hear the sounds,
of this day ending.
They’ve been turning in upon me for direction,
and the love that brought them sanity.
And in the east the golden city screams
but on the road alone
on the road alone my heart is breaking.

Stony night and moonlight cracks the grey
behind the hillside’s dusty warning.
Olive green the grove,
and dark the curse I hold more dearly than my living.
Slow the drummer heart beats
like the heavy feet of fears together banded,
and the shadow moves to shadow,
to the rock and to the kiss
the shadows won’t be leaving empty handed.

‘Take the man!
Take no chances
take him by surprise
the troublemaker!’
The taking by surprise is no surprise
but no release
it’s my own order.
Close the eye that knows
and nail the hands that give,
the feet that walk the water.
This is the end,
the threshold
the cracking of the night.
Putting sorrow down
and coming back across the border.
Back across the border.

Alleluia!

© Peter Campbell
Sydney 1977

Deep River Blues

Words/Music by Arthel (D0c) Watson. Lyrics © Hillgreen, Music, Stormking Music Inc

Deep River Blues is often attributed to Doc Watson who released it in about 1964. It’s based on a song by Alton and Rabon Delmore called I’ve Got Them Big River Blues, and their version was recorded in 1933. It was probably inspired by a cataclysmic flood along the lower Mississippi River – The Great Flood of 1927 is still recognised as one of the worst natural disasters in American history leaving a trail of loss and damage through at least ten states. Mike Haughton is playing flute on this version recorded live in Sydney in 1983.

If Love Has Its Way

Words/Music © Peter Campbell, Sydney 1980

Sometimes we wonder what might happen if we get out of the way and let love take its course

If love had its way with me
if love had its way with me.
If right from the start of me,
love had had its part of me,
if love’d had the heart of me,
if love’d had its way

It could have taken foolish childhood’s
tangled mysteries aside,
to weave a tapestry of rich and subtle promises
that would some day be untied.
Has it tried in me,
and been denied in me?
If love’d had its way

If love has its way with me
if love has its way with me.
If here in the dark of me,
love makes its mark on me
if love lights a spark in me,
if love has its way

It can free this restless passion
from desire’s golden thorns.
And meet the weeping heart’s embrace
with endless vision,
when all my vision’s gone.
Has it drawn to me,
and been stillborn in me?
If love has its way.

So I will take these threads
that life has left me with,
and I will bind them round the dreams
that time has blessed me with.
And holding my future and my past,
I will cast myself adrift upon this sea,
completed in the love that flows around me.

If love had its way with me
if love has its way with me.
If love can depend on me
for what love might intend for me
til love calls an end to me
as love has its way

It will lead hope’s dying hands
to where faith’s healing waters have always run.
And overflow the ageing heart
as the tapestry comes undone.

What has been won in me?
What has begun in me?
When love has its way,
When love has its way,
If love has its way.

© Peter Campbell
Sydney 1980

One Last Wild River

Words/Music © Peter Campbell, Perisher Valley 1982

This song was written in 1982 as protesters and environmental activists led a campaign to stop the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania. My musical response touched many hearts and was taken up by the campaign as one of the anthems in the fight. The action saved a key wilderness area and raised awareness of environmental issues around the globe. The political success of the environmental groups involved eventually led to the formation of the Greens, now Australia’s third most popular political party.

South and west you travel slow the island.
Her highland cold and lonely faces
weep their endless tears and fear tomorrow.
Below them still Hermione fills and overflows,
and rocks the child until it slips
and falls beyond her fingertips
down its lifetime tortured highway,
fast and torn its reckless road will follow.

One last wild river going down.
Shallow tears just hurry on her drowning.
Is there nothing can deliver
this tired and old life-giver?
One last wild river going down.

The fall through time, the dizzy senses reeling.
The kneeling pines, the raining forest
mist the hidden valley’s deep horizon.
Sassafras to leatherwood entangling,
and the myrtle to the creeping green
that hang and twist their arms between the rocks,
around the giant trunk,
to curl and swoop across the swirling sky.

One last wild river going down.
Shallow tears just hurry on her drowning.
Is there nothing can deliver
this tired and old life-giver?
One last wild river going down,
Going down, going down.

The churning silver race, the rapids thunder.
Underneath cathedral walls
her tumbling free and haunted hymns are singing.
Down and down, creation’s wild communion
sip the wine, taste the curse,
the bitter truth, the lonley thirst
for wisdom here, the wilderness without the wounds
the touch of man is bringing.

Who cannot hear these rivers helpless voices?
And who will give the choice away
to men with interests vested in destruction?
Dam the flow, you damn the flowing future
half the truth is half the lie,
we cannot make this sacrifice,
their power will take it from you,
with this sacrifice, there is no resurrection!

One last wild river going down.
Shallow tears just hurry on her drowning.
Is there nothing can deliver
this tired and old life-giver?
One last wild river going down,

Going down, going down.

© Peter Campbell
Perisher Valley 1982