The earliest memory I’ve been able to drag from the rusting vault is one of me sitting on a bare concrete floor, lit by angled sunlight, while my father painted ‘Cannon’ on the lid of a small, green, moulded-cardboard suitcase.
In my twenties (perhaps thirties — I don’t remember ;-D), I related the scene to my parents. Dad said they purchased the suitcase for our journey from Australia to the UK in nineteen fifty-eight, personalising it for the journey. I would have been a mere two years old, surely too young to be excited enough about that event for it to be retained?
Another memory is of my brother Patrick and I as kids, upstairs in our house in Tunbridge Wells, Kent; laying on our beds with a glow from street and headlights dancing on the ceiling. We’d learned to talk and laugh in hushed tones to avoid a formidable Glaswegian accent booming from down the hallway, ‘Don’t make me come doon there and shut yous two up —’.
We’d play ‘I Spy’ or discuss football, school, football, drawing, football — nothing about girls, specifically: they might have been friends but not much more; it’s true a few had begun to hold a little more of my interest -— but I digress.
Those memories of us waiting for sleep have lingered across the decades.
A few years ago, I recognised the lyrics from the Finn Brothers’ song ‘Disembodied Voices’; a tale of Neil and Tim Finn as youngsters, about the moments between going to bed and falling asleep, as evoking my own memories. I contacted Pat and asked if he’d heard it, he said he had the album (Everyone is Here) and loved the track. Like me, the song reminded him of the younger us in Kent, circa nineteen sixty-eight. ‘One of these days,’ I jested, ‘we’ll get together and sing it ourselves.’ Hardly likely when I live in Tasmania and Patrick, Texas.
Until Kathy and I were invited to Italy for a wedding. ‘Why not,’ we suggested cagily to Pat and his wife, Radonna, during one Skype session, ‘meet us over there for a week. I’ll pre-record the instruments and bring a field microphone so we can record the vocals.’
They initially declined, arguing that it simply was not possible and listed a number of reasons. However, after further consideration and the pulling of a few Lone-Star strings they agreed and, somewhat disbelievingly, a little over a year later we picked them up from Orvieto station one rainy afternoon;
and drove them back to our digs for the week; Podere Montepozzo, an amazing farmhouse a few kilometres from Acquapendente, Lazio.
You can read more about Montepozzo below:
For six days we filled in the gaps of the past decade, drank, ate and laughed heartily;
did an abundance of tourist things;
and didn’t forget to record the vocals for the song, which included a lot of second and third takes — guffawing and carrying on;
When our time in Italia was up, I took the recording back to Tassie, (okay it took a year) mixed the song and created the video clip.
Thanks to Neil and Tim Finn, for your life-inspiring song — and Pat, Radonna, and Kathy (and Miki and Brendan for getting married) — all playing their part to make it happen.