What Are Songs For Mark Seymour?

ABC Brisbane’s Bernadette Young talks to Mark Seymour about songwriting.

Author: Bernadette Young, 612 ABC Brisbane.

Date: 15 June 2011.

Original URL: http://blogs.abc.net.au/queensland/2011/06/what-are-songs-for-mark-seymour.html


Article Text

It’s a good thing Mark Seymour was running an hour late.

While he was in a car feeling like a character in Blade Runner, attempting to duck and weave through gridlocked traffic, I was listening to his new album The Undertow again. And again.

I was drawn to the song Classrooms and Kitchens and a random line in the album notes.

After all the lyrics and the credits there’s a paragraph of random musings. In amongst those musings is this line.

“Then I hear an old man softly singing Danny Boy to his dying wife in the afternoon sun and I ask, “What are songs for?”

As you’ll hear, Classrooms and Kitchens is a song about Mark’s mum and the family’s struggle with losing her to Alzheimer’s.

It would make sense that after so many years in the music business, the former front man for Hunters and Collectors would at times have wondered what songs are for.

Fellow musician Stephen Cummings says of Mark and this new album, “Music is his ‘thing’, despite the fact that means starting the whole sordid business over yet again.”

If it’s so sordid why is Mark Seymour still making music?

“I like playing the songs that’s the main thing.”

What about writing songs?

“Writing songs is just a very nebulous process you’re just dealing with intuition most of the time .. to bring an album to its final stage, it’s all craft and tactics and engineering and argument and discussion and then finally it’s finished and then you put it out there and it all starts again.”

“People’s perception of music is totally subjective and the more I stay in the business the more I’m convinced of that.”

“Regardless of what your intention was, very rarely do you have opinions expressed to you that hit the mark exactly as you imagined they would.”

Mark Seymour and his band The Undertow play at Lonestar Tavern, Mermaid Beach on Saturday, June 18.

His new album The Undertow is available now.