Track By Track: Mark Seymour and the Undertow – Mayday

Mark Seymour provides a track by track commentary for his album Mayday.

Author:  Mark Seymour.

Date: 18 May 2015.

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Home Free:
We drive through the Adelaide hills just before midnight. The glow of bush fire looms on the skyline and the radio broadcasts evacuation warnings, interrupted by news out of Canberra. There’s been another leadership spill. Australia, still looking for a decent boss, marks time with gallows humour in the face of natural disaster and a young surfer bleeds to death in the shallow waters of Margaret River. The great liberal experiment lurches on. One of the boys is scrolling through Facebook looking for love, as we pull over for fuel and take away.

Football Train:
Winter on the Peninsula. It’s Saturday and there’s a kid waiting on the platform at Frankston station. The cold wind howls off the bay. Footy trains leave on the half hour. People hug their jackets. Sip take away coffee. Our kid’s a mess. Dirty jeans, blood smeared on his T-shirt, a broken front tooth. Smells of hard liquor and the cold Frankston night. But he’s wearing his colours. Black and Gold. He’s got the full rig. Cap, scarf, Brett Deledio badge. Tigerland is calling from up the track. He’s on the other side of the gate. Problem is, he’s homeless, and even worse, he’s wearing a back pack. Gets questioned. No ticket no ride. He hasn’t got the cash but he flashes his members card.

Two Dollar Punter:
In honour of all who came here by boat…

Irish Breakfast:
Drawn from the poem “Meek and Mild” by Geoff Goodfellow, who grew up in Adelaide nursing his father’s trauma post Tobruk, North Africa, WW2. Dad nursed the bottle. Everybody paid. A generation. And the drinking was supposed to help. It didn’t. Geoff got spat out, a teetotaller. Irish Breakfast. The fragrance of escape. This is for all the working class families who did the nation’s heavy lifting and suffered, off the books.

Courtroom 32:
Originally inspired by anecdotal descriptions of the Pier Hotel Port Hedland, the theme expands to encompass various establishments across the country where, since the dawn of the nation, people have lurked and shirked and otherwise engaged in activities designed to subvert good order and decency. Needless to say, there’s been direct experience as well. Other venues that spring to mind are as follows:

The infamous “Crown and Sceptre,” Adelaide
The Bourbon and Beefsteak, Kings Cross
The Australian Rules Club, Wagga Wagga
Selina’s Coogee Bay
The infamous Burvale Hotel
The Doncaster Inn
The Jet Club, Burleigh Heads
The Twenty-First Century Night Club, Frankston
The Bankstown RSL

To name a few… but of course, the stench of political corruption that has wafted out of New South Wales over the last three years compelled me to compose an allegorical tale to address the gall, entitlement and generally shabby behaviour of the Australian political establishment.. and park it in a pub…

Met a miner in the western desert one night after a show in Onslow. He was 62, lived in Caloundra, been travelling across the country every two weeks for the last seventeen years “to work in this hole” as he put it. I said, “Why don’t you stop?” “Because the money’s too good,” he said.

Carry Me Home:
You can never truly know anyone. The myth of romantic love is delusional and thrives on suffering. There is no such thing as a life lived without secrets. Talk is cheap. We are what we do. Mutual respect is all that counts.

The Philip Island Bridge is jammed with RVs, air-con flat out in the catastrophic heat, full of all the holiday bits, bikes, surfboards stacked on rooves, primus stoves, TVs, portable fridges full of frozen food and more booze than you can fit. Kids yell out of windows, draped in the Ensign of the Southern Cross. Drivers in wrap-arounds lean forward over steering wheels too hot to touch and curse the hold up. Thousands are backed up waiting to get on with the party, put down their roots for twenty four hours, watch the fireworks, toast the nation then nurse the hangover on the way back to where they came from, up the highway, to the other home in the city where they keep all the other bits. A crew of bikers hits the service road. Why wait when you can fly? Harleys roar. Mums and Dads hit the horns. Incensed. Somebody yells “Queue jumper!”

Today there are more homeless people in the world than at any other time in human history. Ordinary men and women like us, dreaming of safety and comfort if not for them then at least for their children, who stand with their parents and know that they are loved by someone, at least for now. Civilisation is turning. We are witnessing a tectonic shift in the movement of people across the earth.

Thirsty Old Men:
About the old blokes who’ve lived. Fully. The ones who learned how to lie and how to love.

In childhood, small things can stay with us that our parents may have overlooked, dismissed or forgotten. A small passing error of judgement may loom large in the eyes of a small child looking down from a thousand feet on the side of the Geehi Wall, seeing for the first time, the fragility of his father. The road isn’t there any more.

Lucky Land:
Imagine seeing a boat full of asylum seekers foundering on a rocky coastline near your home. Would you curse their audacity for trying to get here? Would you call them cheats, criminals or queue jumpers? Or would you wonder what kind of persecution or terror could drive human beings to put their lives at such risk? What kind of living hell are they running from?

Red Flags:
Wages are too high. It should be easier to fire people. Australians get too much annual leave. Really? Theirs is a strong and persistent lobby of corporate interests who publicly argue that when wages fall the economy is moving in the right direction. Well, wages are falling. Hasn’t anybody noticed? What insane logic is it that reducing the capacity of consumers to spend money is good for growth? Everybody is entitled to their fair share of the social contract. /