About Livin' ina Aucklan'
Project 2013-09-15 22:04:19 +1200
Livin' ina Aucklan' front cover
This project involves the recording and manufacture of a CD of songs based on one of Michael O'Leary's books of poetry. Above is the cover art work by Michael O'Leary which includes a photo of him working on a night shift job grinding concrete on Auckland's main street, Queen Street. Below is the drawing for the back cover of the CD plus some of O'Leary's previous CD and poetry book covers. This will be the fourth such CD and he has gathered 6 plus musicians and singers who are all previously recorded performers as well as being seasoned live audience performers. The CD will be made up of 10 songs and are of varying styles from reggae to jazz to folk and rock, and includes a poem sung in the style of a Maori lament. Each song is about travelling around various parts of Auckland evoking the people and cityscape. The budget is based on O'Leary's last CD - Fences Fall (available on iTunes if you want to get an idea of the lyrics he writes plus some performances on YouTube at the concert which launched the CD, see youTube performance by Kayte Edwards above) - which cost $10,000 all up, including a glass master for 500 copies. The budget takes into account the fact that for a reward to pledgeme participants it is planned to offer a CD which includes a lyric booklet signed by Michael O'Leary plus other rewards.
Some comments on Livin' ina Aucklan' (the book)
This is largely an anthology of older poems, tied together by the final long piece written some twenty years later, which really is the lynch pin of the whole collection - tying together the disparate fragments, casting a shadow that throws the older works into vivid 3d, and also showcases the poet's development - there's a much stronger sense of rhythm to my ear, and a really clever turn of phrase.
I know that as an outsider I was missing layers of history and association that would resonate with Aucklanders, but O'Leary's love for the city is unmistakable.
collection is summed up in the title poem: "Romance is not confined to the
Orient Express/ and Mount Albert is as important as Montmatre/ if you live
Livin' ina Aucklan' is a love letter to the city. The collection is divided geographically and places are named (The Eden Terrace Factory, Penrose Railway Station, Grafton Graveyard), giving them a recognition and a power which must've been revolutionary when the collection was first published.
Livin' ina Aucklan' is a second edition. The first was published on paper, back in what I like to call 'the olden days.' Back in 1987, we were still enjoying synthesisers and the cultural cringe, and ereaders were the stuff of science fiction. Despite its impressive vintage, Livin' ina Aucklan' still felt relevant, and much of the city is very recognisable. The North Shore's Torbay is depicted as white and Remuera as rich. O'Leary spends much of the collection on buses and trains, getting from one side of the city to the other. But other parts of Auckland all but unrecognisable. The mention of factories threw me - it shows both how far Auckland has come and how limited my experience of it really is.
II enjoyed Livin' ina Aucklan' - I'd recommend it to all Aucklanders.
Some comments on Fences Fall (2011 CD)
by Michael O'Leary
After four decades of friendship, I thought Michael O'Leary had exhausted his capacity to surprise me. But Fences Fall is wonderful in ways I didn't expect. It's not just that the poignancy of Michael's lyrics words strikes me afresh when heard from a range of fine voices, the album really works in musical as well as literary terms. O"Leary backed with cello and sousaphone. Who would have thought that would work? But it's magic!
Iain Sharp (reviewer for Metro Magazine)
"Stunning tracks energised by O'Leary's great lines. Take it neat or take it on the road."
Michael Gifkins (New Zealand literary agent)
The track "I am a poet" is masterful, brilliant! . . . So too the other tracks. Congratulations -- you pass the audition.
Peter Olds (New Zealand poet)
Back cover for Livin’ ina Aucklan’ CD
This cover of O'Leary's 2002 selected poems was also the cover photograph of his CD of the same name: Toku Tinihanga
Cover of O'Leary's recent CD Paneta Street
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Below are the song titles from the album and a short bio of each artist involved:
Songs for Livin’ ina Aucklan’ CD
1) The Craic, the Kai, and the Whiskey
2) Morningside Station
3) Torbay, Torbay, Torbay
4) Old Ivan’s Café
5) Rock and Cave
8) Okahu Bay
9) Livin’ ina Aucklan’
10) Tom Waits for No-one
Michael O’Leary is a leading New Zealand writer who has written 20 books of poetry and fiction. Livin’ ina Aucklan’ is the 5th CD for which he has collaborated with musicians using his lyrics. He is a Writer Member with APRA. For more details: http://michaeloleary.wordpress.com
Gilbert Haisman is a jazz and silent movie pianist who performs with various singers and instrumentalists and in his own show, Hallelujah Bananas. He appeared on Michael O’Leary’s 2011 CD ‘Fences Fall’.
Francis Mills (guitar & vocals)is a singer-songwriter who regularly appears at Danilo Blaza’s Open Mic Nights, Paekakariki. Francis appeared on Michael O’Leary’s 2011 CD ‘Fences Fall’.
Brian Romeril (guitar & vocals) is a composer and saxophonist, often featured on Radio New Zealand, who is currently working on his third CD. He is a Writer Full Member with APRA and recipient of a Kapiti Arts Award. Brian appeared on Michael O’Leary’s 2011 CD ‘Fences Fall’.
Sean O’Leary (guitar & backing vocals) is a songwriter, singer and guitarist: he is the founder and main creative force of the alt rock/indie band ‘Sugarbug’ who recently released their CD ‘Flutterby’ on Powertool Records to critical acclaim.
Hilda Prasad (vocals)
Meg Prasad (vocals)
Other musicians appearing on Livin’ ina Aucklan’
Mark Te One (lead guitar)
Michelle Scullion (flutes)
Paul Riley (drums) played with Fleetwood Mac in the 1970s
The People Behind Livin' ina Aucklan'
I am a poet, novelist, artist, performer, bookshop proprietor and sometime academic who has been inspired by music and musicians most of my life, beginning with the Beatles and the other music of the 1960's, in particular the lyrics of the songs. I have a PhD in Women's Studies for which I wrote a thesis on women writers in New Zealand from 1945 to 1970. I was born in 1950 and grew up in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, and I have lived in other parts of the country and been inspired by the landscape, the cityscapes and the people who have been part of my life. I have done a wide variety of work including working on the track gang for the railways, drainlaying and several other labouring jobs, I have also worked in offices, been a researcher and writer for government projects, taught creative writing and I have my own publishing company and book shop. I have written and published 5 novels, ten books of poetry and have done live performances throughout the country. I have 3 CDs of songs and poetry readings of my own, and have been involved in other similar projects with others. The Livin' ina Aucklan' project is of particular importance to me as the lyrics of the songs are from a book of my poetry first published in 1988 and since updated. In these poems I take each area of the city, North, South, East, West and Central, and write a series of works which give the flavour of each. I have got together a group of talented musicians and singers who are really energised by my words and who in turn make me determined to create some great songs celebrating the city of my childhood and early adulthood. As Auckland itself is undergoing a great expansion so my ideas and experience of it also grows even though I have not lived there for several years. I visit Auckland regularly and my lyrics reflect the dynamic cultural and physical changes happening there, and this will be captured by the songs on the CD. The title Livin' ina Aucklan' suggests the language of the streets which I used long before Hip Hop etc became the ubiquitous cultural expression that it is nowadays.
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