Almanac Music: Stateless in the Lockdown State

While thumbing through my YouTube feed earlier, a new lyric video by U2 popped up. The track Stateless is from the soundtrack to the movie The Million Dollar Hotel and this version will be one of the bonus tracks as part of a 20th anniversary reissue of their album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. I essentially dropped out of the U2 biosphere around the time of Zooropa/ Achtung Baby so these two markers on the Bono expressway had little effect on me.



That diffidence is still alive and well, but watching the video did conjure some circumspection.


The lyrics are a melange of well meaning bromides bordering on saccharine as is so often the case with Mr Hewson but the incantation of being stateless resonated. This trying lockdown we are enduring in Victoria impacts us in ways we are struggling to understand and will probably never fully comprehend. Being detached from the traditional rhythms of life has altered our perspective and from what I can discern from many conversations, both offline and online, many of us have turned to music as a balm.


In recent times, I have gone back to the well to imbibe a form that has sustained me for decades but dropped off the menu. I fell in love with jazz when I was at uni. A mate of mine fell in with a crew of rabble rousing miscreants who spent more time jamming than attending classes. It wasn’t long before many lazy afternoons were spent hanging out listening to endless interpretations of Monk, Mingus and Coltrane. The more pot we all smoked the further we all went down that rabbit hole.


My mate has been a professional jazz muso ever since. I settled for countless gigs marveling at the freedom this art form provides to those on stage as much as those off as well. My imbibing of late has mostly been just listening to ABC Jazz but I do drop the bucket down the well to see what comes up. If I’m lucky it will be Mingus. Hot damn, I love that man.


There has been plenty of classical too. After reading a biography of Mahler, I imagined the peregrinations of his career by listening to his symphonies. I then read up on the effect he had on Leonard Bernstein and how Mahler’s exalted position today can be attributed in no small part to the proselytising of LB. That’s another aspect of music that I love – collegiality.


Then there has been the need for a great three minute song. Randomly pulling out records and sticking them on is always a good option. I could talk about so many wonderful experiences but one sticks in my mind.


The Almanac family is comprised of a majority of people who would relate to the proposition that the Golden Rough was a great childhood snack. With due deference to Wagon Wheels, that combination of chocolate, coconut and enough aeration to make it seem less indulgent was a bloody winner.


It was also the name of a great Sydney band who played jangly Birds/ Burrito Brothers pop with enough of an edge to keep the hard nosed punters on board in the dog-eat-dog late 20C pub scene in Sin City. The album I listened to quite a few times was called Slippery Slope, perhaps another metaphor for this strange time.


I don’t really feel stateless at the moment. I love this state and all those who sail in her. I do, however, feel discombobulated on occasion as I suspect we all do. Be it jazz, classical, country, maybe even death metal, get on that slippery slope. You never know where it may lead … could murder a Golden Rough right now.



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Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.


  1. Enjoyed this. Learnt a few things too. Always a good sign.

  2. Good one, Brian.

    I could not tell you the last time I consumed a Golden Rough. In fact, I did not know that they were still being made. Do they?

    May I also recommend “All That You Can’t Leave Behind”? It is a wonderful album.

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