The Arts

Sep 8, 2017

Rundle: with Glen Campbell’s death, we mourn mourning

There is a sense, palpable and here now, that mass culture will die out with the baby boomers, with gen X.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Love Serenade is the best movie made in Australia, a demure and perfectly judged thing that came out in 1996, the tale of two sisters, hairdressers, in a dusty country town in the 1970s. The place has a river for fishing, a row of shops, and a rail line beside and, well, dust, stirred up by the road trains that pass through. The sisters read glossy magazines and listen to the radio as they tighten the perms of the local matronage, dream of escape and eat take-away from the one Chinese place, where you bring your own pots and pans to be filled up.

Into this notime, nospace, the endless stillness of the tiled milk bar, and the dying picture house, comes, to run the local radio station, a DJ, from the city, tall, languorous, saurine. He fills a local house with vinyl sofas, a giant-mounted marlin, caught in another time, and throws out the station’s ancient playlist and brings in the '70s classics that form the film's soundtrack, the fat sexy funk of Barry White ("I don’t wanna see no panties") and Les Crane’s oracular wall-of-sound take on the Desiderata ("you are a child of the universe/no less than the trees and the stars/you have a right to be here").

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41 thoughts on “Rundle: with Glen Campbell’s death, we mourn mourning

  1. catts stan

    Sorry to see his passing.Sorry for the loss to family….he had a good innings.
    Can we get a think tank to gether to get the ecomomy on a move forward.People like simon crean who speaks now with a conservative tongue.And that bloke that left his shower bag in a hookers shower….a good polly otherwise,a good brain.We have bush and ground that needs water taken to it interstae,lets get moving.Surely we can get people here on visa,s if we can,t get those of invalid pensions and the dole into the work force.
    Many of the countries achievers are never thanked for coming,less your a journo

  2. zut alors

    You stirred up some rich memories with this piece, Guy. Some of us are fortunate to have lived in that era of great popular music. It was tuneful. What ever happened to tuneful…

    Incidentally, Sergio Mendes & Brazil ’66 managed a fine version of ‘Wichita Lineman’.

  3. Charlie Chaplin

    I remember the impression that movie made- the feeling it gave me. I don’t remember the details and I don’t want to rewatch it, either. Memory’s enough.

    You made me cry, Guy. In public. Thank you.

  4. Hartley

    That is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever read. I am another in my late forties who was deeply affected by Love Serenade when it came out, it’s soundtrack and rediscovering “Witchita Lineman”, “Desiderata” “Rockin’ Chair” and a whole lot of AM radio classics from my childhood. I recently watched the doco “I’ll Be Me” which showed Campbell on his final tour as he slipped further into the clutches of dementia. But his guitar playing and voice remained beautiful.

    1. brigitte te whiti

      Thanks for that because all I could muster was “Wow and that extrodinary piece of writing deserved better

  5. Jack Robertson

    Such tender beautiful writing. Such an open generous sensibility, too. Most metropolitan artists are tone deaf to the Oz country but Love Serenade gets it achingly right, as does this languid expansion-riff on it. Just extraordinary, weaving such unlikely, incongruous threads into a universal. Rhinestone Cowboy/Wake In Fright…hell of an aesthetic leap there. Unless you grew up in a tinsy citrus hamlet about sixty miles up the Murray from Robinvale/Sunray (the LS setting), casting about for anything to slake an inarticulable thirst for escape/transcendence. As a 10, 11, 12 year old I used to lie in bed in the sleep-out and listen to Beach Boys on a crappy Casio tape deck through a home-made ‘stereo’ earpiece. Wall enough of sound for me…Campbell was Wrecking Crew, his guitar was all over Brian Wilson’s Surfari/Pet Sounds transitional phase, perfect pop songs of adolescent yearning…I Can Hear Music, Don’t Worry Baby, When I Grow Up To Be a Man, God Only Knows (of course)…four hundred miles from the nearest decent break and I had no more of clue about what a Prom was than a Lineman. But it all hits the same spot. Somewhere there’s the perfect girl, at the perfect party, in the perfect placeand time, and she’s waiting just for…you. Good to see Superstar get a run, too. What a voice that Carpenter girl had.

    Such a treat when GR writes about the scrub like this. Makes up for all the mean things he says about Barnaby. Ta.

  6. Electric Lardyland

    Aaahh. After letting my Crikey subscription lapse for a couple of months, the thing that I really missed was the writing of Guy Rundle. This is such a gorgeous piece to renew my acquaintance with. Like the best writing, it demands to be read slowly, because all the little word constructions keep on sparking memories, and then you have to pause a while to indulge the pictures that are playing in your mind.
    I think that the strongest memories evoked for me, were of being a kid back in the 60s and listening to the AM radio of the time. Especially, the time when I got to listen alone: such as being tucked in bed at night, transistor radio turned down low, since I really should have been sleeping, but being still awake, because the excitement of waiting for your favourite song or two to come on. And with the limited number of songs that a station like 2SM played, your favourite song was never really likely to be that far away. Interestingly, the song that I went straight to while reading the Rundle article, was The Loved One, by The Loved Ones. After quickly consulting Dr Google, I now know that it was released in 1966, so I would have been 7 at the time. Can’t really remember why it really got to my seven your old mind, but it did. Better stop now, before I start an interminable list of all my favourite childhood songs: or at least the ones that I think will bestow on me a bit of cred.

    1. Charlie Chaplin

      I think I get why it grabbed you.

      1. Charlie Chaplin

        Listening to 2JJ in the dark in the wee, small hours, curled up in bed. The only time of the day the signal was clear enough for us to pick up in Newwy.

      2. Electric Lardyland

        Ohh, I was seven at the time. Girl bugs was probably something that I still believed in. Maybe it was something to do with the exuberance of the sound? Maybe it was starting to like stuff that my parents didn’t necessarily like? Who knows?

  7. PG

    Lovely stuff Guy. Thought (and memory) provoking as usual. You recall a time, place and feeling so beautifully. In my mid-60s now – and it all comes back. Thanks mate

  8. Nudiefish

    Really enjoyed this piece. Didn’t expect it to go in such a sentimental direction. GR continues to surprise. Thank you.

  9. Bert Morris

    Brilliant Guy. Thank you. I was (am) a Glen Campbell fan too.

  10. Dog's Breakfast

    Always secretly liked Glen Campbell, it was a bit uncool to admit to.
    You forgot his version of Gentle on my mind, which is one of the few songs I have sung to an audience. Different times.

    These were also my teenage central years, and I know exactly what you are describing GR.

    Now, for Mike Nesmith, he was cool before cool knew what it was. I still love his stuff, and his ‘Rio’ is still as haunting of a place and time as any song I know. Look forward to you outlasting Mike, and writing another fabulous latebituary.

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