On Sunday afternoon, I was on the bed in Libby’s hotel room eating a hamburger, as you do. Eating a hamburger and watching our new friend Yolanda put lipstick on Hayley. And then out of the blue, Yol turned around and said “I’ve got a good feeling about today. I think it’s going to be a kismet kind of day”.
And so it was, because that night, we won our very first, very unexpected ARIA Award under the “Best Female – What Was Left” category! We’ve had a lot of things to celebrate lately, but this was as unexpected as finding out you’re carrying identical twins (which, strangely, I am…) Just unbelievable!!!
Four days later, we’re still in a fair bit of “happy-shock” – it feels to us like the Gods went crazy for a day, and it just happened to be the day we were waiting in line to shake their hand.
You know by now how much I love a yarn – let me run you through the lead up.
We’d been looking forward to the last weekend in October for some time. Not only were we to play our final show (LEGS 11) before taking our recording/birthing sabattical, but we were also celebrating Libby, Marty and Danny’s birthdays. Our plan was to make it a killer of a dirty-weekend (“SHANDIES ALL AROUND, MY FRIENDS!”), and top it off on Sunday night with the attending of the ARIA Awards, where we’d been nominated for the first time.
As Libby and I always say, “It’s not every day you’re pregnant and trying to walk gracefully down the red carpet” (?!?) Luckily, with a little help from Ilka White (she made my beautiful necklace) Akira (he provided the dress) Augusta Zeeng (she pieced us together) and K-mart (they made our undies), Libby and I waddled along just fine. Warren, Tim, Marty and the Lunatics were looking super-sharp as always. The sun was shining, no-one really knew who we were, and all of us were feeling in “fine-form”. In fact, I think we may have even been strutting – a little like the opening intro from Fat Albert – “We’re gonna sing a song for yoooooooooou”.
More than anything, I was looking forward to singing “Watch Over Me” with Bernard Fanwa and Kasey Chambers; although I was also, admittedly, crapping myself. As anyone who’s been following us since our first “Roy and HG” television appearance in 2003 will know (details can be found in open letter below), I get a little scared in the face of television cameras. But despite the cameras, there’s few things more satisfying than singing a three-part harmony with people who know their stuff – an ocean of voices, guitar, along with Bedge on violin, and Matt on double bass – what could be better? What also helped centre the experience (which was kind of acutely stressful – in the two minutes before “show-time”, I went from standing calmly backstage cooing over the latest beautiful Wolfmother baby, into the arms of a woman holding a clip-board screaming “QUICK QUICK QUICK”, straight to Kasey’s side for a five-second interview with Jacki O and then “bang” out on stage in front of 10,000 people) was remembering why the song was released in the first place, which was to help raise funds for Youngcare, which is one of those incredible “fill-the-gap” charities that helps out where no-one else is helping out. Singing that song with those chaps felt bloody amazing.
Once it was over, I pottered back down the hallway to find myself a drink. Not just a drink, but also a birds-eye-view – to be honest, I was trying to sneak a peek at Peter Garret, who was sitting behind us on the “Midnight Oil” table. I was a kid in the 80’s, so memories of Midnight Oil wallpaper the insides of my memory, and I wanted to see if my memory served me well. I thought I might even get gutsy enough to go up and say hello. But then I noticed he was talking to someone who looked a lot like James Packer, and I lost my nerve and concentrated on finding myself a repeat of that flat lemon squash I’d so enjoyed before dinner.
At some stage I must have started dawdling because before my eyes appeared the furrowed brow of Chowdo saying “Woman, they’re about to announce Best Female! You’re supposed to sit down!” So I did. (I pretty much do what Libby tells me – she’s always right). Can I just say that as much as they love me, up until this point, no one actually thought I would win this award. Except one friend of mine called Stephen, who I now owe a case of ShafferHausser. The main thrill was being nominated alongside “Holly Throsby – Under the Town”, whose albums accompany us on all of our tours. But I’ve been writing songs for over a decade and these songs have never been picked up by commercial radio, most Australians have never heard of us, and even my own blessed manager (and dear friend) took me aside on the day and said “Mate, I love you, and I know how hard you’ve worked, and I think you deserve to win this award, but you’re not going to win it. I mean, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t really work that way…”
And then they said that the winner was “Clare Bowditch”!
What happened next, I still don’t know. Except for a short snippet on the plane on the way home, I still haven’t seen any of the footage from the night. All I can tell you is that I’ve never been more stunned in my life, that the looks of emotion on Marty, Libby, Warren, Tim, and Danny’s faces were unforgettable, and that some part of me just wanted to get up on stage before they announced they’d made a mistake…
And that to his credit, Steve “Bracksie” Bracks is said to be considering re-instating a version of the Music For the Future Funding Program for the musicians of Victoria. I’ll let you know how this ends upt…
And that I really should have thanked my brother in law TIM ROBINSON for giving me my start in music, and my Mum, Dad, Asha, Anna Lisa James, my whole family, Red Raku especially JP and DD, Al and Clare, Bernard for inviting me to sing with him, my friends at Compost especially Griffin, Jessica Neath, Kat Macleod, Resolution Media, and all the good musicians who have taken me under their wing or toured with us over the years…