Living with…Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu…for a week

Photo of GGY St George's Church, Kemp Town Brighton.

You know the feeling.  It’s 10:30am on New Year’s Day and you’re walking down the street to the shops to get lunch.

New Years Day morning is a post-apocalyptic world where everything is closed.  The few remaining survivors stagger slowly past you lost in their own world. Cyclists cycle slowly.

Mmmmmm mmmmm

Within my headphones I am locked in my own world, a gentle guitar strumming in the ear and a haunting voice hums along.

Marrma djilawurr nathinana nambawu larrun
ana Guwalilnawu
rirrakayunmina liyanydja milkarri nambawu
larrunana Murrurrnawu
roniyirri rirrakayyu barrawalayu Mutjwutjna

I have no idea what he is singing but it is beautiful .  It is the right sound for a post-apocalypse.  A sparse sound that fills my head just enough but not too much.

As I walked along I decided that this new year I won’t curse what I plan to do by calling it a resolution.  I did that last year and the one before.  So I have answered no resolutions to the questionnaires this year and I have not named them to anyone.  Only I know them, although of course they’re not resolutions.

But what’s the point of plans and resolutions?  In the last few weeks I have bumped in to someone down the shops who had to jack in their job a year ago and it all seemed to go wrong.  But now they have never been happier – their hand was forced and they had to find work for themselves and they’re review-writing from home.  They so wanted to tell me how happy they were.  Maybe a little too much.  But I’m sure what’s happened wasn’t part of their new year’s resolution.

I’ve had a drink with someone who emigrates to Australia this month.  The plan seemed what you would call high level.  No house.  No job.  Just a plane ticket (a visa of course) and a dream that something exciting and new will happen.  And probably it will – it’s a dream so it becomes what you want it to be.  All the best.

And others step out to something new – maybe their hands forced, maybe willingly.  Moving life to South Africa, taking that step to start something new on your own.

 United we stand, divided we fall

Together we’ll stand, in solidarity

Ŋarranydja dhuwala Barrupa
ŋarranydja dhuwala Dhukuḻuḻ
ŋarranydja dhuwala Maralitja
ŋarranydja dhuwala Ŋunbuŋunbu

Well put, Geoffrey.


January is World music month for me.  Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu’s wikipedia entry reads

“He was born in Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island), off the coast of Arnhem Land, Northern Australia about 350 miles from Darwin. He is from the Gumatj clan of the Yolngu and his mother from the Galpu nation. He was born blind, has never learned Braille and does not have a guide dog or use a white cane. Yunupingu speaks only a few words of English, and is said to be acutely shy.”

So all the makings of an international award-winning music star then!  And yet now he sits astride not just the Australian charts but winning many fans across the world.  Because he has the most amazing and haunting of voices and songs that are so simple you feel you know them the first time you hear them, and they’re old friends by the second time.

A week with GGY can only be conducted at the gentle strumming pace of all his songs, and can make you a tad pensive.  The melodies get inside your head and stay there through the day.  I would heartily recommend his company but don’t load them on to your gym compilation by accident.  I did and it’ll ruin your pace on the cross trainer.

I promise not to be so philosophical next week, and may even step up the pace .  Happy 2012 all.

To finish with the opening track from the album Gurrumul – Wiyathul .  Beautiful


Photo courtesy of neate photos.

Twotes of the week

@RainbowKate: Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. Albert Einstein

@RealTimeWWII: Advert in Times: Spend your New Year’s Eve at Royal Victoria Hotel, St. Leonards-on-Sea. “The ballroom & toilets are gas- & bomb-proof!

@hotdogsladies: “He looks like a croissant.” —Our Daughter. Stating the now-obvious about Jabba the Hutt.

@NickMotown: Feeling listless this morning. I did write down a number of reasons why that might be, but I can’t find the bit of paper.

@madeupstats: One third of active MySpace users are from the UK. They both live in London.