32 min

Country Gentleman Jack Song and a Chat

    • Music Commentary

Episode #208: Country Gentleman Jack (song starts at 4:30)

Back in 1993, I was the piano man at Wairakei resort, in New Zealand’s north island, near Taupo - beautiful place.

Outside of my regular entertainment in the restaurant hours, I wrote songs like this one: Country Gentleman Jack, song #319.

As part of the contract, I was also hired to play piano vocal music for conventions. One particular calm winters evening, I found myself in the scene, playing away, equal parts lost in the music and also keeping an eye the patrons, making sure what I’m doing suited the moment. It’s an art.

I happened to glance up mid song and noticed an older chap at the bar. He seemed like a fish out of water, amongst all the city types, the suits and Shiraz and scotches, He really looked like he was from the country with his quiet expression and quiet beer. So much so, it looked like he’d beamed in from another age.

He wasn’t awkward though, he nodded with social grace, a gentleman. But I could see he wasn’t exactly tied up in any conversations with everyone. Perhaps he was watching the piano man for a moment and that’s what caused me to look up.

I took a break, wandered over to the bar and without great emphasis quietly said gidday. Code for ‘you know I’m from the country, too, or part of me is. I think I can see you might be feeling a bit uncomfortable there…’

So we wandered outside for a yarn.

Just this week at the market someone asked me what’s the best thing about making a living from my art and music. I replied with just a slight breath in and out, the people. It’s what is all about.

Like any calling, any business, any life we are all designed to cross paths with people, exchange information, learn stuff (or not) and carry on.

Some people really stay in your mind. Jack was one of those characters that pretty much ended up writing a song for me.

Writing the lyrics was easy. Back in my hotel room, in a somewhat reflective mood, it was just a matter of letting my mind flick back through scenes of the evening.

Some of the lines were were pretty much just reporting. What I thought Jack might be thinking, his actions, where we went, outside into the crisp evening to catch some air. And this:

The look on his face when it came to when we had to go back into the room. Unfamiliar ground, for Jack. For me, it was back to the piano.

At the end of the bracket, I couldn’t see Jack in the crowd. So I wandered back outside. It really was a stunning place, in the country. The stars were always crystal clear, bright and close.

As I walked out the door, a truck trundled by. It was Jack. He wound down the window , smiled and wished me luck. And with that he trundled up the driveway and headed off down the highway, into the night, leaving the bright shiny scene behind him...and none too soon, I suspect.

So the lyrics came together quickly for me, as they often do. We had some common ground. I’d spent a lot of my childhood school holidays on farms, with my dad, hunting and fishing. You learn the ropes. There is no rush in the country. Unless stock ( the animals) need urgent attention - or the rain was about to hit with the hay on the ground... Then it’s all go. Other than that there’s all the time in the world. Because you’re in touch with the land , the seasons, the language of the weather ...etc. it appeals to me.

So it was a chance for me to dip into these sorts of feelings and experiences- while relating a tale like a country yarn (and it’s a cardinal sin to rush a country person’s yarn). It’s connection, self worth, reflection. It’s a rite not to be dismissed.

To catch some of those feelings in the words was fun.

When I sat at the piano the next day, I had a gentle smile on my face. I knew I had a story, some feeling, all of which was a natural fit for me.

When the words feel that way, it seems the music flows easily.

Episode #208: Country Gentleman Jack (song starts at 4:30)

Back in 1993, I was the piano man at Wairakei resort, in New Zealand’s north island, near Taupo - beautiful place.

Outside of my regular entertainment in the restaurant hours, I wrote songs like this one: Country Gentleman Jack, song #319.

As part of the contract, I was also hired to play piano vocal music for conventions. One particular calm winters evening, I found myself in the scene, playing away, equal parts lost in the music and also keeping an eye the patrons, making sure what I’m doing suited the moment. It’s an art.

I happened to glance up mid song and noticed an older chap at the bar. He seemed like a fish out of water, amongst all the city types, the suits and Shiraz and scotches, He really looked like he was from the country with his quiet expression and quiet beer. So much so, it looked like he’d beamed in from another age.

He wasn’t awkward though, he nodded with social grace, a gentleman. But I could see he wasn’t exactly tied up in any conversations with everyone. Perhaps he was watching the piano man for a moment and that’s what caused me to look up.

I took a break, wandered over to the bar and without great emphasis quietly said gidday. Code for ‘you know I’m from the country, too, or part of me is. I think I can see you might be feeling a bit uncomfortable there…’

So we wandered outside for a yarn.

Just this week at the market someone asked me what’s the best thing about making a living from my art and music. I replied with just a slight breath in and out, the people. It’s what is all about.

Like any calling, any business, any life we are all designed to cross paths with people, exchange information, learn stuff (or not) and carry on.

Some people really stay in your mind. Jack was one of those characters that pretty much ended up writing a song for me.

Writing the lyrics was easy. Back in my hotel room, in a somewhat reflective mood, it was just a matter of letting my mind flick back through scenes of the evening.

Some of the lines were were pretty much just reporting. What I thought Jack might be thinking, his actions, where we went, outside into the crisp evening to catch some air. And this:

The look on his face when it came to when we had to go back into the room. Unfamiliar ground, for Jack. For me, it was back to the piano.

At the end of the bracket, I couldn’t see Jack in the crowd. So I wandered back outside. It really was a stunning place, in the country. The stars were always crystal clear, bright and close.

As I walked out the door, a truck trundled by. It was Jack. He wound down the window , smiled and wished me luck. And with that he trundled up the driveway and headed off down the highway, into the night, leaving the bright shiny scene behind him...and none too soon, I suspect.

So the lyrics came together quickly for me, as they often do. We had some common ground. I’d spent a lot of my childhood school holidays on farms, with my dad, hunting and fishing. You learn the ropes. There is no rush in the country. Unless stock ( the animals) need urgent attention - or the rain was about to hit with the hay on the ground... Then it’s all go. Other than that there’s all the time in the world. Because you’re in touch with the land , the seasons, the language of the weather ...etc. it appeals to me.

So it was a chance for me to dip into these sorts of feelings and experiences- while relating a tale like a country yarn (and it’s a cardinal sin to rush a country person’s yarn). It’s connection, self worth, reflection. It’s a rite not to be dismissed.

To catch some of those feelings in the words was fun.

When I sat at the piano the next day, I had a gentle smile on my face. I knew I had a story, some feeling, all of which was a natural fit for me.

When the words feel that way, it seems the music flows easily.

32 min