By ARNE SJOSTEDT
When you have lived the kind of life Jeff Lang has, you gather a few tales. They collect around you like the chord progressions you haven’t yet flung into a song, and the burnt out cigarettes left behind from yet another show. But in his case, these aren’t songs, or progressions he hasn’t much touched, but masterful tales he has managed to pull out of his memory bank and composed into a rousing, touching collection of stories that make up his first prose work.
As the title suggests Some Memories Never Die, and if you are keen to find out more, as all good music fans should be, this wizard of the axe and effects board is going to be heading to Canberra to bend your ear and lift the roof with an evening of excerpts from this glimpse into his world. Pieced together with a Q&A session and songs he has pulled out of his more than 30 album career, this ever exciting entertainer will be bringing his noise.
It started with taking notes every time he thought of a story that piqued his interest. Then, on a long haul flight that he found the time to start digging into them.
“I had quite a long list of anecdotes on my phone, and so I just sat there on the plane tapping down, fleshing out those stories,” Lang recalls.
“I’d just look down the list, pick one that jumped out, and go ‘Ok, yeah, I remember what happened there. I feel like writing something about that.’
Finding the process liberatingly simple once his mind was able to come up with a way to gather his musings into coherent pieces, the form of the book emerged in the writing of it.
“I didn’t really set out to write a linear biography, starting at the early days and going on in that kind of fashion. I didn’t set out to not do that either. I just adhered to the principle that started early on, which was that if I feel like writing about it, there’s a chance of it being entertaining for someone to read. And so I’d just do that and in the course of picking what I wanted to tell, other things would emerge, and a theme would emerge.”
Likening the process to the way an album is put together, where every song stands up on its own but also works within the wider framework, these are tales of from a less than ordinary world, of the people that inhabit it, and Lang’s unique perspective on it all.
“Because I’m not a drunken carouser, a lot of the things that happen are just things that come at you because it's just part of the way the life goes down. It’s part of the deal,” Lang says.
“Luckily most of the musicians I’ve met, especially those that have been doing it for a while, they seem to have their own way of viewing it as some kind of cosmic joke being played at your expense.”
And it is with a sense of self depreciating acknowledgement of the humour in experience that Lang allowed himself to bravely venture through the annals of his sojourns, to bring his fans and fellow music lovers this insight into his life.
“You get together with other musicians, we don’t sit down an go ‘Oh, I have to tell you about this amazing gig that I did where everyone stood on their feet and applauded at once, and they all thought I was amazing. You don’t tell those. You sit and go, ‘Oh man, I had this shocker, and there is something about it that is funny,’” he says.
“I find a lot of things funny, and I find a lot of the music game kind of funny, and the things that are funniest are the things that are abjectly humiliating at the time. There’s even a side to those that are funny to me when they are happening, but certainly afterwards, even when something that is happening that is humiliating and gross, you think well, this actually would be a pretty funny story to tell somebody.”
To hear more, Jeff Lang visits The Street theatre Saturday 24 April. Click here for more details.