Graeme Connors – Sixty Summers
When Graeme Connors was asked to stay longer at Tamworth this year to attend the Golden Guitar Awards, he never suspected he’d be celebrating his own induction into Tamworth’s Roll of Renown. “That was fabulous. What took me by surprise most of all was the incredible wave of emotion I felt coming from the room. It almost knocked me over. I performed the ‘Sixty Summers’ song within about five minutes of receiving the award so there was a mind shift that had to happen.” Graeme was obviously blindsided by the surprise and swept wife Lyn up on stage with him to help respond to the honour.
Graeme’s 40-year music career has earned over a dozen Golden Guitars and an Aria Award. He has had much to say across 17 albums, and exudes eloquence and empathy in song and conversation. This latest, Sixty Summers, is a catalogue of 36 songs revisiting each album with five new tunes penned recently. The flagship ‘Sixty Summers’ is a salute to Graeme’s 60th birthday this April. “Sixty Summers feels like the best of all worlds because it is new, it’s familiar and it’s challenging. I’m excited that I’ve still got things I want to say, and I think that in 12 months time I’ll have another album ready to go.”
Greeting daylight to commit to song writing sessions every dawn, Graeme finds motivation in what many find daunting – the blank paper page. A fan of Leonard Cohen and John Prine, and probably most of all Willie Nelson, he is also impressed by the younger Jason Isbell. All are singer-songwriters and some are branded Alt-Country, like Graeme himself according to his Facebook page. “Does it say that?” he asks. “What even is Alternative Country?!”
“I think I’ve found this corner of music for myself that is sort of tropical…and humid! It doesn’t fit into international country music and this is what the problem with Graeme Connors has always been – you need to have people who understand that this style of music is not going to sit easily on conventional shelves. But as time goes on, it seems like the reward for being unique grows each year.”
He is a self-confessed “letter man in the Twitter age”, typing lengthy responses to each and every fan on Facebook. Love it or hate it, the social platform played an integral part in Graeme’s selection of work to include on this latest album. He asked everyone to send in their five favourite Graeme Connors songs and of course, read all 339 comments. “It’s quite amazing how many of their suggestions made me think twice about which songs to put on,” Graeme says. “It came down to a balance of the songs the fans must have, and the songs I must have. Aleyce Simmonds even wrote in to vote for ‘Bondwood Boat!”
That one did make Sixty Summers, after being released on an earlier Aleyce album and Last Supperteers, that Graeme recorded with fiddle supremos Fiddlers Feast. When they came together to write in Sydney, Aleyce had been making daily train trips and noting a dilapidated boat on the waterline. “It was about this little boat but it turned out to be a beautiful love song, very strong, about relationships. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re writing about until you’ve had time to digest,” Graeme says.
…continues in Country Update Issue 80