Tommy Kapai: Just keep right on playing

By Tommy Kapai


Many of life's magic moments seem to have a song attached to them and every time the sounds of that song - or the story the song tells - enter my space, I am straight back to that magic moment.

Two recent concerts in as many weeks have brought back musical memories that sit alongside some of life's more magical moments.

I can be walking along minding my own bees wax and a song will enter my space via a car radio, a television programme or even, dare I say it, an elevator.

Straight away the song puts me in a place where I feel for that moment I belong.

Apparently, from all the clever scribes who have degrees in knowitallology and have released their findings, music gives us great pleasure equal to the joys of food and sex.

Their research has found good music and great songs stimulate the nucleus accumbens, a structure in the middle of the brain that is involved in reward processing.

So when we hear our all-time favorite songs, they offer up a reward of endearment to those good times shared when we listened, loved, laughed, and cried to their lyrics.

The first live concert in the past two weeks I listened and loved at was Rodriguez, the Detroit Drifter.

Known as Sugarman to many, I wonder how many times I must have listened to his lyrics not knowing that he had taken me on a journey of discovery, just like Leonard Cohen did with Suzanne.

The second was sitting in the Vector Arena last week, listening to 71-year-old Paul Simon.

It was the third standing ovation for the lyrical maestro who still has diamonds all over his soul - including his feet, when he gifted us the George Harrison gem Here Comes the Sun.

It took me straight back to a tropical island sharing a two papered zig zag with Hori, and it has always been my spring song when we need to know most that winter is heading home and summer is on its way.

Every day in every way there is a song for a situation.

Locally, there are recent issues that could be captured by a song.

The obvious is Under the Boardwalk. I guess some would say the Frank Sinatra song I Did It My Way could be appropriate, as could the Lou Reed master piece Take a Walk on the Wild Side.

Phil's Place, the on again off again restaurant owned by drummer Phil Judd, could be captured by the AC/DC classic song Back in Black - once it starts making a quid again.

Another to walk on by to the next world is the Iron Lady. What will her song be?

Possibly Ding Dong the Witch is Dead as a posthumous protest over her far from popular style of politics.

Then again, Van Morrison's Hard Nose to the Highway could also do Maggie justice.

Recently, I have been humming Freedom, the Richie Havens classic anthem that heralded in the passive protest movement at Woodstock.

For me, it is a song of great hope and a way of paying homage to Nelson Mandela in his times of poor health.

Today, here in Tauranga Moana, we will farewell a larger than life Arataki legend, Mike Rawiri.

For me, the song that tells Mike's story is the Bob Marley classic One Love.

Mike could only ever see the positive vibration of Arataki and it was all about the one love of a whanau and their community.

Haere, haere, haere ra, Bro.

Music rewards us in many ways. In its words and its messages, and by the instruments and singers who carry the rewards to us.

Just yesterday I shared the lei lines of the global musical whanau with Diana Harris, who has been a stand-out act in recent festivals.

For both of us, musicians are like the mafia, they are all connected in one way or another. Just like great songs connect us to our past.

Within five minutes of meeting Diana, we had done a quick roll call or "Musos Whakapapa", and by joining up the dots of our mutual mates in the industry, both locally and internationally, we were back there "in the moment".

In the moment when the songs remained the same and the story they told us were as relevant then as they are today.

broblack@xtra.co.nz

Tommy Kapai is a Tauranga author and writer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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