James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

James Griffin: My own personal resurrection project

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

So apart from an outing to the movies for The Lego Movie, where everything is awesome, I spent Easter engaged in my own personal resurrection project. With brushes and roller in hand, I set about the task of painting the brand new shelving unit in our living room, purpose-built for the housing of the record collection (as in LP records, not tax records).

Constructed by the magnificent Stelios, and complete with the appropriate flat surface upon which to place the turntable and amplifier for the playing of the LPs, it is a magnificent edifice that needed only: (a) the turntable; (b) the amplifier; (c) some speakers; (d) the records; and (e) several coats of paint, for it to spring to life. My Easter, therefore, was all about the painting. And eating chocolate, of course.

I like painting. Not the prep bit, because no sane person likes that bit, but the actual laying on of the paint, seeing the colour change with the undercoat, and then the finish developing with subsequent coats. The whole process has a Zen-like quality to me and, when accompanied with the right music, it can send the brain to interesting and productive places as I paint.

Thus it was that I set out on Good Friday, on my holy quest, armed with the iPod on shuffle, throwing at me what I came to think of as the Random Easter Playlist, to see me through. And lo and behold, the music and the act of painting took me to some strange and thoughtful places.

During the undercoat phase Neil Finn turned up a lot, on my Random Easter Playlist. This struck me as highly appropriate for Easter, given the number of times Neil has resurrected himself in his various musical guises. There was Split Enz boyish Neil; then Sir Neil of the Crowded House; then Saint Neil the solo artist with a damn fine new album out. Then Liam Finn turned up on my Playlist and the religious theme took flight even further. If Liam is the Son, and Neil is the Father, does that make Tim Finn the Holy Ghost? About this time I felt it was probably a good idea to step away from the paint fumes and eat chocolate for a while.

Saturday was the first of the top coats, and the Random Easter Playlist seemed to have decided it was a day for country music. Tami Neilson is a wonderful New Zealand country singer and songwriter but as I painted and listened to her, I began to think it must be hard to be a female country singer-songwriter. What if the first guy you fall in love with is a perfect gentleman and you spend the rest of your lives together being blissfully happy? Wouldn't that totally mess with your country songwriting flow? Would you have to go to him and say, "Honey, I love you but I need to break up with you and find a man who will treat me mean and do me wrong, but don't worry, because I will come crawling back to your forgiving arms, full of regret and great songs? Is that okay, honey?" By now I was feeling sorry for female country singers everywhere, but luckily I had chocolate to get over this.

Easter Sunday, and while everything else was shut, I was piling on yet another coat of the Half-Pearl Lusta on to the edifice. In keeping with the death-related theme of Easter, the Random Easter Playlist threw Warren Zevon's Keep Me In Your Heart at me. This is a song Warren wrote after he learned he was terminally ill and therefore it started me thinking about songs you would want played at your funeral.

I think it would be a huge responsibility, figuring out what to play at your funeral. Do you pick a popular song that you love, and possibly taint it with sad memories for everyone who is still alive? Or do you go completely against the grain and request something stupid like Benny Hill's Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) - or is that trying too hard to break the mood? Or, seeing you don't have to listen to it, you could insist everyone listen to Side 1 of Yes' Tales from Topographic Oceans. Yes, you would be incredibly unpopular, but what would you care?

By now the combination of paint fumes and chocolate was starting to take the brain into dangerous, uncharted territory. Luckily the edifice was pretty much finished and it was time to turn off the music, step back and take pride in my work - and eat one last Easter egg.

Now all that remains is to roll back the stone at the storage facility and to bring forth the LPs from their resting place, and that will be my Easter, done and dusted.

- NZ Herald

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James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

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