Sometimes, it seems, you need some time to have elapsed before you can look back and appreciate how good something was.
YouTube has always been my bosom buddy when it comes to musical nostalgia. Yes, I appreciated Louis Armstrong when I was a kid but time has given his skills a rosier hue and, through YouTube, I can marvel at his infectious vocals and the obvious joy he derived from his gift.
What a delight it was a few years back to land in New Orleans airport and find that it was called Louis Armstrong International Airport. And later to stand on Basin St and South Rampart St.
But when it comes to Kiwi music the last time I remember such a glorious nostalgic reminder was some years ago when Royal New Zealand Ballet toured with a show called Ihi FrENZy which was set to the music of Split Enz. Not long into the overture I found myself thinking, "Were they THAT good?"
Yes they were. I'd seen them live in their early days (Radio Hauraki's Buck-a-head concerts in Auckland) as well as later in their Australian days but hearing them after a significant time had elapsed (and through a very high quality sound system) brought the power back with a jolt.
Well, I'm pleased to say that the same happened again last week. It was at a combined schools production of Aotearoa, a musical which hangs a sort of conservation story on a number of classic New Zealand popular songs.
There were plenty of goodies with names like Dobbyn and Finn well represented. But the one which jumped out and grabbed me was a duet superbly delivered by the two leads. It had me uttering similar words again: "Was that song really THAT good?"
The song begins almost unpleasantly with unexpected melody lines over unexpected chords. It feels dark and you can't imagine where it might go to relieve the tension and perk things up a bit.
Then it builds through a slightly more pleasant intermediate stage before, like a musical fountain speckled with glitter, the hook explodes into being – "Anchor me, anchor me, in the middle of your deep blue sea."
And after a couple of verses the perfect bridge to break things up before the triumphant return of the hook fountain and the outro.
It quite stunned me and I was looking forward to interval so I could let it all out and share my delight with others. It appears I was not alone in my appreciation. Like a recurring motif, I kept hearing the words "Anchor me" being mouthed all around me.
The songsmith was, of course, Don McGlashan and the band The Muttonbirds.
When Mrs D and I returned home, I told my musician/songwriter son to have a listen. I knew that he was already familiar with the song but I urged him to have another listen and see if he agreed with my assessment.
For the next few days his audible earworm confirmed that he agreed though I also caught the line "Pulled along by love" being sung a few times so Anchor Me had obviously caused him to lift his anchor and renavigate some of McGlashan's wider back catalogue.
Anyway, as a rousing finale, the show featured Fred Dagg's The Gumboot Song which manages to include the words "infirmary" and "pleurisy" in a song about rubber footwear in a way which can only make you admire (and lament the loss of) John Clarke's wit and intellect.
Rousing as the footwear finale was, the strongest memory I brought away was still the nautical gem by McGlashan. That's the song that anchored me.