Damian Balassone’s contribution to Stereo Stories is not just on the page, so to speak.
He’s a big Bob Dylan fan, so when we post any of our Dylan stories he forwards them to a Dylan forum site called expectingrain and – presto – our ever-modest readership numbers go up and up and up for a few days.
Small irony. Damian has written just one Dylan story for us, a look at a relatively obscure song called Friend Of The Devil: Sometimes it’s only when you see a girl for the second or third time that you realise how beautiful she is. A song is a bit like that.
Damian is a poet, his words having appeared in over 100 publications, from our partner site The Footy Almanac through to, well, The New York Times. He is the author of three volumes of poetry, including the 2020 publication Strange Game in a Strange Land (with cover artwork by another member of the Stereo Stories collective, graphic designer Chris Rees).
More irony. Damian’s contributions to our site have been mainly prose, with three posts of what we call stereo poems. Here’s just one:
The Importance of Religion
Those who loathe religion
are slow to contemplate
that Lennon met McCartney
at the church fête.
Damian’s first contribution, back in 2014, took us to Goondiwindi in 1991 and Hello Darlin’ by Conway Twitty. After our rugby games we played music on an old cassette deck whilst going about our chores. It did not take long for me to realise that country music was the preferred genre amongst the cotton chippers.
Then came a celebration of Neil Young’s Powderfinger: As I pull the record out of the sleeve and drop it in the slot, I know exactly where I’m going to place the needle. Side 3. Track 1. It’s late but I turn it up a few decibels. Let it rip Neil. This will scare the possums away. This will shake up Dessie and his new girl. Powderfinger is a Southern gothic novel told in just a few verses, ornamented by a succession of blazing, screeching guitar solos – each of which adds to the narrative.
Damian followed this with the Friend Of The Devil/Dylan piece and then a love story to New Zealander Bic Runga: I’m enraptured. The melody, chord changes, harmonies have got me hooked. The song is just as great as I remembered it, and now, thanks to the wonders of the web, I have the luxury of diving into Bic’s back catalogue. Her songs are captivating. Her talent is remarkable…
Last year he wrote a piece about Joe Jackson which, following a request from an overseas reader, was translated into French by Stereo Stories singer and writer Martina Medica.
Thank you, Damian, for your poems, your prose and your support.