On the couch, Melbourne, late 2019

A song turns up on the telly. The singer in a rocking chair. A resident in a nursing home. Taking pills. Looking forlornly at golf clubs and a golf trophy. Two men open the door. The second man looks familiar. White-grey hair, but the ponytail’s gone. White-grey beard. Wearing a blue Argyle jumper. Dark glasses. He and his mate are on a mission.

Ian!

Ian. From down the road.

Ian, who ran Offbeat Records for many a year, a shop with plenty of vinyl. And rock and roll posters. And rock and roll books.

Ian, whose business went online when rent hikes and the internet took their toll.

Ian, who sat beside me at a ‘What is an email?’ class in a neighbourhood house 20 or more years ago. It’s likely our very first emails to anyone anywhere were sent to each other while sitting at a table in a classroom, wondering what happens when you hit ‘Send’.

Ian, who used to book bands for the old Williamstown Festival, and who hosted footpath gigs outside his shop. (First and only time I’ve seen The Pigram brothers.)

Ian, who loves and lives and breathes music. Always has. Always will.

And here he is on the telly. Careering about in a golf buggy. Dancing. Having a ball.  And not just on the telly. I find the song on the interweb and learn it’s had 600,000,000  views. Six hundred. Million. And counting. Incomprehensible.

I find Tones And I on the interweb…Mornington Peninsula… Byron Bay…busking…living out of her van…debut single Johnny Run Away…then Dance Monkey… #1 on official singles charts in over 25 countries…world tour…

But I keep coming back to Ian,  whose Stereo Story about his love of The Beatles, was adapted from one of his Offbeat Records newsletters.

… From my hospital bed and from the stupor that I felt from the anaesthesia, I awoke in fear for my severed manhood, with one eye on my watch and one hand feverishly fiddling with the radio dial, until the unmistakeable sound of new Beatles music stirred me back to life.…

Ian, who was in our first show back in 2014, propped up on crutches after knee surgery, reading his story in-between the band playing snippets of songs.

Ian, who is dedicated to social justice, especially Indigenous causes, kindly taking me to an Indigenous community in Yarrabah in north Queensland three and a half years ago. Opened my eyes.

Ian, who sometimes works as an extra in films and advertisements, whose face I’d last seen on the back of a bus, advertising a supermarket.

And here he is, a key character in Dance Monkey.

Ian, who kept the blue Argyle jumper and wore it onstage at the 2019 ARIAs.

Ian, who loves and lives and breathes music. Always has. Always will.

Ian and Tones And I.

 

Vin is founding editor of Stereo Stories and director/MC of Stereo Stories In Concert.