The Big Issue Australia recently reached the milestone of  its 600th edition, with feature stories on Cold Chisel and Liam Gallagher, plus regular columns by Lorin Clarke, Ricky French, Thuy On, Michael Epis and more. Since 1996 the fortnightly magazine has been creating work opportunities for those experiencing homelessness, marginalisation and disadvantage. Its public face is its street vendors.

Big Issue vendor

Vendor Mark and the rocking 600th edition in Melbourne. Image courtesy of The Big Issue

In one way or another Stereo Stories has been part of The Big Issue for over a decade. Indeed, the seeds of Stereo Stories can partly be traced to a story I pitched to then-editor Alan Attwood in 2009, four years before I began this website.

I’d written a piece about the Paul Kelly song Feelings Of Grief but the story alone was not strong enough to stand on its own. It needed more context. So Alan wrote a piece about a Kelly song (I Can’t Believe We Were Married), asked a few other writers to chip in with stories about favourite songs, ran an extract from Kelly’s book How To Make Gravy and – presto – we had a cover story. Edition 342, November 2009.

When, six years later,  I invited Alan to  write some Stereo Stories he returned serve by inviting me to write a piece for the magazine about our fledgling shows. Edition 481, April 2015.

Alan has written three Stereo Stories, with his story about the Emmylou Harris song Blackhawk, and reporting a world-title fight amidst the loneliness of Las Vegas, being performed in concert three times.

The Big Issue Books editor Thuy On came into our orbit last year and wrote three experimental pieces for our website. Combining poetry and prose Thuy wrote a trilogy of love stories based on songs by Regurgitator, Pulp and Bryan Ferry.

The Big Issue Small Screens editor Aimee Knight wrote a story about Wuthering Heights well before she joined The Big Issue. Indeed, the Wuthering Heights story (about a dysfunctional share-house) was Aimee’s first ever piece of freelance writing.

Meanwhile, I occasionally come across pieces in the magazine that are effectively Stereo Stories: Lorraine Pink and The Jean Genie, Richard Castles and Racing InThe Street, Thomas Robinson and DePreston, Glen Williams and Drift Away. The magazine and the writers have been very kind in granting me permission to re-publish.

Long may the dance continue.

The Big Issue Stereo Stories Collection

The Big Issue website

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