Luke R Davies
Wangaratta, Victoria. Winter 2014
I was in my little shed in our then rented property in Wang. A small little brick garage built I suppose when cars where less imposing, it made for a neat little workshop for me. The afternoon sun came through the west facing window as I tinkered on some project and the radio was glued to Radio National. The radio has served me well after being rescued from a dumpster. It never leaves Radio National until the cricket season, where I might move the dial to ABC Local.
I owe a lot of my education to RN, as it is now called. Sadly, it has been dumbed down in recent times and with the loss of all but one music program I often want to turn it off as the repeats have become relentless. But over the years it has been food for my mind and new music yet discovered, came to lift my spirits or on this day bring tears. The tears that come when a song affects you in a way that words can’t really ever explain: the tune, the lyrics, a groove, pricks some deep emotional spot or memory, perhaps one tucked away in our subconscious, now unveiled by the power of music.
When I heard Roy Bailey sing Weevils In The Flour I was washed along in a wave of emotion. It was played in parts as background music on a doco about a famous strike or demonstration over workers’ rights; to be honest I can’t remember the exact show, but once the song had entered my brain I wanted to hear all of it.
I searched for the song and soon had the CD in the mail from the UK via Roy Bailey’s web site. It is on his 2005 album Sit Down and Sing and features Martin Simpson on guitar. Weevils In The Flour is based on a Dorothy Hewett poem and the tune is by Mike Leyden. A song of hardship and poverty. On an Island in a river, the Hudson River Newcastle (NSW), across from a once mighty BHP plant. A song about how adversity can bring a certain strength, it speaks to me and I well up every time it is played. Roy Bailey has spent a lifetime singing songs of social justice, peace, and the struggles of the working class. He is a hero in the folk music scene and rightly so.
At the 2017 Glastonbury Festival British Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke and his words resonated to the huge crowd. He connects with younger people, yet often his peers deride or dismiss him. But he spoke of truths seldom heard from politicians these days, just like a folk song. He talked of how the great leaps forward in society like universal health care, award wages and the social safety net, have all come from the bottom up, from the people, not the trickle down rubbish we often hear.
Weevils In The Flour reminds me of this struggle, what has been achieved but still how the fight for equality and justice for all remains ever present.
Luke will be part of Stereo Stories In Concert, at Write Around The Murray, in Albury. Saturday evening, 16 September 2017.