I made a comment when posting to Facebook about my Stringy Bark McDowell podcast that Stringy could be Australia’s equivalent of singer/songwriter Neil Young. As this elicited some feedback I thought it might be worthwhile explaining how I came up with such an idea.
Firstly let me say, yes Stringy is that good! I became so impressed with Stringy, the man, and the musician, during our chat. He and I share many views on how things could be in this world and many things we have a deep objection to. However, he has the commitment, the courage to live up to these principles in all aspects of his life whereas I have by circumstances been forced to compromise. His clear sense of purpose has been enhanced and encouraged I believe since he had the good fortune to meet the love of his life, Molly. The synchronicity of their personalities is something that I for one just stand in awe of. True yin and yang making one powerful entity. Long may it continue.
If I had to pick a single view on Stringy it is that is he is a man in a state of transition, a common state for many at a certain age in life. His whole career in the music business has been defined by being part of the Muddy Puddles band and it has kept him “locked” in the humorous aspects of that group. However he has over the last couple of years, probably given license by the arrival of Molly in his life, become a more serious guy musically and he is trying, in his ever honest way, to move out of the funny man label. Not easy to do when you want to keep on performing and your rusted-on audience probably expects something else. Nor do you want to deny your strong sense of fun and satire. It is a fine juggling act.
Why then compare him to Neil Young instead of say, Tom Waite? Tom Waite, for instance, has always been a serious solo songwriter with a strong sense of justice. Neil Young though started off in good time melodic bands like Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and a number of others, like Stringy did. It is only since Neil took on a solo career has his serious side become his trademark. Did he carry over the fans from the earlier band days, hopefully so. The comparisons, of course, continue with the tone and characteristics of their vocal styles for Stringy, Neil and Tom. I think Stringy has as many real things to say through his music as either Neil or Tom and the world could be a better place if more people took notice of these.
My comparison had nothing at all to do with his lifestyle as I have no idea or interest in Neil’s lifestyle. It was just the sound, the original thinking, honest writing, the concern he has for his fellow man and our planet, and of course the similarity of coping with a musical transition that led me to this comparison.
And just for the fun of it, have a listen to Stringy’s version of a Neil Young anthem, click “Hey Hey My My”