Vetting of wisdom
"IT CAN be frustrating thinking you're writing your best song in recent years,” Richard Clapton says over the phone while pondering his catalogue of more than 20 studio albums.
When you consider the career of Clapton, one of the most influential characters in Australian rock history, frustrating is an interesting word to consider.
There has been an element of frustration between Clapton's dual capacity to write the pop hook and also the complex ballad.
It is this tension between two poles that arguably defines Clapton's iconic position in Australian music: from one angle the sincere pop genius, and from another the alpha rock star.
Clapton recalls a time when his record company gave him an ultimatum before writing Girls in the Avenue: "Come up with a radio-friendly pop song or you're dropped”.
But while Clapton has always stood out with his more cerebral songwriting, it is now some of the poppier cheese that is his most sustaining music.
"A song like Deep Water is the gift that keeps on giving,” Clapton said.
"I didn't expect that Goodbye Tiger album to work but, surprise, surprise, it became my seminal album.
"Every year that song grows in its own strength. The world now is such a complicated place.
"Nowadays people are so burdened. I wrote the thing in 1977 but times are different now.
"It captures a period of time people would like to get back to, when things were freer and it didn't feel like a constant struggle to make ends meet and survive.”
Clapton's career has taken many artistic turns, from Deep Water and the rock and roll tunes defined by Rolling Stone magazine as "balls-out rock” to the arcane Dark Spaces, a paean to poet Sylvia Plath that has assumed a cult-like reverence from some of his fans, to his new-wave days producing INXS' second album Underneath the Colours, where Clapton, Hutchence and co changed the trajectory of music forever.
"At the time (of the second INXS album), we were opening new boundaries and exploring different avenues of music - that's where INXS were a major influence,” Clapton said.
"It wrenched me out of just the pure thing of songwriter and this country, rockish style into exploring new music, genre and absorbing grittier avenues.
"It has been, and it still continues to be, an incredible ride.”
- Richard Clapton plays the Twin Towns Showroom tomorrow night at 8.30pm.
WHEN: Saturday, June 23, 8.30pm
WHERE: Twin Towns Showroom