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And the gulls circle near where Fairburn walked

by 5 Nov 2011Regatta 20073 comments

Time-Out for Tauranga flyer

Gulls Circle Near: Flyer for the Time-Out for Tauranga charity music festival, proceeds of which will all be donated to clean up after the stranding of the Rena.

Achingly beautiful. Caitlin Smith’s recording is so striking, it is incomprehensible that Where Fairburn Walked didn’t become an Aotearoa standard. Be that as it may, the tribute to poet Rex (A‍ ‍R‍ ‍D) Fairburn was performed brilliantly by the Prohibition Big Band at the 2007 Mahurangi Regatta. The vocalist was local jazz singer Jennifer Eirena with the songwriter, Ross Mullins, on keyboard.

At the Ascension Wine Estate on Saturday, Caitlin Smith headlines a charity music festival, with all proceeds to be donated to clean up waterways and support wildlife recovery, following the stranding of the Rena. Singer songwriters Jason Kerrison and Luke Thompson feature, as do local acts Andy Richards and Blind Willie Motel—the name of which is surely a salute to Bob Dylan’s sublime tribute to, and curious pronunciation of, McTell.

And while it is unlikely Where Fairburn Walked will be performed on Saturday, the lyrics stand on their own:

Where Fairburn Walked

Ross Mullins 1987

Oh ferry me across the shining harbour
Take me back again
Rock me rock me gentle on the water
I will feel no pain
And take me through the corrugated hallway
Out on to the pier
Where the whitebaiters roll a smoke
And the gulls circle near

O walk me through those sleepy settlers’ streets
Where Fairburn walked
Past the villas with their filigrees
And chestnut trees and the idle talk
Of the old boilermakers in the public bar
Sipping at their beer
Past the poets at the dartboard
Waiting for their marvellous year

And by the graveyard pioneers
There stood a priest
Lay down your pen he said
Abandonment is only the sister of release

And when my journey’s ended, I will ask you to bury me
On the slopes of the gentle grassy mountain
That looks out to the sea
And bury me in a black piano
Beside a macrocarpa tree
And toss my music to the wind
And throw away the keys
And toss my music to the wind
And throw away the keys