Friday, 6 September 2013

#23. Dion’s Theme – 21st Century Ox

Matt Neal – acoustic guitar.
Yawning by Dion Barker, Harry Fahey, Brendan Hoffmann, Matt Neal and Tony Peel.

Music by Matt Neal.
Written 2000.
Recorded at Motherlode Studios, Warrnambool, 2000.
Produced and mixed by Tony Peel.

I wasn’t sure how this instrumental acoustic tune ended up on the debut 21st Century Ox album What Am I Going To Do With All These Portaloos? so I asked my former bandmates. Seeing as how I wrote Dion’s Theme by myself and am the only person playing on it, I was worried I’d made the decision that it had to go on the album and that was that.

Here’s Ox bassist Dion Barker:

“I think it was a group decision to put it on the album... after (Matt) insisted on it! No, I'm sure it wouldn't have made an appearance without a full consensus. I do think I recall us making a conscious decision to leave it as it was - just the guitar (and no overdubs). It made for a sweet little interval in the middle of the chaos that was ...Portaloos.”

I'm still not sure what we did with all those portaloos.

My other question was whether the yawns – which were recorded to try to make the album interactive, ie. induce contagious yawning every time you listened to it – were placed at the end of Dion’s Theme in particular because it was perhaps a slightly boring track. Were we taking the piss out of the song? Or was it just me thinking that?

Dion again:

“I never thought of (the yawns) as taking the piss out of anything other than ourselves. I thought we'd decided to put the yawning track (on the album) and it just so happened to end up at the end of that song! It was a good fit, but not intentional nor reflective of Dion's Theme.”

Ox drummer Harry Fahey agrees:

“I’m with (Dion). The yawns were a separate entity that just got lumped in where they did. Great that Peely got in on the yawn action too!”

(One of those yawns is producer Tony Peel, getting bored in the control room next door.)

So what’s the story behind this poor man’s Blackbird, which added to the eclectic nature of ...Portaloos?

It's got the same first three chords.

It’s called Dion’s Theme because it was written on Dion’s guitar. In the summer of ’99-’00, I spent a lot of time hanging out at Dion’s place because we lived close to each other at the time. Unfortunately, Dion's guitar was rubbish. There was something wrong with the intonation, particularly on the G-string, so I decided to write a piece of music that wouldn’t sound bad on Dion’s guitar, meaning the G-string is left open for the whole song.

Insert finger/G-string joke here. 

It's a rather lengthy lull on ...Portaloos but it makes the breadth of material on the album even wider, which must have been what we were trying to do.

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