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02 April 2012 @ 11:30 pm
A real loss  
This post contains names and images of deceased people.

Jimmy Little died today.

Back around the turn of the millennium, I had an interview with him. He had a bunch of other media commitments on the same day, and a photo shoot with Kylie Minogue. His 'people' ushered me down a hallway towards a meeting room where we would hold our interview, along the way they stopped and knocked on a door. Jimmy Little opened the door, smiling.

'Sorry,' he said, 'I'm just running a bit late …'

'That's all right,' said the publicist. 'This is Brammers, your next interview.'

He looked at me, he grinned. He opened the door wider. Inside was Kylie Minogue. She looked up at him, then out at me. I looked at her, she looked at me. Both of us had faces that conveyed something along the lines of: 'Yay for teeny tiny chicks!' We both grinned, too.

Jimmy smiled at everyone and announced, 'I feel so tall!'

Most interviews are exercises in ego, but talking to Jimmy Little was like talking to your favourite senior relative. He talked about how much he loved his wife, and how important it was to have a partner you could like and respect. He said that it was pure good luck on his part that led to him being the first indigenous Australian to have a number one single, but that he had felt it a privilege and a gift that he was then able to work for various indigenous causes, including supporting Aboriginal health and indigenous musicians.

At the end of the interview, I didn't want to leave. He gave me a hug and told me to be good, and to work hard and have faith and everything works out if you do.

Jimmy Little was a quiet, gentle and generous man whose activism was made all the more powerful by the fact it was as soft and inexorable as a stream. In an age of pop stars who wave their political actions in front of the world and demand attention for them, a small man with a soft voice (that was big when he sang) and a guitar encouraging his people to make sure they take care of their health and supporting education and opportunity throughout communities around the country was never going to grab the headlines, but I bet he made just as much difference to the world as Bono ever could.

Most of you have probably never heard of him, which is a great shame. Here are a couple of his songs that I particularly love, they're both worth listening to. If you're into 1960s' music, check out his Twisting the Night Away, Baby Blue, or his big hit Royal Telephone.

This is his beautiful rendition of The Triffids' Bury Me Deep in Love, sung with Kylie.

And this is him singing Cattle and Cane, one of the best songs written by the Go-Betweens. Good bye, Jimmy. Thank you.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Jimmy Little
(Anonymous) on April 2nd, 2012 01:48 pm (UTC)
The Triffids and The Go-Betweens made me go to Australia. Good think I happen to be crying already before I read your post! I can't turn on the sound now, will do next time I'm home.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on April 2nd, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
Oh dear -i-, I'm sorry you were crying! I came here for them, too. Such beautiful music!
κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα_inbetween_ on April 2nd, 2012 09:37 pm (UTC)
W00t, no, you didn't seriously emigrate for that reason?!
I nearly got interviewed by radio when I said somewhere that they evoked such - indescribably feelings of places that you think you can go to, but can't, because there the people yearn for Europe, but it's not that simple, wide open road is more than that, less prosaic than cattle and cane, we want surprises ...

See, and that sadness was even before I remembered that David and Grant are also gone; I manage to keep forgetting that, so it keeps hurting afresh. I'll now try to brave Kylie Minogue ... only for you :)

Edited at 2012-04-02 09:43 pm (UTC)
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on April 2nd, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC)
May he rest in peace, knowing that the work he gave his life to will be continued.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on April 2nd, 2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
I have this weird thing where I sort of hope there's an alternate universe in which there is a God and heaven, because I just find people like him who have such a profoundly decent faith should have the end they expect. And yes, his health and music foundations will keep making the world a better place for years.
maya_amaya_a on April 2nd, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting about him. He sounds like a great guy as well as a talented singer. I ... um ... first found out about him via the Wiggles. I used to opportunity to teach my kids about the indigenous peoples of Australia, but also really enjoyed his performance and only wished there had been more. Now I can follow your lead and learn more about his range and talent. I hope he rests well. I know he will live on in many hearts and memories.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on April 2nd, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
HEE! I had no idea he had done something with the Wiggles, how cool! His voice was so smooth and melodious that it works beautifully with a lot of different styles. Even his recent performances, when he was well into his 70s, had a artistic phrasing that young musos could only hope to learn. Thanks for letting me know about the Wiggles, I will have to chase that down!
maya_amaya_a on April 2nd, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
I think it's on "Wiggly, Wiggly, World" which had an international theme.
mrsquizzical: potter memoriespenseivemrsquizzical on April 2nd, 2012 09:57 pm (UTC)
quatrefoilquatrefoil on April 2nd, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
I'm sad to hear of his loss. He was a great entertainer and did great things for his people.
Jaeenchanted_jae on April 3rd, 2012 01:26 am (UTC)
How wonderful that you got to meet him!
kaedhlinkaedhlin on April 5th, 2012 06:21 am (UTC)
I thought he was just brilliant. Thanks for the video links too, I needed that boost to get me through the day. Now listening to some of the back catalog and thinking of how many amazing musicians there are out there that go about creating their beautiful music with little (boom-tish) fanfare.

I loved how he quietly encouraged his people (the Yorta Yorta) and other indigenous people to live with dignity and not succumb to the usual traps of alcohol, bad health and general apathy.

Much love and respect.