Peace and Love and Dr. G. Yunupingu
The surrendering power of music is best felt through the lens of loved ones. We go to gigs together; we tag each other in posts about shows; music is often the anchor for us to to gather somewhere.
If Sade’s By Your Side comes on the stereo it takes a little air from the lungs of my wife and I – the song we walked down that community hall in Bundeena to. But it’s my daughter and my mum that kinda bookend so much for me and their separate experiences with Dr. G Yunupingu’s music have made me stop and reflect this week.
Whenever we play his songs, my daughter sparks up, excited by the familiarity of his voice and – I’m guessing – the bridging of her worlds. At her daycare they play his soothing, spiritual songs when it’s sleeptime. The poignancy of his music being employed to relax these city kids speaks to something deeper about modern Australian life.
I was born blind, and I don’t know why God knows why, because he love me so
That lyric always haunted me, but one night at the Opera House, I attended his show with my mum. Tears fell down my face as I stared at her as she looked up at him singing this on stage at the Studio. I share glimpses of her experience – what it must be like being blind – but she’s the one who lives with it. I don’t know anything really. I forget what it must be like, then I remember. We listened to the way his melody and vocal tone transformed the lyric into something otherworldly, a message that retells mum’s experience, transcending the limitations of language and words and explanations. It’s devastating for its sadness, and I have no hope of doing justice to its beauty. But it helped me understand my mum a bit more.
His music impacted my family deeply. He will be missed.