Track 1 has a meaning for me going back to 14 June 1980 when I first heard it at a rehearsal in a hall in Waymouth Street, Adelaide, and I heard it again the next night at the performance and I was seated next to the Governor’s aide-de-camp and the Governor of South Australia and his wife. In fact my reservation was for the seat at the beginning of the row, and before the Governor’s party arrived I was asked to move up six seats so that His Excellency and his party wouldn’t have to struggle past my legs.
The performance was put on by Peter Iliffe and his mother Gwen (both of Brisbane) and company, and Peter arranged my seating next to the Governor. We were good friends from May 1972 only two months after my mother died until June 1993 when Peter took his own life in a theatrical manner by taking an overdose of prescribed medication while lying on his bed with candles burning at each corner, with a CD of Leonard Cohen playing non-stop in a loop. He left a note by his bed explaining the reasons for doing it and added “Don’t blame Leonard Cohen”. He had a sense of humour even at the last. Peter had often tried to influence me to appreciate Leonard Cohen but it was not until years later that I became a fan.
[Sadly, Leonard Cohen passed away on 10 November 2016. at the age of 82.]
Framed photos of Peter and Gwen hang in my hallway. They were a gift from Peter many years ago.
I was reminded of all this when a few days ago I got into a conversation online with a gent in Romania and he asked me what song I liked. I immediately thought of Unexpected Song. To be honest, when I told him that, I thought he’d be confused and think I was telling him it was unexpected for him to ask for the name of a song. But within seconds he played the Sarah Brightman original version of the song from the above video on YouTube. Sarah Brightman was, at the time, married to Andrew Lloyd Webber who wrote Song and Dance, the musical from which the song comes. The version of the song in the playlist below features his son Julian Webber playing the cello. Tracks 2 to 4 comprise Chris Rea singing, all the other tracks are of Leonard Cohen.