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A radio interview between Phillip Adams and Paul Keating playing classical music:“Goodbye Jerusalem: Night Thoughts of a Labor Outsider” – Bob Ellis

September 12th, 2011 · No Comments · Australian Labor Party, Culture, Music, Politics

“I see two powerful forces pulling at you,’ said Adams in his gentle, challenging way. ‘One is your public, politics, that whole arena. The other is the arts, beauty, sensuality. Which these days, as you now step off one role into another, which as the stronger pull?”

“Well… I think the latter’s always had the stronger pull for me,’ Keating said, in the same familiar voice that seemed after six months so long gone from us, “and had it not had the stronger pull, I don’t think I could’ve done the former as well.”

“Explain that…”

“Well, you’ve got to fill up the bottle. To have a public life where you’re always giving out, where the system is sucking it out of you, where the ideas and the responsibility, the decisions, it’s suck, suck, suck, and it’s just dragging your personality, it’s withering your personality…”

“And deforming it sometimes. You used to complain about the things you were forced to do, the way you were forced to behave, you felt, in the arena.”

“Well, you’ve got to fill the bottle up in some way, and I used to fill it up though those things, broadly through the arts. Through my interest in whatever it might be, in music or architecture, or I’d read, and still read, quite extensively- histories, biographies, novels occasionally – but you need novels to keep your mind enquiring, keep the words coming.”

“But you also need architecture, you need ceramics, you need beautiful furniture…”

“I don’t say I absolutely need them…”

“Oh come on, of course you do. You’re insatiable. You’re like me.”

“I don’t say I absolutely need them, but I enjoy them”

“I want to play out by playing Jessye Norman. This is called “Going to sleep” in German. Would you explain the significance of this?”

“Well, this was written by Richard Strauss at the end of his life. This was in, I think, about 1949. I think he died in 1950. He wrote that very moving thing called The Metamorphosis in the ruins of Berlin in 1946. You know he had all these anti-Semitic views and what have you…”

“He was not a nice person.”

“But of course he was a great romantic, and the great effusive things he wrote when he was eighteen or nineteen like Don Juan and those tone poems, Zarathustra, Death and Transfiguration, they’re amazing works for someone eighteen or twenty to write. But in the absolute twilight of his life he left behind- when really people were not writing like this – perhaps the most melodic, moving, beautiful things that have been written for the voice, his last four songs, and this one is the third song, “Going to Sleep”, and was in part his coming to terms with the fact that he was moral and that he would soon die, which he did, I think, in Garmisch, down near that Junkgspitzer in Bavaria, a year later. And it’s … just beautiful.”

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