9 Aug 2016

Great New Zealand Album: Dave Dobbyn, Lament for the Numb

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 2:20 pm on 9 August 2016
Dave Dobbyn

Dave Dobbyn Photo: RNZ/Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Lament for the Numb by Dave Dobbyn

Lament for the Numb by Dave Dobbyn and the Stone People Photo: Trafalgar Records

The 'Great New Zealand Album' is usually chosen by us, based on record sales and/or chart performance. However, this week our guest artist is choosing his own. Dave Dobbyn has made 22 of them in a career spanning four decades, so there are plenty to choose from. He's picked his 1993 release Lament For the Numb to talk about with Jim Mora.

The album was recorded and mixed in Hollywood in 1993, but wasn't released for a year - Dobbyn recalls a beautiful day in LA, after the album was completed, sitting in a Denny's cafe with his wife, when album producer Mitchell Froom sat him down and said:

“Ah well, we heard back from the record company. Those guys... Australians... They say it's unreleasable!”

"So I had that feeling that you often get in LA, if you ever go there, you have the feeling that the world is going to end on a beautiful day... in LA," he said, laughing.

"So the dread, and the poison and bile that had been building up for years sort of manifested itself after that moment, and for the next year I was in an agony of… a bad space. Eventually we got it out.”

'Don't Hold Your Breath'

"I was very affected by Randy Newman as a songwriter and piano player, he basically taught me to play piano, although he doesn’t know me... I was always struck by a song like 'Short People', for instance, which, if you put that out now you’d have people coming down on you like a ton of bricks," he said.

"So I could just imagine him in the process writing a wish list of all the nasty things you could say about short people... And so when I wrote [Don’t Hold Your Breath], I just wrote a political wish list as a kind of act of folly, really."

Dobbyn is one of New Zealand's most decorated performers, nominated for 43 national music awards and winning 23 of them. He has won the coveted APRA Silver Scroll a record three times and, in 2001, was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the music industry. The following year, he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and, three years ago, became the lucky 13th inductee into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.

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