What does a Country music singer with no personal tragedy to sing about, sing about?
It Takes All Kinds
Headline : It Takes All Kinds
Byline : Nora Bulsara.
Caption : Local Country musician, Twang Plunktoons, rides high following his recent breakthrough hit album.
Plunktoons has been plugging away – and un-plugging away – for four decades, plying his trade before dwindling live audiences along the Sapphire Coast, and as far afield as Canberra.
“A Revolving Door’s Ya Biggest Fan (if’n Ya Spin it Fast Enough)”, Plunktoons’ latest offering, summited Country and Western album charts, impacting the American Billboard top 50. Critics swarmed to acclaim this, his nineteenth album, and Plunktoons was invited to world-famous Ocean Way Recording Studios in Nashville to mentor local artists.
“We’ve been married thirty-five years,” he grinned, welcoming me to the family’s sprawling dairy farm.
“I’ve strummed the same guitar, nearer forty. It’s surreal that three minutes’ worth apparently comprises my sum career output.”
We’re chatting on the Plunktoons’ vast wrap-around verandah; Twang’s doting wife Polly efficiently balancing dual roles of housewife and running the day-to-day activities of their Bega acreage.
“Happy wife, happy life,” confessed the proud Plunktoons, leafing through their yellowing family album, highlighting wedding snaps of their three high-achieving adult children.
“Knock on wood, we’ve scarcely had one bad year since inheriting the farm from my grandfather. There’s excellent rainfall in the region; my ute’s never once broken down. Polly’s eternally faithful and our content cows produce plenty of milk for the local cheese industry.”
“But,” he hastily admits, “that poses challenges with finding inspiration for country songs. Until one of the grand-kids stayed with us one school holidays. He got sick from eating three pieces of his Nana’s famous rhubarb pie for dessert. We were mopping the little tacker’s brow (and the floor) and as I hung out the sheets and towels to dry, the thought occurred : ‘it’s possible to have too much of a good thing’.
“Well, that was my epiphany.”
Plunktoons smiles wistfully over his favourite chipped mug. “Can you believe it took forty years to figure out? Anyhow, I locked myself in my studio. Songs poured out of me : ‘(I’m) So Proud I Can’t Button My Shirt’; ‘The Next Tax Bracket Blues’; ‘My Little Dog Died of Old Age’; ‘Her Cooking Adds Years to Life (and Inches to Waist)’; and the title track. That particular one came about, from all the times I’d got spat out by record companies in the big smoke. I Americanised the chorus so Nashville’d sit up and take notice. Looks like it worked.
“Before I could even tell her about the contract, Poll had me put the garbage out. Which gave me a great new idea : ‘Don’t Get Too Full of Yourself (or the Akubra Won’t Fit)’. Y’know,” he adds in a conspiratorial whisper, “Polly’s endless inspiration to me, and I can always substitute ‘Stetson’ once we get to Nashville.”
But America’s not his only destination. The middle-aged Plunktoons is playing Tathra Bowling Club at 7pm on Saturday evening, before headlining gala night at the upcoming Golden Guitar Awards Festival in Tamworth. There, the veteran is predicted to sweep the awards pool.
“We’d better pack a broom,” he jokes, the mischievous twinkle in his eye suggesting he’s already mentally weaving the thought around music.
Before Plunktoons lets me leave, though, he plays a little of his newest tune, one that’s been swimming laps of my brain ever since, the catchy ‘Signing All These Autographs is Giving Me Writer’s Cramp’.
Oh, Twang Plunktoons, may it be ever so.
<b>STOP PRESS</b> : Twang’s Nashville invitation was withdrawn after footage of a banjo-plucking chimpanzee received two million Youtube views.