Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Celebrate and Appreciate the Music of life

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without music? Or musicians?

You know, there are many disciplines which are essential to maintain our lives ....medicine, education, farming, et al. Vital Disciplines that take care of our Body and our Mind. But life -living - is MORE than just body and mind. Let's not forget that nourishment of our Spiritual essence is just as important.

In almost every significant moment of our life, there is music. We celebrate with music, we mourn with music, we get married with music and when we need solo time and space we comfort ourselves with music.

When we feel sad, we console ourselves with music. When we need motivation, we put on powerful, energetic music. When we make love, we use music to set the mood. At football matches, the music prepares us for the match. In every possible life situation, music speaks to our very soul. It uplifts, inspires, comforts, cheers, supports, and soothes us.

Music crosses all boundaries - generations, cultures, demographics, societies, gender, geographics. It is the universal language that speaks to the inner being of each and every one of us on this earth. It has the power to move all races - it has the power to change a society ....yet the gentleness to settle a disturbed infant.

Why then do we take it so much for granted?
Why then do we so often treat the musicians who make it - and those who create it - with such little regard?

Take a little time today to observe the music around you .....and to appreciate those who gave it to you.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

There are many shades of blue

Here in Australia we are fortunate to enjoy a pretty wonderful lifestyle. So Aussies are not always terribly tolerant of people who have "The Blues". But depression - in its many forms - can be such a debilitating illness. It can be a silent stalker - sneaking up on you when you aren't expecting it. And it can be deadly if left untreated.

That was the primary inspiration behind the song Many Shades of Blue - which is also the title track from my second album. The title came from a throwaway line in a conversation with my, then, music partner as we disagreed about what constituted a Blues song vs a Jazz song. I ended the conversation with "well, Gregg, there are MANY shades of blue!" and the thought followed that there are many reasons why people get "the blues".

Whether its a case of major life trauma, money worries, relationship problems, life/balance stress, or work issues.....whether they last a day, a month, or a lifetime.....the simple fact is when you've got the blues, you've just GOT the blues!

Get a taste of the song at www.maureen.com.au

For a FREE MP3 of the song answer this question in the comment box below or send a private email to: bookings@maureen.com.au

The Question is - "What do you say to someone who has The Blues?"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


BORDERLESS is the title of a project that grew from a simple festival workshop for the Gundagai turning wave Festival in 2007. The festival's premise is a celebration of the Australian Irish connection. I chose to look at this from a woman's perspective. What it must have felt like to be a young woman, forcibly sent to an uncivilised, harsh colony so very different from their gentle homeland...where they had no female network, no services, severly limited facilities and supplies....leaving behind everyone they knew and loved. The strong survived. These amazing women left a legacy to subsequent generations, characteristics that define Australian women even today.

In the course of researching the topic, I gathered an extraordinary amount of information that just seemed to keep growing - daily! At the time there was a play being performed at the local rep theatre ....Female Transport by Steve Gooch ... that demonstrated the appalling journey out to Australia at that time. A journey of some 6 months aboard what become known as the 'floating brothels' where the women were subjected to unbelievable conditions and at the mercy of the ships crew who took what they wanted at will. It was a brilliant production which inspired some original songs.

Additional anecdotal research from local sources - some of which was very funny, stories of how some of the women who settled in the NSW Hunter region made their mark - spawned a little bush poetry and more songs. And before I knew it, there was a small album of songs ready for recording.

After delivering the workshop at the festival, I was given more stories, more information, and people asked if I could send them the information. This meant going back and writing a shortened version of the workshop - I included some of the research, some of the stories, some poetry and lyrics - into a booklet to accompany the CD.

But then the workshop began to grow - it became a full-on performance/workshop with backing musicians, lots more stories, anecdotes, and some additional songs - one of which is an Anne Infante song called "Striped Jacket Girl". And people began to tell me that it belonged on a performance stage not a workshop corner.

So what started as a simple little festival filler became a dedicated themed concert and spoken word performance! This year however, I'm trimming it back to a simplified version for smaller audiences so that the full effect of the event can enhance the audience experience.

On the CD there are 5 songs:
  • Patches [see the Patches blog]
  • Shoulder to Shoulder which was written for my wonderful daughter and is about the mother/daughter relationship
  • The Ballad of Miss Pitty based on a character from the Steve Gooch play
  • Rockin' the Boat which starts as a gentle irish air and dissolves into a feisty blues/rock number - just like those women did!
  • The Skye Boat Song a traditional song with a contemporary celtic/jazz-rock arrangement
You can hear samples on the home site www.maureen.com.au

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Little Fresh Air 'n Exercise!

This is a track from the Many Shades of Blue Album and is a tongue-in-cheek stab at the "get fit" campaigns which bombards us daily.

I have a real issue with a society that tells its young women [and men!] that they can only be happy, accepted, loved, if they fit the standard mold -that is, beautiful, thin [or muscular if you're male]. Is it any wonder that we've raised generations of young people who are obsessed with image, crippled by neuroses because they're "different"?! Surely there's something bizarre about a culture that celebrates an industry solely focused on surgical and medical procedures which change a persons appearance? Supported by spin-off industries which market their products to convince people that how they look is unacceptable.

The reality is that every single one of us on this earth is absolute unique. Each one of us is our own unique size, shape, colouring. And until we as humans can celebrate that uniqueness, find joy in the 'different', get past the external facade to recognise the divine inspiration of our individuality, we will never find the inner peace that comes with acceptance.

So this song was my way of standing up and saying that I am loved....I have been loved...and I will be loved...by wonderful men who care little about my external paintwork and everything about my internal landscape.

I took a comedic approach and the story in a nutshell is this......
"the tv tells us that Aussies are too fat, the doctor says trim down with a little fresh air and exercise, my gym gear turns my hubby on! and his idea of exercise is of the bedroom type! He's even got an answer for the fresh air and a solution for a smaller dress size"

It's a fun song to sing along with and if you'd like a FREE COPY just email me and ask - I'll happily send you a free MP3 via email.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Patchwork of Life

One of my favourite songs on the "Borderless" CD is "PATCHES".

It weaves a pattern of the skills and knowledge that women pass on to their children, down through the generations. As with many of my songs, the lyrics that you see aren't always as simple as you read on the surface.

For example, these lines:

the patching of hearts the mending of minds
the soothing of bruising and words so unkind
the darning on spirits the stitching on souls
it's the patchwork of life as a family evolves

...speak of more than just the craft of patchwork. It seemed to me that different families have different ways of dealing with problems, different ways of communicating, different ways of expressing love. And these behaviour patterns seem to be repeated from generation to generation. Sometimes they work. Often they don't.

But if we want to change our world, it's a whole lot easier to do it one step, one individual at a time. And the best place to start is with our own family. After all, if we can't get it right in our own family, what hope do we have in the family of mankind? So maybe it means changing the way we communicate with our children, being open and honest with them, expressing respect and expecting it in return, forgiving and loving unconditionally. They're pretty good qualities to be passing on to future generations.

Patches is best described as 'celtic jazz' with haunting celtic melody. The "Borderless" CD is part of the Borderless Project - a performance/workshop which explores the early settlement of Australia from a woman's perspective. It is delivered in narrative, song, bush poetry, anecdotes et al. The CD has an accompanying booklet with excerpts from the workshop.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Hi There,
this is my first blog ...the first of many I anticipate....and I hope you'll like what you hear and swing by again, soon.

I'm passionate about Life in general and about Music in particular. I'm passionate to write music...passionate to play/perform music...and passionate to support live music because I have a passionate fear that live music may just die out and be replaced by the canned variety.

now wouldn't that be just tragic?!

because music is such an integral part of our life. It's there when we're being christened - or welcomed into the world. It's there when we get married. It's there when we're getting buried - or farewell ed out of this world! And along the way, it's there when we have a party to celebrate anything in our life, when we go to praise our god, when we go out to party or simply socialise. It's there to make any event, any celebration, any function ...be....better.

and it DOES. Why? because music touches us emotionally, it stirs memories, it uplifts our spirit, it inspires and motivates us, and simply creates joy within us.

for those of us who have been blessed with the gift of being able to make and share music with others, there is a responsibility attached. For those with different gifts, your responsibility is to appreciate and value the gift of music.

because without music in our lives, the world would be very grey. And without musicians to make that music, our world would be impoverished. And without the writers and composers to make new music, our world would become very stale.

May I encourage YOU to become newly aware of the role music plays, and has played, in your life ....and find a new appreciation of this blessed gift.

Let me invite you to listen to my music on http:/www.maureen.com.au or www.myspace.com/mymaureenobrien ... if there's a particular song you like, please let me know. In coming blogs I'll be sharing some lyrics and the inspiration behind my songs

In the meantime, live Luminously.....with passion!