Simone Felice wooed the Northcote Social Club this Wednesday with his folksy, countryish, acoustic singer-songwriter-poet songs performed with all his heart* and a lot of dry humour and the glimmer of mischievous evil in his eyes. He's a showman, for sure, sitting up on stage on his stool in his motorcycle boots, interrupting himself mid-song to explain things (and even though I think these asides have just become part of the show he's so endearing you don't even care) and he's a little bit Dylan, a little bit Springsteen and makes the audience feel pretty darn special. He played all my faves: Don't Wake the Scarecrow, If You Ever Get Famous (prefaced by a little "fame, i'm gonna live forever" spoken word jibe), One More American Song, Radio Song...and more, and more, then finished with the best Springsteen/Dylan/Neil Young/Amazing Grace singalong bonanza.
Well, the man cries,
"Who gives a damn when a tramp dies?"
But I loved you there in the lamp light
With your bare thighs
And the halo of your hair alive
And all my lifelong
I'll never shake off your siren song
And all of your talk about dying young
With an iron lung and that crazy way
You said, "Simon,
I think I might stay here with Scarecrow tonight
Simon, I think I'm gonna stay here with Scarecrow tonight."
Simone's book Black Jesus is out now. It's the story of a young American marine returned, blinded, from the war in Iraq. Answering only to the nickname Black Jesus (because he was so white, or maybe because his surname was White) he's back home in his shitty upstate New York town with his mother, who has moved into the closed-down Dairy Queen after their trailer home burned up. Then there are chapters from a young woman riding across the country on her moped with pretty much only a broken leg and the last of her stripping money to get her anywhere. Am only a few chapters in and, like Simone's songs, this book is written with spare but loaded prose that evokes the sad tragedy of a strange new broken America. "Amazing I can even read," he said before performing an excerpt, "considering the third world country I come from."
Have a squiz at Shaky, a song he recorded with his band the Duke and the King. It's what he called a "put down your grenade launcher and shake your ass song". This film clip is just ace.