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ALL FUNDS FROM THE SALE OF THIS SINGLE WILL GO TO FUND A MEMORIAL FOR JOHN THOMPSON - SEE BELOW FOR THE DETAILS FROM HIS WIFE NICOLE MURRAY.
A year ago, in the middle of a series of lockdowns to manage the pandemic, my husband John Thompson entered the last stage of his life. We nursed him at home, loved, cherished and celebrated him as his body deteriorated and his lively mind creatively used up its last brilliant energy.
He died on February 4. Even then, we could only have a small funeral, but we streamed our honouring of John’s life to all his friends and family around the world.
John chose to be buried in Toowong Cemetery, in a wicker casket, with a seed in his pocket. He was a magical spirit, and the plaque on his grave says ‘Long Live the Green Man’. But it is only a temporary plaque, and after the requisite twelve months to allow the grave to settle, it is time to create a permanent monument.
John’s grave is beside a lawn in a tree-studded area of this historic cemetery, and he requested that on May Day every year, after the dawn ritual on Mt Coot-tha, he would like the Morris dancers to come and dance at his grave. They are not the only people that may wish to come and spend some time by John’s serene resting place, so I am designing a grave with a stone surround, where people can sit and reflect. A central stone will support a bronze sculpture of the Green Man, and the work will be designed around the shape of John’s face.
During 2021, Emma Nixon and I tried twice to organise a memorial gathering for John’s friends and family to commemorate and commiserate. John had requested that we call it “John’s First Annual Going-Away Party”. It was very sad that when he first attempted to have the party, in June 2020, when he could have attended himself, it was shut down by COVID restrictions. We have had to postpone or cancel both subsequent attempts and I eventually ran an online memorial on Zoom, with lots of photos of John’s life.
Many people donated money at the time, which instead of going towards the party, is now going towards the gravestone. We are continuing to gather funds, because stone and bronze are expensive!
If there is any money spare at the end of the project, I will use it to set up an award for singers in John’s name. John won the inaugural Lis Johnston Award for Vocal Excellence in 1994 at the National Folk Festival, and the confidence that award gave him was key to building the courage to have a long, successful touring and recording career and winning his role in the Australian production of Warhorse, one of his career highlights.
But first, the gravestone!
John’s illness and death provoked a creative outpouring from several of his musical comrades, and tunes and songs were written for him. His long-time associate in law and music, Ian Dearden, wrote this heartfelt tribute to John and recorded it. He then invited two of John’s closest musical friends, and collaborators on several Cloudstreet albums, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer, to play and sing harmonies on this rich-sounding track. The collaboration was international and digital; Jonny and Vicki are based in the UK.
Ian is launching the track on February 4, the anniversary of John’s death, and all the funds raised will go towards creating a beautiful memorial for John.
4 February, 2022
Song For John
1. Dawn is reeling in,
Dreams that are stealing
All of my life away
The green man is calling
No time for stalling
I know that I cannot stay
2. Waves keep on lapping
Shorelines are napping
Time to be on my way
Music is playing
Dear friends are praying
No reason now to delay
Chorus: So bid me a fond farewell
Sing me one long last goodbye
Shed me a tear, but I leave with no fear
My work here will live on, my dear.
3. Life is for singing
I hear voices ringing
Far off beyond that shore
Time for the meeting
With those who are greeting me
In the ever more
Chorus and repeat
released February 4, 2022
Ian Dearden: Lead and backing vocals, guitars, keys, programming
Vicki Swan: Lead and backing vocals, nyckelharpa
Jonny Dyer: Lead and backing vocals, piano
Recorded and mixed by Ian Dearden at Corner Nook Studio, Brisbane, Qld, Australia.
Additional recording by Jonny Dyer at WetFootMusic, UK.
Mastered by Andy Busuttil at Blue Mountain Sound, Hazelbrook, NSW, Australia.
Liner notes by Nicole Murray.
Artwork by Jennifer Andrews.