balmoral on a friday night
It’s Friday night. No malls. Strip shopping is still in vogue and Balmoral on a Friday night is alive! I like to call into Brazier’s second-hand book shop down Dominion Road. They must hate me coming in here – I hardly ever buy anything; it’s just so good to wander down the back and browse. I swear some of these books are older than the shop and that’s saying something.
Occasionally, I catch a glimpse of Graham Brazier. I guess he’s only a few years older than me but I’m at that age where those few years are the difference between boyhood and manhood. Sometimes Graham is carrying a guitar case, other times a saxophone case as he scuttles out the door and off to some magical place where music is made.
(That store – which is still there now – made quite an impression on me. So much so that, when I chose the setting for my first novel, Believing in Rita, I did so with that shop in mind).
There were a number of musicians living around our neighbourhood as we grew up; notably, Johnny Morris, Mark Williams, Dragon (briefly) and the aforementioned wonderfully enigmatic Graham Brazier.
Graham was part of the iconic band, Hello Sailor. They were all the go down this corner of the planet. They had a go at cracking the US market but, alas, the Americans don’t seem to have the good taste in music that Kiwis possess.
Legend has it that, during that American sojourn, Graham was approached by Ray Manzarek of The Doors. He wanted to reform the band and was looking for someone to replace Jim Morrison. He offered the gig to Graham but Graham turned it down.
blue lady fax
- Blue Lady, written by Graham Brazier, is the title track from Hello Sailor’s first and self-titled album.
- Blue Lady is the highest charting of all Hello Sailor’s singles reaching #17 in the New Zealand charts.
- Another single from the album, Hello Sailor, was Gutter Black which was recently used as the theme song to the television drama series Outrageous Fortune.
- In a list of the 30 top Kiwi songs of the past 75 years, Blue Lady came in at #20.
- For many years the meaning of the Blue Lady lyric was debated. This is from Boobsland: A Lexicographical Study of the Argot of New Zealand. Prison Inmates in the Period 1996 – 2000 by Diana M. F. Looser:
blue lady n. 1 (also blue nurse) a 10cc hypodermic syringe with a glass barrel, a glass plunger and a chrome lug nut (the piece that holds the needle). Often these glass syringes were tinted blue, and some had a picture of a woman etched on the side. Blue ladies were often packaged in a box lined with ice-blue velvet, in which the separate pieces of the syringe were laid out. This was the ultimate accessory to have in prison. [from the lyrics to the song ‘Blue Lady’ (1977) by Graham Brazier of the Auckland band, Hello Sailor. Brazier sings about his ‘Blue, blue lady’ as being the only lady he can rely upon.
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