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Top Ten Tunes

Fred Schepisi

AO, Film Director

Ladies and Gentlemen! And Rob Sitch! Tonight, a very special DJ appearance in The Dayglo Delite, a formidably distinguished Lion of the Cinema, and a Great Australian, and not least an old Two Paddocks friend, ally and supporter, one of the key figures in the cultural renaissance that Australia enjoyed in the 1970s and 80s, and a leading light in Antipodean movies to this day, as well as a director of great import internationally. You perhaps know him best for The Devil's Playground, The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (btw, how interesting to see Tommy back in Red Hill wreaking revenge once more!) The Russia House, Six Degrees of Separation, Last Orders, Empire Falls and the recent Eye of the Storm with Geoffrey Rush and Charlotte Rampling. But here at HQ we know him best for Plenty and A Cry in the Dark ... because the Prop appeared in both along with La Streep ... an inspired DJ choice by Dayglo management not least because of Fred's profound interest and knowledge of music (see his movies as an insight into that) and because of course we love him to bits. A gentleman, a lout, smart cookie and clown ... here he is ... lurching up to the stage, half tanked and half ahead of all of us ... roaring and right! Put your hands together for our great friend and delightful colleague ... a big Dayglo Disco welcome please for ... Mr FRED SCHEPISI!!

  1. Blues in Orbit - Gil Evans, from the album Svengali

    The title is an anagram of his name worked out by another famous musician. The culmination of his writing and orchestration that he perfected on the famous Miles Davis albums. The music is orchestrated laterally and vertically. It also uses many counter and competing melodies, plus remarkably tuneful discordancies that reflect our modern city life. It fills every corner of my brain. It also reflects my view on life - knowing when to be an integral part of a group in perfect controlled synchronicity and when to be a freewheeling improvising individual. I first heard it when it was suggested by Bruce Clarke, a famous Melbourne Guitar player/band leader and composer who ran the Bruce Clarke Jingle Workshop. We worked on many sound tracks for commercials together when I was in Advertising. He had a great influence on my musical appreciation over many years having very eclectic tastes and always searching the world for the truly original.

  2. Trois Gymnopédies - Erik Satie

    The music of a mad mind seeking to calm itself. I was 25 married with 4 children when I first heard it and was soothed by it. The actor Arthur Dignam, who played Brother Francine, the 'tortured' monk in my first Feature film The Devil's Playground suggested it would be perfect for his character to play on piano when the Monks were 'off duty' in their common room. (or the composer Bruce Smeaton suggested it, time is taxing the memory) It was perfect. It has since become a cliche as it's been used as score in so many indie films.

  3. Blackbird - The Beatles, White Album

    A whole group of us, who'd been waiting for it's release, gathered at a still photographer friend's house the day it came out and had a party to listen to it together. We played the double album at least twice. I had a new Chrysler Valiant at the time that had every major component fail within the first thousand miles. After much yelling and screaming the dealer sent it back to the factory in Adelaide to rebuild it. They gave me a loaner which I was driving the night of the Beatles party. When the party was over I went to go home and the loaner wouldn't start. You can possibly imagine what I said as I kicked the grill in and flung the dealer's keys into the night.

  4. Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley and The Comets

    I was 15 and playing for the Richmond 4ths at the time. We were undefeated premiers. And I was Best on Ground in the Grand Final. We went on a country train trip to celebrate and played that song ad nauseum. Including the flip side which was also a big hit.

  5. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning - Frank Sinatra

    I drove my mum mad playing that song in my teens. She used to call him Frank Stinkatra. I fancied myself as being able to sing like him. I even wore the kind of hats he used to wear in the movies, with wide pink hat bands. Gun metal suits and shirts with pink ties. I used the song to lull the young women I fancied into a kind of swoon. One in particular, who introduced me to the wonderful world of sex.

  6. Sing, Sing, Sing - Benny Goodman, 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert

    So many greats were in that band. It was the record that introduced me to Jazz. I used to listen to it endlessly when I was 15. It inspired me to take clarinet lessons, which I did for a year or so. And it made it essential for me to go to New York for jazz in general and for Carnegie Hall in particular.

  7. This Guy's In Love With You - Herb Alpert

    Very popular and infectiously romantic song that always reminds me of the first few years I ran my production company The Film House. A Commercials and Documentary Company. We were all so happy and free and creative. Working very hard trying to be original in everything we made. Partying very hard to celebrate what we achieved and to encourage ourselves to do even better, against much resistance I might add.

  8. Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major - Gustav Mahler (also know as the Symphony of a Thousand, because it requires huge instrumental and vocal forces)

    Which I saw in Carnegie Hall with choirs from all over America standing all around the auditorium and the whole back of the stage. 1000 singers. Every person including the singers and players were taken to a joyous place, which was evident all over the streets of uptown New York as people poured from the theatre all smiles and practically danced their way to restaurants and bars and homes. I went with my wife Mary and Sam Cohn the Uber Theatre and Film Agent of the time who had a habit of taking us to great theatre, ballet and concerts almost twice a week. For which I will be ever grateful and enriched.

  9. Tenterfield Saddler - Peter Allen (or Quiet Please There's a lady On Stage, or You And Me (We Wanted It All).

    I got the album these songs were on when I first moved to Hollywood with my 2nd wife. I played it over and over as each song spoke to me and my new situation in so many ways. About a life left behind, A life desired and a life disappointed. Both my 2nd and my 3rd wife were well acquainted with Peter Allen. One a friend of his in Australia and the other a friend of his in America. Through them I got to know Peter as a mate and was lucky enough to be around for many of his seminal moments. A great thrill and pleasure as he sometimes drunkenly, in lobby of The Sebel Town House in Sydney, tried out his new material on Mary and myself.

  10. You Bring The Sun Out - Randy Crawford

    Because it's my love song to my third and most wonderful wife. (A close second to that is Am I Losing My Mind from Stephen Sondheim's Follies.)

  11. Move On - Stephen Sondheim, Sunday In The Park With George

    I know I'm not allowed 11 but, if you have any idea of the many, many, many more musical compositions I've had to ignore, you'll allow me this one

We really love it at HQ when people we love, and find fascinating in themselves, go to all this trouble to choose their music with care, and then give us insight into both that music and also themselves ... thanks Fred, matey. Loved it.

I was going to tell a couple of stories about Fred at this point, but caution prvails. They are generally unprintable. Fred has his own vineyard now -- Pinot mostly -- but we think it goes into someone else's wine ... perhaps. One doubts if much of it gets past the front gate.

Fred is married to a saintly sort of woman, also a red hot artist -- Mary. No one has been able to count exactly how many children he has. Most of them work in the film industry one way or another -- in fact it has been estimated that about 28% of Australian casts and crew are Schepisi progeny.

Not really.

We love you Fred.

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