On the Couch with John Schumann

John Schumann Arts Review On the CouchWho is John Schumann?
John Schumann is a 64-year-old South Australian husband, father and singer-songwriter. He is bonded to the Flinders Ranges, South Australia’s Limestone Coast and his BMW RT 1150 (motorbike) which is a cross between a four-star apartment and the Columbia space shuttle.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
A good question. I haven’t stopped to ask that of myself before. After some reflection, I am happy to say that I am pretty content. I live in the best state in the best country on the planet. I enjoy writing, performing and recording even more than I did when I was younger. I don’t think I have anything to prove – certainly not to myself – so I am quite happy to continue doing what I am doing, at least until I am no longer able to do it.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by people who go about serving their communities in quiet, self-effacing ways. I’m inspired by people who work hard to tread gently on the planet in the short time here. I’m inspired by the men and women who wear Australia’s uniform in far-flung places away from their families for long periods of time and who put their lives on the line to improve the lives of the people who live there.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I take the view that artists are tremendously fortunate people – particularly those of us who are fortunate enough to make our living doing something we love. But that opportunity comes with obligation – an obligation to ensure that our artistic insight and our creativity are deployed to make this world a better place.

In my own small way, I have tried to do this throughout my career – sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully. I decided a long time ago that I would use the modicum of talent and ability I have to help my fellow Australians realise that we can and must work towards a better world.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I lived in Ubud, Bali, for extended periods of time in the mid 70s and early 1980s. At that time Ubud was an artists’ village and its one concession to civilisation was a crumbling strip of asphalt that ran through the centre of the village. I made a number of friends at that time, one of whom is the closest person I have in this world to a brother. Sadly, Ubud is a shadow of its former self: it’s now a noisy, congested destination for people, the majority of whom don’t get it.

However, my Balinese brother, Tjokorda Krishna Sudharsana and his wife Cathy have built a beautiful place in a quiet village called Bianking Sidem – about 45 minutes walk up the ridge from Ubud. That’s where I go to write, to read, to think, to reflect and to replenish my spirit. My one fervent hope is that the cancer of mindless tourism which has infected the once beautiful Ubud doesn’t spread to Bianking Sidem, at least while I am still alive.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I don’t ‘do’ attractions, really. When my friends come to Adelaide, I take them to my favourite places in the bush or, in summer, on the coast. I propose not to say where these places are as I have no wish to share them. I have a number of favourite restaurants and eateries in my hometown of Adelaide and enjoy sharing this these with my interstate friends.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Noam Chomsky’s Who Rules the World? in the desperate hope that the answer is not Donald Trump.

What are you currently listening to?
I’m currently listening to the albums of my friend, Shane Howard – a great Australian singer-songwriter whose work I admire greatly. Shane and I are performing some concerts together beginning in May in Adelaide – so I need to get myself across his chord progressions and and learn some vocal harmony parts. It’s a delight.

Happiness is?
Peace, tranquility and contentment somewhere in the Australian bush  – or on the coast  – away from the madding crowds.

What does the future hold for you?
I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for me. Furthermore, I venture to suggest that anybody who thinks he/she knows what the future holds is either a mystic or deluded – probably the latter.

Known for his leadership of Redgum and his compelling Vietnam Veterans anthem, I was only 19, John joins Shane Howard (Goanna) in Songs for Times like These at The German Club, Adelaide on Saturday 13 May 2017. For more information and bookings, visit: www.thegermanclub.com.au for details.

Image: John Schumann (supplied)