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Sandy Thorne p3

Writer and performer of bush ballads and yarns Sandy Thorne talks about appearing on Letterman and other tv shows...

READERSVOICE.COM: What happened on the day you performed on David Letterman? Did you just get a cab from a hotel, go to the studio?

SANDY THORNE: Letterman’s producer sent a limo for me, as did Larry King’s and other tv shows I went on over there. I look back now and think “Did I really do that? Was that me?” I was promoting outback Queensland as a tourist destination in the wake of the success of Crocodile Dundee. The New York Post had a pic of me on Page Three on top of the Empire State Building in my RM Williams gear and Akubra, biting the top off a stubbie. That got me on many television and radio shows.

RV: Do you find writing ballads, for example the ones in Working Horses,which I really liked, very stressful? Is it like being a contortionist making lines rhyme and getting the rhythms right?

ST: Not stressful because I enjoy the challenge of first finding a word that rhymes and is perfect for the poem, then editing the lines so they read in a flowing rhythm. My poetry is mostly written to be performed, which might explain why sometimes some lines might not seem to flow evenly – when performing them, I might be pausing for impact, and/or the uneven line might deliberately be adding to the humour – it’s all in the delivery.

RV: In your book Working Horses in one ballad you talk a bit about this, but if you could go in a time machine where would you go and why?

ST: Back to Starcke Station,Cape York, 1970. I should never have left there. It was the most exciting, most fun time of my life, working with the wildest, toughest most capable stockmen and also enjoying the challenge of keeping them at arm’s length and being “one of the boys”. I left because I was encouraged to go to Sydney and audition to be accepted by the Conservatorium of Music to train to be an opera singer. I was accepted and semi-reluctantly, trained there for a year, then unfortunately met my first husband [first husband’s name] from Lightning Ridge and went with him back to the bush, where I belong. But if I had stuck at singing and done well, I might have ended up owning my own station anyway. Such is life.

RV: Where have you been travelling? (Early June).

ST: I am heading back home to Lightning Ridge from Broken Hill after flying out to Lake Eyre, and the Menindee Lakes. Lake Frome, seen on the way back after crossing the Flinders Ranges, was far more interesting. I have bought yet another painting from one of the desert artists. Broken Hill is well worth visiting but it’s a long boring drive from either direction, to get there.

RV: What are some of your plans?

ST: I am currently finishing a humour book tentatively titled Hospital Horrors from my diary written while spending a long time in hospital last year. Then I plan to finally write my autobiography, which publishers and my readers have been asking me to write for a long time. It is such a huge story I havn’t been able to settle down, focus, and tackle it, but I just hit a BIG birthday and feel it is time to start now. I am always vastly amused by people half my age – sports stars, media people etc. writing their life stories while they are still so young.

See Sandy Thorne’s website at sandythorne.com.au.

-Copyright Simon Sandall.