Love Letter To A Record, Electric Lady Edition: Jack River On Gretta Ray’s ‘Drive’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this special Electric Lady edition of our Love Letter To A Record series, the supremely talented Aussie musicians on the “all girl electric show” lineup reflect on their relationship with the music of their fellow Electric Ladies.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

Jack River: Gretta Ray – ‘Drive’

Dear Drive,

When I heard you, I had just landed from LA. I was dream heavy (that American dream thing always gets me). I had spent 4 weeks away in dedication to Jack River. I was living and breathing the dream and any spitting of reality that challenged it was swiped away like a bug on a windscreen. However, landing back in Australia, I did sense that reality was about to hit, although my dream was strong, I was anticipating the dream would have to end soon, ’cause Australia is just so damn real. Then you came on the radio, and it felt like I had found a friend in the thing I was struggling with – the fine line between reality and dreams (on so many levels, that this letter will sporadically continue to explain). And so it begins.

Drive, since I was a little kid I have lived in other worlds. School was never enough for me, in primary school I asked for more spelling tests cause I was bored, I joined all the clubs cause lunch time felt like unused space, I studied as hard as I could, and played a lot of sport and did so many strange other things but still felt a little unfulfilled until the moment when I would go home to write my diary or when I’d go over to the beach and get lost in my imagination playing with shells and our dog. In high school I began to write songs and got further found in other worlds and lost to the outside lands around me, it fascinated me to build another reality – not out of escape, but in dedication to the real reality. One in which the story had time for nuances and complexities, and all the thoughts that happen behind the picture in front of us. It was always the reflection of life where I felt most in touch with it, that kind of worried me, but when I heard you, all those real feelings came back to me and I felt ok.

These parallel worlds exist symbiotically with most parts of my life – my job, friends, family – the dream does not negatively affect them, rather, it influences them positively. A sense of wonder is sprayed over everything I do, with mist from said rainy dreamland, and I like it that way. Drive, is this the place you are born from? Do you live your life the same way?

It’s great, but the one place I feel my inner fiction can effect negatively is my love life. I am impatient in romance, ’cause my imagination goes there before reality does. When I have a crush, or fall in love, even just a little, I find it so very hard to hold back from treating it like a song in my mind, taking it to the depths and highs of its potential, dragging it into my future into all my visions and testing it against them. When I write a song, I take a feeling and let it bloom in my imagination. I give it no boundaries, I ask the feeling a million questions and listen to every whisper it speaks back to me.

To me, you feel like a song turned inside out in this way – like the psychological coding behind a modern song (that comes out of the machine as cute but boring lines of the same old thing). You take the anxieties and thousand feelings and spray them out literally. You are like a Joni Mitchell tune reborn with extra spark and extra attention to poetic and linguistic detail. All paired with the perfect chugging of an acoustic guitar that speaks of a teenage kingdom and has the rustic feeling of its vision – of driving, of roads, of wild places.

Gretta’s voice speaks of a depth and a truth that is unparalleled in our current world of music, there was no thinking she wasn’t 100% serious and real when writing the lyrics to you. The second thing I sensed was honesty. The lyrics were spilling out honesty, and that was beautiful and they were all painting a touchable feeling, a real feeling that I have felt so deeply. They were not holding back. Thirdly, you, Drive, speak about this exact flaw of mine – the imagination, and how sometimes, it is more real and grander than reality.

When I heard you, Drive, for the first time in a long time, I felt like I wasn’t so crazy. I felt like my imagination and my over-thinking in love was beautiful, instead of deluded and annoying. I reconnected with my love for detail and indulgence in language, the magic of proper articulation. But beyond all this, the reality of dreams to the dreamer.

“Some would say this is fiction but it is not. I can get so high off a vivid picture that’s occupying my mind.”

With love, magic & respect,

Jack River

The debut Electric Lady shows kick off in Sydney on Friday, 30th June. See the lineup and details here.

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