Ben Harper in Byron Bay: Burn One Down With My Own Two Hands

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“I can change the world with my own two hands.
Make a better place, with my own two hands,
Make a kinder place with my own two hands.
With my own, with my own, two hands.”

The crowd, who had been patiently waiting until this moment at 10:30pm, now erupted into elation as our favourite Bluefest artist, Ben Harper, pelted out the opening verse of one of his most meaningful songs.

A song that he sang with such passion signalling to all of us that he felt and meant every single word he sang and invited us to do the same.

[/caption]This is why I listen to music. This is why I come to concerts like these and stand for hours getting squashed and jostled in the crowd, braving humid conditions, sometimes rain and sometimes drunken stumblers falling onto my pregnant belly.

This is what makes it all worthwhile, a simple verse from someone who has been in your life for so many years reminding us that life is here to be embraced and shared.

Ben has always been in my life reminding me of this.

He was present at all my welcome home parties after my first three year trip abroad.

“Gold to Me” was the song my friends and I would sit around and sing together at barbecues and dance to. This was at the height of his explosive growth in Australia, and it came not long after his first appearance at Bluesfest. The appearance that he claims made his musical career. This is why he returns almost every year to sing at this festival.

A display of love and thanks for the dream life he has been able to live for all those who once stood in the muddy fields and believed in him and his message.

With My Own Two HandsMy Bluesfest moment had been made hours before in the early afternoon. Our media access passes meant that we were able to wander the home of the festival long before the gates to the public opened.

We decided to check out the Mojo tent where the main events would be happening and pretty much all our favourites would be performing. The massive arena was empty save for a few roadies setting up and some musos performing some sound checks on stage.

We stood and looked around,  getting ready to leave when I looked once more on stage.

“Oh my God Craig that is Ben Harper. Look up on the stage.”

“It is too.”

“Take out the camera.”

“Caroline, I am not going to be a groupie and start flashing the camera in his face.”

We believe in you!

So we just hung out while he tinkered about and then wandered back to the media tent, where we then found out that we would not be allowed to interview any of the artists, including Ben. Shattered, I sat and pouted and Craig wandered back to the car to grab something we had forgotten.

And then I heard the haunting melody of “Amen, Omen” being sung by Ben from the tent. What the hell was I doing sitting here? I picked up my stuff and marched straight back into the tent for this once in a lifetime opportunity

And there he sat with his band practicing the songs he would later sing that evening. I stood at the fence with about five other groupies. We had our cameras out and we fired away.

For at least half an hour we were mesmerized by his performance, and there was no one more ecstatic than me at the moment when the first bars of “Gold to Me” began ringing out.

Here I was in a private performance by Ben Harper and he was singing one of my favourite songs just to me. Absolute magic.

When the warm up had finished he walked to the edge of the stage and thanked us all for gawking at watching him.

All I wanted to do was say “Oh you are so wonderful. Come and give me a cuddle.” But Craig’s warnings of “Don’t be a groupie” rang out in my ear. I fluttered smiled and thanked him back.

As the time now neared midnight, our exhaustion began to hit us from a day spent running from concert to concert taking incredible photos and having huge explosions of music-love energy. But that didn’t stop us from hanging onto the magic of every one of Ben Harper’s words.

Ben Harper Byron Bay Bluesfest

The crowd sang and danced and cheered with such adoration for this man who had touched our lives in so many ways. Craig and I both hoped, but knew he probably would not play “Beloved One” and “Not fire, Not Ice,” the two songs we played during our wedding ceremony.

We forgave him when almost at the end we heard the opening bars to a song that we most wanted to hear and from the roars from the crowd so did many others.

“Steal My Kisses,” flooded the arena and we all began bopping and singing.

Flashbacks to 5 am on the night morning in the local rugby club, where our wedding after party/farewell party was happening, my younger sister and I are dancing and singing our hearts out to this song. A memory I would hold onto during those five years where I would not see her and miss out on seeing her grow beyond her teenage years into young adulthood.

Gold to Me

Ben.. How you have made a difference in my life with your own two hands.

That was all I could think about during the performance and all I have since. You are an inspiration as you use your power and your success in a positive way.

You make me stop to think about how I am making a difference with my two hands.

In our quest for success and to live our dream lives we often forget about others. We are focused on moving ourselves forward and we forget to stop and ask “How am I making the world a better place?”

It does not have to be huge monumental tasks equivalent to the peace protests of Ghandi or Martin Luther King. It can be as simple as a smile, a friendly gesture, an encouraging word or the expression of gratitude.

It was when Craig and I returned home in ’06 that our world fell apart. The black hole I found myself in led me to question just what all my travels were for. I felt as if it was all for nothing, and all I had learned and experienced was blown away with the wind that carried us home.

Eventually my questioning and searching led me to the conclusion that it was not for nothing. My experiences were gifted to me for the soul purpose of sharing them.

I was incredibly fortunate to have lived my travelling life, it was up to me now to do something with that with my own two hands. By choosing not to I was being selfish and refusing to share, refusing to make a difference, preferring instead to hold on to my doubts and insecurities- which never makes the world a better place.

And so our blog was eventually born. I started it because I wanted to somehow make a difference. I wanted to somehow make the world a better place and this was the only way I knew how.

With that came a lot of sacrifices and stretching out of my comfort zones. I knew that in saying yes, I had somewhat given up the ownership of my inner most thoughts and certain aspects of my life.

There are many posts I’ve written, even this one, where I think “God girl. Do you really want people to know you think this? Do you really want people to know what lives in your heart and mind?”

My reply is always the same,

“You said yes.”

And so I pay attention to the words that come from deep within me and I write them down as I know they are coming for a reason, a reason that I may never understand, but one I have complete faith in knowing is for a greater cause.

I was recently criticised for baring my soul and treated as if I was completely shaming myself and those around me.

I thought about this for a moment and then I thought of all the letters and comments I have received from people who have told me I have somehow made a difference. These are the voices I listen to. These are the voices that keep me sharing.

Thank you for reaffirming to me Ben how important it is in life to make a difference with your own two hands. Everyone can do it, in big or small ways. Everyone. You just have to decide to and then stick to it. Look at the magic Ben creates as a result.

Burn one Down
In a final farewell, Ben sang one of my favourites, which flashed me back to days spent singing around campfires and hostel rooms around the world.

A song that speaks more to us then the literal act of “Burning one Down”

But more to the resolution we have to live and be steadfast with when we decide to make that difference with our own two hands and confront those who don’t want us to.

My choice is what I choose to do and if I’m causing no harm it shouldn’t bother you
Your choice is who you choose to be and if your causin’ no harm then you’re alright with me.
If you don’t like my fire, then don’t come around, cause I’m gonna burn one down.

Yes I’m gonna burn one down!”

How are you making a difference with your own two hands and who inspires you to do so?

Many thanks to our friend Amar Hussain at Gap Year Escape for the Media tickets to Bluesfest and this fabulous opportunity.

12 thoughts on “Ben Harper in Byron Bay: Burn One Down With My Own Two Hands”

  1. jamie - cloud people adventures

    wow, i was expecting a gig review of harps, but what an incredible post!
    i was also thinking that it doesnt really take 2 hands to burn one down?
    its amazing how music inspires. i remember walking out of a franti gig onto a busy street and you could distinguish who had just seen franti because smiles were emblazoned on their faces.
    so, so awesome that you harps conjures up such incredible feelings.
    im ripping jealous you got that close!

    1. Thanks so much Jamie! Ben gave me so much inspiration. I just love being around people like him, they give me so much hope and make me realize just how many wonderful people there are in the world, and that’s really the only way I want to think.
      It was so great to be that close to him and have him sing just to me 😉

  2. Oh, you have much more willpower then I do. I would have been the completely shameless groupie – as evidenced by my groping of Win Butler (lead singer of Arcade Fire) when I had the opportunity. It was worth it (and I think Pete actually helped push me closer to him to get the chance – we’re both groupies!) 🙂

    As a total music junkie, I get it. I completely understand the power of music, of being in that sweaty and cramped crowd, just to let the music rush over and listen to the key lyrics that have become anthems to our lives.

    I think I am making a wee difference to a few people. I know of two other people that are beginning their world travels and have given me some credit as their inspiration. That feels pretty good. But to me, it doesn’t even have to be about travel – people are at their best when they are just 100% happy with what they are doing in their life, no matter what it is. Then they have the power to make a difference as well… 🙂

    1. I’m lucky I have level-headed Craig or I would have no composure and probably stick my breast out and ask him to sign it!
      I think what you said about being 100% happy is so important. I think this is one of the most powerful ways you can positively impact the world. As Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see in this world.” This has the most power and is really the easiest thing you can do.
      I sometimes (as do a lot of happy, positive people) receive a lot of flack that I am too touchy feely, Pollyanna, or a do-gooder just because I am positive and happy and do my best to be nice to others. I still can’t understand why people say crap like this. Why would you want to be any other way? I’d rather be happy and kind and make a positive difference than be an arse and only have people remember me as being so and negatively impact the mood and aspirations of those around me.

  3. Wow.

    When I was reading this I had this huge feeling of happiness well up inside of me and tears were pricking my eyes. Ben Harper does that to me. Every time we see him in concert he has this humbling but tremendous power over the crowd. He truly is an incredible man and musician.

    I am so happy for you Caz that you got to experience him up so close as his music seems to have been so important to you over your life.

    Amazing photos too… you say…It’s all about the memories and you sure do have some pretty great ones now!

    1. Thanks Elise. I’m so happy you that this post brought up those happy feelings for you. Ben sings a lot of songs that are quite haunting and said, but he still makes me feel so happy and inspired. I just love him and I’ll never tire of seeing him live. i have to get his new album now and see what other memories we can create from that.

  4. Fantastic post! It’s great that you got to see Ben Harper in such a small setting and then see his main performance. You guys got some really great shots too!

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