Djarimirri (2008) – Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow) is the second song here to appear from the Australian Aboriginal Singer-songwriter Gurrumul. Additional information about Gurrumul can be found at my first post – Bapa.
Below is a video of Gurrumul singing Djarimirri live at the Darwin Festival 2006 with his friend Michael Hohnen who produced the album and was his translator. Gurrumul’s debut album Gurrumul peaked at No. 3 on the ARIA Charts and was certified triple platinum. It remains one of my favourite albums from my Island home. I even brought it with me; amongst my few other prized possessions; when I came to Colombia in 2009.


Child of mine from the womb
Born into a colourful world
Colourful child From my womb
Sleeping fully formed
At the sacred place where women give birth
I dry my child in the sun
On the ground where I gave birth
The head is placed first Rainbow child

It is said the money he made from his debut album was largely shared with his family, following the Aboriginal tradition of sharing wealth. He did not generally give interviews, instead relying on Hohnen to speak for him, following a Yolŋu custom that dictated that Yunupingu’s role was only to sing, while his elders spoke publicly. In one of his few interviews Yunupingu said that he was generally shy but more comfortable playing music, and went on to say: “I don’t have much to say to people when I talk. That is for other Yolŋu. But I can play and sing and tell people things through my songs. We have an encyclopedia of stories ready to tell people, if they want to listen.

In 2012, Yunupingu was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the University of Sydney. He died at the Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory, at about 5:00 pm on 25 July 2017, aged 46. He came from from Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem Land. He will always remain one of Australia’s greatest voices who took Australian music by storm.

His niece, Miriam Yirrininba Dhurrkay, said “He was writing these songs and the words just came into his mind and heart. Even though he couldn’t see the nature, he was born to feel the nature.” To see without seeing? “Yeah. He had a special place to see, which was his heart.”

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Special Blog Report – The Phenomenon of ‘Mass – Formation’ as precursor to Totalitarianism

Late yesterday afternoon, I found myself well and truly engaged in the above interview with Clinical Psychiatrist Mattias Desmet from Ghent University in Belgium. I have never recorded so many notes for my Ankidroid application which I will relay below. The interviewer described the presentation; ‘It offers a rare – helicopter vantage point of how the Pandemic and Lockdowns have affected populations on mass around the world‘. Whether you are in support of the mainstream narrative or not, I regard this video as essential viewing.

I never imagined I would remain compelled to write for the entire duration, but such was the rigour and complexity of the discussion I was constantly pausing it and jotting down notes. They don’t do the interview justice, so I encourage you to watch the interview it in its entirety. If so willing, please share it as widely as possible. I hope you find the interview as engrossing as I did:

The Phenomenon of ‘ Mass Formation’ as precursor to Totalitarianism. The affect of the Pandemic and Lockdowns and why so many buy into the ‘Narrative’ :

According to Clinical Psychologist Mattias Desmet the effects and conditions on individuals created by the Pandemic and Lockdowns might be described as follows:

1. Social isolation and disconnectedness (lack of social bonding),
2. Lack of meaning and significance in lives.
3. Free-Floating anxiety (anxiety which can’t be attributed to anything specifically), and
4. Free-Floating aggression which also one can’t attribute directly to anything.

Reaction – Why Individuals buy into the ‘Narrative’:

Suffering with the aforementioned circumstances and conditions, many individuals will have a propensity to align forcefully with the mass-media message and fall under its spell because it conveys being connected to a larger cause. All the free-floating anxiety can be connected to a mental representation and by participating in their strategy you can control the anxiety. It represents a new kind of meaning-making and solidarity with others suffering from the above conditions. It becomes kind of a ritual to follow as one feels more aligned and connected to a larger group.

Mass-Formation‘ is a psychological response not unlike the hypnosis to the unrelenting campaign of fear. It leads to a very narrow field of attention where people are only aware of a very small part of reality such as only being sensitive to victims of the Corona virus, however remain ambivalent (or ignorant) of the collateral damage. Those, because of Lockdowns; such as children starving especially in ‘developing or sub-developed countries’, or parents made unemployed and destitute, not to mention the millions worldwide suffering from delayed medical treatment.
The starkest impact these followers of the narrative share is that they become oblivious to their own psychological and physical well-being or perhaps of their children. It’s ok to separate Children in classes and the playground, mandate they wear masks – the most vulnerable and least likely to pass-on and be affected by the virus, yet allow adults exceptionally more vulnerable to COVID to carry-on without such restrictions in their workplace and at ballgames or what-have-you.

Mass-Formations‘ of this sort were common in Totalitarian states in the early 20th Century, namely the Nazi Regime and Communism under Stalin. People became willing to sacrifice that most dear and precious to them without giving it much thought.
Case in Point:
When 50% of the leadership under Stalin was liquidated, those individuals didn’t protest, rather they were compliant to accept their death penalty and admit their wrong-doing. In summary, individuals under ‘Mass-Formation’ are willing to forego their individual freedom in favour of the collective well-being. This could be described as ‘radical-collectivism’.

Most of the people in the ‘Narrative camp’ don’t pursue going back or enlightening the old/normal and they disdain dissident voices and opposition. Soon the 30% opposed to the state become silenced, then the state is compelled to commit the most grievous of atrocities like in 1930 under Stalin in the Soviet Union and 1935 under Hitler in Germany to destroy people even if they are loyal or not.

So people have to continue to speak out. In a Totalitarian state 30% are hypnotized, 40% don’t speak out, neutral or simply subject themselves to the mandates of the hypnotized while the remaining 30% try to speak out or object publicly. Unless the last group becomes unified in their opposition then the Totalitarian State will run amok until it eventually devours it’s own and implodes on itself. The complication with the current Mass-Formation as its seen is that it’s Worldwide.

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Posted in News, politics, Reflections

Dirty World (1988) – Traveling Wilburys

Traveling Wilburys, Encino, CA 1988 by Neal Preston

Dirty World is the second song here from The Traveling Wilburys and their Volume 1 album. As mentioned in the first release – Congratulations, all songs from this stellar debut album will feature here. Such is the quality of this album, today’s track – Dirty World is probably my least favourite track from the record yet I still get a kick out of Dylan’s attempt to write one like Prince (more information below). The whimsical and capricious lyrics and tune are delicious.

You don’t need no wax job, you’re smooth enough for me
If you need your oil changed, I’ll do it for you free
Oh baby, the pleasure would be all mine
If you let me drive your pickup truck and park it where the sun don’t shine

Every time he touches you, his hair stands up on end
His legs begin to quiver, and his mind begins to bend
Oh baby, you’re such a tasty treat
But I’m under doctor’s orders, I’m afraid to overeat

George Harrison seems to be the mastermind behind the project as presented in the TW documentary. He was also receiving great commercial success at the time and seemed to take everyone else on board. Also Orbison was popular with his ‘You Got It’ hit which I adore. Even now writing about this epoch my memories of adolescence come flooding back.

I think for the young layman listener – Volume 1 Travelling Wilburys is about the best introduction of contemporary rock. From personal experience I know this album led me onto an extraordinary musical odyssey which I remain indebted to.

It is said about “Dirty World,” here at ultimate classic rock that Bob Dylan, announced one afternoon: “Let’s do one like Prince!” George Harrison said about Bob in the process according to his interview in 1990:

“I mean, a lot of people take him seriously … and if you know Dylan and his songs, he’s such a joker, really. And he just sat down and we said, ‘Okay, what we gonna do?’ And Bob said, ‘Let’s do one like Prince!’ And he just started banging away, ‘Love your sexy body. Ooh, baby.’ And it just turned, you know, like into that tune. It sounds nothing like him. But that track, I mean, I love that track. It’s just so funny, really.”

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Dirty Blvd (1989) – Lou Reed

Lou Reed’s ‘New York‘ – The Comeback Album

This was the first song I loved from Lou Reed. I can’t remember how I came across it; it may have been from hearing his fantastic rendition of Dylan’s Foot of Pride at the 1992 Dylan tribute 30th Anniversary Concert. Their are few renditions of Dylan’s songs which my ears appreciate more than the original, but Foot of Pride is one of them.

Today’s featured track – Dirty Blvd is from Lou’s 1989 album New York. It contrasts the rich and poor from New York City and topped the Billboard chart for four weeks. What really blew my mind was the grit and backbone of the music and lyrics. I knew when I first heard Dirty Blvd, that this was taking me somewhere I needed to go and it wasn’t going to be pretty. Despite having a simple three-chord progression; a repeated sequence of G D A D the song goes way deep.

Pedro lives out of the Wilshire Hotel
He looks out a window without glass
The walls are made of cardboard, newspapers on his feet
And his father beats him ’cause he’s too tired to beg.

He’s got nine brothers and sisters
They’re brought up on their knees
It’s hard to run when a coat hanger beats you on the thighs
Pedro dreams of being older and killing the old man
But that’s a slim chance, he’s going to the boulevard

NYC is in Lou’s Blood. Like Woody Allen as a movie director from New York who showcased the city in many movies most notably Manhattan, Lou did the same musically, but from an obtusely different angle. This was his city. Hal Wilner said that “Tourists would see him and Laurie [Anderson] on the street and know they’d been to New York.”. The city had a profound impact on nearly all his artistic endeavours spanning from Andy Warhol’s Factory to Lincoln Center.

Using simple, observational lyrics as a tool to highlight underlying issues of society, he had the ability to establish an emotional bond between the listener and almost any subject using only a few words. Remember when Dirty Blvd was written, it was at the height of the AIDS epidemic and the city was on the brink of Depression. Lou hoped that by highlighting the issues in his songs, it may become a launching pad to solving some of the problems or at least exposing them.

References:
1. New York Series: Lou Reed ‘Dirty Boulevard’
2. Dirty Blvd – Wikipedia

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Different Sides (2012) – Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen live at the Barclay’s Centre, NY – 2012

By golly the latter era Cohen songs are running amok in this blog and for good reason, he wrote a crazy amount of excellent songs in his older age. I think unlike his contemporaries Leonard found a new lease on life as a Poet and singer-songwriter. I would predict that at least half of Cohen’s songs presented here from my music library are post 2000, which is remarkable considering the depth of his musical cannon.

Today’s featured song Different Sides is the second song here from his 2012 album Old ideas and it sure as hell won’t be the last from this fantastic record. The first song Come Healing which I published an article on in May this year is just a remarkable spiritual anthem and easily one of my top 5 Cohen songs. Different Sides, on the other hand is a Cohen going back to a breezier tune containing a mixture of seriousness and humour.

Leonard Cohen closes his twelfth studio album Old Ideas with an argument. The Hammond organ-fuelled soft-shoe shuffle is a witty examination of a lovers’ tiff. “C’mon baby give me a kiss, stop writing everything down,” he croons.Songfacts

It ends the album and for good reason since it is a polar contrast to the opening track – Going Home. In Going Home we have one side of Leonard declaring he is near the finishing line, but all was worth it – they’re going home without their sorrow. In Different Sides the last song- Leonard wants to get out of town, but the other Leonard wants to stay where suffering is… The last words we hear, “stop writing everything down”. So basically we have two songs, the first and the last, about two sides of Leonard, two Leonard Cohens…and ends somewhat as a fighting album with military arrangements as opposed to the ‘Au revoir’ feel of Show Me the Place and Come Healing.

According to wikipedia: Old Ideas – the twelfth studio album..’ is Cohen’s highest-charting release in the United States, reaching number 3. 44 years after the release of his first album. The album topped the charts in 11 countries, including Finland, where Cohen became, at the age of 77, the oldest chart-topper, during the album’s debut week.’

References:
1. Symbolism of ‘Different Sides’ – Leonard Cohen Official Forum
2. Different Sides by Leonard Cohen – Songfacts
3. Wikipedia – Old Ideas

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Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782) – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Constanze Mozart (née Weber) 1782

When Die Entführung aus dem Serail ‘The Abduction from the Seraglio‘ was composed in 1781, Amadeus Mozart fell in love with Constanze Weber despite his father’s objection to their courting as recorded in the official Mozart Timeline and depicted in the Amadeus film. Coincidentally the German libretto for this 3 act singspiel concerns the attempt of the hero Belmonte, assisted by his servant Pedrillo, to rescue his beloved Konstanze from the seraglio of Pasha Selim. The work premiered on 16 July 1782 at the Vienna Burgtheater, with the composer conducting.

As stated in wikipedia: ‘The company that first sponsored the opera was the Nationalsingspiel (“national Singspiel“), a pet project (1778–1783) of the Austrian emperor Joseph II. The Emperor had set up the company to perform works in the German language (as opposed to the Italian opera style widely popular in Vienna).
This is also depicted in the Amadeus film.

Upon receiving the libretto on 29 July 1781. Mozart set to work on the libretto at a very rapid pace, finishing three major numbers in just two days! A letter to his father Leopold indicates he was excited about the prospect of having his opera performed in Vienna and worked enthusiastically on his project. Mozart even decided to play a major role in the shaping of the libretto, insisting that Stephanie make changes for dramatic and musical effect.

The opera was a huge success. The first two performances brought in the large sum of 1200 florins. The work was repeatedly performed in Vienna during Mozart’s lifetime, and throughout German-speaking Europe.

The video I have attached below from Die Entführung aus dem Serail is from the Amadeus film soundtrack (from 2:10 in the video). This is my favourite scene of Tom Hulce’s performing as Amadeus – the composer. The amalgamation of this gargantuan piece of music set to the fiery imagery of Mozart letting loose like an unbridled Pirate is one for the ages, at least for me.

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Naked (1993) – Mike Leigh (Friday’s Finest)

Naked is a dark and confronting black-comedy film about a violent sex offender in London. This vagabond Johnny who wanders the streets expounding his world view at length to anyone who will listen is a detestable, but loquacious intellectual. I watched this film plenty when it first came out and I was captivated by its temerity in exposing without pretences the clandestine world of this depraved individual.

It’s a film that portrays relentlessly and unflinchingly a side of our character which we’d prefer to simply sweep under the carpet. It takes everything that is immoral, degenerate and depraved in modern society and smears it all over the screen in a grubby orgy of loathing. I can’t say a lot about the plot because, well, there isn’t a great deal of plot to speak of. So what is it? I’ll tell you what it is: it’s the honesty of it. The brutal, searing, sickening honesty. Naked definitely lives up to its title.

IMDB Storyline: Johnny flees Manchester for London, to avoid a beating from the family of a girl he has raped. There he finds an old girlfriend, and spends some time homeless, spending much of his time ranting at strangers, and meeting characters in plights very much like his own.

As Johnny walks around London he meets Brian, a security guard (see video at end of this post) who looks after an empty office building at night, which Johnny calls “the most F/&king tedious job in England“, while planning to move to a seaside cottage in the future. Their dialogue is why I go to see movies.

Man isn't the be-all and fucking end-all.

Look, if you take the whole of time,

represented by one year..

we're only in the first few moments

of the first of January.

There's a long way to go.

Only now we're not gonna sprout

extra limbs and wings and fins...

because evolution itself is evolving.

And whereas you, through some process

of extrasensory recall...     

might imagine that you were some...

I don't know... some seventeenth-century Dutch girl...living in a windmill in old Amsterdam...

one day you'll realize that you've had not

just one or two past or future existences...
                   
but that you were, and are, everybody

and everything that has ever been...

or will ever be.

The scenes between Johnny and Brian came from an an eight-hour improvisation. Other than being so awkwardly funny, they bounce off each other in a dance of thought and doubt. It’s a staggering performance from David Thewlis who along with the director Mike Leigh won their respective award categories at Cannes.

You might recognise the then-unknown Thewlis in the Coen Borthers The Big Lebowsky scene where the Dude says to Maude – ‘What the f(%k is with this guy?’

According to wikipedia: Leigh first had the idea for the story while a student in Manchester in the early 1960s: “We had a very enlightened teacher who endlessly reminded us that the next total eclipse would be in August 1999. Later I started thinking about the millennium and the end of the world. In 1992 the millennium was impending, so I brought that idea to the film...

Leigh’s method, as in all his character dramas, consisted of elaborate improvisational rehearsals with the cast to develop the characters’ background stories and traits. The actors interacted with the outside world and each other while in character until Leigh told them to come out of character and be themselves. The dialogue produced from these interactions was then edited, or “distilled”, to form the script, based on a minimal plot outline by Leigh.

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Did I Ever Love You (2014) – Leonard Cohen

This song demonstrates what is so damn good about Cohen’s music especially in the latter epoch of his career. I could have Did I ever Love You on repeat and never tire hearing it. The contrasting musical interlude between the slow verse and fast-rollicking chorus sections hits my musical taste-buds like few other songs. It can feel confusing to the listener upon first listen because of this juxtaposition between the two styles and moods.
Someone wrote on the Cohen forum that ‘it seems to present “various positions” on the matter at hand (manic-depressive positions, though they may be, but that is now something that I love about it!)’. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment.

Did I ever Love You is the first song presented here from Cohen’s 2014 album Popular Problems. I have another song from that record which I am yet to write about that I hold in the highest esteem and dedicated to my daughter when she was baptised. I’ll let you guess which one that was. The more I hear Did I Ever Love You the more I love it. It also has this fascinating country-style sound which tickles my senses.

Popular Problems is the thirteenth studio album from Cohen and received uniformly positive reviews from critics. The album peaked at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 20,000 copies in its first week.

The thing about Did I Ever Love You and many other songs from Leonard is how they draw you in. The song expresses our inability to communicate feelings of love and despair, and of wanting and needing someone. It appears both parties are still longing for each other, although they probably haven’t seen or heard from one another in a very, very long time.

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Diamonds & Rust (1975) – Joan Baez

The introspective self-emboldening Diamonds and Rust is the first song to appear here from the phenomenal talent that is Joan Baez. It is so well-renowned because it tells of her turbulent relationship with fellow singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Diamonds and Rust doesn’t mention Bob’s name, but Baez admitted the lyrics refer to her relationship with him. While Diamonds was released in 1975 on the record by the same name, it recalls a phone-call from an old lover a decade earlier in Greenwich Village.

It is regarded by a number of critics and fans as one of her best compositions. This is my favourite song of hers, but I wouldn’t say I am familiar with a lot of her discography. Joan is heralded as one of the best interpreters of other songwriters compositions including of course Bob Dylan who she toured with most notably in the early 60’s and on the Rolling Thunder Revue – 1975. The two even sung at the famous Martin Luther King Jr inspired March on Washington in 63′.

A lot of people attribute Bob Dylan’s rapid rise to fame in the 60’s folk movement to Baez’s unfledged support of his musical endeavours. Before Dylan made a name Baez was already a popular figure in the folk community. She was so enamoured with Bob she often invited him to sing with her.

“Well, you burst on the scene already a legend / the unwashed phenomenon, the original vagabond…”

The relationship turned on its head after Dylan catapulted to stardom and he invited Joan to tour with him in England in 1965. The landmark music documentary of that 65′ tour – Don’t Look Back revealed Dylan never invited Joan on stage and she was left to just tag along like a fellow-groupie in Dylan’s entourage. Understandably she was incensed with how she was treated and the tour signalled the end of their relationship.

As I remember your eyes
Were bluer than robin’s eggs
My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

Diamonds and Rust was a top 40 hit on the U.S. pop singles chart and as aforementioned served as the title song on her gold-selling album Diamonds & Rust. Baez originally told Dylan that the song was about her ex-husband David Harris.

In her memoir, And a Voice to Sing With, Baez recounts a 1975 conversation between herself and Dylan, discussing songs to include in the then-upcoming Rolling Thunder Revue concerts:

“You gonna sing that song about robin’s eggs and diamonds?” Bob had asked me on the first day of rehearsals.
“Which one?”
“You know, that one about blue eyes and diamonds…”
“Oh”, I said, “you must mean ‘Diamonds and Rust,’ the song I wrote for my husband, David. I wrote it while he was in prison.”
“For your husband?” Bob said.
“Yeah. Who did you think it was about?” I stonewalled.
“Oh, hey, what the fuck do I know?”
“Never mind. Yeah, I’ll sing it, if you like.”

In the 2009 American Masters documentary Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound, Dylan praised the song in an on-camera interview: “I love that song ‘Diamonds & Rust’. I mean, to be included in something that Joan had written, whew, I mean, to this day it still impresses me“.

Baez has performed the song no fewer than 234 times in concert. Even after the conclusion of her “Farewell Tour”, Baez performed the song as a duet with Lana Del Rey when she showed up as a surprise guest at a Del Rey concert in Berkeley, California on October 6, 2019.

References:
1. Wikipedia – Diamonds and Rust

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Once Were Warriors (1994) – Lee Tamahori (Friday’s Finest)

The movie now glorified as the big cinema game changer in 1994 is the Cannes Palme d’Or winner Pulp Fiction, but Once Were Warriors released the same year had a much bigger impact on me. After multiple viewings extrapolating the jigsaw time-jumping Pulp I now appreciate its greatness with respect to Tarantino’s writing, but as far as a ‘knock your socks off’ movie experience I cannot speak more highly of Once Were Warriors. It’s a cultural tour de force of exceptional cinema from New Zealand and left most cinemagoers gobsmacked by the finale including yours truly.

IMDB Storyline: Set in urban Auckland (New Zealand) this movie tells the story of the Heke family. Jake Heke is a violent man who beats his wife frequently when drunk, and yet obviously loves both her and his family. The movie follows a period of several weeks in the family’s life showing Jake’s frequent outburst of violence and the effect that this has on his family. The youngest son is in trouble with the police and may be put into a foster home while the elder son is about to join a street gang. Jake’s daughter has her own serious problems which are a key element in the plot.

This movie goes deep into the trenches of one Maori’s family attempts at dealing with the problems of poverty and alcoholism. Warriors remains the highest grossing New Zealand film of all time even surpassing The Piano (1993) and critically lauded upon release. It’s definitely not an easy movie to watch, but as a viewer you feel so invested in the characters trying to keep the family together despite the persistent hardships confronting them. I haven’t seen as many ‘raw’ movies as ‘Warriors‘ and admire the courage it took for the actors especially the mother played by Rene Owen whose performance is astonishingly good. Heck, Rene was even picked up by Lucas to play in two Star Wars prequel movies as a result.

There are movies which depict domestic violence, but when Rene’s character is hit in the gut, you actually feel like you are being hit in the gut. She’s the anchor point in the whole movie. The rational person of the family is the oldest daughter (13), who is really the only one who can communicate with all the other members since the mother (Rene character) also succumbs to the boozy lifestyle. The boys are either lost in life or lost in their own rage. The youngest daughter is simply too small and clings to her sister. It takes a tragedy to allow some of these individuals to reach out for each other and try to re-create a form of family life. For any cinephile Once Were Warriors is a must-see.

Once Were Warriors Movie Trivia:

  • Temuera Morrison would get challenged to fight all the time by local thugs after seeing him play Jake Heke…(he also said) how he couldn’t contemplate how anyone would want to watch a film containing such violence.

  • Actor Cliff Curtis initially refused the role of Uncle Bully as he found the character so repulsive, but his agent and his auntie persuaded him to do it.

  • The film was turned down by various potential backers and producers including the New Zealand Film Commission. A key turning point in getting the project off the ground was that Wellington playwright Riwia Brown rewrote Duff’s original script and made it as much the story of Beth and her children as it is the story of Jake. Then director Tamahori knew he was onto a winner. Tamahori said “You couldn’t have it be a story about a mindlessly violent thug. I was more fascinated by a story of a mother who makes efforts to rise above her circumstances and create a life for her children.”
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