Why didn’t Delta Goodrem warn us about the looming pandemic?
The 35-year-old Sydneysider displayed remarkable prescience on new single Paralyzed, which was written last year and seems to predict the dreaded global lurgy.
“Doctor paused this life,” she sings over gentle piano arpeggios. “He told me ‘You won’t fly’. Cancelled everything.”
All right, all right … perhaps the latest taste of Goodrem’s next studio album is actually reflecting on her own cancer battle half her lifetime ago.
But it’s impossible not to see the impact of the cursed coronavirus reflected in lines such as “All of my plans have been silenced overnight”.
Does the Born to Try singer have a crystal ball or a time machine?
“I’m starting to think I did,” Goodrem laughs as she negotiates Sydney traffic.
“It’s quite surreal to read the lyrics to this song but it was not written about this moment, it wasn’t written about what we’re all going through.
“When we were going through the songs (for the album) and I re-read these lyrics, I went ‘Oh my God’. It took my breath away.”
But Goodrem admits that the decision to release Paralyzed — written with regular collaborator, film and TV composer Marla Altschuler — last month was no coincidence.
“It felt like the right song to send out then and share with people,” she says. “While I have my own personal journey with this song, it felt like the right moment for people to take this song into their own space.”
Paralyzed follows motivational piano ballad Keep Climbing. Both songs should feature on Goodrem’s sixth studio album, which was meant to be released this year and accompanied with a national arena tour before her plans were temporarily silenced.
Her aptly titled Bridge Over Troubled Dreams Tour (presumably also the album title) is now rescheduled for April 2021 and includes a date at RAC Arena.
While it seems a gamble to even pencil in anything right now, Goodrem insists she’s worked out the tour itinerary with the venues and relevant authorities.
The singer and former Neighbours star says she is also “proud” to be one of the first artists to commit to a national tour — with a dollar from each ticket going to the Delta Goodrem Foundation, which supports cellular research therapy at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney.
Throughout any challenge you’ve got to have something to look forward to.
“We can book for April and I thought ‘Well, I’m going to hold my space and we’re going to be together healing through music’.”
If Goodrem is an optimist, then she’ll also be assuming that she’s gotten ahead of a pack of artists itching to hit the road again. Spare dates at venues might be in short supply next year.
“A lot of people, the second those floodgates are open, are going to want to go out and be together and hear live music again,” she says.
“The live music industry doesn’t have a lot going on, so hopefully there will be a lot of tours coming up. I’m looking forward to mine and sharing the new music with everybody.”
While she got a music fix as a coach on The Voice and via The Bunkerdown Sessions, her weekly iso-gigs from home streamed live on YouTube every Thursday evening, there’s nothing like a large, loud and live audience.
“Oh my gosh,” Goodrem gushes. “It’s the electricity in the room, the energy. I can’t wait to be in a room and feel that. Don’t get me wrong — I love doing The Bunkerdown Sessions, I love singing from my living room and I love the new connection we’ve found through technology but there will never be anything like being in person and feeling that energy when you’re on stage.”
The last time Goodrem was on stage in front of a crowd was mid-February, when she joined Jessica Mauboy, Michael Buble, k.d. lang, John Farnham, Baker Boy and her hero Olivia Newton-John at Fire Fight Australia. The star-studded concert to raise funds for bushfire relief attracted about 75,000 music lovers to ANZ Stadium in Sydney and a peak national TV audience of 4.7 million at home.
That night Goodrem sang seven songs, including her multi-platinum selling hits Wings, Lost Without You and Sitting on Top of the World, plus the Seekers’ unofficial national anthem I Am Australian and a new number penned in the wake of the devastating bushfires, Let It Rain.
The star says that Fire Fight Australia was a very special event. Her family and friends all came to Sydney to share the moment with her.
“For most of us artists that was such a special moment, after everything Australia was going through to come together and do a concert,” she says. “Little did we know that we weren’t going to be back performing for a long time.”
Goodrem was also involved in another televised concert in Music From the Home Front, an Anzac Day salute featuring artists performing from home.
Given that she is one of the many Australian artists who shows up for service men and women, victims of bushfires or just fans wanting a distraction from an anxiety-riddled world, does she think the Australian Government should return the love with a little more financial support for the beleaguered live entertainment industry?
“Oh, I don’t ever get into politics,” she says.
“I’m all about the music. My role in this world is to send love through music. I take it with great pride that I show up as a musician and do the best I can.”
Goodrem is clearly trying to avoid controversy.
But it seems like she was baiting the gossip mags when she wore a floor-length white gown designed by bridal couture specialist J. Andreatta to one of the semifinals of The Voice.
Was that an intentional attempt to suggest her boyfriend of the past two years, musician Matthew Copley had put a ring on it?
“I will get you to answer that one,” Goodrem laughs. “What do you think?”
Seems like a bit of fun, and the singer knew that the media would leap to that conclusion.
“Ah, I wouldn’t look that deep into it,” she says. “It was just a beautiful dress made by this incredible designer, Jess Andreatta. It was the semifinals and we all get dressed up.
“But I can’t imagine that The Voice is where you’d go to announce your engagement.”
Copley has clearly become an indispensable part of Goodrem’s life and career. The bearded muso has writing and production credits on her past three singles.
“Music is what we both do, and it’s a constantly creative household, that’s for sure,” she says. “The thing is with me, if you come to the studio, I get you to work. Even if you’re just doing handclaps. Everyone who comes to the studio, you’re on the record.”
While Goodrem recorded most of the album in Los Angeles with some top players, including members of John Mayer’s band, she says Bridge Over Troubled Dreams marks a return to the piano and voice treatment of her record-breaking 2003 debut album, Innocent Eyes.
“I’ve really found a lot of freedom on this album,” adds Goodrem, who promises a lot of piano and a lot of fun. “There’s still moments that you’re going to be moving to, there’s ballads but there’s still up-tempo songs in there.”
As for a release date, all she can promise is “it’s definitely going to be before the tour”.
Putting a positive spin on the situation, Goodrem says that at least she’ll have time to really polish every bell and whistle on her live show before finally hitting road.
“A little time, a little hope, with a little light you’ll never know,” she sings on Paralyzed. “Close your eyes and think of better times, big dreams.”