After all these years, singer-songwriter and guitarist Deborah Conway still finds Willy Zygier’s music and compositions inspiring. The pair have been collaborating together for more than three decades.
“He brings the best out in me,” Conway told The AJN.
“It is an amazing gift to be able to work creatively with a person you have complete trust in and the decades we have spent in a creative partnership are a testament to our belief that we make our best work together.”
In 2019, the duo released Words of Men and toured it alongside Bitch Epic to celebrate the latter’s 25th anniversary. Afterwards, in Conway’s words, they took “the longest holiday I’ve ever had – five weeks – moseying round the Mediterranean”.
It gave her time to stop and think of what to do next. So she wrote a memoir, The Book of Life.
Explaining that she really enjoyed writing travel blogs, writing the book kept her busy through the endless Victorian lockdowns, “when leaving your front gate at the wrong time or in the wrong company could bring down a whole heap of trouble”.
“Serendipity is a miraculous thing and not to be reined in, so I listened to the muse. Good advice for a songwriter, and an author as it turns out,” Conway recalled.
“I sat on the couch through 2020 then 2021 and now, remarkably, I have a book.”
The book, which started as a series of essays is now all grown up, with Conway describing it as “a flowing river of characters, stories, memories and revelations”.
And it has since spawned a musical, theatrical and autobiographical show, Songs from the Book of Life.
The production is told in eight scenes around eight songs.
“We take the opportunity to explore the nature of performing, a musical life, the notions of what people know and don’t know about a career lived over four decades in public,” Conway explained.
“We play ourselves (mostly) as we go back through our story of youth, rebellion, falling in love, ageing, money and music.”
Conway says she hopes readers and audiences find the memoir and the production entertaining and relatable but mostly, that they all enjoy the exposing “of dirty details scratched from beneath the shiny surface to expose a life lived with unflinching honesty, humour, revelation and a reflexive desire to let it all hang out”.
The Book of Life will be published by Allen & Unwin and released on October 3. Songs from the Book of Life will be staged at Arts Centre Melbourne
October 4-7. For tickets: artscentremelbourne.com.au