Paul Kelly; A short tribute to an Australian legend, poet and extra-ordinary man.
I've just finished reading a book Kris gave me last August called How To Make Gravy. It's basically a Paul Kelly memoir. Paul takes an intimate look at the songs he sang at his A-Z concerts a few years back. And like many great writers, he begins his beginning somewhere near the source of the 'A' song and then he takes you on a journey over mountains, across continents, down rivers and dark black alleys in a heart shaped boat with a battered sail that uses hindsight wisdom for words and wind.
I love honest people and I have always loved Kelly. For me he epitomises the poetry and art that can be found on any wall or street or backyard just about any place in Australia. Kelly has never tried to be anyone but himself and he does a really good job of that. His perspective and recording of many aspects of Australia's modern history and culture are an invaluable resource. His prose, in How To Make Gravy, is fluent and funny, graphic and articulate and full of the imagery that he so generously plants into every song, album, movie or musical project he puts his hand to.
Prior to reading his book I only knew Kelly by his songs. I've always read his lyrics because I find them interesting. I watch his film clips and read all the album cover liners, trying to soak up what the man is all about. And I still have the first Paul Kelly and the Dots vinyl album he released. It probably wasn't until he recorded his Gossip album with The Coloured Girls that he really got a hold of me. Gossip was a double (vinyl) album and is still full of some of his finest. Tracks like Before too Long, Somebody's Forgetting Somebody, Maralinga, Darling it Hurts, Adelaide and Stories of Me live in my mental jukebox still. This album is listed at number 7 in the Top 100 Australian Albums of All Time.
Vintage Kelly ... Vintage Australia
The first time I saw him play live was in Toowoomba in 1994. He was touring the Wanted Man album which had classic Kelly tunes like Songs From the Sixteenth Floor and God's Hotel. That night he also had an amazing young backing singer called Christine Anu who came and did a solo spot during the show including Kelly's song, Last Train.
I think Wanted Man ranks with his best for me, probably only outweighed by Nothing But a Dream, an album he released in 2001, which was a really interesting window of time in my life. His greatest hits album, Songs From The South, always provides some the best road trip music for Jo and I to sing along to when we are cruising our home highways and byways on the never ending tour called life.
In his songs Kelly is a gifted story teller. In this book he is insightful and interesting, not only letting the reader look inside his world but also taking a look out and across modern pop music culture, its roots and history that he encounters in his musical sorties across the world.
Paul Kelly ... How To Make Gravy... is an excellent metaphor for Kelly's life. I can recommend it as a read.
He is definitely one man I would like to have dinner with some time or at least a coffee in Desgraves Street. Jo and I had him sing at our wedding (on CD) and if we were going to Manchester two weeks ago instead of this weekend we could have seen him in concert while we were there.
A tribute to Paul kelly
And one more song from Missy Higgins to finish.
(e & o e)