Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's Nylex or it's nothing

I recall reading some years ago an account of the Mushroom 40th anniversary concert, held at the MCG and a description of Paul Kelly’s set stuck in my mind.

Paul had launched into the opening of Leaps and Bounds with

“I’m high on a hill, looking over the bridge
To the MCG”

when the crowd of around 60,0000 roared back the next lines

“And way up on high, the clock on the silo
Says 11 degrees.”

As I say, it stuck in my mind for two reasons. Firstly, it is such a beautiful evocation of a time and a place (a freezing Melbourne winter day near Punt Road) and secondly, I can’t imagine a crowd in any other Australian city doing anything similar.

I might be wrong, but I can’t think of any other Australian city being so commemorated in song than Melbourne. Certainly other Australian bands have been closely associated with their home towns; The Triffids (Perth), The Whitlams (Sydney), The Go-Betweens (Brisbane) but Melbourne seems to have a special place in the hearts of its songwriters.

A few quick examples; Sykhooks (“Balwyn Calling”, “Lygon Street Limbo”), The Sports (“What did the detectives say” with its reference to the then Russell Street police headquarters), Weddings, Parties Anything (“Party in Fitzroy”), The Zimmermen (“Don’t go to Sydney”), The Warner Brothers (“Stuck down in Melbourne again”), Underground Lovers (“Rushall Station”) and too many Paul Kelly songs to mention.

For others, see here.

I’ve often wondered why a flat, cold city at the arse-end of anywhere seems to inspire such devotion in music.

My answer – buggered if I know.

Any thoughts?

38 comments:

Perseus said...

Graeme Blundell once suggested that Melbourne's introspection was a result of it's drab landscape and lousy weather. In Sydney, everyone's out and about looking at beautiful things, whereas we here in Melbourne are looking in.

Undergound Lovers - oh they were ace.

New York bands all seem to sing about New York. Similar concept, I suppose.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Somebody once said (and again, I can't remember who - stupid, stupid short-term memory) when something happens in the world, Sydney throws a party, Melbourne forms a Party.

And Rushall Station was an ace album.

wari lasi said...

I agree Ramon. (I'm just an agreeable kind of guy though). I also wonder where the sports obsession came from. Melbournians have always been known to go to just about any sport in any sort of weather. Until they built the stadium at Homebush, Melbourne actually held the record for attendance at a Rugby League game! 90 odd thousand at a State of Origin game, circa 92 or 93 I think. I was there.

Perseus said...

TISM. They had heaps of Melbourne references. My favourite was the logo they used for a while that said, "TISM. London - Paris - New York - Springvale"


I tried to join Phil Cleary's party a few years ago. He was on 3LO and gave out a number to call if you wanted to join. Later that day I rang it, and the voice said, "Hello, this is Phil Cleary."

It would be cool if the bigger parties did the same. You know, you decide you want to join the ALP, and Kevin07 takes your call.

Melba said...

Aloi Head had "Ball, Yesssss"

Also, Ramon. Are you not from Melbourne? We Melbourne people get it. I can't explain. But I first really felt it when I'd been living in Osaka and I came back for Christmas one year. The first view of the CBD wrenched my heart and ever since then I've loved Melbs in a way I hadn't before.

It's Home. In a way that Sydney is for Sydney people and all the other cities in the world. It's one reason why people stay generation after generation in villages or cities that have a lot of natural disasters time and time again.

I won't go on, otherwise I'll start sounding like our old PM, saying things like "I think I can speak for the people of Melbourne when I say [insert platitude here]"

I hate nationalism and patriotism but I heart Melbourne.

Christian Kerr said...

Paul Kelly hasn't just done it for Melbourne, Ramon:

The wisteria on the back verandah is still blooming
And all the great aunts are either insane or dead
Kensington Road runs straight for a while before turning
We lived on the bend it was there I was raised and fed
Counting and running as I go
Down past the hedges all in a row
In Adelaide, Adelaide

I grew up near there too. It's still the same. I was there over the weekend.

And guess what, Ramon. On warm summer nights, before it moved, there were the most wonderful smells in the air from the Coopers brewery.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Melba, when I lived in Adelaide I used to have a recurring dream where I was walking up Bourke Street, near Pelligrini's.

It was always the same part of Bourne Street.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Christian, that song is also ace.

Christian Kerr said...

I'm not really mad on Paul Kelly. Ramon, but Adelaide is a great song and for some inexplicable reason no one has put the lyrics to The Reels' Dubbo Go-Go up on the net.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

More of a Dead Kennedy's man, eh Christian.

Christian Kerr said...

"I am a junkie for Jesus. I love shooting up with God."

That's what Jello Biafra yelled when the Dead Kennedys played the Thebarton Town Hall in 1983.

squib said...

Paul Kelly sang about Fremantle too. I don't think he's very faithful

Here's a good site

http://www.australiabysong.com.au/wa.htm

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Christian, Jello once so sagely observed

"Nazi punks, Nazi punks, Nazi punks, FUCK OFF"

I think there's something in that for us all.

How are your sister's owls, BTW.

Christian Kerr said...

Ooooh, ooooh, ooooh!

Got an iPhone BURSTING with owl pictures I took just for you. Will email some right away.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I knew I shouldn't have asked!

Christian Kerr said...

Look mate, it's either owls or I post all the lyrics to Kill the Poor up here.

Lewd Bob said...

Paul Kelly's also sung about Sydney (several times) and the outback (several times). I used to live next door to him. We shared a balcony. I suspect it's really hard to write a song about your home town without sounding ridiculous. Kelly seems to be able to pull it off. Somehow I got backstage at one of his gigs, was introduced to him and had nothing to say. I ended up saying 'Great gig Paul.' He said 'thanks'. Quite an exchange.

Perseus, did you hang up in a panic when Cleary answered the phone?

Fad MD said...

Didn't the Late Show do some spoof film clip of "Happy Birthday Helen" as "Not Another Melbourne Chilce"?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Ah, but could 60,000 Sydney-siders sing along with a song about Sydney?

And no offence Bob, but I met Billy Bragg once and we chatted away at some length.

Fad MD said...

cliche even...

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Fad,

"I've run out of Melbourne cliches" is the song you're thinking of.

On par with their piss-take of "Accidentially Kelly Street" - "Accidentially Was Released".

Perseus said...

Lewd Bob, your conversation with Kelly reminds me of the one I had with Elle McPherson. Backstage, she was totally alone, and I came across her, carrying a heavy box.

Me: Excuse me.
Her: Oh, sorry.
Me: That's okay.

I claim to this day there was a connection.

And no, I didn't hang up on Cleary. We chatted for 10 minutes. Great bloke. But the party never got off the ground. I suspect I was the only one that ever called. Shame, because if I was his only member I could've run for the lower house or something.

Lewd Bob said...

Thanks for making me feel inadequate Ramon. Oh, I was inadequate. But, in my defence, I was 21 and knew shit. Now I'm 38 and know only slightly more shit. (Or is it less shit?) More in my defence, I'm on first name terms with Jo Bailey (she baileyed me up at the airport once) and tripped up Natarsha Belling when she was 9 months pregnant.

Aesophia said...

Lewd Bob, I believe this Oscar Wilde quote would suit what you're trying to say:

"I'm not young enough to know everything"

That is all.

Enjoy

Perseus said...

Who isn't on a first name basis with Jo Bailey?

Back to Dead Kennedys. I knew a great guy who many years ago was a recipient of 'Make A Wish' and his wish was to meet Jello Biafra. So, he flew over to the USA to spend a week in the studio. His review was: "Jello was a rude arrogant cunt, constantly shooting up heroin and never spoke to me and I've never listened to The Dead Kennedys ever since".

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I'm a highly-trained journalist, Bob.

I can talk underwater (and often do).

PS. Your gmail address doesn't seem to be working.

Lewd Bob said...

How many Paul Kellys can you fit into a nation?

Well, at least 5.

Paul Kelly The Singer, The Journalist, The Hurstbridge-based General Practitioner, The Ex-AFL Footballer and The Ex-Mitcham Footy Club Footballer (pretty sure they're different people despite playing very similar styles of football).

Boogeyman said...

Your unique seaport location ensures you Melburnians get all the culture, don't you?

Melba said...

Boobs? I thought they were jelly fish. Dogs eating, kids poking with sticks.

Lewd Bob said...

It's a great concept, of course, the inflatable boob, particularly for those that don't have access to real ones. Can't imagine they'd feel quite genuine though. Is that the point? Or is it just something for Ralph-reading bogans to put next to their framed pictures of Steve Waugh in the pool room? I understand they also double as a handy life-saving device, or so I've heard.

wari lasi said...

Who isn't on a first name basis with Jo Bailey?

Umm, Me.

But I had a nice chat with Marcia Hines at Brisbane airport the other week. She was really nice. We were discussing how hideously expensive Nintendo DS games are.

Mr E Discharge said...

I once sat thru a dinner party being totally ignored by Yoko Ono.

Fad MD said...

From Boogey's article: "The magazine is expected to break the Guinness world record for the most boobs given away at one time."

I wonder what the previous record was?

Perseus said...

I once sat thru a dinner party being totally ignored by Yoko Ono.

Would you have preferred to talk to her?

Boogeyman said...

Mr E, are you really Paul McCartney?

patchouligirl said...

Not being in the glamorous world of journalism I've not met many celebrities but I have been in a lift with Brian Bury (the weather man with the bow tie), served Abigail in a cake shop and lived a few doors down from Keith Potger and Simon Townsend. I door to door knocked Paul Harrigan once but didn't know who he was although he was vaguely familiar. I later pointed him out to Mr Patch in a health insurance ad and he told me who he was.

Mr E Discharge said...

Mr E, are you really Paul McCartney?

There are some notable similarities.

(a) Size of divorce settlement relative to net worth.

(b) A recent audit of my marriage revealed comparable numbers with respect to the "nett average cost per root"

(c)My wife was frequently legless.

Mr E Discharge said...

Would you have preferred to talk to her?

There was a reason why they kept this woman in a bag.