Celebrating: Paul Kelly

RRR radio personality Stephen (The Ghost) Walker paid a nice tribute to Oz music legend Paul Kelly in his blog in The Age recently that I've just come across.

Walker describes Kelly as "the quiet achiever" and a "storyteller of timeless human tales". He goes on to say

A man, a microphone, a piano, a guitar and his harmonica. A stark reminder of his ability to create songs in everyday speech, no convoluted imagery or obtuse symbolism, his stories becoming our shared stories, attached to simple direct folk melodies that bury themselves deep in our communal consciousness. A deceptive simplicity.

I've liked Paul Kelly ever since I first came across his music in the mid 80s, when the track To Her Door seemed to be all over the radio.

I remember doing work experience in the city at the time at a lawyers - it was a quiet time in the legal calender and he'd just told me to go to court and watch cases. After a few hours of this I got bored and ended up in Myer where I dumped all the money I had on the counter for a copy of Under the Sun on cassette.

This of course presented a problem as it meant that now I didn't have train fare to get into town for the rest of the week (and couldn't/wouldn't ask Mum or Dad for the money - knowing it would never happen) so I rolled up to the lawyer and asked if I could have my work experience pay in advance. (Which was, on average, the princely sum of $15 for the week in those days.) Planning ahead wasn't particularly a strong suit back in those days.

Unfortunately, his plan was to give me some law book - probably worth well more than the money but not entirely working with my plans at the time and I ended up more or less quitting. I told the folks there was nothing to do or see at the job and I'd be better off working on some upcoming assignments.

There was a bit of yelling at me when I got back to school (hadn't quite gotten around to telling them that I'd quit) but somehow that manage to convert to what passed for street-cred at the time, so it all worked out in the end.

And I still had my precious Paul Kelly tape.

It's been hard keeping up with the man's output in recent years, he just keeps on coming and perhaps familiarity breeds a certain apathy but old Paul has dropped off my musical radar a little in recent times.

Interestingly, in December last year he did a series of concerts called Paul Kelly's Songbook - A-Z, where he played 100 of his songs in alphabetical order over 4 nights. He's now taken the best recordings of the songs from each letter of the alphabet from these concerts and is making them freely downloadable from his website - www.paulkelly.com.au - at the rate of one letter every month over the next 2 years.

Up at the moment you can check out:
  • Adelaide

  • After the show

  • Anastasia changes her mind

Cheers Paul.