The not such a good day

This morning, after I had watched the sun slip over the horizon, I wrote:

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I was feeling great about everything I was doing until yesterday when a few curve balls stopped me in my tracks and I no longer felt like I was in a good place.

So today I need to be kind to myself and do good things for myself and not give in to the temptation to go off the rails and start drinking and staying up late and eating crap food. Because I’ve only just started to reel that in from New Year.

And I have to remind myself that it will get better.

I need to remind myself that the first thing that’s upset me will happen no matter how I feel about it and there is nothing I can do or could have done to change that. I need to accept that and acknowledge my feelings, but not dwell on them. If I let myself get too upset by this, I’m going to end up miserable about something I can’t do anything about and I don’t think that’s a good use of my energy.

The second thing is in the past and I can’t change that either. I need to remind myself that I did the best I could with what I had at the time, that I’m older and wiser now and past me would not want now me to hold myself back because of things that happened years ago.

The third thing hasn’t even happened, and might not, and worrying about it now will not make a bit of difference to whether it happens or not. Arming myself, talking, and learning to recognise signs that it might be happening are practical things I can do, but worrying serves no one. Least of all me.

The fourth thing might be nothing so, again, worrying doesn’t help. It will most likely be sorted out today and that should be the end of it. It was just unexpected and it threw me right out when I was already feeling miserable, so of course, I latched onto the worst case scenario instead of looking at it realistically.

Now all I have to do is to convince myself this is all true and that the best thing I can do is . . . well, I’m not sure what to do. I’m still learning to deal with days like today. I can’t out-logic my feelings, so maybe I just sit with them a bit, have a cup of tea and read a good book. And stay away from any news sources.

So what did I do?

I already had the day off work, and I had been looking forward to doing some activities with Kramstable, but one of the things that happened put a stop to that and I had to change my plans.

This meant I hung around at home all morning, sorting some papers and tidying my desk. The floor looked appealing and I was tired and I lay down and went to sleep. I’m sure my osteopath wouldn’t have approved and I’m not sure that the money I’m spending to get my back fixed is being well-served by me doing this. However, what’s done is done and I needed the sleep.

I could have done lots of things today. I could have had that cup of tea and read a book. (I don’t actually drink tea. But liquorice spice, that’s my thing.) I didn’t. I could have got out the drawing exercises I want to go over again and practised. I didn’t. I could have started work on one of my photo projects I have a hankering to do. I didn’t.

I didn’t do anything that would’ve had any impact on anything I really want to do. I basically wasted the day. It was hot and, by the time Kramstable and I got back from the appointment about the thing (which is all fine, by the way, nothing to worry about), I was exhausted. I watched him do some acting. I went through some emails that have been sitting around for weeks. I fell asleep on the couch. I really felt like all I wanted to do today was sleep.

Part of me is saying, “Good. You obviously needed rest. You had a day off and you had some rest. Good for you.” And part of me is saying, “You’ve wasted an entire precious day off. What were you thinking? Think of all the things you could have done today. You can never get that time back again.”

So now I feel half-good and half-bad and I don’t know if I feel any better than I did this morning, just that I’m another day closer to having to go back to work.

Only sitting here now on the deck, as the air cools down and the sky starts to darken, listening to the wind in the trees and the occasional cluck from a chicken (or whatever the hell sound it is the Dorkings make), I can’t help thinking I’m being a real sook. I have so many good things in my life. I mean, I have a deck with water views that I can sit on in almost silence and think and write. How great is that!

Last year was, for the most part, brilliant and I think I started things that I will have opportunities to explore more, things I will learn more from and things that will create more adventure in my life. This year is going to be exciting.

Some things will always upset me. Some things I will always worry about. Some things I won’t know how to handle. Life’s like that. It has its good days and its bad days. Today was a bad day, or perhaps just not such a good day, and that’s okay. I’ll have those days. And you know what, I’ll get through them. There might be tears and there might be napping, but I will get through those days.

I hope that, next time I feel like I do now, I’ll remember sitting out here looking at the clouds and the water, hearing the birds and thinking how lucky I am, how grateful I am, to be exactly where I am. And I hope that if I do remember, it will help me to get through that time, just like it’s helping me right now.

I’d been hoping for a glorious sunset photo to round off this post, like the one I missed last night, but it wasn’t to be. So, this instead.

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Here’s to a better tomorrow.

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The new year

I posted a different version of this post on instagram this morning with a non-sunrise picture of the beach. You can see a bird if you really look.

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I was going to do it a couple of days ago, before the end of 2017, but I’m not good on this type of deadline and ran out of time to think everything through and write it down. Actually, I do that a lot because I always overthink things, start to write it all down and never finish it. But now I have actually finished it so I can check this one off the list.

2017.

I moved to a different suburb after almost 12 years living in the Derwent Valley. This was a huge change, but one I have no regrets about at all.

We got two new chickens and my favourite chicken, Isabelle, died.

I discovered that loss in one area can lead to positive things somewhere else in my life.

I had to let go of something I enjoyed doing very much (I wrote about this all the way back in May), which made me cry, but after thinking it all through I realised it has started to open up new opportunities to explore what I really want to do and to learn more about myself.

I have found new ways of looking at the world, discovered beauty in unexpected places and have started to sing with a group that has just started up. (It’s true. It’s on YouTube.)

I have gotten to know some passionate, inspirational people who make beautiful art.

I left a job of 12 years, which was scary, but which I needed to do because I was feeling stuck and uninspired where I was. I’m still slightly terrified and bewildered about the new job, but it’s all good.

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I am grateful for everything that happened in 2017 and the experiences I had because I have learned and grown so much.

I’m grateful for the support from my little online community, whether I originally knew you IRL, or if I only know you online, or whether you’re an online friend who has become a real-life friend. Thank you all for being there. I said at the start of the year I was going to try to be okay with how I was feeling, to not squash my feelings, and to accept that not being okay is okay. I think I’ve made progress there.

Thank you for the lessons, experiences and new perspectives, 2017, and welcome 2018.

I know I say this every January, but I do want to write on the blog more regularly. I think the black & white photo challenge will help with that. I’m posting most of those photos on instagram, and when I get enough I repost them all here. I also made a separate page (here) where I’m putting my favourite black & whites so they’re all in one place.

 

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Not actually B&W but I like to break the rules. They’re my rules and I can break them if I want to.

 

I didn’t find using the blog as accountability for my health habits was working particularly well because it kind of relies on people calling me out if I don’t stick to what I said I was going to do. And it wasn’t very interesting reading. So I think I’ll consign that to the bin for now.

I’m not sure if I want the blog to focus more on photos or more on writing, or if it’s capable of being about both, so my intention is to post at least three times a week with one or the other or both and see what happens. It might become obvious over time, or I might have to make a decision, but for now, I’m just going with the flow.

I’m excited about 2018 and the possibilities for me to have new adventures in my everyday life. I want to focus on learning something new and finding something to be grateful for every day, making more photos, writing more, staying active and seeking out and appreciating the beauty that is around me. I also want to become clearer on what I really want to do and to let go of things I don’t want to do but am doing because I think I should want to do them or that I wished I wanted to do. (Gretchen Rubin puts it like this: “you can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do”.)

Happy New Year and may the coming year be good to you and your loved ones.

No sugar update – day 29

Today is Day 29 of my 30-day reset of not eating sugary snacks and treats. It’s gone surprisingly well.

When I started my mission get back into my no sugar lifestyle, I imagined that I’d slowly cut out one day’s treat over a period of several weeks and that by the end of it I’d be back on track. My first steps were to make sure I had something else to eat in place of my Monday afternoon snack, to remove any cash from my wallet that might make it easy to buy something I didn’t want, should I accidentally wander into a bakery or coffee shop.

After a couple of weeks of this I found that, even on the days I was allowed to have an unhealthy snack, I didn’t want to, so the 30-day reset began. In contrast to previous attempts at this, I’ve found the last 29 days to be quite easy and I haven’t really missed the cakes and chocolate.

I wondered why this was, because in the past it’s been really hard and I’ve struggled.

I think that because I’ve had several long periods where I haven’t eaten sugar, my body knows that this is my “normal”, so once I made the decision to go back to this and started to not eat cakes and chocolate, my body accepted it quite easily. I guess it knows that I am someone who doesn’t eat refined sugar, which is exactly the person I want to be.

I know some people think that cutting out something is a bit extreme and that most things in moderation are okay. The theory goes that if you completely deny yourself something, you’ll feel like you’re missing out and you’ll end up binging on the [forbidden thing], which would be worse for you than allowing yourself to have it occasionally.

Gretchen Rubin discusses this in Better Than Before. She says that some people do better by completely abstaining, because they find this easier than having the [forbidden thing] in moderation – for “abstainers”, having just a bit is almost impossible. Once they have opened the biscuit packet they’ll eat the whole lot. They won’t have one, and put the packet away until tomorrow.

As an abstainer herself, Ms Rubin notes that when abstainers deprive themselves of the [forbidden thing], they “conserve energy and will-power because there are no decisions to make and no self-control to muster”. They don’t have to decide whether to have (or do) the thing, then decide how much of the thing they will have (or do) and finally make themselves stop consuming (or doing) the thing. The decision is already made, and they can go on with their day.

She notes that someone can be an abstainer in relation to some things, but can be a “moderator” – someone for whom “everything in moderation” works well – for others. I might be an abstainer in relation to sugar, but a moderator in relation to alcohol, for example. So I’ll eat the whole block of chocolate, but I can have one glass of wine at lunch time and not spend the rest of the afternoon drinking. Unless I make a conscious choice to.

Ms Rubin notes that successful habit changes involve coordinating multiple strategies, and she gives an example of how she combined abstaining with other strategies to change her eating habits. For me, I can see how I have combined the strategy of abstaining (from sugar) with the strategy of identity (I am a person who doesn’t eat sugar) to change this particular habit. (I mentioned this strategy in this post.)

So this was an easy 30-day challenge for me – but it was only easy because of earlier work I’d done. I imagine that I’ll have more slip-ups in the future, but I hope that this experience of quite easily falling back into a healthy pattern will mean that the slip-ups aren’t frequent and aren’t as long-lived as this one was.

And here’s an unrelated picture of one of my chickens, as I contemplate what my next 30-day challenge will be.

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30 days of undone things – days 2-6

I’m now six days into my challenge of doing 30 annoying little things that have been on my to-do list forever and that are mostly pretty easy to do, which which I just can’t seem to get done.

Day 2 (Friday): I put everything away off the bench top and cleaned it off (Number 2 on the list), and I put the instruction book and receipt for the new whippersnipper into the folder with the other instruction books (Number 11).

Day 3 (Saturday): I labelled the new jar for the marjoram and put it into the jar (Number 34 – it wasn’t on the original list) and I washed the fruit and veggie bags (Number 21).

Day 4 (Sunday):  I cleaned the cutlery drawer (Number 29)

Day 5 (Monday): I confirmed my blood donation appointment (I AM going to do this – Number 15) and I went to get my identity documents verified (half way to Number 13).

I also learned why we shouldn’t put little things off.

One of the things, that wasn’t on the original list but is on a list somewhere, was to get a plastic tub for the Christmas decorations instead of having them in a Huggies box in the car port (let’s call it Number 35). I went to get them out yesterday to put up my “…. days til Christmas” countdown tree, only to find that rodents had got into the box and destroyed several things, including my beautiful wooden Aarikka elves that I was given when I left Finland 27 years ago.

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I’ve always loved these as they are so cute and they remind me of the year I almost had a white Christmas. I was devastated to see them like this. I was also shattered to find  some of Kramstable’s hand-made decorations from school had suffered a similar fate.

Don’t procrastinate about the little things or you might lose the chance to do them at all.

Day 6 (today): I mailed my change of identity documents to the credit card bank (the other half of Number 13). I cleaned everything off the couch (Number 22). I bought the new tub for the Christmas decorations. (Number 35. Don’t ask whether I put them in it…)

How are you going with your #30undonethings? Reply here or tweet me and let me know!

30 days of undone things

In December 2011, Amy wrote a blog post about making a 2011 mix tape of what she was listening to (right here). She said:

In 2009 I made a Mix Tape (CD) of my favourite songs from that year. Not songs that were necessarily released that year, but my favourite songs for the year. I burned a copy for a friend and he vowed to send me his… I’m still waiting. Sad face.

I sat down last night and went through my iTunes and found my favourite songs for 2011 and I’ve compiled a 2011 Mix Tape (CD). And I thought we might like to swap. What do you think? If you think this is an ace idea, and I really hope you do, leave a comment here and I’ll contact you for your postal address. Then we can swap our 2011 Mix Tapes (CD) and all enjoy some new music.

And I said: Me me me please!

And so it was agreed.

And I sat down and I compiled a 2011 Mix Tape on iTunes.

And I wrote out some liner notes for it because I wanted to explain my choices.

But I had too many songs for a CD and it was too hard to figure out which one (one!!) to leave out.

So it sat there.

And sat there.

And every now and then I’d see the 2011 Mix Tape for Amy in iTunes and feel terribly bad about not having finished it. I even added it to my list of 100 Things to do in 2013 (it was #40).  And we all know what happened to that list.

And it was November 2016 and the 2011 Mix Tape for Amy playlist was still sitting in my iTunes. And every time I saw it I thought that I really had to finish it and send it to her.

Two weeks ago I was inspired to make a Paul Kelly mix tape, and knowing how much Amy loves Paul Kelly, this reminded me I had to finish her mix tape too.

And so I completed the liner notes and made the Mix Tape CD. I contacted Amy, got her address and sent her the CD. The whole process took about 20 minutes.

Yes, it took me five years to do something that I got done in 20 minutes. And I crossed another item off my “100 things to do in 2013” list.

I’ve gone in and updated the list, and I looked at all the little things that I could do fairly easily if I just went in and did them. So, I thought, why not make my next 30-day challenge “do 30 annoying undone things”? That is, do 30 things that won’t take long to do but that I’m putting off because even though they’re niggling things that irritate me for not having done, they require just a little effort to complete.

Sew on a button. Throw something out. Clear off a table top. Book in a skin check. And a blood donation while I’m at it. Burn a CD.

The first challenge is coming up with the list, so that will be item number 1.

If you want to play along, that would be great – let’s see how much unresolved stuff we can clear off the decks in 30 days. I’m going to start my 30 days on 1 December, because there’s nothing like the start of the festive season to make me want to take on a new project.

Ha.

I will post my list of 30 things on Thursday. (There, I said it on the Internet, so I have to do it.) I’m trying to think of a catchy hashtag. I think #30undonethings will be fine.

Join me!

Make your list. Share it with me and we can be accountability buddies! Tweet me (@straitlinesgirl) or Instagram me (@straightlinesgirl) and let’s get those annoying undone things done and off our to-do lists.

Death’s Dateless Night

St David’s Cathedral, on the corner of Murray and Macquarie Streets in Hobart, is a building I see almost every day and, consequently, have become immune to its presence.

Originally it was a replacement for the wooden St David’s Church that was erected in St David’s Park over the grave of Lieutenant David Collins, and which blew over in a gale a few months later. Construction of the second St David’s Church commenced on the present site in 1817. When Hobart was granted city status in 1842, St David’s Church became St David’s Cathedral.

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The foundation stone for the current cathedral (the third St David’s Church) was laid in 1868, and the building was designed by the Victorian architect George Frederick Bodley. It was completed in 1874 and the old cathedral was pulled down. The final stage was the construction of the cathedral tower, which was completed on 1936, 68 years after the works started.

But I digress.

Much as I love finding out the history of Hobart’s old buildings, I wasn’t there on Tuesday night to look at the cathedral. I was there, as were a lot of other people, to hear the magical music of Paul Kelly and slide guitarist extraordinaire Charlie Owen come to life as they performed their Death’s Dateless Night show.

As I mentioned in my last post, this tour is a tour of the album, Death’s Dateless Night, a collection of songs that PK and Charlie have sung at funerals over the years. They are accompanied by PK’s daughters Maddy and Memphis Kelly, on backing vocals.

Not having been to a show at the Cathedral before, I was advised to arrive early to avoid getting stuck behind a pillar and not being able to see. We stationed ourselves at a bar across the road before 6pm to suss out the crowd.

  • Rookie Mistake Number 1: Believing that the doors would open at 6.30 as advised on the website.
  • Rookie Mistake Number 2: Not seeing a crowd outside the closed Murray Street door, assuming that this was because it wasn’t 6.30 yet, and assuming no one was waiting. They were waiting. Inside the Cathedral, having gone in the Macquarie Street door long before 6.30.

Ooops.

We found a pew, sort of behind a pillar, but which gave us a relatively unimpeded view of what we hoped would be PK’s mic.

We sat and waited for an hour, admiring the pillars, until the support act, a lovely duo called Sweet Jean, took to the stage. Sweet Jean is Sime Nugent and Alice Keath, who was one of the guest vocalists on PK’s Seven Sonnets and a Song album that came out earlier this year. Slabs has played some of their material on his radio show.

I enjoyed their music and it set the scene really well for the main story.

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Our view. We could just see PK!

The first “act”, as PK called it, was a play through of the Death’s Dateless Night album, minus Track 7. I couldn’t figure out which track had been missed, but it all made sense later on.

The standout for me was “Good Things”, written by PK and Charlie’s former band mate Maurice Frawley. I felt Charlie’s intense guitar during this track really captured a sense of grief for the loss of his friend. (Maurice Frawley died in 2009.)

The ‘folk song from the British Isles’ (“Let It Be”) has never been a favourite Beatles track of mine, and though I appreciate the work that PK, Charlie, Maddy and Memphis put into this, I’m still not a fan. Nevertheless as versions go, this wasn’t bad.

PK mentioned that he had seen Leonard Cohen work up close, and his version of “Bird On A Wire” was very moving, coming so soon after Cohen’s death.”Angel Of Death” was the end of Act One.

The second part of the show was a selection of mostly older material that PK had chosen because it fitted the theme. First up was two of the Sonnets from Seven Sonnets and a Song – “Sonnet 60” and “Sonnet 73”. Before Sonnet 73, PK pointed out all of the guitars and instruments Charlie had played on the new album, including his Bakelite guitar, which he used in this track.

Later: “Everyone’s so quiet in here,” said PK.

“It’s a church,” whispered someone in the audience.

“I know!” PK replied.

Next up was a Tex, Don and Charlie song, which I wasn’t familiar with, called “Postcard From Elvis”. It appears on their 1993 album Sad But True. This was followed by “Pretty Place”, originally on PK’s 2001 album … Nothing But a Dream. He spoke of how the title was inspired by Banjo Clarke, and the Pretty Place was where he used to go to get away from everything. (I googled Banjo Clarke. He was born in 1923 at the Frelmingham Mission in Victoria, on his family’s ancestral land and his mother was originally from Bruny Island.)

A concert of songs with the theme of death was never going to be complete without the one PK song that never fails to make me cry, “Deeper Water”, and this time was no exception. I was in tears from the very first riff. A song of love and of loss. Dammit I don’t even like the song, but I’m drawn to it like the people in the song are drawn to the deeper water.

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Spring and Fall from 2012 is one of PK’s albums I’m not super-familiar with, so I didn’t recognise the track “Time and Tide”, but he told the story of its origin, around a campfire in the Kimberleys. The one new song he played was the poem “Life Is Fine” by American poet Langston Hughes.

So since I’m still here livin’,
I guess I will live on.
I could’ve died for love-

But for livin’ I was born

The next track needed no introduction – well actually it did, because it’s not a track that immediately comes to mind as a funeral song. PK explained he’d been asked to play his Christmas song “How To Make Gravy” at the funeral of Melbourne AFL player Rob Flower. It’s one of his best-loved songs. This rendition, with Charlie’s guitar, gave me a new appreciation of this song, especially towards the end, where the guitar amplifies the protagonist’s fear that his brother is going to steal his wife while he’s in prison, how gutted his is that he can’t be with his family at Christmas, and he’s so very sorry for what he’s done and for hurting his family. I could hear the anguish in every note. This song made me cry too.

It wasn’t quite the end though, and we were treated to a solo performance of “Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air”. The missing track from the album. And then, an encore, “I Wasted Time”, with the appropriate words:

I see old friends at funerals now and then

It’s down to this – it’s either me or them

Charlie returned to the stage for another moving track, “They Thought I Was Asleep” (from Foggy Highway), and Maddy and Memphis reappeared for the last song of the evening, a real oldie, “Cities of Texas”.

And then they were gone.

It was a serene, contemplative evening. Unlike many other PK shows, there were no loud talkers and no drunken calls to “play To Her Door” – although I didn’t expect there would be. There was an air of solemnity about the show, and complete respect for the artists and their music.

I am grateful to have shared in this experience. Thank you PK, Charlie, Maddy and Memphis. And thanks Slabs for buying me tickets for my birthday!

Paul Kelly

I love Paul Kelly.

He’s my favourite artist of forever. The last time I saw him (other than at Hobart airport when I had to move Kramstable, who was dancing round, totally oblivious to the fact that he was between most people and the bathrooms, out of Mr Kelly’s way en route to said bathroom) was in February 2011 at the Theatre Royal when I caught the final of his A to Z series of shows with Dan Kelly.

I’ve missed the last couple of tours he’s done in Hobart for various reasons (I can’t remember, probably something lame, I don’t like crowds or big festivals) and said to Slabs that next time he comes, I don’t care what the show is, I’m going.

One thing I love about Mr Kelly is that he is constantly changing his act. if he’s not making new material, he’s reinventing old material or someone else’s material to make it his. He’s made soundtracks (Everynight Everynight, Jindabyne); he’s turned his music bluegrass (Uncle Bill, The Stormwater Boys); he’s made up bands to experiment with different styles of music (Professor Ratbaggy, Stardust 5); he’s been in a musical (One Night the Moon); he’s performed his material with a band, acoustically, and then with another band, and then another one. He’s done soul music (The Merri Soul Sessions); he’s combined with Neil Finn to produce one of the most divine musical experiences I have ever witnessed (Goin’ Your Way). He’s even put Shakespeare to song. He has collaborated with too many musicians to count on their albums and on his own.

He has been part of my life since late high school when I discovered Under The Sun for the first time, his 1987 follow-up album to Gossip. These were the days of cassettes, and my friend Graeme lent me his copy. These were also the days of the double cassette player, so I’m sure you know the story here.

Funds were limited, and Gossip was a double album with 24 tracks for only a couple of bucks more than the standard length Under The Sun, and in those days my focus was on the number of tracks I was getting for my dollar, not necessarily whether they were my favourite tracks, so I dutifully purchased Gossip on cassette for $13.99.

I didn’t actually have a double cassette player. I remember wanting one, but the budget I had for a portable stereo allowed either for a double cassette player or a single with removable speakers and a graphic equaliser. (These babies were expensive back then too, not $50 like they are now.) Rationally, I figured that removable speakers were much more important because I’d be able to set them up around me, and several of my friends already had double cassette players, so I didn’t actually need one.

Graeme was kind enough to lend me Under The Sun, even after the previous cassette he’d lent me, one of those Hot Hits of 198X or 198X with a Bullet compilations, had been shredded in a double cassette deck after being unable to cope with the strains of Baltimora’s Tarzan Boy. Most people would probably not see this as a bad thing, but I still went out and replaced it for him, thereby parting with the money I could have used on Under The Sun in the first place. That’s karma for you right there.

Needless to say I am now the legitimate owner of Under the Sun on CD, along with most of Mr Kelly’s back catalogue of released work, with the possible exception of some limited edition material I never quite managed to justify getting.

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My PK shelves

His most recent release accompanies the current tour. It’s called Death’s Dateless Night. It’s an album he recorded with Charlie Owen, slide guitarist extraordinaire, conceived out of a discussion they’d had driving to a friend’s funeral about songs they had played at funerals.

To anyone who isn’t an avid collector of Mr Kelly’s music and is mostly familiar with his more commercial work, this album might not appeal. It’s very mellow, as you’d expect. Contemplative, reflective.

Only two of the songs are written by Mr Kelly – Nukkanya (from the 1994 album Wanted Man) and Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air (from Foggy Highway, which he recorded with Uncle Bill in 2005), so if you’d hoped for a reinterpretation of his own songs you’d probably be disappointed. The album includes some classics, like Don’t Fence Me In, and Leonard Cohen’s Bird On A Wire, which seems particularly appropriate, given Mr Cohen died last week. There is a lovely track called Good Things, which was written by former member of Mr Kelly’s band the Dots, the late Maurice Frawley, as well as a version of Let It Be, which is a Beatles song I have never liked all that much.

It’s not a big “jump out and grab you” album. It’s one that sits there, grows on you and subtly reminds you that (in the words of Kasey Chambers) we’re all going to die someday. It’s deliberately understated. Mr Kelly says:

We kept the sound live and sparse, just the two of us, except for the occasional vocal by family members – my sister Mary Jo and my daughters Maddy and Memphis. I stuck to singing and playing acoustic guitar. Charlie was the swing man, playing dobro, lap steel, electric guitar, synthesizer and piano.  I managed to talk him into singing some harmonies too.

So this is the show that I’ll be going to see next week. The shows are all being played in churches and cathedrals, and not having set foot in one of these places since possibly a wedding I attended in 1999 (and a couple of minor churches in the UK, you know, like Salisbury Cathedral and St Paul’s), I think it will feel weird to sit in St David’s Cathedral to see a show.

I’ve been listening to the album over the past few days so I’m familiar with the material when I see the show.

Speaking to someone earlier in the week who said they didn’t really like this album inspired me to revisit Mr Kelly’s back catalogue and create my own playlist of alternatives to the greatest hits that people who are mostly familiar with his better-known material might not have heard. That is, my favourite songs that you can’t find on Songs from the South (Volumes 1 or 2).

I tried to include at least one track from each Mr Kelly’s albums, and the only criteria were (a) I had to like the song and (b) the song (or the version of  it in a couple of cases) wasn’t included on Songs From The South. I haven’t included work from soundtracks like Funerals and Circuses, Jindabyne, Conversations with Ghosts etc as I haven’t listened to these enough. I did look at his work with the Dots (I know he has disassociated himself from this work, but I do like some of the songs. They are very much of their time.)

This is the playlist.

  1. Want You Back (Paul Kelly and the Dots, Talk, 1981.)
  2. Alive And Well (Paul Kelly and the Dots, Manila, 1982.)
  3. Blues For Skip (Paul Kelly, Post, 1985 – I can remember hearing him play this live at the ANU Bar in the 1990s and not being familiar with it at all. It really struck me.)
  4. Gossip (Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls, Gossip, 1986 – I love this song but it was left off the original CD release.)
  5. Forty Miles To Saturday Night (Paul Kelly and the Messengers, Under The Sun, 1987 – this evokes memories of the end of school. A great time and one of my favourite of his songs.)
  6. You Can’t Take It With You (Paul Kelly and the Messengers, So Much Water So Close To Home, 1989. You really can’t.)
  7. Don’t Start Me Talking (Paul Kelly and the Messengers, Comedy, 1991 – a follow up to Gossip perhaps?)
  8. Little Boy Don’t Lose Your Balls (Paul Kelly and the Messengers, Comedy, 1991 – this is about exactly what the title says. Probably don’t play this one to your mum unless she doesn’t care if you say fuck. It has a hidden track at the end on the album.)
  9. Hey Boys (Paul Kelly and Mark Seymour, Garbos Soundtrack, 1992 – this is just great! I know I’ve seen the movie. I can’t remember it. Mark Seymour is of course, former lead singer of Hunters and Collectors.)
  10. Reckless (Paul Kelly and the Messengers Hidden Things, 1992 – Hidden Things was an album of rarities and previously unreleased tracks from 1986 to 1991. Reckless is a song by Australian Crawl. In this version you can understand the lyrics.)
  11. She’s Rare (Paul Kelly, Wanted Man, 1994 – Mr Kelly’s first album post The Coloured Girls/Messengers. I like its funkiness.)
  12. Maybe This Time For Sure (Paul Kelly, Wanted Man, 1994.)
  13. Anastasia Changes Her Mind (Paul Kelly, Deeper Water, 1995 -this track is cool. The “kiss on the mirror” line was inspired by a time Mr Kelly’s then wife went on a trip and left a lipstick kiss on their’s daughters’ bedroom mirror that stayed there fore months. Fascinating to think that a little thing like that could get mixed up with a a girl who fell in love and cancelled her travel plans. The title track of this album makes me cry.)
  14. Madeleines’s Song (Paul Kelly, Deeper Water, 1995 – written for his daughter Madeleine.)
  15. Beat Of Your Heart (Paul Kelly, Words and Music, 1998 – this song includes vocals by Renee Geyer and Rebecca Barnard, as well as musicians that Mr Kelly had either been working with and/or continued to work with with over the next few years including Bruce Haymes on keyboards, Peter Luscombe on drums, Shane O’Mara on guitar, Steve Hadley on bass and Spencer P Jones on guitar. I love the beat of this one.)
  16. Saturday Night And Sunday Morning (Paul Kelly, Words and Music, 1998.)
  17. Sydney From A 747 (Paul Kelly and Uncle Bill, Smoke, 1999 – a mix of old and new Paul Kelly songs given the bluegrass treatment with Melbourne band Uncle Bill. This song was originally called Sydney From A 727 when it appeared on the 1991 album Comedy. The plane got bigger over the years.)
  18. Taught By Experts (Paul Kelly and Uncle Bill, Smoke, 1999.)
  19. Coma (Professor Ratbaggy, Professor Ratbaggy, 1999 – released at the same time as Smoke, this was a side project with Steve Hadley, Bruce Haymes and Peter Luscombe. This song was written by all four band members, as were most of the tracks on this album. It was released as a single, but it was Love Letter that made it onto Songs from the South.)
  20. One Night The Moon (Memphis Kelly, Kaarin Fairfax, Paul Kelly, One Night The Moon, 2001 – from the movie One Night The Moon directed by Rachel Perkins, which tells the story of a missing child (played by Paul Kelly and Kaarin Fairfax’s daughter Memphis Kelly), the indigenous tracker (Kelton Pell) who searches for her, and her parents played by Mr Kelly and Ms Fairfax.
  21. This Land Is Mine (Paul Kelly, Kelton Pell, One Night The Moon, 2001 – explores the difference in attitude between the missing girl’s father, played by Paul Kelly, who “owns” the land, and indigenous tracker Albert Yang (Kelton Pell) who is “owned” by the land.)
  22. I Wasted Time (Paul Kelly, …Nothing But A Dream, 2001)
  23. To Be Good Takes A Long Time (Paul Kelly, Ways & Means, 2004 – the backing band was called the Boon Companions and included Mr Kelly’s nephew Dan Kelly, Peter Luscombe, Dan Luscombe and Bill McDonald.)
  24. Your Loving Is On My Mind (Paul Kelly, Ways & Means, 2004.)
  25. You’re Learning (Paul Kelly and the Stormwater Boys, Foggy Highway, 2005 – a bluegrass album featuring some old Paul Kelly songs and some new ones, as well as this cover version of a song by American country artists Charlie Louvin and Ira Louvin, which features Kasey Chambers on vocals.)
  26. Zoe (Stardust Five, Stardust Five, 2006 – a side project of Paul Kelly, Dan Kelly, Dan Luscombe, Peter Luscombe and Bill McDonald and this track features the vocals of Mr Kelly’s then-partner Sian Prior as well as (I think) Dan Luscombe.)
  27. The Lion And The Lamb (Paul Kelly, Stolen Apples, 2007 – the last album to feature the Boon Companions and is described as having a “biblical” theme. I don’t know this album very well but I like this song.)
  28. For The Ages (Paul Kelly, Spring And Fall, 2012 – this album came after the 2010 release of Mr Kelly’s epic 8 CD live box set of The A to Z Recordings and his 500+ page “mongrel memoir” How To Make Gravy, and a lot of tours, including the show I saw in 2011. This album features Dan Kelly on guitar.)
  29. Before Too Long (Paul Kelly and Neil Finn, Goin’ Your Way, 2013 – This was a series of concerts that Paul Kelly and Neil Finn did in March 2013 where they performed tracks from their careers and re-interpreted each other’s work. One of the concerts was live-streamed and it was one of the most wonderful events I have ever seen. I love this version of Before Too Long, and Zoe Hauptmann’s bass is just magnificent on this track. There is a fabulous version of For The Ages as well.)
  30. Hasn’t It Rained (Paul Kelly, The Merri Soul Sessions, 2014 – an album recorded with artists including Vika and Linda Bull, Dan Sultan, Kira Puru and Clairy Browne, with Paul Kelly rarely featuring on vocals. I loved this album, but apparently during the tour some people were disappointed because they were expecting a “Paul Kelly” show, and they got Merri Soul. It always pays to check, because a Paul Kelly show might not be a “Paul Kelly” show.)
  31. Sonnet 73 (Paul Kelly, Seven Sonnets and a Song, 2016 – again one that wasn’t for everyone. This was Mr Kelly’s tribute to William Shakespeare, and was released on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in April 2016. It features Paul Kelly and a collection of musicians including Vika and Linda Bull, Lucky Oceans, Alice Keath, and his band (Peter Luscombe, Bill McDonald, Ash Naylor and Cameron Bruce) singing seven sonnets put to his own music and Vika Bull singing Sir Philip Sidney’s “My True Love Hath My Heart”. I found it curious and compelling.)
  32. Good Things (Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen, Death’s Dateless Night, 2016 – and here we are back where we started with Maurice Frawley’s song, although he wasn’t with the Dots for their first album.)
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PK’s 2016 releases

I could have kept going, but I had to draw the line somewhere, so it’s 32 tracks. One hour 46 minutes. It’s a bit long for a mix tape so I’ll have to cut it down so I can dub it on my double cassette deck. Ha.

I’d love to know what you think of my choices, and if you have your own alternative (to the) Paul Kelly greatest hits playlist, please share!