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AGAINST THE GRAIN - Lyrics

Poor Ned
Poor Ned, you’re better off dead
At least you’ll get some peace of mind
You’re out on the track
They’re right on your back
Boy, they’re gonna hang you high

1878 was the year I remember so well
They put my father in an early grave
And slung my mother in gaol
I don’t know what’s right or wrong
But they hung Christ on nails
Six kids at home and two still on the breast
They wouldn’t even give her bail

You know I wrote a letter ‘bout Stringybark Creek
So they would understand
I might be a bushranger but I’m not
A murdering man
I didn’t want to shoot Kennedy
Or that copper Lonnegan
He alone could have saved his life
By throwing down his gun

You know they took Ned Kelly
And they hung him in the MelbourneGaol
He fought so bravely dressed in iron mail
And no man single-handed
Can hope to break the bars
It’s a thousand like Ned Kelly
Who’ll hoist the flag of stars

Sifting through a teacher/friend’s record collection, I stumbled on Fairport Convention’s ‘Ballad of Ned Kelly’. I heard it once only but enough of it stuck in my head for us to reassemble it during an early rehearsal when we were scratching around for songs to play. We borrowed a verse from JS Manifold. Years later we met Trevor Lucas who had written the original. We were happy to re-assign the copyright from Trad Arr to Trevor. -  JS
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Killing Floor

Joe spoke no English but he had a dream
And he saved up most of his pay
To bring his
wife and six kids from Lebanon
And settle down here to stay

You could feel the prison of his loneliness
‘Cause he wouldn’t see them for years
He kept brandy behind the compressed air tanks
And he gulped it when the coast was clear

Nick the Greek collected tropical fish
But he had to be a character too
So he smuggled in piranha just to break the law
And he fed ‘em on kangaroo

Bob’s pride was his handlebar moustache
And he said he still combed out sand
He pushed a tank through the Western Desert
So they made him the leading hand

And the summer night shifts were long and cool
And Charlie chain-smoked cigars
Young David sweated in his speckled paint mask
As he gazed out at the stars…

Crazy Charlie was a Yugoslav
His old straight-eight Chevvy could move
His ambition was live on a hippy commune
When Dave told him about free love…

Fred had been a farmer and a heavyweight champ
He had hands like a stump-jump plough
He’d moved the earth with a thrust of his arm
He was loading on the paintline now

And the boys made a noise every Friday night
At the bar of the Hilton Hotel
Downing pints and chewing the fat
‘Til the ten o’clock closing bell…

It was only rumour ‘til the foreman came
And hiding his shame with a cough
He said ‘They’re cutting back down to one shift now..
they’re going to have to lay you off…”

Joe held his gaze and gulped a brandy
And spat it out at his feet
Bob stood bolt-still looking thunderstruck
Nick swore for an hour in Greek…

But their anger was spent in a rush of fire
And then smouldered out of mind
When they shook hands on that last grey day
Each was in his way resigned

And a few days later I saw old Joe
And he looked like he’d aged ten years
Drunk on the tiles of the Stag Hotel
And he couldn’t hold back the tears

Fred’d talked of his gruelling heavyweight bouts
I remembered what he’d said
“There’s no giving up on that killing floor
If you don’t fight you’re dead…”

If you work with your hands for you livelihood
Some day you might have to choose
When the class war rages on the factory floor
If you don’t fight you lose…
If you don’t fight you lose….

Nearly all of these characters were real. I worked with them over eight months on a production line on South Road. I thought I made up the last line which, on our first interstate tours, we were later gratified to see grafitti-ed on hoardings and stations. However, as some pedantic souls have pointed out, it was a subconscious Australian twist on Mao’s `dare to struggle, dare to win’. - MA
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Servin’ USA

To the tune of “Surfin USA” by the Beach Boys.

If everybody in Australia
From Perth to Byron Bay
Got on a jumbo
To California
Wearing New York T-shirts
And living in LA.
Tell Malcolm we’re servin’,
Servin’ USA

We think Jimmy Carter
Is a real good bloke
We’ll sell him our country
For a Ford and a Coke
He wants our uranium
We’ll give it away
Tell Malcolm we’re servin’,
Servin’ USA

We all sing like Americans
Playing rock and roll
Have a beer at Blinman
Before it gets sold
Eat out at the Colonel’s
And on election day
Tell Malcolm we’re servin’,
Servin’ USA

We’ll be servin’ in Queensland
Hobart, Melbourne and Russell Hill
Sydney, Pine Gap
Brisbane and Bougainville
Tonsley Park, Rum Jungle
Woodville, Adelaide
Tell Malcolm we’re servin’,
Servin’ USA

This was the first a series of political parodies thrown together, largely, by Mick and me. Sadly, the song is timeless. In 25 years, only a name has changed.  -  JS
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Maria

Came from the hills of Livadia
Ice capped peaks and eagle's spire
Olive groves and a bowl of stew
You dance all night with the kin you never knew

Australia seemed like a land of dreams
Frigidaires and two TVs
Process work won't pay the bills
Kids need shoes, takes six weeks of saving

And the debt collector haunts your sleep
Like a shadow at your heels
We can offer tea and sympathy
But can't know how it feels

Take your blues to the bottle every Friday night
And drink them all away
Take world in your hands when the weekend comes
Tomorrow's another day…

Maria, sweet Maria
The blinds are torn and the door's ajar
A sneaking draught, it chills your bones
Maria, you're so far from home

Foreman leers as he walks by
Ugly dial and furtive eyes
You refuse again today
And what will come, there's no way of saying

They rob you blind, they suck you dry
You sell your life, they sell you lies
Wogs and sprogs you hear them say
When you meet them face to face
They turn away…

And the chrome glints hard in the used car yards
And the semis whine at night
Chequered dreams of sanctuary
To the flicker of a neon light

Husband's face is pocked and lined
Pride is shattered and his rage is blind
Out of work, short of hope
You try to talk but he just won't understand

Maria, sweet Maria
The blinds are torn and the door's ajar
A sneaking draught, it chills your bones
Maria, you're so far from home

And you sing your song alone.

I had an old mandolin and had no idea how to play it until I flailed around and this song came out. Marie was actually French. I met her when I worked at a foundry in Kilburn and I admit, somewhat shamefully now, that I got to know her because I fancied her ravishing daughter. To give an added layer to the relevant verse, so did the foreman. -MA
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Ted

On a backblock down Salisbury Plains
Ted was born in 1895
Thrust from the loins on to rusty soil
And the cord was cut with a scythe
He said “People there are city folk today
And they couldn’t tell shit from clay
A ripening crop of stobie poles -
there’s no regrets when the memory roams
That earth is in me bones”

Did his bit in the First World War
Took the shilling to fight the Hun
Mud up to his crotch in Flanders fields
And the gas eating at his lungs
He said “Me best mate died hanging on the barbed wire
And when the attack was through
We took some prisoners to HQ
And shared a fag and a yarn or two
They were the same as me and you”

And I asked old Ted what history meant
As he sharpened his hedging shears
“What a bloody fool question that is my boy
I lived it for 83 years”

See him every year on Anzac Day
Swilling beers down at the Rex Hotel
He’d laugh with his mates and go deep in thought
Where he went even he couldn’t tell…
He said “King and country, cock’n’bull
We fought just to survive
The anger might have faded, still this feeling grabs me deep inside
I guess you could call it pride”

As a navvy on the line in the Nullabor
The Depression left its scars
Heaving cold steel rails in the burning sun
And freezing beneath the stars
He said “If you escaped the susso queues
You had a hell of a price to pay
And when time flowed like an open wound
I’d blow me dough on a Saturday
And drink the pain away”

On Sunday arvo he’d sit and talk
Over a dozen cold West End
Of what was gained and what was lost
And would never come again
He said “Money you know it comes and goes
On booze and rent and fags
You can make a fortune on overtime
And lose it all on the nags
But years of toil with a bunch of mates
You know it leaves you satisfied
Though we never moved a mountain
We sure gave it a try”

Pick the wheat from the chaff
And the steel from the scurf
And the honest man from a liar
If wisdom came by other names
Ted was earth and fire

On the day that old Ted died
No-one would have known
Buried in a pauper’s grave
He lived and died alone
And the 727’s soared over head
With drone of the angry roads
There seemed a pause for just a while
And the silence was heard around for miles
And the silence was heard for miles

Ted Shadgett was our neighbour when I was in High School. We hadn’t seen him for a few weeks. In the end it was the smell that alerted us to his death. After such a life I thought he deserved a heroic requiem of sorts. I also combined his story with some of my grandfather Ron’s experiences. –MA.
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Long Run

You look out your window at the cold grey dawn
It’s seven o’clock on a Monday morning
Pour a cup of coffee, better make it a strong one
Weather man on the radio says it going to rain
And it’s going to blow
It’ll be all right, it’ll be all right, it’ll be all right in the long run

Australia marched out of Vietnam
Out in the streets against Uncle Sam
We won the fight, it was a long one
Uranium demo the other way
One of my mates got dragged away
As they slammed the door I heard her say
It’ll be all right in the long run.

Italian bloke who works with me
We swap laughs and company
And he slapped me on the back
He said “You’re wrong, son
This isn’t the land I was told it would be
It’s not so equal and it’s not so free”
But it’ll be all right, it’ll be all right, it’ll be all right in the long run”

From the shadow of history a convict screams
The shearers curse, the people dream
We’ve taken some right turns, they’ve been the wrong ones
Troop ships leave and the headlines blaze
Australia remembers happier days
And the faith lives on within the haze
It’ll be all right in the long run

So you sit in your camp and you stare at the fire
The doubt drops away as the hopes get higher
And you sing to yourself
It’ll be all right, be all right in the long run

And the sun gives ground to a long cold night
And you screw up your courage for another fight
But you know in your heart
It’ll be all right, be all right in the long run

And the sun streams in with power and might
You look at your kids in a different light
You know in your heart as you kiss them goodnight
It’ll be all right in the long run

One of the people who purported to be looking after Redgum’s finances told me one day that our songs were too ‘wordy’ and always lacked a ‘hook line’. I wrote “Long Run”, among other things, to prove I could write a song with a ‘hook line’ that wasn’t entirely mindless. -  JS
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Brown Rice and Kerosine

Julie did three years’ trade school
I served my apprenticeship time
We made a modest living
But we were upstaged
‘cause computers don’t strike
Or need holidays
Our parents ate bread and dripping
Stole wood from the park to keep warm
We’re eating by the heater
In threadbare jeans
Brown rice and kerosine

Life wasn’t meant to be impossible
Spare us the indignity
Two cheers for progress
Reason denied
Whitewash and platitudes
Are all I can find

Our parents ate bread and dripping
Stole wood from the park to keep warm
The cupboard’s bare
All we can share
Brown rice and kerosine

Sometimes I think about cocktails
Update Molotov’s recipe
Forget the gravel ballast
And stink of benzine
Use rice and kerosene
A major change of scene
Like 1917 - with people before machines.

I was noodling with ragtime chord progressions and this tune fell out. My only experience of relative poverty was living away from home with my girlfriend on a student allowance, so details of that had to do. Verity graciously consented to sing it. -MA
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Yarralumla Wine
 
See those Guccis and silver Commodore’s
Sold my soul to the CES,
But they sent my cheques to the wrong address
Running blind, drunk on Yarralumla wine

A fruity bouquet like month-old socks
Gerrymander winner at the ballot box
Toast to democracy, raise your glass
They're all too pissed to notice us.
Table a flagon - senate debate
Canberra breeds only sour grapes
Running blind, drunk on Yarralumla wine 

A tax dodge accountant is a businessman's best friend
Gas bill came that I can't pay
Utah made a million bucks today,
Running blind, drunk on Yarralumla wine

King William Street's looking Wall Street could
Business not booming but it's pretty good.
Employment forecast - deja vu
Twenty percent for 1982

Chaos in the kitchen it's a crying shame
The waiter's in a stupor and the cook's insane
Running blind, drunk on Yarralumla wine

All the boys and girls are taking out Bankcards
And contemplating Space Invaders in pizza bars
My television screen's an alcoholic haze
”The Sullivans” and reruns of “Happy Days”
Scan the morning paper over stale Weetbix
"Sex Change Vicar Vice Horror - Shock Pix"
Murdoch and Packer, thanks for the news
Read three pages and you feel half-boozed

Force-fed years with a loving cup
One more swig and we all throw up
Running blind, drunk on Yarralumla wine.
 
Puff a Gauloise, entree pate-de-fois
Streamline the company with a Schaeffer pen
Fifty jobs lost - pissed again
They're drinking on the bridge and in the swimming pools
We're stoking up the boiler on the ship of fools
Running blind,, drunk on Yarralumla wine.
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The Last Frontier
There's a corrugated highway leading north from Port Augusta
Lined with ratted cars that didn't rate a tow
Salt plains out of Pimba and your eyes begin to stream
On to Kingoonya huddled dusty by the road.

Romantic notions shattered like the tyres that didn't hack it
This has got to be the country's last frontier
And a sports car's next to useless running cattle grids and river beds
We drove a van from 1963

And someone mentioned walkabout and kiss your job goodbye
Just to see the country shimmer through the windscreen
Drinking beer and telling stories while the laughter filled the night
And flexi-time's behind you like a bad dream

A flat on Anzac Highway and Lawson on your shelf
Its a southern comfort, air-conditioned rage
But a homestead's more than just a cheap print dangling from a wall
And mateship's more than lines upon a page

We went looking for Australia in between the TV lines
'Cause the ABC just couldn't make it real
A colour documentary from a bean-bag on the floor
Never shows as much as it conceals

A stark and blistered Alice Springs and a river runs with shame
And you wipe the sheets of bulldust from your eyes
Another country's uniform, the mirage it falls apart
To the open gap between the truth and lies

“Go and see your country, mate,” the travel agents scream
Politicians sell its heart just for a pastime
Signs and high-wire fences hold the land where I belong
It's as if I'm in the outback for the last time
For the last time

I wrote this song after a road trip to Uluru and Alice Springs in 1974, long before the Stuart Highway was sealed. Arriving at Alice Springs after a long, hard drive I couldn’t reconcile the scene in Todd River with the US Air Force uniforms and the huge C-141 Starlifters flying in to re-supply Pine Gap.  I was outraged when someone told me that the US Starlifters didn’t even have to announce they were in Australian airspace until they were ‘on approach’.  - JS
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Where ya gonna run to….
Mother and child playing on the lawn
It's a middle class home on a Sunday morning
And the mother says, “Son, where ya gonna run
Where ya gonna run to now?”

“I just jumped bail on a dope bust, Mum
And I'm saying goodbye” and then the drug squad comes
And in the name of the law
They punch him in the jaw
Where ya gonna run to now?

He did it for a dare on the night he turned eleven
His first shop break, Magnum 357
A frightened young cop
And the kid doesn’t stop
Where ya gonna run to now?

A long white car out at Tullamarine
A Government Member to the Carribean
And a man with a broom
Yells across the room
Where ya gonna run to now?

Will you have to tell lies when the kids ask you why
The horizon's a blanket of gloom?
When the battle lines draw
Which way will you turn?

Terania Creek's got a dozer track
And we'll never ever get Lake Pedder back
A director and a graph
And a million dollar laugh
Where ya gonna run to now?

Enrich the oxide out of Port Pirie
And the toxic gases they won't even see
But where ya gonna go
When the North wind blows
Where ya gonna run to now?

And your loungeroom is screening Nationwide
And you've just given blood to the bank
And the books on your shelves
Are a measure of all that you've earned

Will you have to tell lies when the kids ask you why
The horizon's a blanket of gloom
When the battle lines draw
Which way will you turn?

Shake me, wake me, tell me it's a dream
I've got a B-52 on my TV screen
And a man in a tie
Pointing to the sky
Where ya gonna run to now?

Mother and child playing on the lawn
It's a middle class home on a Sunday morning
And the mother says, son, where ya gonna run
Where ya gonna run to now?

Much to the chagrin of Redgum’s management, I found that song-writing and touring were mutually exclusive activities. Initially, however, being on the road did provide me with song-writing material. “Where ya gonna run to?”  was an amalgam of the experiences, conversations and issues we were exposed to in our first year on the road.  - JS
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Fabulon

Buy a litre of Fabulon
Dare we spray down
In the scorched trail
of a Sunbeam iron

Paint your face with Revlon
To hide your frown,
In the blue-gloam glare
Of your Rank television.

Carry it away from Myers now
Requiring of us a loan,
How can we live without these things
in Templestowe?

Buy an electric toothbrush for your mouth,
Roche medication for your heart,
You'll be comfortable locked up tight
In your sauna.

Let the Third World rabble on
If dishy-washer breaks down,
An eyeful of Visine,
A floral tissue to cry on.

In the valley of silicon,
Where we may drown,
And there we leapt
Into blind oblivion.

Carry it away from Tandy’s now,
A computer of your own.
How can we live without a VDU
And a life programme.

A bottle of Listerine for your mouth,
A pair of Adidas for your heart,
You'll be comfortable locked up tight
In your wardrobe.

Buy a litre of Fabulon,
Dare we spray down,
In the scorched trail
of a Sunbeam iron.
Harpic Blue!

Yet another in the Redgum parody series. Our contribution to the thriving world of consumerism and the dying world of disco.  - JS
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The Diamantina Drover


The faces in the photograph are faded
And I can’t believe he looks so much like me
For it’s been ten long years today
Since I left for Old Cork Station
Saying "I won't be back 'till the droving's done"
 
For the rain never falls on the dusty Diamantina
The drover finds it hard to change his mind
For the years have surely gone
Like the drays from Old Cork Station
And I won't be back 'till the droving's done

It seems like the sun comes up each morning
Sets me up and then takes it all away
For the dreaming by the light
Of the campfire at night
Ends with the burning light of day

I sometimes think I'll settle back in Sydney
But it's been so long and it's hard to change your mind
For the cattle trail goes on and on
And fences roam forever
And I won't be back when the droving's done.

The Drover is a story about the loss of innocence, a yearning to return to a place and time when life was simple. I moved from a small country town to the city when I was seventeen. Perhaps the song is a metaphor. - HM
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I was only 19 (A walk in the light green)

Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing-out parade at Puckapunyal
It was a long march from cadet
The Sixth Battalion was the next to tour and it was me who drew the card
We did Canungra and Shoalwater before we left

And Townsville lined the footpaths as we marched down to the quay
This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean
And there's me in my slouch hat, with my SLR and greens
God help me, I was only nineteen

From Vung Tau, riding Chinooks, to the dust at Nui Dat
I'd been in and out of choppers now for months
But we made our tents a home, VB and pin-ups on the lockers
And an Asian orange sunset through the scrub

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can't get to sleep?
And night-time's just a jungle dark and a barking M16?
And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only nineteen

A four week operation when each step could mean your last one on two legs
It was a war within yourself
But you wouldn't let your mates down till they had you dusted off
So you closed your eyes and thought about something else

Then someone yelled out "Contact!" and the bloke behind me swore
We hooked in there for hours, then a God-almighty roar
Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon,
God help me, he was going home in June

I can still see Frankie, drinking tinnies in the Grand Hotel
On a thirty-six hour rec. leave in Vung Tau
And I can still hear Frankie, lying screaming in the jungle
Til the morphine came and killed the bloody row

And the Anzac legends didn't mention mud and blood and tears
And the stories that my father told me never seemed quite real
I caught some pieces in my back that I didn't even feel
God help me, I was only nineteen

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can't get to sleep?
And why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet?
And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only nineteen

I can’t think of a time when I’ve played this song and people haven’t stopped dead in their tracks. The power derives from the detail, provided by my mate and brother-in-law, Mick Storen, who was brave and trusting enough to share his story with me. A song-writer who gets to write just one song like this in a lifetime is extraordinarily lucky. - JS
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I’ve been to Bali too

Qantas flight 20, Denpasar
Meals and accom and a rent-a-car
I've been to Bali
I've been to Bali too

Took a two week course at a suntan clinic
So lying round Legian I wouldn't look anaemic
And you can't impress me
‘Cause I've been to Bali too

Got a ride out to Kuta in the back of a truck
Cost me twenty dollars and it wasn't worth a buck
Hustled to a losmen down in Poppy's Lane
By a Javanese guy in a tropical rainstorm,
Lock up your daughters
I've been to Bali too

Life is tragic hanging out at Kuta
If you haven't got a car, a bike or a scooter
Show me the bike shop
I've been to Bali too

Got myself a Honda, had to get away
No brakes, bald tyres,
five thousand ‘rupes’ a day
I've been to Bali too

Well I don't ride a bike much home in Australia
As a motorcycle hero, guess I'm a failure
Bemos to the left, trucks to the right
The Honda was a wreck but I was alright,
Hello Mercurochrome
I've been to Bali too

Wired home for money, I was short of cash
A dose of Bali-Belly and a tropical rash
Daddy came through - American Express
Bali T-shirts, magic mushrooms, Redgum bootlegs
I've been to Bali too

Took my bag and mozzie coils to Peliatan
It was there where my Bali trip really began
Been there, done that
I've been to Bali too

Tourists from Holland, Britain and France
Late night puppet shows, legong dance
Want to see my slides?
I've been to Bali too.

Well, I wandered off to Ubud, just a little up the track
One week there didn't want to come back
Listening to gamelon and playing guitar
Tjanderi’s tacos, Hotel Menara, two month visa
I've been to Bali too.

Flying Kangaroo out of Denpasar
Left me camera in the airport bar
I've been to Bali
I've been to Bali too

Touch down, touch down Tullamarine
Sprayed me on the plane so I'd be real clean
Coming though Customs
I've been to Bali too

They went through my bags like McCartney in Japan
I didn't have a thing so I didn't give a damn
You can't trick me
'Cause I've been to Bali too

You've been to Paris and you've been Boston
You've been to Fiji and you've been to London
But you can't impress me
'Cause I've been to Bali too

This song’s first incarnation was “Bali Blues”, a three-chord wonder written in 1976 to amuse my Balinese mates in Ubud. I found the lyrics in a drawer when we were recording “Frontline” in 1984. I rewrote the lyrics and Steve Cooney, heavily steeped in reggae as he was then, wrote the bass riff.  Bless his heart. - JS
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ASIO

White door, ninth floor silent number
It's autumn on a cold avenue
Telex intercept, he sips a cigarette,
And warms up his VDU

Gets his kicks from microchips,
His orders from the CIA
Birobugs and lasers, casual surveillance
Boardrooms and communiqués

Don't use your phone, don't use mine
Don't speak treason, they're tapping the line

Break in, stake-out, tell it in code
Everything’s legal, anything goes
The night's getting darker and an ill wind blows
Your life's in a databank at ASIO

Trained in the ghettos of the Lebanon
Truncheons and an M16
Sellin' scag, a UN flag,
Now he's trading in securities

Darwin rendezvous, a B52
A trenchcoat slightly creased
From a coup in Asia, a US Air Force Major,
Buying dirty laundry, swearing it's for peace

Infiltration, we'll never know
Just like Chile but the bruises don't show

Spook behind the bar, unmarked car,
Rumours hang like stale perfume
Flushing under beds, sniffing out the reds,
Nobody can feel immune

No names, no stress, no blame, no press
Clean when the dirty work's done
Allocate a budget, special branch thugs,
Who’ll do it for the practice, do it for the fun

Midnight, flashlight, a crash on the door
Rats on the table, blood on the floor

This was based on what we knew of ASIO’s techniques in 1984. They were much more physical then. That’s now unnecessary: the song’s references to extensive IT surveillance have proved to be rather prescient. Incidentally, public servants later impressed upon us how bulky our own ASIO files were. –MA.
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Spirit of the Land

The rivers are dry across the land
And the farmers' fields have turned to sand
'Cause the rain hasn't come for two years, going on three
The topsoil's gone with the hot north wind
The crops won't grow and rust's set in,
And the cruel south wind of winter brought no relief

And the old men in the public bar talk of floods and droughts before
And as the night goes on and the conversations die,
But the battlers don't give up,
It’s written on theirs hands,
And in their eyes,
And the spirit of the land survives

And on Saturday night in the Royal Hotel,
Hank the Dutchman plays guitar,
He signs country and western favourites and requests,
It used to be his second job,
A bit of a laugh for a couple of bob,
Now it's all he's got 'cause his crops all died of thirst
So he spent his savings on cattle and sheep,
He got some credit, got into deep,
But stock won't graze on pastures turned to salt
And then he tried to get work as a travelling man
Selling Rawleighs products from the back of his van
But the cockies all shop in town where things are cheap

The school's all run down,
The roof's rusted and the paint's peeling,
The school yards just a dust ball, not a spot of green
But kids still kick their footballs
Sending dust clouds to the sun,
And its good to know the drought can't spoil the fun

And in the cricketer's lounge late at night,
Where cockies talk and the shearers fight,
And their wives drink shandies 'cause they'll be driving home
The conversation centres around the price of wheat
The lack of grain and the lack of sleep
‘Cause credit's stretched and it won't stretch any more

Rural Australians constantly endure floods, droughts, bushfires and falling commodity prices yet they still manage to live rich and rewarding lives.
Hank was a post-war immigrant from Holland .He worked the land, played guitar at local dances for some extra cash and, in many ways, embodied the spirit of the land. -HM
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Gladstone Pier

Peter was a sailor
Swarthy lean and proud
He could take a schooner through a big sea swell
Aloof in the mainland crowd

She loved his quiet laughter
Like a boy he'd shrug and grin
The beach stretched wide at Port Mackay
With dreams upon the wind

He wore her name in a rose tattoo
Long weekends of gins and lime
She lived in Cairns, made plans to move
Checkout girl part-time
And rumour said, “There's a boom ahead,
You can make your future here
By the Gladstone Pier”

A two-roomed fibro shelter
Empty hopes, the damp, the flies
Prices hiked, her face grew tight
And conversation died

And the foreman at the smelter said “You're much too old
Try the canefields furthers north”
And the clerk at the market said “We don't buy trouble
There's a strike down at the port”

Then a six-day shift in a filthy pit
The drag lines gouging coal
The black dust gnaws at your lungs and pores
And the anger rots your soul
And the queue round the block waits for you to drop
Can you take it for another year?
By the Gladstone Pier

Every Sunday he'd walk alone
Casting pebbles at the passing waves
Plunge in brine, cleanse his pride
And a stronger man remains

The crunch of shale and distant sails
Ached within his bones
Seeing ships upon the tide
Bound for ports unknown

Soon he drank for comfort
She grew bitter in the weeks between
The nights of beer and hollow cheer
When love became routine

They fought, she left him crying
Angry words in a last café
In desperation on a lonely night
She took the bus to Cairns next day

Gladstone couples break that way
Mutual blame and no regrets
Boomtown blues just fade to grey
And all that's left are debts -
He cried, "I've got to leave this dirty old town
and the rattle of broken men
Break these chains, wash the pain
And put to sea again
I drained all my passion, my anger and my fears
And sank them in a flagon
under Gladstone Pier"

She saw him through the Greyhound window
As the dawn glowed on the chrome
Standing by the pier under sullen skies
Sea winds calling home

From Surfers up to Townsville
Past the high-rise colonies
Fast food, cheap motels
And two more boomtown refugees

I’d immersed myself in the social history of Gladstone in the 1970s. The context was realistic, but the characters were invented. When we toured, it turned out that so was the pier. There’s a lot of deep feeling, but this song about social circumstances tearing a relationship apart seemed to compose itself. It was a strange experience of sleep-writing. When my first wife and I split a few weeks later, I woke up. –MA
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Still Life

The axe is swift and reckless
Feel the grain, split it wide
Cut away to build the mansions
Banks and boards in distant lands
Axe man looks to the sun
Covered eyes blind to silence

The future is eroding
The sacred past destroyed
No damning feats of progress
Comfort the unemployed
The earth is shred and skun
Fortune seekers hit and run
Barren earth, poison skies, wasted seas
Will we see the light through the trees
Before the last axe falls

Sweet breeze of rage is blowing
From forest to the town
Slowly the tide is turning
With love the seed is sown
No time for feeling helpless
We've change to make while there's still life
Lessons learnt quickly fade, memories
Will we see the light through the trees
As the last axe falls?
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Just Another Moment on Your Own

Came up through selectors
A tick upon a page
Bolder than your training
Younger than your age
15 miles at daybreak – an impulse deep inside
A shower and rub down and quiet sense of pride

Fame can take you far away from home
The wind and rain they chill you to the bone
A leader on the sports page and you reap what you have sown
And it’s just another moment on your own

It wasn’t for the money, the trophies or champagne
A victory for the inner man, an echo to your name
A line-ball in the slipstream, shake a thousand hands
A minute in the spotlight in a thousand foreign lands

And fame can take you far away from home
The roaring crowds they chill you to the bone
A minute in the spotlight and you reap what you have sown
And it’s just another moment on your own

The crowd declares a hero – but heroes seldom last
Your private life is front-page news until your time is past
Jetlagged in December, towels and Staminade
Your name’s up on the scoreboard and the ads for aftershave

And fame can take you far way from home
 Long distance romance on a hotel phone
And your old friends seem so distant and you reap what you have sown
And it’s just another moment on your own

Mick and I wrote this together shortly before the band left for Europe and the UK. In fact we recorded it in London. In essence, it was autobiographical but we didn’t want to be seen as just two more musicians whingeing about life on the road. We’d met tennis player, Paul McNamee, backstage one night so Paul and Mark Woodforde, a ex-student of mine at Marion High School in Adelaide, provided the cover. - JS
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