Review | Thursday 14 October 2010
It is really difficult to muse on the writing of Paul Kelly because I’m in awe of his talent. Paul Kelly’s music has been the soundtrack of my entire adult life. When I lived in England a girlfriend sent me a collection of Australian sounds she had pulled together to tug at my weakening homesick heart strings. She included the song ‘Leaps and Bounds’. I cried like a baby. It was as poignant as hearing magpies when you first come back from being away for a long time. So to write about this man’s book? The man I associate with university gigs, pub gigs, outside gigs, Coopers beer, St Kilda, the harp, the smell of jasmine, the Black Arm Band – almost too much.
And to be really honest, I thought it might be the type of book that I delve in and out of. But no, actually I read it straight from start to finish. I read it directly because it is very good. How To Make Gravy follows the A-Z of Paul’s songs. With each song comes the story of where he was when he wrote it, or how the riff came to him, or which quote he overheard, or which relationship he was in.
What is surprisingly lovely about this book is it is not just the story of Paul’s music but it also follows the story of the music scene in Australia. I loved reading about other admired musicians, Don Walker, Vika and Linda Bull and more. I liked reading about what Paul reads, his tastes are diverse and his influences even more so. Paul Kelly, if you had not realised from his songs, is a complex man always on the lookout for the next line of his next story in his next song.
I learnt a lot about Australia from this bloke from Adelaide.