Album Notes

HOLD ON
A simple song about missing your loved one. I guess the other thing is that the title has two meanings… Hold on as in keep it together, or hold on and wait for me.

THE PEOPLE WHO WAVE AT TRAINS
I really wanted to have the voice of an old woman on this song. The kind of voice I remember from primary school church service when the nuns would sing with fragile vibrato from vocal chords warn from the strain of a lifetime of hymns. I went in search but had no luck until I remembered that Lenka (from Decoder Ring) has one of those voices from another era even though she”s still in her 20s. The vocals on this were one of the last things recorded for the album back in Sydney and I had such a bittersweet feeling of sadness and relief to be almost finished… but pure joy to be surrounded by good friends all singing together. Myself, Bree, Lenka, Lee Hillam (Sea Life Park) and David Trump. Lee had Bebe, her new baby along who sat quietly perched on her back through the whole thing until Lenkas solo came up where he decided to have a go himself. If you listen closely with headphones you can just make out Bebes first vocal take.

HAPPINESS IS A CHEMICAL
The only song on the album recorded from the Portland sessions. It was a real buzz to play with Jesse Sandoval (the Shins) who said it was a good experiment for him to record a song in an hour or so as his band usually spend a lot more time fine tuning theirs. He said it was also a revelation to try the best organic chips that my catering budget allowed as he’d never had them before (Lundberg Santa Fe BBQ). And for me, just being in Portland to hang out and record with Adam Selzer had the Dopamine and Serotonin levels at a peak. Love those chemicals!

ELBOWS
No explanation needed really. A wrap party for a film, a lot of free drinks, a blurry and lonely songwriter, a beautiful famous actress. Whichever combination produced the lightning bolt that hit me, this song wrote itself. (But she was actually wearing jeans. I just needed to say ‘that dress’ to loosely rhyme with ‘actress’)

MANILLA NSW
Australian country towns are dying, not even considering the climate change issues. For the past 50 years or so local industry has been pushed out to the cities and their once strong economies are in decline. Most towns had their own cordial and soft drink factories, dairies, a working train stations, drive-in theatres, banks just to name a few things. There weren’t as many reasons for the kids to leave home to find work. But hey, this isn’t just a political song. It”s a postcard tribute to a place I spent barely 4 days in, lying in a caravan waking up to corellas carousing by the river and walking round the streets all day with a constant smile on my face. Smiling to be out of a city and to drink beer with weird locals. Smiling for a breath of fresh air.

The recording of this song was the hardest. We tried it first and last. We were even packing up the gear when Anthony our engineer suggested we run in and have another go (the version that made it to the final). I sang it through an old 1950′s RCA mic that was lying round the theatre. As I sang I could feel the dust enter my lungs as i took each breath. I think Cory’s piano playing achieved the right balance between vaudeville and school assembly national anthem.

ROMANCE IS DEAFENING
A tale of loss and regret set in the wild west. Everything and everyone is a reminder of his lost love and he feels like turning them all into Swiss cheese. But luckily at the last minute a voice from the clouds (narrated by James Earl Jones), If you can’t find your gun, just break off a branch and pretend that it’s one….

THE OSTRACISM OF VINNY LALOR
Vinny Lalor lived in the township of Pomona in the 1940s, and attended a school dance in the very hall we recorded this album in. Shy and unassuming but always deep thinking she sat on a chair against the wall watching the townsfolk swirl around the dance floor or huddle on the edges in their little coteries. She didn’t understand them nor them her. She might as well have come from Pluto (even though she read that the planets surface gets down to -235C so therefore would be unable to spawn any life form). After the dance a local half-witted pimpled lad walked her home and awkwardly delivered her first kiss. At school on Monday out of embarrassment he refused to even speak to her and the other class mates ridiculed her. As harmless as it may sound the situation spiraled out of control and inexorably led to tragedy. I can’t think about this album with out thinking about Vinny Lalor.

FIRE ENGINE
I’ve always been a huge Dear Nora fan after playing a gig with them in Portland back in 2000. To me Katys voice is timeless, wistful, haunting and somehow nostalgically American (when she sings it evokes the soundtrack to ‘Hair’). When she agreed to sing for this album I set out to create a song that was simple yet melodically interesting to get her range. It was so much fun to write for another voice and from the point of view of a female. When the recording came back I listened to it over and over amazed that it even existed.

Now the subject of the song itself is still a mystery as I didn’t plan it. It came out of the 7 months I spent in Oxford last year. Oxford in the autumn is so unbelievably beautiful down by the river that you constantly feel you”re underdressed for the occasion. The afternoon light hangs low for hours and filters through the mist and everything feels trapped in a painting; strolling lovers, ducks avoiding the college rowing elevens, punting tourists and the 800 year old university spires poking above the tree line. After dark you can go to an old ale house to hang back in the corner and listen to the students philosophizing and flirting with each other. You can see a girl being subjected to both, cornered by a dashing young wordsworth in a vest. She doesn’t know whether to punch him or kiss him.

FINGERTIPS AND MOUNTAINTOPS
Someone said that songwriters have one song and keep writing it over and over. I’m not sure if that’s true (and lucky for people who hate squash…the game and the song) but this is an example of a common theme of mine. I seem to get inspiration by visualizing myself as a crusader for friends in trouble. I see myself as a cross between the Dalai Lama and the Phantom. It always nice idea to write for a audience of just one. Hopefully it’ll cheer them up and still be a good song others will like.

COUCH SURFING
Since I became a full time musician it’s been somewhat of a necessity to not have a house for certain periods of time. So therefore to survive you must rely on the kindness of friends. this song was written during a time I was house sitting in Melbourne and was having nightmares about leaving it and heading back out into the unknown. As I can see it this song came about for three reasons;
1. As a thank you to those friends who over the years had graciously allowed me to outstay my welcome
2. An addiction to reading Ben Lees blog where I stumbled upon a section where he”d decided to become a citizen of the world and not have a house
3. I thought it would be funny to have a surf-guitar song about couch surfing.

DON’T BOGART MY HEART
I first heard the term to ‘Bogart’ something while watching 90′s teen smash Reality Bites and then on a song from the Easy Rider soundtrack “Don’t Bogart that Joint”. Here’s a definition from answerbag.com:

Ah, how soon we forget the intricacies of 60s drug culture. The selfish connotation comes from hogging a marijuana cigarette. Someone who kept the joint in their mouth, hanging from their lip like Bogey, would be bogarting the joint. Instead of bogarting, one should pass it on to another. The term can be used for hoarding items other than pot.

When I realised Bogart rhymed with Heart I couldn’t help myself.

OLD DREAM
Quiet love
Love that whispers not screams
Love that doesn’t need to tell the world
Love that doesn’t even need the word ‘Love’
Love that watches the other while they sleep
Love that lives in short stories not novels
Love that still wonders even though they saw the other that morning and will see them again in the afternoon

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