Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Dori Freeman's Ten Thousand Roses is defiant, lush and why we shouldn't detroy the world for any world leaders listening

Reps of world governments are insisting on meeting right now in Glasgow for COP26 to discuss all the ways to spin letting global corproate power continue to wreck havoc on a planet increasingly crippled by mutliple fronts in an ecoholocaust. I mean, I wouldn't mind visiting Glasgow one day but I'll probably restrain myself from delivering dire warnings about "doomsday" while also being sued in court for actively faciliting plunder and destruction on a truly planet-destabilising scale. Tho that might depend on how much whisky I drink.

Against such odds, it can be easy to just gie up. But humanity has achieved great things far too valuable to lose, such as quality country music. There are no songs of being heartbroke and drunk on a dead planet!

Lucky then that to coincide with COP26 (or maybe to coincide with the re-opening of society after many months of pandemic control measures), there is a whole bunch of new music being released by artists in the broad and badly named "Americana" genre (or "heavyweight songwriting", as Australian country musician and Double J "Tower of Song" host Henry Wagons puts it).

The best I;ve heard so far is Dori Freeman's Ten Thousand Roses.

Freeman has a voice that can leave you speechless. The singer from the Appalachian region in Virginia matches devastating vocals with an understated persona and stage presence born of performance anxiety. Her 2016 self-titled debut was stripped back country/folk that stood out for its ability to convey emotional complexity in straighforward songs. On "You Say", she insists she needs no man to save her before shifting to hurt-filled longing for a man.

On his show, Henry Wagons described discovering Dori Freeman as one of those "holy fucking shit" moments. Freeman was in Australia for a festival in 2017 and he'd stumbled into some media event one morning in a hotel foyer where Freeman was playing to disinterested industry types and was blown away. It's no surprise, she has a voice up there with Emmylou Harris or Patsy Cline with its simple emotional power.

Freeman's quality from the start was shown in the fact that she got singer-songerwriter Teddy Thompson to produce her debut simply on the strength of songs she sent him on a whim. Teddy's dad Richard, a giant in folk and rock circles, offered his legendary guitar playing to Freeman's second album (on which she also covered Richard and Linda Thompson's "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight"). 

Ten Thousand Roses is Freeman's fourth album and her best since her debut. But where the debut stood out for its raw, stripped back vocal-driven qualities, this album rounds out Freeman's sound. Produced by her husband and drummer Nick Falk, it deepens the trend of her previous album, adding a kinda indie and often lush sound within her existing country, folk and bluegrass style. 

Along with added complexity to her sound, the album lyrically covers far broader ground. Freeman sings directly to a woman being badly treated by her partner in "The Storm", while on the "I Am" she happily describes herself as a "drama queen" with a "mind as dirty as the bottom of a coffee can".

There are songs of frustrated romance and lust, such as "I Wanted To" where, denied, she was forced to "call some other lover who was off the wall". But "he has to know, I was imagining you". 

"Nobody Nothing", meanwhile, advises women:
Go on and find you a man if you want to
But a bed will keep you warm in the night
Go on and fall deep in love if you want to
But take care that your head is on right
You don't owe nobody nothin'
You built yourself right up from the ground
You don't owe nobody nothin'
Now ring the bell and make a joyful sound
And then there is "Appalachian". On this stand-out track, Freeman confronts head on something she has often mentioned in interviews -- the idea that people from Appalachia are looked down on, not taken seriously, dismissed as "hillbillies" and patronised at best.

But, like fellow Appalachian country singer Tyler Childers' stinging response last year to Black Lives Matter that appealed to Appalachia's history of violent rebellion in support of the anti-racist uprising that was ripping through the US, Dori Freeman goes further. Noting how people from Appalachia are viewed and treated ("I'm a can for the world to as"), she follows Childers in savaging the corporate destruction of the region ("Another city they're carving, and here the people are starving".)

The dismissive, hostile or patronising attitudes towards the Appalachian region is wedded to the de-industrialisation, abandonment and gross exploitation of the region by corporate power that "put's the money we make in the pocket of their suits"). 

This understated song (it's not exactly Rage Against the Machine) contains a defiant pride:
I come from the holler, me and the flowers got taller
We reached right out to the sun, we drank up all of the rain
Like a spider we spun
Our web in all directions

But this pride is about far more than geography, it is shot through with real class pride

They'll try to wither you right down, tear you up from the red ground
If you're poor then you're stupid and blind
But I'd say a calloused hand
Is far better than a callous mind

Ten Thousand Roses is Dori Freeman's best album so far. I can only believe ignorance could keep it off any serious list of best albums of the year. Surely.

"I'm a can to to ash in..."

"He says he's home and you believe him..."

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Tom Waits' playlist of his lyrical ballads (part 2) if you like to drink whiskey and cry


Part 2 of my groundbreaking investigation/slash drunken notes on the 40-song play list of Tom Waits' "lyrical ballads" released via his official social media pages comes as Sydney's Covid-related lockdown extend into its 578237th week. And I gotta say, Hollywood has really lied to us about just how exciting an Apocalypse would be.

After all it's not just Covid and the related unleashing of polce and army on Western Sydney, home to large migrant working class communities that are both among the greatest victims of this pandemic and the ones keep society going through their essential work, yet who are blamed for supposed misbhehaviour while their bosses refuse to implement proper safety measures. 

There's no shortage of other horrors, from escalating climate change-related extreme weather to the fact the Taliban are now running both Afghanistan and Texas -- with the Australian government refusing refugees from either. 

The point is, as Tom Waits and his people no doubt know, the world needs this "A Little Rain" 40-song playlist. Now this is part 2 of my in-depth investigation into it (songs 21-40) so you should really read part 1 or you'll be very confused. 

Also, drinking while listening is not mandatory as such (I prefer to focus on community education to get alcohol-while-listening-to-Tom-Waits ballads levels up), it is recommended. If not an actual necessity to get through it all (play list and world alike).

You can get the entire playlist on multiple platforms.

21) Invitation to the Blues

She said 'How you gonna like 'em, over medium or scrambled?'
You say 'anyway's the only way', be careful not to gamble
On a guy with a suitcase and a ticket getting out of here
It's a tired bus station and an old pair of shoes
This ain't nothing but an invitation to the blues...


Well, Tom Waits has sure started the second half of this playlist strongly. From his epic 1976 Small Change album, this is his heartfelt storytelling at its best. 

It is quite a skill to make this song not creepy, seeing as it is actually about some guy going into the diner and becoming obsessed with the waitress, but it's the way Waits humanises her that makes the difference:


But you can't take your eyes off her, get another cup of java
It's just the way she pours it for you, joking with the customers
Mercy mercy, Mr. Percy, there ain't nothing back in Jersey
But a broken-down jalopy of a man I left behind
And the dream that I was chasing, and a battle with booze
And an open invitation to the blues 
But she used to have a sugar daddy and a candy-apple Caddy
And a bank account and everything, accustomed to the finer things
He probably left her for a socialite and he didn't love her 'cept at night
And then he's drunk and never even told her that her cared
So they took the registration, and the car-keys and her shoes
And left her with an invitation to the blues

It makes the song's open-ended conclusion actually affecting..


Cause there's a Continental Trailways leaving local bus tonight, good evening
You can have my seat, I'm sticking round here for a while
Get me a room at the Squire, the filling station's hiring
And I can eat here every night, what the hell have I got to lose?
Got a crazy sensation, go or stay? now I gotta choose
And I'll accept your invitation to the blues


22) Barcolle

A cloud lets go of the moon
Her ribbons are all out of tune
She is skating on the ice
In a glass in the hands of a man
That she kissed on the train...

This one isfrom his 2002 album Alice, which mostly features songs for "an avant garde opera" of the same name directed by Robert Wilson. It's centred on the obsession of Lewis Carroll for the young Alice Liddell (immortalised as Alice in Wonderland). 

That Waits manages to write beautiful songs on this unsettling and even disturbing theme says all you need to know about his quality as a songwriter, but then again my whisky glass keeps getting refilled so what would I know?


I'm lost in the blond summer grass
And the train whistle blows
And the carnival goes
'Til there's only the tickets and crows here
And the grass will all grow back

23) Lucky Day
The prettiest girl
in all the world
is in a little Spanish town
but I left her for a Bonnie lass
and I told her
I'd see her around...

This is another one based on songs Waits wrote for a play directed by Robert Wilson -- this one 1992's Black Rider. This is filled with nostalgia and longing, which is of course very rare territory for Waits. It's certainly a long way from his usual happy go lucky, cheerful persona the world has come to know and love. 


Why there's Miss Kelsey
She taught dance at our school
And old Johnny O 'Toole
I'll still beat you at pool
So don't cry for me
For I'm goin' away
And I'll be back some lucky day


24) Whistle Down the Wind

Whistle down the wind
Let your voices carry
Drown out all the rain
Light a patch of darkness
Treacherous and scary...

Tom, for fuck's sake. I've explained VERY CLEARLY how much whiskey I'm consuming right now and before that it was whisky and you throw this one at me? 

This song's tl;dr is shit's bad, it's dark, it's horrible but there's hope in friendship and love. If I'd known he was going to this shit on me I'd have not poured a double measure.


So whistle down the wind
For I have always been
Right there


25) The House Where Nobody Lives

There's a house on my block that's abandoned and cold
The folks moved out of it a long time ago...

TOM! Come on. You follow up "Whistle Down The Wind" with THIS??? This is more of that fucking "heartbreak, nostaligia but still a light that shines" stuff he loves to do as if he doesn't know the average blood alcohol level of his listeners is already far higher than medically recommended limits.

Anyway, it's about an abandoned house. Of course it is. Why is it abandoned? Waits can only speculate:


...and once it held laughter
Once it held dreams, did they throw it away, did they know what it means?
Did someone's heart break
Or did someone do somebody wrong?

Waits doesn't know, but he does know a few other things he's learned the hard way:


So if you find someone
Someone to have, someone to hold, don't trade it for silver
Oh, don't trade it for gold
'Cause I have all of life's treasures and they're fine and they're good
They remind me that houses are just made of wood
What makes a house grand, oh, it ain't the roof or the doors
If there's love in a house, it's a palace for sure...

Come on Tom, I don't need this shit right now. 


But without love
It ain't nothin' but a house, a house where nobody lives

26) That Feel 

But there's one thing you can't lose
And it's that feel
You can pawn your watch and chain
But not that feel...

Well this is just what we need isn't it. Now that I've switched to back from whiskry from whisky. We need Tom Waits teaming up with Keith Richards.

This one sounds like what you'd expect if Tom Waits teamed up to write and perform a song with Keith Richards. A staggering, bluesey duet about an indescribable feeling that follows you everywhere, that's "harder to get rid of than tattoos".

This one is fron 1992's appropriately Apocalyptic Bone Machine, with Richards previously playing guitar on a bunch of tracks on Waits' 1985 classic Rain Dogs. They teamed up again for 2011's Bad as Me (Waits most recent album! A decade ago!) for "Last Leaf", which sort of continues the theme.

Waits and Richards is a match made in a drunken Hell, and Waits commented on writing with Richards: "You'll always finish SOMETHING. You might finish the bottle, you might not finish the song." Well luckily they finished this one as it's pretty good, especially with whisky.


You can fall down in the street
You can leave it in the lurch
Well you say that it's gospel
But I know that it's only church....

27) Fish and Bird

They bought a round for the sailor
And they heard his tale
Of a world that was so far away
And a song that we'd never heard
A song of a little bird
That fell in love with a whale

Jesus fuck this is all I need at this stage. A love story between a fucking little bird and a goddamn whale. It sounds absurd, but this is Tom Waits and this is his thing, taking something seemingly absurd and turning it into a song to destroy fools who listen while drunk.

I mean get this shit:


He said, 'You cannot live in the ocean'
And she said to him
'You never can live in the sky'
But the ocean is filled with tears
And the sea turns into a mirror
There's a whale in the moon when it's clear
And a bird on the tide

 It's a fairytale without a happy ending. 


So tell me that you will wait for me
Hold me in your arms
I promise we never will part
I'll never sail back to the time
But I'll always pretend you're mine
Though I know that we both must part
You can live in my heart

I mean just fuck off. My whisky's empty again.


Please don't cry
Let me dry your eyes


28) Bottom of the World

My Daddy told me, lookin back
The best friend you'll have is a railroad track
So when I was 13 I said, I'm rollin' my own,
And I'm leaving Missouri and I'm never coming home

Yeah Ok Tom, but how is this going to work out? Do you think it will go well?  No, of course not. It's a Tom Waits song.

Of course, being a Tom Waits song there is still beauty to be found:


Well God's green hair is where I slept last
He balanced a diamond on a blade of grass
Now I woke me up with a cardinal bird
And when I wanna talk he
Hangs on every word

29) San Diego Serenade

I never saw the morning 'til I stayed up all night
I never saw the sunshine 'til you turned out the light
I never saw my hometown until I stayed away too long
I never heard the melody, until I needed a song.

Tom. For god's sake. I'm in lockdown here. I'm not just drunk and a bit sad in some general sense.  I'm drunk in fucking lockdown. I got loved ones I can;t see in Queensland and Western Australia. And you offer up this? Goddamn it.


I never saw the white line, 'til I was leaving you behind
I never knew I needed you 'til I was caught up in a bind
I never spoke 'I love you' 'til I cursed you in vain,
I never felt my heartstrings until I nearly went insane


30) In The Neighbourhood

Friday's a funeral
And Saturday's a bride...

Yeah alright Tom. Give it a rest.


There's a couple Filipino girls
Gigglin' by the church
And the window is busted
And the landlord ain't home
And Butch joined the army
Yea that's where he's been
And the jackhammer's diggin'
Up the sidewalks again
In the neighborhood


31) Kentucky Avenue

Eddie Grace's buick
Got four bullet holes in the side
Charley Delisle is sittin' at the top
Of an avocado tree
Mrs Storm will stab you with a steak knife
If you step on her lawn
I got a half a pack of lucky strikes man
So come along with me

Just another Tom Waits song of the dark side of suburbia with strong lashings of surrealism and an overriding sense of bittersweet nostalgia. Bastard is just lucky he knows how to write a song.


I'll get a dollar from my mama's purse
Buy that skull and crossbones ring
And you can wear it round your neck
On an old piece of string

32) I Wish I was In New Orleans (In The Ninth Ward)

Well, I wish I was in New Orleans, I can see it in my dreams,
Arm-in-arm down Burgundy, a bottle and my friends and me

Well yeah. I've been to New Orleans, or anywhere in North America for that matter. But I get the point. This is one where Waits referrences his friend, the songwriter Chuck E Weiss who died recently, because of course he did. Everyone decent is dying these days.


Hoist up a few tall cool ones, play some pool and listen
To that tenor saxophone calling me home


33) Day After Tomorrow

I got your letter today
And I miss you all so much here
I can't wait to see you all
And I'm counting the days here

Waits' whole career is telling stories of society's underdogs and the victims, but he is rarely explicitely political. And this anti-war song about a soldier who misses home, empathises with his supposed "enemy" and has contempt for his superiors, could be set in any war in modern history.

Yet coming out on 2004's album Real Gone, just one year after the Iraq War started and two after the Afghan War got under way (how well they went!), the song is unmistakably pointed. The genius of this song -- about a soldier far from home fighitng a futile war -- is it is both eternal and still a specific protest against the wars of his time.

At the time, Waits commented that writing songs against war was "like throwing penuts at a gorrilla", and it is true no song he or anyone else could write can be stop these bloody wars for oil, profit and geopolitical domination. But we can still admire his aim, so I'll just quote every other fucking line in this song:


It is so hard and it's cold here
And I'm tired of taking orders
And I miss old Rockford town
Up by the Wisconsin border
What I miss, you won't believe
Shovelling snow and raking leaves
And my plane will touch down
On the day after tomorrow
I close my eyes every night
And I dream that I can hold you
They fill us full of lies, everyone buys
'Bout what it means to be a soldier
I still don't know how I'm supposed to feel
'Bout all the blood that's been spilled
Will God on this throne
Get me back home
On the day after tomorrow

You can't deny, the other side
Don't want to die anymore then we do
What I'm trying to say is don't they pray
To the same God that we do?
Tell me how does God choose?
Whose prayers does He refuse?
Who turns the wheel?
Who throws the dice?
On the day after tomorrow

I am not fighting for justice
I am not fighting for freedom
I am fighting for my life
And another day in the world here
I just do what I've been told
We're just the gravel on the road
And only the lucky ones come home
On the day after tomorrow

And the summer, it too will fade
And with it brings the winter's frost dear
And I know we too are made
Of all the things that we have lost here
I'll be 21 today
I been saving all my pay
And my plane will touch down
On the day after tomorrow...

34) Pony

I've seen it all boys, I've been all over
Been everywhere in the whole wide world

Oh just another melacholic Tom Waits song filled with nostalgia as the song's weary narrator wishes he 
"was home, in Evelyn's kitchen with old Gyp curled around my feet". My whiskey glass (I'm back on whiskey) needs refilling.


I hope my pony
I hope my pony
I hope my pony knows the way back home


35) A Little Rain

She was fifteen years old
And never seen the ocean
She climbed into a van
With a vagabond
And the last thing she said
was "I love you mom"

Jesus christ Tom. I only just refilled my whiskey glass. What the fuck are you doing to me? This one is aptly the title of the whole playlist.


And a little rain
Never hurt noone

36) You Can Never Hold Back Spring

You can never hold back spring
You can be sure that I will never
Stop believing...

Ah, the old Waits trick of hope amid the gloom. The old "you can't break the human spirit" shtick. It won't work on me, Tom. I'm not crying and if I am that's just a well-known side effect of whiskey consumption. 


You can never hold back spring
Even though you've lost your way
The world keeps dreaming of spring

37) Yesterday Is Here 

If you want to go
Where rainbows end
You'll have to say goodbye
All our dreams come true, baby up ahead
And it's out where your memories lie...

More bittersweet nostalgia. I'll get another drink then.


Well, today's grey skies
Tomorrow's tears
You'll have to wait til yesterday is here

38) Martha

Operator, number, please:
It's been so many years
Will she remember my old voice
While I fight the tears?

Possibly the most amazing thing about this song is it was released when Waits was just 23, on his debut album Closing Time. It's remarkably mature and finished song filled with almost unbreable pathos. Like so many Waits songs, it skirts the edges of OTT, but the quality of the writing and performance keeps it on the right side of absolutely heartbreaking.


And those were the days of roses
Poetry and prose and Martha
All I had was you and all you had was me.
There was no tomorrows
We'd packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day.
And I remember quiet evenings
Trembling close to you...


39) Lullaby

Sun is red, moon is cracked
Daddy's never coming back
Nothing's ever yours to keep

God, this bottle's almost finished.


Nothing's ever as it seems
Climb the ladder to your dreams
If I die before you wake
Don't you cry, don't you weep
Nothing's ever yours to keep
Close your eyes, go to sleep


40) A Sight For Sore Eyes

A sight for sore eyes it's a long time no see
Workin' hard hardly workin
Hey man, you know me...

 Oh it's a drunk in a bar reminiscing about the old times. I wonder how this one will go? Well...


I guess you heard about Nash he was killed in a crash
Oh that must of been two or three years ago now
Yea he spun out and he rolled he hit a telephone pole
And he died with the radio on
Oh she's married and with a kid finally split up with Syd
He's up north for a nickle's worth for armed robbery
Hey I'll play you some pin ball
Hell you ain't got a chance
Well then go on over and ask her to dance
And hey barkeeper what's keepin you keep pourin' drinks...

Yeah sure, Tom. I'll keep pouring drinks. You can really see why the bastard had to quit drinking three decades ago. Listening to this stuff makes you thirsty enough, imagine having to sing it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Tom Waits has just released a playlist of his lyrical ballads if you like to drink whiskey and cry (part 1)

"I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things." Tom Waits once said, but he really didn't need to. It's pretty much the definition of his 5-decade long songwriting and performing career.

Now this Covid pandemic thing has been a bit stressful, what with all the yelling on social media, and so when Sydney's lockdown was announced 79284 weeks ago on the very same day as Tom Waits social media page released a special 40-song playlist his "most beloved lyrical ballads", I knew the greatest songwriter of his generation had my back.

I do not believe in coincidences. I believe Tom Waits knew what was coming and got his people straight on to it to ensure I'd remain entertained.

It would be an exaggeration to say this latest playlist is what the world needs. What the world needs is obviously some new music from an artist who hasn't released an album in a decade.

But, with sheer scale of the ecological catstrophe enveloping the world faciliated by the same out-of-control system that both helped create  conditions for a global pandemic and is incapable of responding to it except though deadly profiteering, we take what we get.

You can hear the playlist on YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music. Here is part 1 (40 songs is a lot!) of my increasingly whiskey-affected take on each song. 


1) Time

And the things you can't remember tell the things you can't forget.
That history puts a saint in every dream
The playlist starts with a classic from Waits' 1985 Raindogs. Surrealist vignettes of broken people. There's a lot of broken people in a Tom Waits' song, it's really his thing.

As always, it's the quality of the images make it. When Waits sings... 
Well things are pretty lousy for a calendar girl
The boys just dive right off the cars and splash into the street
...I see a a woman is trying to navigate a street filled with boozy young men who feel they own it. 

Most of all, time exists in this song to break your heart, while holding out the promise that tomorrow might be different. After all, it is time that you love.
So put a candle in the window and a kiss upon his lips
As the dish outside the window fills with rain.


2) The Heart of Saturday Night

Then you comb your hair, shave your face
Tryin' to wipe out every trace of all the other days

This is the title track of Waits' second album from 1974. This was just before Waits developed his signature gutteral growl and it shows he could actually sing in a reasonably melodic tenor voice when he wanted to.

But it's not just the voice that sets this apart from almost everything he's released since: it is the optimism. This song looks at a Saturday night in an American city and sees promise. It's even fucking hopeful

It's a great song for sure -- as always the vivid imagery places this song above other mid-tempo folk rock songs that were all the rage in one wing of the US music industry of 1974. But rest assured he lost that sweet hopefulness as quickly as he lost the strong notes of sweetness in that voice.

Makes it kind of quiver down in the core
'Cause you're dreamin' of them Saturdays that came before...

3) Hold On

They hung a sign up in our town
"If you live it up, you won't live it down"
So she left Monte Rio, son
Just like a bullet leaves a gun...

If you wanted the perfect lyrical ballad about youthful hope and possibility being dashed by a cold reality that leaves you lonely and far from home, then you'd come up with this song. 

All that hope! All that possibility! All that inevitable heartache and loneliness!

If this song doesn't make you cry then you have no heart or just haven't had enough whiskey yet. Have one more then play it again. There you go. That's what it's like to cry, you'd nearly forgotten! This is why Tom Waits exists.

Down by the Riverside motel
It's ten below and falling
By a ninety-nine cent store
She closed her eyes and started swaying
But it's so hard to dance that way
When it's cold and there's no music...

4) The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) 

The piano has been drinking, my necktie is asleep
And the combo went back to new york, the jukebox has to take a leak
This song came out on 1976's Small Change, a mere two years after "Heart of Saturday Night". This is not the heart of Saturday night, it's where Saturday nights go to die. The hope and possibility has ended in a surrealist dive bar at 3am where "the telephone's out of cigarettes, and the balcony is on the make" and "the menus are all freezing, and the light man's blind in one eye and he can't see out of the other" and "the box-office is drooling, and the bar stools are on fire". You get the idea.
The piano has been drinking, not me, not me, not me, not me, not me

5) Pay Me

They pay me not to come home
Keeping me stoned
I won't run away
They say it's easy to get
Stuck in this town
Just like Joan

Why is this song so devastatingly sad? I honestly don't know, but the broken voice declaring "the only way down from the gallows is to swing" offers a clue. 

This one is off his most recently released album... from 2011. For fuck's sake Tom Waits.

And though all roads will not lead you home my girl
All roads lead to the end of the world


6) The Fall of Troy 

It's the same with men as with horses and dogs
nothing wants to die

This song is like an especially drunken Irish folk ballad, only instead of being about the English scum killing your family and sending you half way around the world from the girl you love with the auburn hair and those green hills you dream of every night after you drink yourself to sleep after a day's backbreaking labour on some capitalist-owned railway, it is about a bunch of working class kids caught up in a tragic spiral of violent crime.

So it's a drunken Irish ballad.

why cook dinner
why make my bed
why come home at all
out the door and through the woods
there's a world where nothing grow


7) Ruby's Arms

I will leave behind all of my clothes
I wore when I was with you.
All I needs are my railroad boots
And my leather jacket....

Good god Tom Waits wrings every last bit of sentimentality out of this one about a soldier leaving behind the women he loves. All put to a strings section whose attitude to restraint is remarkably similar to mine to whiskey tonight.

          No one has the right to pack so much pathos into one song. Nobody! Jesus Christ I'm crying!                  You're crying! We're all drinking whiskey! WAR IS TERRIBLE!

As I say goodbye to Ruby's arms
You'll find another soldier.
And I swear to God by Christmas time
There'll be someone else to hold you...

8) Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind In Copenhagen)

Wasted and wounded, it ain't what the moon did
Got what I paid for now....

This song is a masterclass in evocative lyric writing. It may be about, as Waits once said, "throwing up on yourself in a foreign country" but not a word is wasted in this tale of being far from home, drunk, heartbroken and very alone.

And it's a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace
And a wound that will never heal...

9) Georgia Lee

Cold was the night, hard was the ground
They found her in a small grove of trees

This one from 1999's Grammy award winning Mule Variations album is an especially heartbreaking song even by Tom Waits lofty standards. That's because this is a real story about a real tragedy.

The 12-year-old Georgie Lee Moses disappeared from a place in northern California not far from where Waits lives with his family. She was eventually found murdered. What got Waits was the sense that the fate of Georgie Lee, as an African American kid, was not a priority for the authorities or the media. Wondering what the response would have been if she'd been white, he wrote the song because he felt no one else seemed to care.

The irony is, Waits wasn't even going to include the song on the record, until his own kid commented how much sadder it would be if someone actually wrote a song for Georgia Lee Moses and then didn't even bother to release it.

Why wasn't God watching?
Why wasn't God listening?
Why wasn't God there for
Georgia Lee?


10) New Year's Eve

It felt like four in the morning
What sounded like fire works
Turned out to be just what it was
The stars looked like diamonds
Then came the sirens
And everyone started to cuss

In a decent world, this song from Waits most recent album (2011!) would do for Christmas what The Pogues "Fairytale of New York" did for Christmas Eve (tho hopefully without the overbearing over-playing, weird insertion into modern culture wars and an endless host of terrible covers). It's about a New Year's Eve party populated by broken people who once had hope and possibility. New territory for the master, but he pulls it off. Almost like he's been writing this stuff for decades.

The contrast between optimism of "Auld Lang Sang" and these characters' dire reality is not especially subtle, but as ever it's how Waits writes them and sings them that make them make you want to drink more whiskey.

I ran out on Sheila
Everything's in storage
Calvin's right I should go back to driving truck
Should auld acquaintance be forgot...


11) Lost in the Harbour

Over here the ladies all want sweet perfume
But there's never a rose
And over there the roses are frightened to bloom
So they never can grow

Oh fuck off Tom Waits. What sort of song is this to subject a man who has drunk too much whiskey to? Really? Fuck off.

And then I will fill the ocean back up with my tears
I still have a couple more years
And then I can come back to the harbor
Down to the harbor


12) Foreign Affair

Without fear of contradiction bon voyage is always hollered
in conjunction with a handkerchief from shore
by a girl that drives a rambler and furthermore
is overly concerned that she won't see him anymore

This song is off Waits' 1977 album Foreign Affairs, which for whatever reason has never been a favourite of mine (tho "Burma Shave" is classic Waits narrative storytelling and "I Never Talk To Strangers" is a charming duet with Bette Middler). Like a lot of the album, this song is very cinematic and kinda overblown; but most strikingly it is nostaligic but not actually sad. Which feels weird given every song around it.

Anyway, time to refill my glass, and this time I'll get whisky not whiskey.

planes and trains and boats and buses
characteristically evoke a common attitude of blue
unless you have a suitcase and a ticket and a passport
and the cargo that they're carrying is you

13) Fannin Street

Once I held you in my arms, I was sure
But I took that silent stare through the guilded door
The desire to have much more, all the glitter and the roar
I know this is where the sidewalk ends

Now this is more like it! A broken, stumbling and very sad song about an old man expressing his regret about a notorious street in Housten, Texas, where the old man's chasing of debauchery lost him the woman he loved. This is why we listen to Tom Waits while drinking whisky.

You'll be lost and never found
You can never turn around
Don't go down to Fannin Street

14) Picture in a Frame

The sun come up, it was blue and gold
Ever since I put your picture in a frame

Not all Waits' songs have to be sad to be brilliant. Waits' broken-in-the-gutter voice is crucial to making his tales of heartfelt love like this one from Mule Variations, but this song is so strong that not even Rod Stewart can destroy it. 
The lyrical hook, his love's picture in a frame as a metaphor for commitment, is so understated it works perfectly to offset the song's deeply felt pathos. If this isn't about his wife and long-tme collaboarator Kathleen Breenan (for whom Waits wrote "Jersey Girl") then it damn well should be and Tom Waits has some explaining to do. 
I'm gonna love you
Till the wheels come off...

15) Novemeber
No shadow
No stars
No moon
No care
It only believes
In a pile of dead leaves
And a moon
That's the color of bone
Fucking hell Tom I already warned you already about this shit! Some of us are drinking whisky, have some basic fucking human decency. Putting words like this to this Kurt Weill-esque drunken cabaret would test the tear ducts of even the whisky-less listener. Of which I am not!
November has tied me
To an old dead tree
Get word to April
To rescue me
November's cold chain


16) Widow's Grove

Near the breath of a swallow, petals dropped as you fell
And you grabbed then shyly held me, against the stone cold well 
Look fuck off. I've had too much whisky for any more of your shit. You even made this one sound bittersweet but actually it is a tragic murder ballad. Just fuck off.

Through the wind, through the rain of a cold dark night
That's where I'll be


17) Another Man's Vine

Bougainvillea's bloom and wind
Be careful mind the strangle vines


Now I see a red rose
I smell a red rose
A red rose
Blooming on another man's vine

18) Chocolate Jesus

Well, I don't go to church on Sunday
Don't get on my knees to pray
Don't memorize the books of the bible
I got my own special way

Alright finally, a bit of absurdism to lighten the mood. The narrator in this song wants to praise Jesus and eat choclate and, well, he's got the solution.

Well, it's the only thing that can pick me up
It's better than a cup of gold
See, only a chocolate Jesus
Can satisfy my soul

19) Bend Down the Branches

The sky's as deep as it can be
Bend down the branches

Oh good. Back to bleakness. I wouldn't want the last of this whisky to be put to waste. Like the best of Waits, it's more than just bleak of course. There's a rich vein of humanism in this short track about getting old. Not that it isn't bleak. Just humanely bleak.

Close your eyes and go to sleep
Bend down the branches

20) How's It Gonna End?

They found a map of Missouri
Lipstick on the glass
They must of left in the middle of the night
And I want to know the same thing
Everyone wants to know
How's it going to end?

I think we all want to know the answer to this one. And much like in Waits' atmospherically fearful song, the sense in the real world is "not good". Thank god for whisky then (for now).

This is a great narrative song filled with foreboding, danger and fatal misteps. Like a few tracks from 2004's Real Gone, it's pretty much a mini film noir.

But as this just part one of my posts on this playlist, I am sure the real qusstion you are all wondering is "how will Tom Waits 'A Little Rain' playlist end?" Well, stay tuned, I just need to restock on booze.

And down in the first row,
Of an old picture show
The old man is asleep, as the credits start to roll...

Monday, August 02, 2021

What's the best Hayes Carll song ever?


This Covid lock down in Sydney has been going on for about 398 weeks with what appears to be twice that still to go. 

Living in one of the "bad" local government areas of Western Sydney that is both home to the multi-racial working class that keeps the city running and also needs to be punished with cops and soldiers, we get the added benifit of police helicopters flying overhead yelling through megaphones at kids to stop playing basketball (which of course is the main source of community transmission in Sydney, whatever fake news you hear about it being essential workplaces without proper protections coz employers are a bunch of profiteering fuckers backed by corrupt governments whose attitude to workers' rights is like mine towards booze suuplies in lockdown -- they exist to be demolished).

With nothing else to do, it is only natural our minds turn to key questions such as "What is the best Hayes Carll song ever?"

Such existential questioning about the Texas country singer's two-decade-long career is only deepened by the welcome news of a new Hayes Carll single -- "You Get It All", a heartfelt song of the sort Carll specialises in these days (ie: it's another love song for his wife, fellow country singer Allison Moorer).

Spoiler alert: there is no actual answer to the post's title. There is no "best Hayes Carll song ever", because it is all subjective -- and not just person to person, but anyone of us will change our minds constantly for a 1000 reasons,

It depends a bit which Hayes Carll you want. In the first phase of his career, with four albums released between 2002-11, Carll developed a a clear persona: the drunken poet. By his own admission, he played a character -- the dishevelled troubadour, stumbling from gig to gig all bleary-eyed romance and witty quips.

It was an enchanting character and I certainly loved it. I am just a year or two younger than Hayes Carll, so while he was drinking and gigging his ways through his 30s, I spent my 30s drinking and listening to him and wishing I was him in my weaker moments (after a few drinks, so most of the time).

Then, in the aftermath of the endless touring of his 2011 KMAG YOLO album, Hayes Carll hit a wall.

Playing the role of an outgoing charsmatic frontman of a full band rocking out with tales of debauchery and heartbreak was taking its toll. The character he was playing, that gave the introverted Carll the cover to go out each night, was starting to consume him. He was drinking way too much. His marriage disintegrated.

Hayes Carll called time and wrote a heartfelt piece for No Depression about the need to be himself and express himself as he actually is.

The result was a stripped back and deeply personal album "Lovers and Leavers", released in 2016 to justified critical acclaim. 

His subsequent album (and now the new single) continue in the vein of a more honest portrail of himself and his views. And entering my 40s just after Hayes Carll, I can relate to leaving behind an alcohol-fuelled persona that seems fun in your 30s but leaves you wanting some genuine peace and serenity (I'm only saying this here coz no one will actually read this post).

So the answer to the question "What's your favourite Hayes Carll song?" is which Hayes Carll?

Of the pre-2016 Hayes Carll, you could go for the laugh-out-loud wit of "She Left Me For Jesus" (or possibly "Another Like You"), or the aching barroom romance of "Beaumont"  ("Chances Are" also does the trick). 

Or maybe you just want the "what the fuck is actually going on I am SO FUCKING WEARY" sense of "Wish I Hadn't Stayed So Long" (and I really relate to this one for my own reasons, and if you put a gun to my head I'd chose it as my favourite).

But... getting older just slightly behind Hayes Carll... I find myself relating really strongly "Good While It Lasted" from "Lovers and Leavers".

So as far as tonight goes, I'll choose it as my favourite Hayes Carll song.

I smoked my last cigarette
I drank my last drop
Quit doing all the things
That I swore I'd never stop
I changed my direction
Sang a different tune
Gave up all those childish ways
That made me old too soon
Things were going good there for a while
I tried to straighten out the crooked road that I was on
It was good while it lasted
But it didn't last too long
I used to play down on broadway
The same song every night
Singing for the tip jar
Underneath the neon light
Had a good time with the women
And the compliments were free
I dreamed of something bigger
But it just wasn't meant to be
But I was happy there for a while
Just like a desperado, out searching for a song
It was good while it lasted
But it didn't last too long
Nothing last forever
Time knows that it's true
Sometimes a little while's the best that we can do
You ended up beside me
Like some long-forgotten dream
You took my hand and showed me colors
I had never seen
We both said forever, forever till the end
But forever's something different
To a lover than a friend
We thought we had it all there for a while
Just like that perfect moment 'fore the darkness turned to dawn
It was good while it lasted
But it didn't last too long
The one thing I can tell from all this life that's come undone
It was good while it lasted
But it didn't last too long


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Here are 6 John Prine songs to capture the spirit of being locked down with nothing to do and nowhere to go

When you are subjected to a lockdown, as Sydney is now, what you want, if you are like me, is entertainment that takes the ennui, anxiety, alienation from others and just general all-persuasive sense of melancholy and massively amplifies it. That's what I call living.

That is why it was a tragic irony that COVID-19 killed the great US country singer-songwriter John Prine, coz his whole output seems designed to be a humanist, compassionate and empathetic summing up the strange emptiness and background sense of unease that comes with very limited options.

So here are the 6 songs that seem to capture all that and SURE these songs are generally about other things, whatever the similarities, but that's coz a lockdown is just the reality for many people in the "rich world" under late monopoly capitalism just exaggerated a bit. 

Anyway, and I'm sure I don't have to say this but just in case, this is "whiskey-drinking" music. By all means substitute with your intoxicant of choice (as per the final song on this list) but for god's sake do not attempt sobriety at a time like this. Just don't. 

You can listen to all 6 as a playlist or I lst them below coz that's the kinda shit I do. I'm thoughtful.

Clocks and Spoons

Clocks and spoons and empty rooms
It's raining out tonight
What a way to end a day
By turnin' out the light...

Shoot the moon right between the eyes
I'm screaming
Take me back to sunny countryside

Angel from Montogomerry

There's flies in the kitchen
I can hear 'em there buzzin'
And I ain't done nothing
Since I woke up today

Hello In There

Me and Loretta, we don't talk much more
She sits and stares through the back door screen
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we've both seen
Someday I'll go and call up Rudy
We worked together at the factory
But what could I say if he asks "What's new?"
"Nothing, what's with you? Nothing much to do"

Crooked Piece of Time

Things got rough
Things got tough
Things got harder than hard
We were just trying to make a livin'
In our back yard

We were born too late died to soon
Anxiety's a terrible crime
If you don't come now don't come at all
'Cause it's a crooked piece of time.
It's a crooked piece of time that we live in...

Yesterday morning an ill wind came
Blew your picture
Right out of the picture frame
Even blew the candle out
From underneath the flame
Yesterday morning an ill wind came.

Me, Myself and I

Well, tonight I'll throw a party
And I know who I'll invite
There's a strange and lonely person
With whom I'll spend this night
There'll be no old sad memories
To haunt me till I die
In that room there'll be a bottle
And me, myself and I...

Illegal Smile

When I woke up this morning, things were lookin' bad
Seem like total silence was the only friend I had
Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down, and won
And it was twelve o'clock before I realized
I was havin' no fun
Ah, but fortunately I have the key to escape reality...

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Lucinda Williams' 1998 Austin City Limits is one of the truly great live shows that you can find on Youtube when drunk!

US singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams has revealed she had a stroke in November. The 68-year-old is recovering and although currently unable to play guitar is expected to make a full recovery.

That is good news, because Williams is not just a great songwriter, but a great human. She was expelled from high school in the late 60s for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Alliegence in opposition to the Vietnam War and has remained outspoken in song and beyond all her life (her most recent album is filled with fury about racism and misogyny and the state of her country).

By coincidence, the news of her stroke came just after I went on one of my periodic Lucinda Williams binges, specifically repeatedly watching her brilliant Austin City Limits show from 1998, just after the release of her career-defining album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

The reason was a debate that flared once more on The Very Long Thread (VLT). This is a thread on my facebook wall whose only goal is to generate as many comments as possible. Having started in 2013, so far the VLT has more than 365k comments at an often meandering pace by arguing about such topics as "are song lyrics a form of poetry?".

Now, I argued no. Although obviously similar, the nature of the forms means different pressures and contraints on the writing. It is a semantic argument that can't be resolved because you can just keep shiftng the boundaries and definitions until you finally finally after eight fucking years reach the 500,000 comment milestone (we can only dream).

But inspired by talk about poetry and lyrics, I put on Lucinda Williams. The country/blues/folk/rock (I hate the term "Americana") icon being one of the more poetic and poetry-influenced songwriters that US has produced in recent generations.

The result was I conceded straight away. Williams' ACL show is just song after song of fucking poetry put to a raw mix of country/folk/blues/rock (yes I know "Americana" is less words) played by a tight-as-anything band. 

Song after song I found myself yelling "IT'S MORE FUCKING POETRY!" then commented to that effect on the VLT because, after all, we need the comments. God knows when we'll reach 500K and if we can even beat the rapidly escalating climate apocalypse

It is an incredible show of a great artist at her peak. It deserves more recognition as one of the great live shows that you can find while on a drunken YouTube music binge. Williams' performance features a range of songs that can loosely be divided into three categories: death songs, "fuck you, arsehole!" songs, and deeply felt longing for a lost love songs. 


1. Pineola (0:19​)
I saw his mama, she was standin' there
His sister, she was there too
I saw them look at us standin' around the grave
And not a soul they knew

They say start as you intend to contnue, and Williams starts with a tough bluesey song about a friend committing suicide. This will not be the last song about the death of a friend nor suicide, not by a long shot!

The song is very well-summed up in this Time magazine piece in which it features on a list of "100 songs of enduring beauty, power and inventiveness". It deserves it's place.

2. Metal Firecracker (5:00​)
We'd put on ZZ Top
And turn 'em up real loud
I used to think you were strong
I used to think you were proud
I used to think nothing could go wrong
All I ask
Don't tell anybody the secrets...
Slightly cheerier in that it's a song remembering a lost love with fondness. But it's not that cheery, due to the whole lost love thing. An up-tempo country rock track whose lyrical quality reminds me of the more recent and much-lauded Jason Isbell (with whom she's performing with in July in her first post-stroke shows, and who would be the first to name her as an inspiration).  

3. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (8:38​)
Sittin' in the kitchen, a house in Macon
Loretta's singing on the radio
Smell of coffee, eggs and bacon
Car wheels on a gravel road

Williams' signature song, or at least the glorious title track from her best album. A catchy honky tonk tune through which Williams evokes nostalgia with imagery of the minutia of daily life. It's key line comes right at the end: "A little bit of dirt, mixed with tears". This would be Lucinda Williams' best song if "Drunken Angels" didn't exist.

4. Right in Time (13:19​)
Not a day goes by I don't think about you
You left your mark on me it's permanent a tattoo
Pierce the skin and the blood runs through
Oh my baby...

This is definitely a cheerier song and that's because this folk-rocker is all about masturbation! More specifically, it's a vividly poetic and gleeful account of taking the time to pleasure yourself as you think of someone who.... well of some who "moves right in time with me". 

Anyway, I think we shoud move on, not ... ahaha... because I am in any way unfomcortable with an open embrace of sexuality and self-delivered pleasure or anything. God no! It's just... what's the next song?

5. Drunken Angel (17:58​)
Sun came up it was another day
And the sun went down
You were blown away
Why'd you let go of your guitar
Why'd you ever let it go that far...
Back on the familiar ground of death! This is a souring anthematic epic about her friend, little known Texas-based country singer Blaze Foley who was killed in tragic circumstances. Foley was shot trying to defend a friend from being robbed by his own son, with the jury aquiting the son of murdering Foley apparantly on the basis no one could understand what a white guy like Foley was doing in the home of his Black friend in a Black part of town in Austin, Texas.

The notoriously down-and-out Foley, who never got far career-wise due to a mix of bad luck and drunken self-sabotage, has since become cult figure with a documentary and film staring Ethan Hawke about his life. The fact John Prine and Merle Haggard recorded him is a sure sign Blaze Foley could write a song. And as this song shows, so can Lucinda Williams.

6. Greenville (21:21​)

Empty bottles and broken glass
Busted down doors and borrowed cash
Borrowed cash, oh the borrowed cash
Go back to Greenville, just go on back to Greenville
This is a superficially tender-sounding country ballad. Don't be decieved. It's the first of the "fuck you, arsehole" songs! And it is certainly not tender in its sentiments towards to bloke to whom she repeatedly insists "just go on back to Greenville". 

With an intesity that slowly builds through the song, she savages the sort of ego-centric, fucked up, selfish areshole you can imagine infesting the artistic circles around places like Austin, Texas through which Williams moved. The lines, "Looking for someone to save you, looking for someone to rave about you..." just nails the type. 

You know the type. They're on Twitter right now whinging about how woke cancel culture interferes with their God-given right to be a genius. Well, fuck you arsehole coz this song is genius.

7. Still I Long for Your Kiss (25:43​)

I know that I shouldn't but I want you so bad
I know it couldn't be but I want what we had
I know our love is gone
And I can't bring it back
Still I long for your kiss
A straight up tender country ballad! No death, no suicide, no murder and seemingly no arseholes! I mean it's still sad of course. It's about a desperate longing for someone you can no longer have. This is, after all, country music. But it's possibly the most convention love song on here and it's fucking great, the band really go to town with this one. 

8. Lake Charles (30:13​)

He was born in Nacogdoches
That's in East Texas
Not far from the border
But he liked to tell everybody
He was from Lake Charles
Oh my God this is another death song. It's about an ex-lover and I beg of you, for the love of God, do not listen to this song if you've been drinking whiskey. Or at least waterproof your house from the tears that will flow should you be so reckless.

This song is truly poetry put to music. A strong challenger to "Drunken Angels" and "Car Wheels" for "best Lucinda Williams song ever". Fuck it's a heart-breaker.

9. Changed the Locks (35:42​)

I changed the kind of clothes I wear so you can't find me anywhere
And you can't spot me in a crowd, and you can't call my name out loud
I changed the kind of clothes I wear
This is another "fuck you, arsehole" song, with the guitars unleashed. Williams is determined to get a toxic guy out of her life, but for a while I struggled to get the full signficance of all the lines. I think because it's take on complex personal gender politics from a female perspective it is just a little above the head of another dumb man.

Bascially, this song isn't just saying "fuck off" to a former lover, but acknowleging ongoing feelings of attraction. It took me while to fully get that this is because 1) people are complicated and therefore can still feel attraction to someone they no longer want anything to do with; and 2) this is something toxic arseholes try to cynically manipulate.

When Williams sings she changed her phone number so he can't call her up "and make me fall down to my knees" or change the car she drives so "you can't chase me up the street and you can't knock me off my feet", it is a statement of a refusal to have her complicated emotional life manipulated by a toxic arsehole.

Also, the song rocks.

10. Disgusted (39:31​)

And I go with my baby
What man like a woman with a sassy child
I won't have to ask him no questions
Man, because he knows the reason why

This is the only track in the show not written or co-written by Williams. By an old Lighting Hopkins associate Melvin Jackson, this straight up blues number is nonetheless still about saying "fuck you, aresehole". But it has a happy ending. The singer finds a man with lots of money and therefore no longer needs wake up early in the morning "coz i won't have nothin' in the world to do".

11. Jackson (42:45​)

Once I get to Lafayette
I'm not gonna mind one bit
Oh it's another tear-jerking tender country ballad. Like "Still I Long For Your Kiss", this is a relatively straight-forward tale of longing. It is, at the same time, absolutely pure and beautifully written poetry. 

Williams likes to incorporate a sense of place into her songs, and this is the third of these songs to be named after a place. This one goes further and names a different place across the US South in each verse. When you are onto a good thing, take it up a notch!

12. Sweet Old World (49:02​)
The breath from your own lips, the touch of fingertips
A sweet and tender kiss
The sound of a midnight train, wearing someone's ring
Someone calling your name
Somebody so warm cradled in your arms
Didn't you think you were worth anything
It's another death song! Specifically, another suicide song. An almost impossible mix of grief and beauty, this is a note to a loved one to ask them the hopelessly futile question: "How could you leave?"

Just don't listen to it if you've had a few. 

13. Passionate Kisses (54:12​)
Is it too much to ask
I want a comfortable bed that won't hurt my back
Food to fill me up
And warm clothes and all that stuff
Shouldn't I have this
Shouldn't I have this
Shouldn't I have all of this, and
Passionate kisses

This very catchy track is the only hit song Williams has written to date, with Mary Chapin Carpertner's 1993 version breaking into the top 5 of the US country charts.

It is a manifesto of Williams' "personal is political" brand of feminism. Williams has essentially produced her version of the famous poem "Bread and Roses" by socialist suffragette Helen Todd, which delcared: "Yes, it is Bread we fight for—but we fight for Roses, too." 

In "Passionate Kisses", Williams insists on her right to a fulfiling life and "passionate kisses too". It should not be a radical sentiment, and yet...

14. Something About What Happens When We Talk (56:54​)
If I had my way,
I'd be in your town.
I might not stay, but at least I would have been around

It's another country ballad full of longing. But like all Williams' songs it doesn't just repeat a cliched formula. It's filled with little pockets of unique depictions of a very specific, personal relationship. By the time the guitar solo hits, this song has captured an emotional state best described as: "I've been drinking and listening to sad songs like this again".

15. Joy (1:00:54​)
I don't want you anymore 'cause you took my joy

This is a straight-up all-out rocker of a "fuck you, arsehole" song. It's not complicated. Some areshole took her joy and she wants it back. This being a Lucinda Williams song, it also name-checks a bunch of locations across the US South. 

16. Cant Let Go (1:09:33​)
Says he's sorry then he pulls me out
I got a big chain around my neck
And I'm broken down like a train wreck
Well it's over I know it but I can't let go

The last song, with the band working themselves into a final frenzy as Williams delivers one her  "longing" songs with a dash of "fuck you, areshole" chucked into the mix too. If only the arsehole also died it could have summed the whole thing up. Still, a fitting end.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Missed the first AFL men's game last night? Here's the commentating highlights to get you up to speed

The AFL is back, if you exclude the seven AFLW rounds already played this year, and no doubt almost all of you were glued to the TV as there's really nothing else of interest going on in the world right now.

Or maybe you were too busy celebrating another week of no protesters being shot dead on our streets to. Or too distracted thinking about that top cop's idea, the one so dumb and offensive in equal measures it was like a Donald Trump tweet if the ex-president and future convict had suffered an especially debilitating aneurysm.

Or maybe you just couldn't bring yourself to watch a game between Richmond and Carlton. After all, the game offered the unpleasant choice of a win for a deeply unlikable, arrogant and entitled club with little respect for the rules, or a draw.

Well don't worry, I've got your back. The best part of watch AFL is undoubtedly the quality of the Channel 7 commentary, and even without Bruce McAvaney in the box there's still plenty to like about this team.

So I collected a few of the commentating highlights as they were uttered last night so you can get a full flavour of the match. As it goes on, you might feel the comments seem to get a little homoerotic, if not outright pornographic. I can assure you this just you. Australian Rules football is a pure, innocent game and you should be ashamed of yourself!

THE FOOTY'S BACK! (Spoiler: a deeply unlikable, arrogant and entitled club with a questionable commitment to the rules won the match.)




And the 2021 AFL season is underway!

Wrapped him up like a blanket

Perfect conditions at the MCG, as BT said

Wants to play on

Massages it to half forward

Can he find someone inside 50?

For the first goal in the match and the season…. BANG!

With the clearing kick

Smooth as you like

Worked it nicely

One on one, he rarely loses them

Aren't the fans loving it being back!

Nice movement

Hopeful start here for the Blues

Defends to the boundary

This first 10 minutes are crucial

Dropped what he should have taken

Now the calvary arrive

Only one home for the Blues

He'll run all night!

Now they steady, the Tiges

Ball's pinging around

It just emphasises the importance of decision making

Just a little bit too cute

You CANNOT turn the ball over there in that part of the groun. You just cannot afford to do it!

Has got to be clean

Great to be back here!

Level pegging… in goals

That was well done by the young gun

Kept it alive

Sits a high one up

Got a nice look about it already, this game of footy

They need to hit the scoreboard

Two ready to do combat in the Coles centre circle!

Excellent front and centring from the Carlton smalls

Belted in the tackle

Coughed it up, you can't do that against the Tigers!

You couldn't ask for more! Scores level!

Knew he had to get rid of it

Pouring the pressure on late in this first term

Goes for home, touched on the line

Pounds a long one

Strikes it perfectly!

So much to like about this kid

Mown down!

High ball

Does well in the end

Crowds are back, AFL is back!

Six lead changed already, it's a great game of footy


Has he got enough on it?

Funny little handball

Nice body work

Might have been interfered with

Turns around and says "Mate, I'm twice your size!"

They have been explosive!

Centering ball

Reiwaldt hits the board

Tried to get boot to ball

The pressure from both sides… EXCEPTIONAL!

What's he got ahead of him?

Now they're out!

Parked underneath it

Puts it wide

It is on!

Now the human meatball…


Lowers the eyes, that's nice

Seesawing encounter to start the season

AFL football is back in a big way!

Funny little kick

Advantage is paid

Got to make a contest

Great vision out wide

Right on the Toyota logo there

They really got to steady here

Wants to wheel and go

Across the face, a minor score

There's been some decent mullets over the Carlton journey

Runners everywhere

They start to get hold of it!

Interesting decision

It's a two goal spread

He thought about going

Thumped through

You get the feeling the Tiges will be careful with the ball here

Well it's a great game of footy at the MCG. It's lived up to expectations!

He'll thump it back in

Floats one forward

Where was the pressure?

Blues fans furious!

Can't bend it back enough!

Hoisted it inside without great direction

Let himself down there

He can't help finding the ball!

Run down, holding the ball!

Ball in

The Blues are peppering

Oh that's nice! They are coming, the Blues!

That's a very nice set shot!

Good hands, quick release

Hard at the pack

Just couldn't handle the ball

Their sub has been activated

Just pounded it out of there

Big coupla minutes!

You thought he might have been towelled there a little bit, BT?

Straight as! Perfect execution

He slots it through

Carlton have been rushing

Hacks it across the face

Probably should have hung on

Martin's in great shape

Nailed it!

It ended up in the best possible hands

If you can't put it on the scoreboard it goes to waste

Had to go down deep

Worked it through with great hands

And a ball up

Only five touches this half after he was enormous early

Can the Blues find something just to steady the ship?

Umpire said it was high

Tigers fans not impressed!

Sprays it wide

Inaccuracy really costing the Blues at the moment

Can they conjure something?

Swinging it away by hand

Good call, Jobe

Neat little ball

He reels and goes

What an important goal

He's snagged a couple

A good late fist

He sees it out

Plenty of time on the clock!

Steers it inside 50

This is a must goal!

Just needs to hit it a little harder here. 

That's nice, well done!

Over the top and there's Blues everywhere!

Jeez JB they've got a bit of steam up now haven't they!

They'll get a ball in very deep

Still lots of time! That clock WILL NOT WIND DOWN!

He's impossible to collar!

Keeps it in

Ran into his own man!

Plenty of time for both teams

He was mounted!

Stuck it down the throat of Reiwaldt

A penetrating ball

Just composure to put it through

They've done enough here the Tigers, such a professional outfit

Too good, Richmond.