Legendary Aussie musician, James Reyne is sharing Toon Town Lullaby with the world today. It’s the Australian Crawl frontman’s 12th studio album and his first in eight years.
The album is really personal and delves into special memories from Reyne’s past. Particularly on tracks like ‘The Tallest Man I Ever Knew’, which is a heartfelt tribute to his friend, Brad Robinson (guitarist of Australian Crawl).
To celebrate the new album, James Reyne has taken us through it, track by track.
Toon Town Lullaby
“And one more drunken angel up and died”
I went to Nashville to write some songs. All the songwriters are based there – it’s Toon Town. This is a song about muses and how they can leave you. I had the song written, but when I was in the studio with Dorian, we thought we should have a lullaby or something in the middle. I came back the next day and Dorian had come up with the lullaby section.
A Little Ol’ Town South Of Bakersfield
“Before you fly, you better learn how to fall”
I have been to Bakersfield, it’s like a cowboy movie. We shot part of the ‘Motor’s Too Fast’ video there. This is a song about when I was signed to Capitol Records. They didn’t really know what to do with me. Maybe opportunity opened its doors and I didn’t recognise it, or maybe it didn’t open its doors. But I lived on and off for several years in Los Angeles, a little ol’ town south of Bakersfield.
Low Hanging Fruit
“I don’t see bravery, I just see knavery”
I watched about 10 minutes of the ARIAs and this song just wrote itself. There’s also a little nod to Warren Zevon, which his fans will pick up on.
“No more bald eagle screamin’ ’cross the boundless sky”
A few years ago I read that by 2035 there would be no tigers. Then I started looking into it and discovered that many more animals are endangered. As a species, humans are idiots. We’re more interested in celebrity crap than being environmentally aware.
“Still, you don’t learn much when everything goes right”
This was just me mucking around, to be honest, taking the piss out of my wife. She thinks she’s tamed me, but she’s deluded. (I’m saying this because she’s sitting right next to me.)
Trying To Write A Love Song
“Everybody said I don’t know how”
A lot of women, including my wife, said to me, “Why don’t you write any love songs?” I’d say, “I can’t, I’m hopeless at it. I just don’t think that way.” But I really made an effort with this song. I like the way it builds up, that maybe it’s going to be this lovely, lovely thing, and then at the end, everything just goes wrong.
“Don’t sweat it when it all goes wrong”
I did a writing day with Ollie Brown in Sydney. I had this song, but I didn’t have a middle eight. Ollie came up with the middle eight. I played the song to Dorian; he liked it, so we recorded it.
The Tallest Man I Ever Knew
“Drink and dance and laugh and charm the birds right from the trees”
This is a song about Brad Robinson. He was very tall – people used to say to him, “Mate, do they speak French up there?” Typical Aussie humour. This is a very personal song. There are a few in-jokes in there that only Brad would get.
The Last Great Love Affair
“I can’t get that song out of my head”
I like this one. It feels quite simple when you first hear it, but it’s not. Lyrically, it maintains the car crash theme – we’re heading for the trees, but in a good way.
“But your shadows out-dance you wherever you run”
I heard someone talking about Hollywood: “All you need is the wrong guy, wrong room, wrong night and you’re screwed.” I thought that was a great phrase. Lyrically, I think I was trying to be Raymond Chandler or something; I had like 25 verses. I grew up loving The Allman Brothers and all those jam bands, and this was me trying to do that, but I’m not sure if we pulled it off, to be honest. I think the key change is a little weird.
James Reyne’s Toon Town Lullaby is out today.