Love Letter To A Record: Ainslie Wills On Joan As Police Woman’s ‘Real Life’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.

To my dearest Real Life,

I found about you through my obsession with the music of Jeff Buckley, the guy who inspired me to write music of my very own and the guy who is said to have been close with your writer, Joan. I didn’t want this to be the reason that I found you or rather I didn’t want it to bias my interaction with you by creating expectations of what I was to hear. If I did have any expectations at all, they were certainly exceeded.

My first taste was ‘Eternal Flame’ which was a far cry from The Bangles’ song of the same name.

It was like Joan was whispering in my ear, close and beautifully restrained with what sounded like funeral mourners for backing singers, broodingly eerie yet uplifting.

Living in a tiny flat in Carlton at the time, I listened to you on repeat and mindfully absorbed every word after purchasing you from the Elizabeth Street JB Hi-Fi. Unlike my flat, the spaciousness of you was what got to me the most. There was room to breathe, room to feel. Moments of solitude and sadness mixed in with moments of defiance and stoicism. The coming together of vulnerability and strength is something that I’ve been trying to chase in my own music making. Slow motion grooves, muted electric guitars, golden-warm horns and classical sounding piano and violin so beautifully tied together in you.

I was lucky enough to hear some of your songs played live when I saw Joan perform them at the East Brunswick Club. I was with my best friend who after the show got his t-shirt signed by her whilst still on him. I wanted to talk to her too but I stood back like a shy kid who hides behind the leg of a parent.

I will be forever grateful that I found you.

Much love,


Ainslie Wills plays headline shows in Melbourne and Sydney this month. See details here.

Read more album tributes in our Love Letter To A Record series, here.

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