Love Letter To A Record: Ruby Tuesdays On Paul Kelly’s ‘Songs From The South’

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.

Shaun Snider, Ruby Tuesdays – Songs From The South by Paul Kelly

Dear Songs,

Look how far we’ve come babe. I still reminisce back to when we first met. Christmas day 1997, 14 years old and Santa was kind enough to introduce me to you and your cousin Songs Of The South music book. I’ve never looked back since. I must admit I’d had a couple flings before: Queen. Beatles, Alanis Morissette, The Presidents of The United States, Oasis, but when you came along we just clicked. Holy moley.

I had just started playing guitar that year, which was convenient for me because a lot of the songs only had a couple of chords. Yet even in their simplicity the songs the cover a range of themes, topics with a level of depth, originality and emotion that other artists can’t touch with a whole album. With a whole discography.

Nick Hornby once mentioned that people are unlucky these days because they will never have the same relationships that people used to have with albums. In the age of Spotify and YouTube we can access a song, any song from anytime, anywhere, for free. Simply with a touch of fingers. Right now I could listen a song that came 100 years ago or song that came out 10 seconds ago.

In the 90’s CD’s were expensive! At least to teenage me they were. When you bought an album, you wouldn’t be buying another one for a long time. You listened to the album, when it finished you just put it on again. You knew the album so well you’d hear the next song before it even came on. If there were songs on there you didn’t like, you just listened to them until you did like them (I’ve got to admit I still struggle with Winter Coat). I listened and played along to this album so much it’s in my DNA and shaped the way I listened to songs, it changed the way I looked at the world.

I remember the first time I went to Melbourne playing with a band at the Espy being blown out that I was walking along the Esplanade that I’ve been hearing about all these years in From St. Kilda To Kings Cross. I’ve got a friend that rings me every year on the 21st of December wishing me Happy Gravy Day.

Lines in P.K songs are kind of like Springsteen songs. Everyone has a different one that is theirs, that talks to them that really resounds with them, that defines them. In ‘How to Make Gravy’ a broken hearted, lonely father in prison on Christmas pouring his heart to his brother for the whole song, then suddenly accusing him of making a move on his wife only to instantly, take it back and plea that “It’s just my mind that plays up. Multiplies each matter. That turns imagination into fact.” To him, in his world there is no difference from what is real and what is in his imagination. Brutal.

‘Give In To My Love’ sparked my passion for unrequited love songs, and this ones a doozy. The imagery is dark, determined, needy, pleading and sleazy. The music is a slow minor groove that fits like a well-oiled glove. ‘Deeper Water’ tells of a young boy being taken past the waves and out of his depth and then turns it into a metaphor for his whole life, losing his virginity, falling in love, becoming a parent, losing his partner to cancer and then having to raise the child on his own.

‘Everything Turning to White’ is is a heart wrenching tale of a wife whose husband discovers the body a young girl while fishing in a freezing mountain lake but rather than report it he continues fishing for 2 days and reports on the way back to town. Now every time he touches her, she feels just like that freezing lake, “When he holds me now I’m pretending, Ugh! Nothing is working inside, and behind my lies, my daily disguise, everything’s turning to white”.

All pretty heavy shit for a 14 year old still struggling with the F chord.

Thank you Songs from the South for the stories, the jams, the car trips, all the stuff I’ve tried to nick off you over the years and teaching me that if you’re going to write a song, you better make sure it bloody says something.

Ruby Tuesdays’ latest single ‘Why You Always Gotta Fight Me’ is out now. They will launch the single next February 23rd at the Heritage Hotel in Bulli Bulli. Grab tickets here.

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