Black Yak Records
Released: March, 2006
Disc 1: Little Cloud
- * Been Away Too Long
- * White Horses
- * I Was Alive
- * Year of the Rat
- * 12 Hours
- * Keep The Light On
- * Tonight
- * Little Cloud
Disc 2: The Apple’s Eye
- * Beauty In Me
- * Fondess Makes The Heart Grow Absent
- * Beautiful As You
- * Second Best
- * Fancy Lover
- * Stay With Me
- * She’s Moving In
- * The Curse Stops Here
Been Away Too Long
He’s gone wandering and trouble has changed him. I’ve always wanted to use this Janis Joplin reference since someone said it to me after another rock and roll death. We managed to stay on one chord and one feel for the whole verse, which is a first for me.
I dreamt these lyrics while I was in New York. They sum up the feeling of writing a song again when you think you may not. When I returned they seemed to apply to political opposition in Australia. “Now we move amongst them” sums up the collective alienation I noticed in November 2004.
I Was Alive
This is the first single. It’s trouble with girls. It’s a bar room stomp with honky tonk piano, real old fashioned Whitlams. We were a bar band for the first seven years. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” popped into my head one night walking home arguing with this gorgeous girl. When she goes to the newsagent, “she don’t know which one to buy, Australian Shooter, or Australian Bride.”
Year of the Rat
This was written and recorded with Sydney jazz group Aronas. It’s about ambivalent feelings coming back to Sydney.
Just piano and vocal. It’s dark, uneasy, visceral. I’m glad the producer J. Walker talked me into recording it without the band. I wanted to dress it up, but he said you don’t need to.
This was co-written with J. It’s about a charming waistrel. A fellow who’s off the rails and we hope he’ll get his act together and not end up in Darwin. The music scene is littered with such time bombs, and I supposed I’ve been one myself in patches.
Very blue. That ethereal otherworldly feeling that often comes with loss. The chorus comes from a faltering translation of Rilke. And a few lines from the author Martine Murray who no longer has “food between her teeth” but still has a dog called Bear. In mastering it seemed to work best in mono.
The title track but a very relaxed affair. It sums up how I felt in New York looking back at Sydney. A mood of gentle reflection. Like a little cloud floating over Sydney, looking in vain for a co-conspirator.
Beauty in Me
Inspired by an image I’ve had in my head for 20 years of a Sydney University student sitting cross-legged on the grass outside a party in York St, Glebe rocking forwards and backwards on a bad trip. It didn’t really come together in the recording until J. added the zither in the verses. People have warmed to this one at gigs. I guess there are a lot of bad pills around these days. The young girl now directs films – there’s a happy ending for you.
Fondness Makes The Heart Grow Absent
This is probably my favourite song on the record. It talks of waking up blue and battling through it by the end of the day. It’s about losing touch with your fondness for the simple things having to get to the other side of the world to wake up to yourself. The battle is won with the help of a great restaurant that I frequented too often.
Beautiful as You
This is about the sights of New York and looking forward to getting back home to someone who is as beautiful as the most beautiful things you’ve seen. Sweet, huh?
Clayton Doley, our ex-keyboardist wrote this one, and gave it to me because he thought it would suit. It was recorded in one take; they’re always my favourite recordings. It’s wonderfully self-depreciating. The narrator says “don’t you hesitate to call me, when only second best will do”.
This was my way of dealing subtly with a small heartbreak. I put a lot of time into the lyrics but it wasn’t quite working in the mix until Tony Cohen (engineer and producer for Nick Cave, Dirty Three) decided to take the drums out and uncover the harmonies, after we had listened to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Only Living Boy in New York City”.
Stay With Me
It started off as a discordant bar room stomp except for when I try to be the Doobie Brothers in the chorus. More images from walking around New York: going into bars and not having a drink, thinking about cicadas back in Sydney, etcetera. It was recorded with one take of the four core instruments and so it sounds like a band in a room. The solo section is really drunken and slow, an advantage of not recording with a tempo track.
She’s Moving In
I’ve had this one for years but I’ve only ever played it at solo shows. It’s a novelty number. We recorded it like a Tom Waits song, banging away being angular. If you’re releasing a double album, I think you’re allowed a couple of peculiarities at the end of side two. It’s about a girl who decides to move in and when you see her belongings you think Poland was invaded with less.
The Curse Stops Here
This song was originally a B-side to ‘Blow Up The Pokies’, written after I heard [former band member] Andy Lewis had died. It came very quickly and I was really emotional when I wrote it and I find it easy to plug back into that emotion when I sing it. We just put a tape in the desk when we played an outdoor gig with WASO (West Australian Symphony Orchestra). It was a lovely arrangement of the song. It’s not often you get a song that’s never appeared on an album played in concert by an 80 piece orchestra. Also it’s nice to end the album with some live applause.