Although I’ve been writing and playing since 1976, until now I’ve released all my work under other names. This year sees the release of my first solo album, "F-35". It’s available for sale in physical format for only $16.00 including shipping.

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Track by Track

Fever Dream
This song is a little hallucinogenic, but a fairly direct interpretation of, well, a fever dream I had. In late 2010 I had a massive internal infection (good times!) and aside from what must’ve been a period of delirium, had some mad dreams. Sick as I was, I got up after this particular dream, turned on the 16-track and recorded the basic tracks for the song. The drum track has a slightly wacky timing moment near the end of the song that I left in because it makes me laugh.
Love Comes To Ground (lyrics)
Those who follow my work will recognise this song from 2001’s “Hallelujah Mine“. When The Jordans recorded the song, it had a busy guitar track and lost momentum in the middle eight. I can say that because I recorded it, right? I played a bunch of gigs solo, just me and the acoustic, and the song gradually chilled out to the feel of this version. I like it better this way. When I wrote this song I was convinced it was the best thing I ever did. So much so that I drove into the city and turned up outside my wife’s office building with my acoustic guitar. The security guard must’ve seen me as some sort of threat; he was bellowing “step away from the building” into his microphone as my wife emerged from the lift. It was an odd moment, but as we sat in front of the next building along I had a good feeling playing this song to someone for the first time.
My Family
I guess this is self-explanatory. When I was growing up I stood out in my large extended family for my non-participation in sport. I don’t say that in any self-pitying way – I was perfectly happy with my world. I’m sure all my cousins were equally happy with their sport-mad lives, with their indisputable achievements in whatever playing field they preferred. Meanwhile in primary school many of my classmates called me “Professor” for my general knowledge and obvious scholastic participation. It didn’t make me popular, just recognised. It wasn’t until I got to secondary school that I finally learned how to fly under the radar. All that is a digression, however – I was talking about my extended family. It’s really only as an adult that I can appreciate the value of the family get-together, with all its quirks and inevitable madnesses. This song is an attempt to celebrate that.
I couldn’t tell you how many years I’ve had the first verse and chorus of this song. They hung around for possibly two decades, intermittently dropping by to make me feel miserable because I couldn’t make them into anything. When it came time to shortlist songs for the album, Milk was half-way down the page. One day it came time to record it. I wrote down all the words I could ever remember having scribbled over the years, then systematically excised anything that didn’t work. Half an hour later I was playing a complete song. Everything in its time.
Rise Up
I’m not ashamed to say that this is my favourite song on the album. I wrote it last year in about twenty minutes sitting on my bed. It expressed something about the time in your life where you put the drinking and house-sharing days to one side and become an adult. It’s that time when you acknowledge your mortality and decide you’d best make something of your life before it’s all over. As the song ends it sounds to me like victory.
Long Ride Down
I’d been listening to the Underground Lovers when I wrote this in early 2010. It felt right to find something that reminded me of their sound. The lyric is a bit deep; believe it or not it’s a commentary on being a political fall-guy. The ‘long ride down’ is the fall from your position of power; during that fall you would inevitably realise you left everyone else behind, and they’re never going to call.
The Prince of Halcyon Days
I was thinking of a past-it jock when I wrote this. Then I realised that it’s about me. Damn that Freud guy!
There’s no mystery here. Part of the experience of being a man, I think, is that there’s a time in your relationship where you cross the line, where you treat your partner without respect. The lyric tries to capture that moment in what is otherwise a relationship between good people, but now could be permanently scarred. The sound of the music is kinda sweet and hopeful though, so who knows what might happen next?
Seven Days
Another one that hung around for a long time, this one since 2001. The chord progression in the few demos I have just don’t work out; a little too much complexity and not enough resolution. The relationship depicted here is not one I’ve ever had, thank God. It’s a “gotta get out of town before we hook up again” relationship. There’s no respect either, and the protagonist is just throwing his hands up in the time-honoured “what was I thinking?” way.
Somewhere in my box of memories (actually it’s a stool with an opening lid, but who’s quibbling, right?) there’s a yellowed newspaper cutting. It dates, I think, back to the early 90’s. It’s a brief piece addressing a phenomenon in Silicon Valley at that time, where technology workers were getting the sack in a downturn and falling on hard times. Some of them lost the houses they’d over-extended to buy, and ended up riding around on the 24hr bus service in the Valley. It was warm and cheap. Years later I was rooting around in the box and found the cutting. It stuck in my head, and ultimately Bus was born, an imagined scenario of a displaced tech worker who pines for love and ultimately starts obsessing with some poor unfortunate girl on his bus. In my imagination, this sort of thing happens every day.
34 Summers
Aww. It’s a love song. To my wife!
I’ll Never Tell
I often write songs as a distraction from work. I’ll be sitting there writing code on my laptop (yes, that is what I do) and realise there’s a song playing in my head. Coding is a right-brain activity, which means that (i) it’s really easy to lose all sense of time, and (ii) your brain often goes on creative jaunts without conscious control. The discipline at those moments is that I have to stop, turn on any nearby recording device, then sing the basics of the tune. It’s more of an aide memoire than detailed account; the idea is to remind me of the song. As soon as I hear it again it’ll come flooding back in its entirety. Anyway, this lyric is a bit mysterious. The protagonist’s girl has left and gone far away, but he’ll accept looking like the bad guy in the relationship because there’s a secret he has to keep. The subtext is that if he doesn’t keep the secret he’ll look a lot worse than just a bad guy. I’m thinking roadkill.
The historians among you will recognise this from the first album by The Jordans, Katydid. It’s featured here because I like the song, I wrote it on my trusty F-35, and it means something to me. The song dates to 1993, but the ‘little red car’ in the third verse was grafted on years later as a tribute to my future wife. When she first drove down to visit me in Melbourne, she was driving a little red car. For a while it seemed to me that she and the car were indivisible, however there was a story there and eventually that car went away. As I note in the song, it’s not my story to tell. The rendition here isn’t all that different from the original although obviously I’m playing acoustic drums on it rather than relying on my trusty Yamaha drum machine. The song itself is an expression of that moment I experienced often in the early 90’s, the one where you feel totally alone notwithstanding the colour and movement going on around you.
Guilt On My Head
I’m still surprised when I hear this one on the album. It’s been around for a long, long time, and it depicts what modern-day management consultants might refer to as a “teachable moment”. I think the moment in question was around my 20th year and no, I’m not going to go into it. The song itself somehow resists being recorded nicely, so you can take its presence on the album as evidence of my philosophy that songs don’t have to be particularly good to deserve an airing; sometimes it’s important to just get them out there.
Yes, it’s another love song. We live in a very rural area on five acres. I was driving the 20km up the hill from town one sunny day thinking how damned beautiful everything looked. The first line arrived in my head, and by the time I sprinted in the front door, the entire song was formed. Such desperate scribbling ensued, then a sigh of relief to have captured it. I’ve played this on piano and also with a more strummy feel to it, but this fingerpicking approach seems to best capture the sweetness.