Almanac Music: Australian Songs of Spring – Name a Personal Favourite

 

The Pleasure of Your Company, the 1983 album by Models. The song ‘No Shoulders No Head’, referred to below, is on it. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

 

Australian Songs of Spring: Name a Personal Favourite

 

Well, spring has sprung, to use a popular expression. Now is the time for Almanackers to put forward a favourite Australian song that mentions spring in some meaningful way. As indicated in my previous posts about summer and winter songs, New Zealanders can be considered as part of the Australian music scene for the purposes of the exercise, as, in a very real sense, they are anyway.

 

 

My personal nomination is ‘No Shoulders, No Head’, written and performed by Models, and released as a single in December 1983 from their album The Pleasure of Your Company. The song is dominated by a heavy, tribal, hypnotic beat, and is brooding and dark in tonal terms. The lyric is poetic and, initially for me, anyway, was hard to fathom. The first verse and chorus contain almost all the lines used in the song:

 

 

See my battle dress describe the
Spring where I lie, I lie rotting
In my autumn I drank spirits
Don’t wait, mother of my visits
For me to come home again

 

No shoulders, no head
No shoulders, no head
No shoulders, no head
And farther to the thought …

 

 

When I first listened to the song way back, it mainly struck me because of its powerful musical qualities and unusual title. Really, I had no clear sense of what the lyric was getting at until I recently revisited the piece on YouTube and one comment underneath the clip said something along the lines of ‘I always thought it was about war.’ For me this was the eureka! moment. My interpretation is that the song is basically a powerful anti-war one, in which the singer assumes the part of a headless, shoulderless soldier’s corpse rotting in a field and being reclaimed by the earth: See my battle dress describe the / Spring where I lie, I lie rotting.

 

 

In the next three lines the soldier recalls being alive in autumn – In my autumn I drank spirits – then tells his mother that he will no longer be coming home: Don’t wait mother of my visits / For me to come home again.

 

 

The first three lines of the chorus (which is basically a chant) No shoulders, no head / No shoulders, no head / No shoulders, no head are therefore self-explanatory, and while And farther to the thought obviously indicates a reflection on the nature of thought, beyond that I’m not certain about this line.

 

 

‘No Shoulders, No Head’ did not chart in the Australian Top 50 when released, but for me its quality endures, and I consider it a minor Australian classic.

 

 

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, has just been published (late 2020) by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Recent other writing includes screenplays for films with a tertiary education purpose. He laments the extinction of Cascade Pale Ale and Kiwi Lager.

Comments

  1. KD- while it’s obvious I think it stands up- Come On Spring by Antennae. A short-lived band from the 90’s with Dave Faulkner and Kim Salmon, the song used to get frequent airings as a grab on Sky Racing!

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Many thanks, Mickey, for getting the ball rolling, in relation to Australian spring songs.

    I like ‘Come On Spring’ a lot – it has a sensual, languid, Indie feel about it.

    I’m a big fan of Dave Faulkner, too, in general.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Big fan of early Models KD and you’ve plucked out a diamond in the rough – sounds a bit dirgey at first, but it does build up to something quite catchy despite the dire subject matter.

    Go-Betweens’ Spring Rain comes readily to mind as anotheree.

    And, by definition, Billy Thorpe’s It’s Almost Summer qualifies.

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Swish, for these – and I really like the way ‘It’s Almost Summer’ gets a guernsey; of course, if it’s almost summer, well, it’s still spring!

  5. Kevin Densley says

    Maybe it’s proving to be not that easy to come up with a sizeable list of Australian songs of spring … let’s keep on thinking about it.

    In order to keep the ball rolling, though, another lovely Australian spring-related song, a mixture of the cruisy and the melancholy (if that’s possible) is ‘Spring To Come’ by the John Butler Trio, from the 2014 album, Flesh and Blood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiBxYDyyb14

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