Almanac Music: Australian Winter Songs – Name a Personal Favourite.

 

Rain splashes on a rooftop. (Wikimedia Commons.)

 

Australian Winter Songs – Name a Personal Favourite.

 

 

This topic is a difficult one, I reckon – the more I think about it – at least compared to my ‘Australian Summer Songs’ post at the beginning of the year, where many Almanackers responded with their personal summer classics. Perhaps because of the typically warm-to-hot climate in our part of the world, summer seems to invite song; winter, not so much, possibly.

 

With this ‘winter’ topic, then, I ask you to nominate a favourite Aussie song (or more than one) from the rock/pop era that suggests winter to you, even if it’s in a roundabout way; for example, the actual word ‘winter’ doesn’t have to be in the title or even the lyrics. Also, for the purposes of this post, Kiwis can be viewed as part of the Australian music scene – they are anyway, really, as so many New Zealand performers base themselves in Australia to build their careers.

 

My personal nomination is the Dragon song, ‘Rain’, a big hit in Australia in 1983, and written by its lead singer, Marc Hunter, his brother Todd, bassist in the band, and Todd’s then-partner, Johanna Pigott.

 

I love the song primarily for its rhythmic drive (one is reminded of driving rain) and its wonderfully catchy chorus, where there is some fine unison singing. Also, from the outset, the words of the song are very much about winter, even if the word itself is never used – and very cleverly so, as one can readily associate the unforgiving, relentless wintry weather in the lyric with the disturbed nature of the relationship depicted:

 

It’s a happening thing
And it’s happening to you
Full load and thunder
Ribbons of blue
Ice on the window
Ice in my heart
Fooling with thunder
Every time we start

 

It’s been raining for so long
It’s been raining for so long …

 

Towards the conclusion of the song, the rain ‘falling’ on the relationship has been so constant that remaining with his partner is no longer viable for the singer/narrator:

 

Well it’s been raining for so long
It’s been raining I can’t go on …

…………………………………

 

Over to you now, Almanac readers. What Oz songs are your favourites in a ‘winter’ vein?

 

 

 

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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. Colin Ritchie says

    My favourite winter song is about America, but it is written by an Australian, does that count? It’s ‘Winter in America’ by Doug Ashdown, a classic song by a hugely underrated singer/songwriter. Not by me though.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Col. Of course ‘Winter in America’ counts. It’s a classic Oz song, anyway, when it comes down it.

    The song has a fine lyric, among other aspects. I particularly love the chorus: ‘Winter in America is cold / And I just keep growing older / I wish I could have known / enough of love / to leave love enough alone’.

  3. Paul Kelly “Winter Coat” echoing Frank Sinatra’s “In the Wee Small Hours”. Timeless.

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Great choice, PB – what a haunting, wintry song, dominated by minor chords (as one might expect).

  5. DBalassone says

    I actually thought of another Kelly song ‘When I First Met Your Ma’:

    I walked two miles in Melbourne rain / I could have walked ten more

    Love like a bird flies away

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, DB – this is another haunting, evocative Paul Kelly song.

    Re the ‘Melbourne rain’ line – I’m thinking that Kelly is more of a Melbourne-centric writer than any other Australian place, though those who know his body of work better than me would be able to say things like this with more authority, I suppose.

  7. Excellent topic KD. Josh Pyke’s The Lighthouse Song is a wintry one for me. The chorus runs-

    So we are moving to a lighthouse, you and I
    While seas drown sailors, we’ll be locked up safe and dry
    And though our doors may knock and rattle in the wind
    I’ll just hold you tight and we’ll not let those fuckers in

    Pandemic permitting we’re going to see him at The Gov in a few weeks. I hope it’s a rainy night.

  8. “One Perfect Day” by the Little Heroes.
    ‘And tell me, is it still raining there in England’

    Not strictly winter, but “Rain In My Heart” by Weddings Parties Anything
    ‘I got the sun in my eyes, I got the wind in my face, I got the rain in my heart’

  9. Black and Blue – Chain

  10. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Mickey!

    Thanks for your contribution – just checked out the song you put forward – it possesses a lovely, wistful indie folk feel, doesn’t it? Just about a perfect winter song.

  11. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Smokie! I love ‘One Perfect Day’ so much! It’s one of my favourite-ever Aussie songs. And yes, rain is interestingly at the heart of WPA’s ‘Rain In My Heart’, another beauty.

    Thanks, also, Dips! ‘Black and Blue’ is a bit of a ball-tearer, eh – classic ol’ full-on Aussie blues. Very much in ‘winter of our discontent’ territory, to quote from Shakespeare’s Richard III.

  12. Liam Hauser says

    Lion in the winter, by James Reyne.

  13. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for this one, Liam. Haven’t heard of it, but will certainly check it out. In general, I like James Reyne’s work.

  14. It has to be Wintersong by Greg Quill and Country Radio , doesn’,t it?
    Not just the obvious choice but a great song.

  15. Kevin Densley says

    What a lovely, plaintive song, you chose, Timsy! So evocative of its early 70s era, too.

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    “More Bad Weather” by Greg Champion form his 1992 album “Champs”.
    ‘More dark clouds, and it’s a long, long way to Spring’

    Champs’ country music work maybe gets a bit overlooked due to his work with the Coodabeens but he’s a wonderful artist, that 1992 album is one I particularly love.

    I’ve always considered Crowded House’s “Four Seasons in One Day” as a dark, wintry song.

  17. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Luke. Thanks for your response.

    I’ll have to check out the Greg Champion song. (I try to listen to every song someone mentions in response to posts like this, if I don’t already know it.)

    And yes, oh yes, I totally agree about Crowded House’s ‘Four Seasons in One Day’. I love it and, like you, associate it very much with winter.

  18. Kevin Densley says

    Another fine nomination in this category, given to me by a mate of mine: the song ‘Icehouse’ by Icehouse.

  19. Before reading these comments, I would have nominated “Winter in America” myself as it’s what I immediately thought of and I’m glad that CR came up with an Australian connection to that song. It’s one of my all time favourite songs.

    As I am a fan of the pop group Foreigner, I have nominated “Cold as Ice”, even if it doesn’t have a Winter meaning or even if it’s not my favourite song by Foreigner. It was still a hit song. As for the Australian connection, I googled that Foreigner has a Canberra connection. Apparently, the orchestral musical ‘remanings’ of some of Foreigner’s biggest hits were composed by the ANU (Australian National University) Music’s very own Dr Kenneth Lampl & Kirsten Axelholm.

    You learn something new every day, so let’s claim “Cold as Ice” by Foreigner, with its Australian connection.

  20. Kevin Densley says

    Fair enough to all that, Anon!

    Thanks for your comments – I like the way you’ve made an Australian connection in relation to Foreigner. Now I’ll do something similar … one of my absolute favourite ballads is the beautiful and sad (and I think wintry) ‘Brick’ by the Ben Folds Five – the Australian connections here are that Ben Folds, an American, married his Australian third wife in Adelaide in 1999 and for a time lived there. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, he also supports Port Power in the AFL!

  21. I saw Ben Folds at the Festival Theatre a few years’ ago (it was my boys first real concert after the Wiggles) and he told many stories of his time here. They had a holiday home in Port Willunga and his kids (twins) were born in Ashford Hospital. They were not in a hurry to emerge so the nurses send him across the road to browse through the (now demolished) Le Cornu furniture store on Anzac Highway.

    Among the reasons for Ben supporting Port would be that his then wife’s cousin is David Hynes, who began his footy with the Port Magpies before playing for both the West Coast and Freo. The Hynes mob are from Wudinna, where I spent a few years.

    When my boys and I go on a road trip tradition dictates that we play Ben Folds’ Rockin’ the Suburbs. It’s a fine album. “Fred Jones, Part 2” is decidedly wintry while “The Luckiest” is a popular wedding song (we featured it in our wedding too).

    Thanks KD.

  22. I”ll second that KD for “Brick”, having looked it up myself under Ben Fold’s Personal life in Wikipedia.

    At least ‘Cold as Ice” still sounds a wintry song by its title, even if the song isn’t about Winter itself. Although “Brick” isn’t about Winter either (I know you used it purely as an example of it’s band member with an Australian connection), according to the urban dictionary, brick means very cold. Usually only used to describe the temperature of a place, e.g. the weather or indoors in a particular location. Perhaps, after all, you did mean “Brick” to be a Winter song?

    I have to admit that “California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day” is definitely one of my all time favourite songs, as well as The Mamas & the Papas as one of my all time favourite vocal groups.

    Where is the Australian connection? After clutching at straws, it dawned on me that Benalla, Victoria, born and Adelaide Crows supporter, Greg Champion, has over the years come up with parody songs to “ California Dreamin”. Even last year, Champs came with up a parody song to “California Dreamin’” regarding the lockdown, when a listener, not me, was walking passed the MCG and came up with the first few lines of the parody song to the effect of “All the gates are locked and The stands are bare”, and Champs used those first few lines to turn into a great Winter parody song, for “California Dreamin”. Also, as Champs and The Coodabeens are going to be guests at an upcoming luncheon for the Footy Almanac, Champs may sing that song on request or even come up with another Winter parody song.

  23. Kevin Densley says

    Great stuff, Mickey! Thanks for the highly interesting additional Ben Folds material – his South Australian connections are certainly strong ones.

    And thanks again Anon; with regard to ‘Brick’, yes, basically I felt it possessed a sad, wintry mood, if not literally about winter. Also, I really like your material where ‘Calfornia Dreamin’, The Mamas and the Papas, Australia, Greg Champion, Benalla, the Adelaide Crows and winter are all connected very neatly.

  24. Liam Hauser says

    Speaking of Ben Folds Five, and the Mamas and the Papas, I’ll make a couple of contributions.
    In 2003 I saw a “three Bens” concert featuring Ben Lee, Ben Kweller and Ben Folds.
    One of Ben Fold Five’s absolute classics is Selfless, Cold and Composed.
    My favourite Mamas and the Papas song is Twelve-Thirty (Young girls are coming to the canyon). The harmonies and melody in this song are just WOW! Out of this world.

  25. Kevin Densley says

    Great to have your new contributions, Liam.

    I’ve heard of the ‘Three Bens’ tour – I didn’t see one of the concerts, but imagine it would’ve been excellent to catch.

    I do love The Mama and the Papas, including the song you singled out. Any collection of their greatest hits is worth a special place in one’s music library.

    Finally, I do love how these Almanac musical posts take on a vivid life of their own due to Almanackers’ input!

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