Almanac Music: Twenty years old is “What rhymes with cars and girls”

“What Rhymes With Cars & Girls” – Tim Rogers and the Twin Set

 

 

Last week, as I walked the Docklands end of Collins Street and reached for Spotify, it struck me like a wet fish that “What Rhymes With Cars and Girls” is now 20 years old. Holey Moley.

 

“What Rhymes With Cars and Girls” stands as a significant album in my life and now after 20 years the evangelist in me wants to shake the hand of all of you to read this and to press this CD into your hands/place the vinyl into your caress/punch the title into your search function.

 

The written word starts at a strong disadvantage if the aim of those words is to describe music; music that is supremely best felt, better heard, and much much down the pecking order (maybe… rarely…) read about. Listen to this album.

 

“What Rhymes With Cars and Girls”
Tim Rogers and the Twin Set
Released 3 March 1999
Producer: Jen Anderson

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It’s 1999 and I live a life of urban bohemia and wander the land in what I describe now ((in 2019) and did so even then) as my Wilderness Years and it’s a share house and a terrace house of strangers in the lounge room and more in the kitchen and three independent bottles of three independent types of independent milk for three independent types of independent housemate in the share house fridge (“yeah well, mine is the soy,” “Well the light milk is mine – you’re welcome to it – if you get stuck”) and it’s North Carlton and it’s walking through Curtain Square on a summer evening to see Rocky again holding court at La Porchetta and taking a Rocky’s Original with its oily pork sausage goodness under one wing and a bottle of something under the other and it’s a tilt of the head and a tip of the hat and a glance that anything is possible. And it’s into the front room (“you can have the front room”) that I take this new CD and whack it on the CD player that sits on the drawers that rest on the carpet that lies on the boards that form the floor that provides a spongey and seemingly temporary feeling of stability and the disc spins and it spins and as it does so it carves vibrations of violin and viola and arcing ramshackle extraordinariness from these speaker cones.

 

Tim Rogers has a new album. Jen Anderson plays on it. Sally Dastey sings. Oh yes.

 

1- “Bushell and a Peck” – 2:08 (Instrumental) And it’s sliding into a booth and being boxed in against the wall as pints are handed around in the summer evening sun and being sat opposite a dark and brooding friend-of-a-friend who suddenly and uproariously splits the air open with a smile and a laugh and does it all with a look that looks not at you but right into into into your very soul and holds you there and holds you and there is nothing else. 2- You’ve been so good to me so far – 4:40 (There’s times that I remember yeah and there’s the things that I forget/ Like the colour of your eyes and the time that we first met) And it’s lazy summer walking to mates’ places and it’s Carlton and it’s close and everything is close and memory and proximity and pleasure and pain and hurt and ghosts and cheap feeds at Threshermans and down to Readings for a nonchalant peruse of the Australian Fiction section and past that jewellery shop at Lygon Court where she and I had laughed and sparkled at the whole very madness of it and at the ridiculousness of it and at the absolute stone cold certainty of it and memory of her flashes and haunts and rattles my cage in 1999 these years later and now again in 2019 and the GP and the morning after pill and the mad scramble and the shivering at very idea of a fork in the road. 3- “I Left My Heart All Over The Place” – 4:11 (So, last night when I left my heart all over the place/Just to try and stop me thinking about each corner of your pretty face) And it’s travelling abroad with work and study and landing in Auckland and meeting a visiting Canadian scholar and we’re mates and we’re good mates and we’re the best of mates and we’ve known each other at most four hours and we’re bouncing off every little thing and every little one and we’re on a ferry on the Waitemat? harbour in the darkness and it’s the last ferry of the night and we’re with these two and what-the-hell-kind-of-madness-is-this to Waiheke Island and it’s darkness and it’s beaches and it’s darkness and it’s light and it’s panic and it’s alarm and it’s mad dash scramble race across the island on empty on less than empty in a desperate desperate effort to make Auckland airport in time to meet the Professor. 4- “You just don’t do it for me friend” – 3:36 (Like pawn shop furniture or arrowroot biscuits/ I’m cheap and I’m everywhere and I’m good for five minutes) And it’s another night of people I barely know and it’s more urban bohemia and we’re tonight at the Dan O’Connell and I’m boxed into a booth and there’s no way out and the band starts up in the next room and pints are steadily appearing and visions of coverbands from years before rise up and grab me and shake me out the door and down the street down a block of Canning Street down blocks down inner suburban blocks to the street and the house and the house itself so very close to here, very very close to here if whose walls could talk I would be both fascinated and horrified to hear and I’m drawn there but I must not. 5- “Arse-Kickin’ Lady From The Northwest” – 2:56 (She said she came down from the north-west of town/ In a ’63 Holden EJ/ With potato from Kentucky and a fresh pack of Luckys/ And a Bowie compilation tape) And we arrange to meet on Nicholson Street and I walk up the path and close in on the prearranged point outside Fernwood (female) fitness centre where it is the height of dubiousness that I loiter but this is the arrangement so indeed I do wait and indeed I do loiter in the darkness awaiting the appearance of two beautiful female friends and watching myself from above as this scenario plays out and giving my own head there a small shake-shake at the inconceivability of it all and now here she is and here they are and we laugh and we laugh more and more me and these two sisters and we are into the Rancho Mexican stand-alone restaurant for our semi-regular patronage of their “half-price Monday” and we’re seated in the gloom and the conversation turns immediately and expectedly to the ongoing competitiveness of who among us three has the status of Top Dog and swelling inside to the idea of our Top Dog competition here with these two knowing that Top Dog is the person among us to have most recently kissed a new flame and “I bet I’m Top Dog” she says. 6- “Happy Anniversary” – 3:51 (Well I heard you thinking early morning as you rub your eyes/ Your pretty poker face as its staring down at my roulette mind) And it’s winter it’s dark and it’s tramping dairy farms in the early morning in fog and cold and rivers of shit and steel-capped gumboots and running alongside a John Deere and a building up a patchwork idea of this place and of this environment and of these measurements and this life and this single life and I’m home again and I’m avoiding this sharehouse loungeroom of itinerants and ne’er-do-wells and bookish types and ballroom dancers and people whose sneers at the word “footy” and at the word “cricket” know no bounds and it occurs to me that this home is not a home and without such thing as a home and without a base that it is possible that I may float right off the edge of things. 7- Twenty Eight – 3:28 (A heaven’s to Betsy now we’re 28 and what is there to do?/ We hardly even talk no more but to you I’ll be true) And a flimsy K-mart fan-forced electric heater is no match for the piercing cold of a double-brick terrace in winter and is no match for an insulation regime comprising one part carpet one part cardboard box and three parts hope and the thunderbox of bright yellow plastic seat feels further removed than ever as I tack out the back door through the curtain rain and across the moss-covered and exposed concrete backyard and over to the far corner to a stand-alone brick outhouse built in the days of the Night Man and his troop of Night Horses and his heroic quest along the bluestone back alleys of inner Melbourne harvesting the days’ crop of fresh shit and sitting there with dack’s around my knees watching goosebumps rise on my quads like the tectonically driven Himalayan range and shivering my way back down the deserted hallway of a North Carlton share house to my front room and wondering WTF would be my song at Twenty Eight. 8- Under The Flight Path – 3:10 (I wear an earpiece to hear TV, ’cause I miss all the good lines now/ When a KLM airliner comes in from Copenhagen town) And it’s another Friday night and it’s pool and it’s pots until way beyond a reasonable juncture and it’s more pool and it’s re-imagining the laws of physics and it’s postgraduate and employee life mapped out til Doomsday and it’s that same music video above the bar and it’s tumultuously hitting Lygon Street and Papa Gino’s or the University Café and it is life as declared and recognised to be indefatigable and whole and alive and true and wherever the hell everybody else is – they have it wrong and we’re down Elgin Street and into bars and dancing on the tops of bars and into and out of more places than I can count which is not that many and finishing on Brunswick Street at the Souvlaki King where a basketful of potato cakes smothered in salt and vinegar is barely enough. 9- “Up-A-Ways” – 3:16 (Come lay down your hat/ Your suitcase and your stash/ Just make damn sure you aint around/ When those milk bottles hit the ground/ Go on get lost there up a ways (A duet with Sally Dastey!) And it’s Spring and it’s beautiful and spirited and adventurous friends of support and love and shared mayhem and collective directionless abandon and contacts re-established across years of time and space and a wondering of what the hell this trip is and heading home to a rudderless and soulless terrace shadow of a house each night upon night upon night and falling deeper deeper deeper in with a core group and understanding now (in 2019) that members of this group are right now (today) my most knowing and wonderful friends on this Earth. 10- “Hi, We’re The Support Band” – 2:47 (Yeah, drove 400 miles from Groningen/ To play the same twelves songs out of tune again/ Van got broke in Rotterdamn city/ Them fuckers stole my duty free bottles of whisky) And it’s end-of-a-century and it’s knees up bottoms up and still wayward random acts of hedonism fill the Spring air as they have done since time immemorial and trying to catch up and tagging along as wingman and singing the lilting melody of “Molly Malone” arm-in-swaying-arm with three others along a forgotten laneway off Lygon Street an Irish pair of whom I have not seen since, and expect never to again and quite reasonably considering this performance and this singing to be the High Water mark of all civilised pursuit as we wend and tack with difficulty along the flat and deceptively straight footpath of Grattan Street. 11- “The Songs They Played As I Drove Away” – 4:45 (I got from Campbelltown to Yass/ On a borrowed tank of gas/ And I never missed a pothole on the trail) And the year of 1999 of these Wilderness Years and of this release by Tim Rogers and the Twin Set brings a conclusion of foreboding and of punctuation and of Y2K nervousness and brings a drive with these fine people to a camping holiday in the NSW Southern Highlands and the Shoalhaven River country where I will be invited to live in a new house and signals the end of this terrace house and signals the continuation of Wilderness and of observation and of wondering under the southern stars about the nature and the purpose and reason of it all and the whole damn thing and all of it and none if it makes the slightest bit of sense and resting back on the bed to again pick up the violin and the viola and the none-of-us-really-know of the mighty mighty album “What Rhymes With Cars and Girls”.

 

Tim Rogers and the Twin Set.
Thank you.
You got me thru.

 

Credits on the album:
Tim Rogers – singin’ & dancin, guitar, keyboards
Jen Anderson – violin, viola, harmonium, omnichord
Stuart Speed – upright bass
Ian Kitney – drums & percussion
Mark Wallace – accordion
Ed Bates – pedal steel
Peter Somerville – banjo
Richard Gillard – electric guitar\
Ben Hoddanger – trombone
Andy Reid – clarinet & washboard
Jeff Burston – mandolin
Sally Dastey – vocals (on ‘Up-A-Ways’), brandy
David Lane – guitar

 

 

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About David Wilson

Living is easy with eyes closed. Noodling away at The Footy Almanac since 2013. Twitter: @e_regnans

Comments

  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Thoroughly enjoyed your piece ER! It’s amazing what music can do, how just a song or a cd can transport you back to a different time to relive memories whether good or bad, sad or glad. Thanks for sharing ER.

  2. Dave Brown says

    Love this, ER, it is a superb album. The moment you hear those strings into his world you slide. I’ve long held the belief that Tim Rogers does much of his best work with an acoustic guitar in hand. For me it was the soundtrack of our move to Canberra along with Lisa Loeb’s Tails, Counting Crows’ This Desert Life, and Tori Amos’s To Venus and Back. I remember thinking how far away 28 was… it wasn’t but it sure is now. Well played!

  3. David Mansford says

    I played this album over and over on a solo golfing road trip from Victoria to Sydney. Especially memorable was a hole in one at the Dunes and picking up two hitchhikers on the NSW south coast. At the age of 27 they made me feel a bit old for playing this music, that I described as “a little bit country”.
    Great memories, thank you.

  4. Our Tim’s a haunted, raw, funny chap and aren’t we so lucky for this? For me this album sits nicely alongside Hi Fi Way and the mighty Hourly, Daily. It’s brilliant.

    Your words are reminiscent of Dylan Thomas and James Joyce- significant praise!

    Thanks Er.

  5. E.regnans says

    G’day Col, Dave, David & Mickey.
    Thank you for relating.
    It’s powerful, no doubt.
    ==
    “as she wheeled her wheelbarrow
    through streets broad and narrow
    crying ‘cockles and muscles, alive, alive, oh'”

  6. Matthew McCabe says

    Nice one ER. 1999 I was occupying a cold little office in the basement of the Eng-building, little aware of the adventures you were pursuing in the big wide world above. I should have poked my head out – but that was an adventure of my own I guess :)

  7. John Butler says

    20 years!

    Back then I was in the early days of my Elwood period.

    Much has passed since then.

    You make me want to drag this cd out and give it a spin, which is the best thing a piece on music can do.

    Cheers

  8. E.regnans says

    MMcCabe.
    Hilarious. Best supporting actor was probably my best category all along.

    JButler – The Elwood Period sounds like a mini-series in-the-making.
    20 years.
    I think of Pink Floyd’s “Time,” that includes that phrase:
    “…and then one day you find
    Ten years have got behind you
    No one told you when to run
    You missed the starting gun…”

    Sand through the hourglass.

  9. You know you are reading a really good piece when you are sucked right in to its vortex, and are willingly transported along for the ride. This was me reading this, e.r. Well played. Most enjoyable.

    I have always liked Tim Rogers, but have often wondered if his being a bit of a loose cannon (in a commercial sense) precluded You Am I from being as huge as they deserve to be?

  10. This is a great big poem.

  11. One of my brothers says that if there is a God it is music.

    Wonderful ER.

  12. E.regnans says

    Thank you very much, gentlemen.

    Twenty Eight (above)
    “Yeah, you met her during happy hour drinks and you kissed her on the cheek
    You dreamt she sang like Sandy Denny and smoked like a mallee tree
    But now you’re talking invitations and seating plans and marquees
    It sounds real good in Italian but it scares to the teeth
    And where’re we gonna hide the keys…”

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