Handsome Joe and Dylan

Handsome Joe – International Playboy, Collingwood Supporter ™ – has blown into town for his annual southern hemisphere Christmas jaunt. You may have caught the presser at Tulla. He pulls a bigger throng than Becks and Posh.

Between exclusives with ‘New Bogan Idea’ and ‘A Current White Trash Affair’, HJ proved he still has his feet on the ground, by swinging by little old Coburg for a bite to eat and to show off his Honkers’ tan.

HJ, Eloise and I settled under the shade in the back garden where conversation took its well-trodden path: HJ’s opinions and predictions on footy and cricket; HJ’s recent sub-par experiences on the resort golf courses of Asia; HJ’s property deals; and HJ’s growing nest egg.

All of which – as always – served as prelude to the main topic: HJ’s love life, which we graphed and concept-mapped on butcher’s paper. More complicated than the remake of ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, yet slower moving than ‘Days of our Lives’, HJ lost me during the opening credits. It worked a treat on Eloise, however, she dropped off to sleep under the tree.

We eventually headed to the Post Office Hotel on Sydney Road, where HJ put his game face on and moved into first gear for the barmaid. Surprisingly, he received donuts and returned to the table with a ‘It’s not me, it’s her’ shrug. Hey, it’s a numbers game.

I’m not sure how but we got onto the topic of Rock ‘n Roll’s greatest lyrics, of which, of course, HJ considers himself a bit of an expert. He has his own Beatles blog (can’t recall the name), where he reviews every fab four album. A lover of hyperbole, there’s at least one ! on every line.

In no particular order, this is a mere sample of what we came up with over a few hours:

‘I don’t know where but she ends me there’ – ‘Good Vibrations’, Beach Boys. Because we’ve all been there.

‘The screen door slams/Mary’s dress sways/Like a vision she dances across the porch/As the radio plays’ – ‘Thunder Road’, Bruce. For the imagery and domesticity and humanity.

‘The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive’ – ‘Born to Run’, Bruce. Because we’ve all wanted to run.

‘Any questions you want answered /Anything you want to know/Just ask me I’ve been there /Seen angels and sin there/I knocked and they let me in there/I’ve been through it all’ – ‘Just ask me I’ve been there’, Peter Allen. For the honesty and pain and because he’s Australia’s best ever songwriter (my opinion).

And all of ‘Tenterfield Saddler’, of course.

‘Do you remember, nothing stopped us on the field in our day’ – ‘Flame Trees’, Cold Chisel. It takes us back through rose coloured glasses.

‘Just don’t hold her too close/Oh brother please don’t stab me in the back’ – ‘How to Make Gravy’, Paul Kelly. Could have chosen plenty PK, but the weeping guitar gets me every Christmas.

‘Tommy used to work on the docks/Union’s been on strike, he’s down on his luck/It’s tough, so tough’ – ‘Living on a Prayer’, Bon Jovi. Come on, admit it, you love it.

‘I used to be the main express/All steam and whistle heading west/Picking up my pain from door to door…….This train don’t stop there anymore’ – ‘This train don’t stop there anymore’, Elton John. Released approximately 15 years ago, a great insight into where his life had evolved.

‘Is there anywhere you’d rather be/Than with me at the MCG’ – ‘Under the Clocks’, Weddos. Because it’s Melbourne.

‘And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make’, ‘The End’, The Beatles. Their last song and maybe a statement about their lives together.

‘When the death count gets higher/You hide in your mansion/As young people’s blood/Flows out of their bodies/And is buried in the mud’, ‘Masters of War’, Bob Dylan. Angry and honest, it cuts through the crap.

‘Some folks are born to wave the flag/Ooh, they’re red, white and blue/And when the band plays “Hail to the chief”/Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord’, ‘Fortunate Son’, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Because it’s the best ever protest song and like Dylan above, sums up the class and race issues involved in the American anti-Vietnam War movement.

‘Tell me, tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died/Give me, give me one more chance/To keep you satisfied, satisfied’, ‘Always on my mind’, Elvis Presley. Because before Elvis there was nothing. His best song showing rare honesty and pain.

‘Life is what happens to you/While you’re busy making other plans’, ‘Beautiful Boy’, John Lennon. Ain’t that the truth.

And so on. I’m sure Almanackers can offer their own favourites.

Handsome Joe will be appearing in the Members’ on Boxing Day. Follow the throng.

(PS: much of what I write about Joe is tongue in cheek and embellished. He’s a legend and great bloke.)


  1. ‘The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive’ = Punt Road in peak hour.

    Brilliant stuff Starkie, love it. Here are five of my favourites:
    ” Ashes and diamonds to foe and friend. We were all equal in the end.” Pink Floyd, Two Suns in the Sunset, Final Cut
    “Punctured bicycle, on a hillside desolate. Will nature make a man of me yet?” The Smiths, This Charming Man.

    “I hurt myself today to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real. The needle tears a hole, the old familiar sting. Try to kill it all away, but I remember everything.” Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash, Hurt.
    “Everybody knows that you’ve been discreet, but there were so many people that you had to meet, without your clothes” Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows.

    “Trams pass me out on St Kilda Road. Drizzle wet and slow like thinking. Oho take me down into Young and Jackson’s, we’ll do a bit of serious drinking. Lean on bar, hands in the pockets, drain those glasses down like rockets. Call this history, but what could we ever really know of you in your Roaring Days.” WPA/Roaring Days.

  2. Two, three, the count with nobody on
    He hit a high fly into the stand
    Round the third he was headed for home
    He was a brown eyed handsome man.
    That won the game he was a brown eyed handsome man …

    1950s exploration of racism and works on so many levels. The song’s first line is one on the best ever penned: “Arrested on charges of unemployment”.

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    I hoped to get conversation going.

    Great stuff Rick and Phil. Who’s it by Rick?

    Could have added Chisel’s ‘Standing on the Outside’

    ‘The first thing I do when I get into town
    Is buy a twenty-two and cut the whole thing down
    No amount of work’s gonna buy my way to Freedom’


  4. Harry Chapin on the glass ceiling Starks. Heavy but profound.

    Why did the little girls grow crooked
    While the little boys grow tall
    The boys were taught to tumble
    The girls told not to fall
    The girls answered the telephone
    The boys answered the call
    That’s why little girls grew crooked
    While the little boys grew tall

    Why did the little girls grow crippled
    While the little boys grow strong
    The boys allowed to come of age
    The girls just came along
    The girls were told sing harmonies
    The boys could all sing songs
    That’s why little girls grew crippled
    While little boys grew strong

    Why did the little girls come broken
    While the little boys came whole
    The little boys were set aflame
    The girls told to fan the coals
    The boys all told to be themselves
    While the girls were told play the roles
    That’s why little girls came broken
    While little boys came whole

    Why were the little girls all frightened
    To be just what they are
    The boys were told to ask themselves
    How high how far
    The girls were told to reach the shelves
    While the boys were reaching stars
    That’s why little girls were frightened
    To be just what they are

    And still they bled for us all
    As the moon rode the sky
    They carried our seed
    When our need ran high
    They fed all our children
    In the night as they cried
    Womankind wept
    As mankind died

    Why were the little girls left hurtin’
    When all the boys were done
    And the girls left in the moonlight
    When the boys went to meet the sun
    And when the girls were open
    Why had the little all won?
    That’s why little girls were hurtin’
    When the little boys were done

    Why did the little girls grow crooked
    While the little boys grew tall
    It’s maybe because the little boys
    Didn’t ever have to grow up at all

  5. Chuck Berry, 1956. The song caused outrage at the time for placing the African-American man as the centre of desire.

    I love Flame Trees. Every line is quotable.

  6. All your cryin don’t do no good
    Come on up to the house
    Come down off the cross
    We can use the wood
    Come on up to the house – Tom Waits, Come On Up To The House

  7. Andrew Starkie says

    That’s deep Phanton.

    Such fascinating times in American music, Rick.

    ‘Can’t stop the Music’, Village People.

    ”Eye of the Tiger’, by?

  8. Thanks for the reminders AS and gents. Some lyrics just stay in my head like earworms and aphorisms. I always loved the Grateful Dead’s roots albums “American Beauty” and “Workingman’s Dead” (Americana before it was a genre)
    “Sometime’s the lights all shinin’ on me,
    Other times I can barely see,
    Lately it occurs to me,
    What a long strange trip its been”
    Noone beats his Bobness as a wordsmith. The paradox and non-sequiturs are dazzling, not to mention the uncloyingly sentimental love songs of the recent ‘geezer’ trilogy. The lyric that means most to me these days
    “Ah but I was so much older then
    I’m younger than that now”
    (My Back Pages)
    A little remembered genius, now seriously ill, is Jesse Winchester. He drank it all away (didn’t we all?)
    ” I live on a big round ball
    I never do dream I may fall
    And even one day if I do
    Well I’ll jump up and smile back at you.

    I don’t even know where we are
    They tell me were circling a star
    Well I’ll take their word, I don’t know
    But I’m dizzy so it may be so.”
    (Defying Gravity)

    “If the wheel is fixed
    I would still take a chance
    If we’re treading on thin ice
    Then we might as well dance

    So I play the fool
    But I can’t sit still
    Help me get this rock
    To the top of this hill

    Do it
    ‘Til we’re sick of it
    Do it ’till you can’t do it no more

    Friends will pity you
    I guess that’s what they’re for
    But they just take you like they find you
    When they find you on the floor

    But you do it
    Til you sick of it
    Do it til you can’t do it no more”
    (Do It)

  9. Andrew Starkie says

    Peter, have never explored Grateful Dead. Must do some day.

    Knew I’d forget some obvious inclusions, eg, Wbool’s own Goanna Band and Solid Rock. An Indigenous Rights protest song long before the rest of mainstream society caught up.

  10. Enjoyed the article and all the contributions in this thread. I could mention a 1000 Dylan lines but I’ll stick to just one & what has now become almost a cliche:

    “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

    I’ll throw in some Warren Zevon too:
    “Albert Einstein was a ladies man
    While he was working on his universal plan
    He was making out like Charlie Sheen
    He was a genius.”

    Joe Jackson:
    “Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street.”

    Don McLean:
    “I feel the trembling tingle of a sleepless night
    Creep through my fingers and the moon is bright
    Beams of blue come flickering through my window pane
    Like gypsy moths that dance around a candle flame”

    Btw, great to see the Creedence reference. John Fogerty knew how to weave gold into a 3-minute single. Great roaring voice as well: “Born on the Baaa-you!”

  11. Andrew Starkie says

    Damo, love Joe Jackson!

    Another one, Cat Stevens. First Cut is the deepest

  12. “Hey man you shouldn’t do that. You might stain the carpet.” – Joy Division.

    “Nobody can touch you now. I can touch you.” – Neil Young.

    “And there aint nothin’ like a friend, who can tell you you’re just pissin’ in the wind.” – Neil Young.

    “Do want you wanna do, be what you wanna be, yeah.” – Master’s Apprentices.

  13. Andrew Starkie says

    Dips, I like Joy Division. Their music is fast paced, like a speeding train.

  14. Some real beauties coming through, from Grateful Dead to Mr Zevon and Master’s Apprentices – wow! I stole a few minutes between cleaning the bathroom and putting the table tennis table together and here are a few of my faves (as came to me … as soon as I press send more will come).

    Warren Zevon, Werewolves of London:
    He’s the hairy-handed gent who ran amuck in Kent
    Lately he’s been overheard in Mayfair
    Better stay away from him
    He’ll rip your lungs out, Jim
    I’d like to meet his tailor

    Johnny Cash, Big River:
    Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry,
    And I showed the clouds how to cover up a clear blue sky.
    And the tears that I cried for that woman are gonna flood you Big River.
    Then I’m gonna sit right here until I die.

    The mighty Hank Williams, Your Cheatin Heart:
    When tears come down,
    Like falling rain,
    You’ll toss around,
    And call my name,
    You’ll walk the floor,
    The way I do,
    Your cheatin’ heart, will tell on you

    UK Squeeze, Labelled with Love:
    During the war time an american pilot
    Made every air raid a time of excitement,
    She moved to his prairie and married the texan
    She learnt from a distance how love was a lesson,
    He became drinker and she became mother
    She knew that one day she’d be one or the other,
    He ate himself older, drunk himself dizzy
    Proud of her features, she kept herself pretty.

    George Jones, She Thinks I Still Care:
    Just because I ask a friend about her
    And just because I spoke her name somewhere
    Just because I saw her then went all to pieces
    She thinks I still care

    Lucinda Williams, Passionate Kisses:
    Is it too much to ask?
    I want a comfortable bed that won’t hurt my back
    Food to fill me up
    And warm clothes and all that stuff
    Shouldn’t I have this,
    Shouldn’t I have this?
    Shouldn’t I have all of this, and
    Passionate kisses

    and because it’s Xmas time …

    John Prine, Christmastime in Prision:
    The search light in the big yard
    Swings round with the gun
    And spotlights the snowflakes
    Like the dust in the sun
    It’s christmas in prison
    There’ll be music tonight
    I’ll probably get homesick
    I love you. goodnight.

    The Pouges, Fairytale of New York:
    You´re a bum you´re a punk
    You´re an old slut on junk
    Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
    You scumbag you maggot
    You cheap lousy faggot
    Happy christmas your arse I pray god it´s our last.
    And the boys of the NYPD choir’s still singing Galway Bay
    And the bells were ringing out
    For christmas day.

  15. “You’ve painted up your lips and rolled and combed your tinted hair. Ruby are you contemplating going out somewhere.”

    Today as I drove from Perth to Kalgoorlie-Boulder (600km) I wondered whether the above might be the best ever opening to a song. Mel Tillis wrote it. I saw Kenny sing it this year but he turned it into a sing-along.

  16. “I been workin hard, twelve hours a day
    And the money I saved won’t buy my youth again”
    Bow River, Cold Chisel

    “In the paper today, tales of war and of waste
    But you turn right over to the TV page”
    Don’t Dream It’s Over, Crowded House

    “We’re all God’s children
    And God is a woman
    But we still don’t know who the father is
    I can’t help thinking
    There’s a fortune riding
    On the answer to that question”
    All God’s Children, The Finn Brothers

    Many, many other great lines I could mention penned by the great man Neil Finn

  17. Andrew Starkie says

    Luke, I clicked on you and got the PCC site. Freaky.

    Yep, great inclusions. You can’t have a list of great lines without the Finns. Are you going to see Kelly and Finn early in 2013? Will be superb.

    Les, I’ve seen Kenny twice. The first time in London in about 96 accompanied by Tammy and Glen Campbell and more recently at Tamworth last year. Decrepit and over cooked, he still has it. How does he get that wave in his voice? Beautiful.

    Great Country, Rick. What a story, Hank Williams. Died of alcohol poisoning aged 27 in the back of his mate’s car. I think.

    I chided myself upon posting this piece for not including Country lyrics, but in the end everything starts from Country. Elvis was Rockabilly, Hillbilly when all is said and done.

    My favourite opening lines to a Kenny song : ‘I can’t remember when you weren’t there, when I didn’t care for anyone but you’, ‘Through the Years’. Call me a romantic.

    It’s Christmas morning in Coburg and the tradition continues with the Father of Soul, Sam Cooke on the cd player. ‘It’s summertime and the living is easy…Your daddy’s rich and your mother’s good looking’. What a voice.

    Happy Christmas all. Keep the lyrics coming.

  18. The Black Prince says

    I started a joke, which started the whole world crying
    But I didn’t see, that the joke was on me
    I started to cry, which started the world laughing
    Oh I I’d only seen, that the joke was on me

    I looked at the sky, rubbing my hands over my eyes
    And I fell out of bed, hurting my head, from things that I’d said.

    Till I finally died, which started the whole world laughing
    Oh if I’d only seen, that the joke was on me

    Profound lyrics it must be said, but how I’ve come to love this song is more the story. Childhood memories of lengthy (3.5 hrs – lengthy by our standards) car trips to our family holiday home in Tassie’s central highlands, with mum in charge of the cassette deck from the front passenger seat. I remember dad always did, and still does love the BeeGees, but for some reason, for which I still have no answer, I once saw him shed a tear during this song. It was promptly wiped away and no doubt soon forgotten. I can only but assume there was something in the lyrics which struck a chord that was far beyond the comprehension of a nine year old. Funny what you remember as a kid isn’t it?

  19. Andrew, quality website the PCC site! Yes am going to see Finn & Kelly, should be great, never miss a chance to see N.Finn play.

    Handsome Joe sounds like a very interesting bloke, would like to read more about his adventures!

  20. Great reading Starks, and all!
    Merry Christmas to all knackers

    Well the drums rolled off in my forehead
    And the guns went off in my chest
    Remember carrying the baby just for you
    Crying in the wilderness…

    The Triffids’ “Wide Open Road”, in my opinion,
    the great Australian song

  21. Speaking of country, this is my favourite Slim Dusty song, Camooweal. Ed Kuepper covered it on the tribute to Slim album from 1999. I’ve heard it 100 times and it still knocks me down.

    Should ever I go back to Camooweal
    ‘Twould be in the spring when desert flowers bloom
    Oh, the spinifex I know would still be there
    And the desert pea would brighten up the gloom

    Should ever I go back to Camooweal
    One thing is sure I’d not be twenty-two
    As on that day when I first wandered there
    But mem’ries stay with me as mem’ries do

    How fresh her mem’ry keeps for still I feel
    The velvet softness of her auburn hair
    And see again the moonbeams in her eyes
    As I did so long ago when I was there

    Youth called to youth in that now distant day
    I did not heed, my heart did not reveal,
    And now I know that love was born and lost
    In that little border town of Camooweal

    Oh, the long road beckoned on, my feet said go
    To search beyond the hills for what I find
    Although I’ve wandered far this sunburned land
    I’ve never found what I have left behind

    Oh the burning fire of that other spring
    Is now but ashes and the hurt won’t heal
    Time heals all wounds they say, but leaves the scar
    So I think I’ll not go back to Camooweal

    Time heals all wounds they say, but leaves the scar
    So I think I’ll not go back to Camooweal
    No I think I’ll not go back to Camooweal

    Enjoy Sam Cooke and Merry freakin Xmas to one and all

  22. Yes Smokie…Wide Open Road is a ripper, although I do prefer the Weddos version.

    Bury Me Deep in Love is another Triffids classic:
    And the little congregation prays for guidance from above.
    They say hear our dedication
    Lead us not into temptation.
    Give us some kind of explanation
    And bury us deep in love.

  23. Smokie,
    With you regarding the Triffids “Wide Open Road”. Couldn’t split it and H&C “Throw Your Arms Around Me” for emotional impact every time I hear them.
    “Bury me deep in Love” was played as the casket of the Avenging Eagles adored father left the church in early September. Poignant and moving.
    The early death of Dave McComb ranks up there with Jeff Buckley as the wasted life of a great poet and performer.

  24. David Downer says

    Gotta make a move to a town
    That’s right for me
    Town to keep me movin’
    Keep me groovin’ with some energy

    Well, I talk about it, talk about it
    Talk about it, talk about it

    Talk about, talk about
    Talk about movin’

    Gotta move on
    Gotta move on
    Gotta move on

    Won’t you take me to Funkytown
    Won’t you take me to Funkytown
    Won’t you take me to Funkytown
    Won’t you take me to Funkytown

    Won’t you take me to Funkytown
    Won’t you take me to Funkytown

    Won’t you take me to Funkytown
    Won’t you take me to Funkytown

    Gotta make a move to a town
    That’s right for me
    Town to keep me movin’
    Keep me groovin’ with some energy

    Well, I talk about it, talk about it
    Talk about it, talk about it

    Talk about, talk about
    Talk about movin’

    Gotta move on
    Gotta move on
    Gotta move on

    Won’t you take me to Funkytown
    Won’t you take me to Funkytown
    Won’t you take me to Funkytown
    Won’t you take me to Funkytown

  25. Andrew Starkie says

    Inspiring choices men.

    Gold DD. Gold. Pseudo Echo’s cover brilliant. And great hair.

    Rick, had the pleasure of meeting Slim’s nieces, Reg Lindsay’s daughters at Tamworth a few years ago. Beautiful women with such lovely voices. They told the the story of growing up in a musical family. Mum and dad fed, bathed and bedded the kids before going off to perform and make a crust.

    I feel ashamed we haven’t included the Oils:
    ‘The Rich are getting richer
    Poor get the picture
    The bombs never hit ya when you’re down so low’

    Read About it. Wonder what PG thinks about those lines now.

  26. Insofar as lyrics that perfectly sets a song up (am always a little wary if dissecting lyrics in isolation) credit must be given to Prince’s “It’s been seven hours and fifteen days, since you took your love away…” helped along by a brilliant vocal by Sinead O’Connor.

    I also fear this list is a bit “white”. Where’s the rap and hip-hop?

    “Life ain’t nothin but bitches and money”
    ‘Gangsta Gangsta’ – NWA

    PS: CD – you’ve pinched the opening of my upcoming series on 1987…

  27. DBalassone says

    Starks, just had to dig this one out to mention a couple of great lyrics by Mike Scott from The Waterboys:

    If you want to give God a laugh / Tell him your plans
    (from Long Way to the Light)

    I wandered out in the world for years / While you just stayed in your room
    (from The Whole of the Moon)

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