Paul Kelly has received much recognition in his native Australia—he was inducted into the the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 1997. He remains less well-known in the United States, where the current top 20 includes albums by Lady GaGa, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and the rap “musicians” du jour.
Talk, the first album by Paul Kelly and the Dots, was released in 1981. Subsequent bands and projects include Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls, Paul Kelly and the Messengers, Paul Kelly (solo), Paul Kelly and the Stormwater Boys,
Uncle Bill, Professor Ratbaggy, Paul Kelly and the Boon Companions, and
Stardust Five. Paul co-wrote the hit song Treaty with Aboriginal rock band Yothu Yindi and wrote material for other musicians. He also recorded soundtracks for the films Lantana and One Night the Moon.
…Lyrics are important but the most beautiful lyrics in the world are going to be no good unless you’ve got a decent tune.
Paul Kelly, Dirty Linen Interview, 1992
I had the good fortune to interview Paul during the 1992 Adelaide Festival, after a performance of Funerals and Circuses, a play written by the late Aboriginal playwright Roger Bennett. Paul acted and sang in the play. Here’s a slightly expanded version of the interview, which originally ran in the October/November issue of Dirty Linen.
After I interviewed Paul, he was kind enough to arrange for me to pick up some of his CDs at Mushroom Records in Sydney. When I got back to Boston, where I was living at the time, I listened to the CDs and really enjoyed them. One Sunday, about two weeks after I’d returned from Australia, I decided to go to Tower Records to see if I could find any more of Paul’s music.
I walked into the CD section of the store and although their was a divider with his name on it, they were out of CDs. Back in those days, they were still selling cassette tapes, so I went into the cassette section of the store to see if they had any of Paul Kelly’s albums on cassette.
I saw this guy bending over to pick something off the floor that he must have dropped. All I could see was the top of his head facing me and I thought that from the top of this guy’s head, he looked like Paul Kelly. The guy stood up and my jaw dropped in disbelief—it was him! I’d just interviewed him two weeks earlier in Australia and I ran into him in a record store in Boston, on the other side of the planet. What were the odds of that?
“Holy shit,” I said, “It really is a small world.” I asked him what he was doing in Boston and it turned out that he’d played a gig the night before and was still in town. Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard about the gig or I would have gone.
The video presented here is Before Too Long, which appears on the album Gossip.