The ABC’s of Paul Kelly

The young Paul Kelly Paul Kelly is an Australian singer-song writer, very popular in his native land, but virtually unknown everywhere else. If you’ve been around a while, you may remember his minor MTV/120 Minutes hit Dumb Things. He’s been compared to the Kink’s Ray Davies, and Bruce Springsteen for his ability to write poignantly about his native Australia and Graham Parker and Elvis Costello for his sound. No one I’ve ever heard can write such concise human stories in three minute pop songs. He’s like the Raymond Carver of the pop song, so it’s no surprise he turned one of Carver’s short stories into a song. His song Everything’s Turning to White was based on the Carver short story So Much Water So Close To Home. If you saw the movie Short Cuts, it’s the story with Huey Lewis as one of the fisherman that find a dead body and decide to keep fishing.

Kelly has been around making records for quite a while, his first record Manila came out back in 1981. Throughout his career, he’s moved beyond his bar band and post punk roots and delved into the realm of sound tracks, bluegrass, and even funk. My introduction to Paul Kelly was back when Gossip came out. This was his first album to get released in the US, in Australia it was a double album with 24 songs, in the US, A&M paired it down to 17. Me being young and impressionable, this album solidified my Paul Kelly fandom for life. He went on to release three more albums with the messengers (known as the coloured girls down under) and then decided to go solo. Cut forward to today and you’ve got a living legend with a huge catalog of excellent songs. So what do you do with all of these songs in today’s digital age? Well, if you’re Paul Kelly, you record them live and make them available for download. Starting this month, you can download three of his songs that begin with the leter A, and throughout the year he’ll make it through the alphabet releasing live versions of his songs A to Z. All the tracks were recorded recently at some gigs he did in Melbourne where he performed his songs A to Z. When everything is said and done, 100 songs will be made available, if that isn’t an excellent introduction to this under appreciated artist, I don’t know what is. Right now Adelaide, After the Show and Anastacia Changes Her Mind are available. Both Adelaide and After the Show are from the excellent afore mentioned Gossip.

A few of my favorite Paul Kelly songs:

mp3: Look So Fine, Feel So Low (from Gossip)
mp3: Adelaide (from Gossip)
mp3: Little Decisions (from Hidden Things)
mp3: I Can’t Believe We Were Married (from Comedy)
mp3: How to Make Gravy (from Words and Music)
mp3: Every Fucking City (from Nothing but a Dream)

Sign up to start downloading the live songs: Right Here

…or buy some Paul Kelly cd’s: Here


  1. Kevin · January 9, 2008

    Everything’s Turning to White is lovely. I’ve listened to Moon in the Bed from the same album about a million times that may be my favorite.

  2. Toby · January 9, 2008

    It’s so hard for me to pick my favorite Paul Kelly songs, I have too many. Moon in My Bed is right up there.

  3. MarcLord · February 10, 2008

    Man, am I glad you posted this. I met Paul Kelly upstage at the Triple Door in 2006, had no idea who he was. Just a guy in a funny hat. Then he grabbed a guitar, tuned up a string and went on out to sing. Some Aussies literally dragged me down to hear him. Didn’t take long to sink in that he was beyond good, probably one of the best balladeers in the world. He only played a short, deeply moving set and I resolved to see him next time he came round. So March 21st is on my calendar. Let’s go!

  4. Daniel M. · April 7, 2008

    I found it! I have had the song “Little Decisions” in my head ever since I first heard it sooooooo long ago. But. I have never been able to find it. Ever. Until now. Wonderful!

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