A Song To Break Your Heart

Inspired by my current readings and a reminder about them.

I’m currently wading through How To Make Gravy by Paul Kelly, a “mongrel memoir” from one of my most beloved artists.

from flickr user stusev

This song – it’s about life, change, love, birth, death. It has it all. And I feel simultaneously heartsick and hopeful when I hear it. Maybe when I get older I will find it somewhat more congruous with my life, or someone else’s because it is about growing. I’m just young.  For now, I will love it because it is beautiful and symbolic. But also tragic.

At 1:05 I find it the most powerful; the crashing emotions and such a tremendous, earth-shaking, head-spinning crescendo.  And at around the 2:20 mark is where a woman should be singing. You’ll hear it in most other recordings. My favourite is from the live A-Z Recordings range PK released free through his website over a period of 26 months. That is one good acoustic tune. And of course from the Deeper Water album itself, released in 1995. At 3:40 in this video, you can tell he’s truly feeling it. He always is, but this is when it’s important, when it’s consuming his body without thought – just emotion. I’m sure he recalls upon his own life and on the life of his ancestors when performing this absolute folk treasure.

Paul has written in HTMG (yes, very lyrically of course, as is his charm) the story of his family’s arrival in Australia to the time of his childhood. He’s written about the love and learning bestowed upon him by his parents. And his father, who taught them all to swim, perfectly, in deeper water as they grew.

Have a listen, what do you get from it?

On a crowded beach in a distant time
At the height of summer see a boy of five
At the water’s edge so nimble and free
Jumping over the ripples looking way out to sea

Now a man comes up from amongst the throng
Takes the young boy’s hand and his hand is strong
And the child feels safe, yeah the child feels brave
As he’s carried in those arms up and over the waves

Deeper water, deeper water, deeper water, calling him on

Let’s move forward now and the child’s seventeen
With a girl in the back seat tugging at his jeans
And she knows what she wants, she guides with her hand
As a voice cries inside him – I’m a man, I’m a man!

Deeper water, deeper water, deeper water, calling him on

Now the man meets a woman unlike all the rest
He doesn’t know it yet but he’s out of his depth
And he thinks he can run, it’s a matter of pride
But he keeps coming back like a cork on the tide

Well the years hurry by and the woman loves the man
Then one night in the dark she grabs hold of his hand
Says ‘There, can you feel it kicking inside!’
And the man gets a shiver right up and down his spine

Deeper water, deeper water, deeper water, calling him on

So the clock moves around and the child is a joy
But Death doesn’t care just who it destroys
Now the woman gets sick, thins down to the bone
She says ‘Where I’m going next, I’m going alone’

Deeper water, deeper water

On a distant beach lonely and wild
At a later time see a man and a child
And the man takes the child up into his arms
Takes her over the breakers
To where the water is calm

Deeper water, deeper water,
Deeper water, calling them on.

If you liked this song, check out Blush on the same record Deeper Water, released in 1995.


Click through to the Paul Kelly store to purchase Deeper Water


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