Darlinghurst Nights (2005)

Robert Forster of Australian indie-rock group The Go-Betweens looks back on the Darlinghurst music scene of the mid-1980s. Its title is a nod to Kenneth Slessor and Virgil Reilly’s 1933 book:

I opened a notebook, it read “The Darlinghurst Years”
I snapped it shut but out jumped some tears
I didn’t have to read it, it all came back
Dragging my fingers through my hair
Hiding behind her back

Gut rot cappuccino, gut rot spaghetti
Gut rot rock’n’roll through the eyes of Frank Brunetti
And always the traffic, always the lights
Joe played the cello through those
Darlinghurst Nights

One more coffee and I must go
Back to my room more chapters to go
We’ll meet up in an alley with more places I know

I’m going to change my appearance everyday

I’m going to write a movie and then I’m going to star in a play
I’m going to go to Caracas because you know
I’m just going to have to get away

Marjorie and Kim, Andy and Clint, Debbie, Bertie, people came and went
And then there was Suzie who we never ever saw again

And always the traffic always the lights
Climbing that hill star studded nights
Joe played the cello

Alright.

Robert Forster, Australian, 1957-

If We Can’t Get It Together (1996)

You Am I’s 1996 album Hourly, Daily debuted at No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Charts. Tim Rogers looks at what’s involved in ‘settling down’:  

To get up the bond for an Inner West flat
He’d work for anybody if he wasn’t working for her dad
She’s practising saying ‘I do’ and ‘I will’
Cause she don’t know how to tell him that she’s going off the pill

Her curtains are for certain that he’ll talk about her ass
But she clings to his photo like a piece of broken glass
If we can’t get it together today
She’s looking for his heart while he stares the other way

His dad is a nut, his ex-girl is a slut
But he’ll be yours forever
If you just get it together
If we can’t get it together if we can’t get it together
Is it ever gonna be just you and me?

So they met on Tuesday at the Town Hall steps
To get an 8 by 10 photo and a wedding date set
‘we might as well do it next week,
cause we’ve met everybody that we’re ever gonna meet’

His dad is a nut, his ex-girl is a slut
But he’ll be yours forever
If you just get it together
If we can’t get it together if we can’t get it together
Is it ever gonna be just you and me?

470 to Circular Quay
With a present in your pocket from the TAB

If we can’t get it together if we can’t get it together
Is it ever gonna be just you and me?

Would you settle for a mobile home
Near a good record store and a public phone?

If we can’t get it together if we can’t get it together

Tim Rogers, Australian, 1969-

Live Tim Rogers 2015 (starts at 4:00):

Reckless (1983)

Melbourne band Australian Crawl feel lost in Sydney:

Meet me down by the jetty landing
Where the pontoons bump and spray
I see the others reading, standing
As the Manly Ferry cuts its way to Circular Quay

Hear the captain blow his whistle
So long she’s been away
I miss our early morning wrestle
Not a very happy way to start the day

She don’t like that kind of behavior
She don’t like that kind of behavior

So, throw down your guns
Don’t be so reckless
Throw down your guns
Don’t be so

Feel like Scott of the Antarctic
Base camp too far away
A Russian sub beneath the Arctic
Burke and Wills and camels, initials in the tree

She don’t like that kind of behavior
She don’t like that kind of behavior

So, throw down your guns
Don’t be so reckless
Throw down your guns
Don’t be so

 James Reyne, Australian, 1957-

Numbers Fall (1982)

For Cold Chisel’s 1982 album Circus Animals, Don Walker writes about illegal gambling (in its many forms) in Kings Cross:

You ain’t got nothin’ that you need so bad
That you couldn’t give it up for a choice or two
An unseen chance is gonna come your way
Before this night is through

Blackjack, baccarat, matters of the heart
If you’ve just got the money
You’re a loser to start
And you can fold away your dreams as they come true
Dreams come true

Walkin’ down Forbes Street,
Early hours of Wooloomooloo
Chancy games in a hotel room
On Springfield Avenue

And if the numbers fall
And if the numbers fall right
And if the numbers fall
I know all my dreams come true

I know you’re old
Cause all you’re laying down is
Easy gold
You never take your heart uptown anymore
You don’t bleed anymore
The Forbes Street croupiers
Are lookin’ like crashers at a
Black and White Charity Ball

Roll ’em up once
Roll ’em up twice
The rustle of the money
And the click o’ the dice
Five-fifty dollars on the wheel
Oughta make it
For six I’ll teach your sister to
Shake it, shake it, shake it

Rich girls, bad girls
Jumpin’ on a fad girls
Cuttin’ things fine is how I first met you
Livin’ outside in the real estate
You know we stake a little more
Than just a dollar or two

And if the numbers fall
And if the numbers fall right
And if the numbers fall
I know all my dreams’ll come true

–Don Walker, Australian, 1951-

Somewhere in Sydney (1976)

Loss of a girlfriend prompted this song by Melbourne band Skyhooks:

Somewhere in Sydney there’s a lady so pretty
When she crosses the harbour she’s the queen of the city
Somewhere in Sydney there’s a lady so sweet
She hides her tattoo when she’s out on the streets

Well it might look like Monaco
But it sure ain’t Greece
They gave us Sin City on a million year lease
Ten miles outta Sydney
On Freeway Five
The radio’s playin’ just as fast as you drive

Somewhere in Sydney up on Bellevue Hill
There’s gay boy with a new toy
Movin’ in for the kill
Somewhere in Sydney there’s a boy with a hit
Who’s shakin’ the city and he just won’t quit

Well it might look like Monaco
But it sure ain’t Greece
They gave us Sin City on a million year lease
Ten miles outta Sydney on Freeway Five
The radio’s playin’ just as fast as you drive

Sydney sweet Sydney I love your red roofs
And I’m spending all my money in your telephone booths
So many people, so many types
So much truth, and so much hype

I get anonymous letters from the North Shore
They don’t read like hard core
Name droppers on the road from my hometown
Bein’ around just to be around

And there ain’t no rats in them high rise flats
Where the clouds float by my window
And the sounds on the street are so discreet
And they’re all in their own special lingo

Greg Macainsh, Australian, b. 1952(?)

Rennie Ellis, Bicentennial Fashion Show - Sydney Opera House [1988](State Library of Victoria)

Rennie Ellis, Bicentennial Fashion Show – Sydney Opera House [1988](State Library of Victoria)

You Gotta Love This City (1999)

Tim Freedman, lead singer of The Whitlams gives his acerbic take on Sydney’s winning 1993 bid for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games:

You gotta love this city, love this city, you gotta love this city
You gotta love this city, love this city, you gotta love this city

Too sick for breakfast, the car wouldn’t start
The train was really full, and his girlfriend had a boyfriend
The houses all the same, now here’s the rain
Not falling but collapsing at his feet
Deep breath and he clocks on, raincoat on his arm
He wishes the hours would disappear

But the trip’s in vain ’cause awaiting him
A lay-off notice and his severance pay
He shuffles back to the train again
You gotta love this city

You gotta love this city, love this city, you gotta love this city
You gotta love this city, love this city, you gotta love this city

Back home he lies in bed for days and days
Watching American television, smoking
And playing with himself ringing double-O double-5
Into town on Thursday night
The girls are pretty and the lights are bright
At least he loves his city

Holding court on Taylor Square proper was the man he could become
Lear’s Fool is a bum now
With seven holy parcels by his side

You gotta love this city, love this city, you gotta love this city
You gotta love this city, love this city, you gotta love this city

He walks along the foreshore, he’s got a bottle
And he’s breathing with his city

It was busy everywhere he went
There was a crowd over the bay
And a fireworks display
It’s all very strange for a Thursday night thought he
Then it dawns on him as a cracker explodes
And who the hell is he going to blame?
It dawns on him – the horror – we got the Olympic Games

You gotta love this city for its body and not its brain

And he screams “My city is a whore, opened herself to the world
Jumped up and down in pastel shirts
And lathered up thinking about designs for T-shirts

You gotta love this city for its body and not its brain

It’s more than he can take, and the stars’ reflection breaks
‘Cause you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it enjoy the view
You gotta love this city
He’s had enough and he sinks to the bottom

Tim Freedman, Australian, b. 1964

Video here, although curiously the images from 4:00 to 4:52 are of Brisbane!

Ken Done, Sydney Night Full Moon, 1997. (Grafton Regional Gallery)

Ken Done, Sydney Night Full Moon, 1997. (Grafton Regional Gallery)

Darling it Hurts (1986)

Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Paul Kelly must have seen this mural by Toby Zoates on the side of a Darlinghurst squat before penning his song. (The mural originally said ‘Darlinghurst – on the road to oblivion’, before it became the pithier ‘Darling It Hurts’.) It disappeared to make way for the Eastern Distributor.

I see you standing on the corner with your dress so high
And all the cars slow down as they go driving by
Thought you said you had some place to go
What you doing up here putting it all on show?

Darling it hurts to see you down Darlinghurst tonight

Do you remember Darling how we laughed and cried
We said we’d be together till the day we died
How could something so good turn so bad?
I’d do it all again ‘coz you’re the best I’ve ever had

Darling it hurts to see you down Darlinghurst tonight

See that man with the glad hands
I want to kill him but it wouldn’t be right
Now here comes another man with the gladbags
I want to break him but it’s not my fight
In one hand and out the other
Baby I don’t even know why you bother

Darling it hurts to see you down Darlinghurst tonight

–Paul Kelly, Australian, b. 1955

Wolfgang Sievers, Night view of William Street, Sydney, looking towards King's Cross, 1965. (State Library of Victoria)

Wolfgang Sievers, Night view of William Street, Sydney, looking towards King’s Cross, 1965. (State Library of Victoria)