Sing us a song


I do a lot of driving around here. It’s not so much time spent in the car, as the kilometres travelled. To go into town to the do the shopping I get through about 40kms – add in trips to drop off and pick up from Preschool and now my weekly trip up and back to Sydney once a week, and I’m getting some time behind the wheel. The driving is good and fast and pretty – hitting 100km hr with good music on and good scenery, it makes the whole thing a pleasure.

You know when you are driving and you get somewhere, and you’re not sure how you got there as you can’t quite remember the trip? Or when you are driving along and all of a sudden you are so transported or captured by a song that you have tears pouring down your cheeks? No? That’s the sort of thing that happens to me when I’m driving. Usually alone of course, kids tend to be a distraction and take you away from the zen that can occur on an open road. Yelling and picking shit up from the ground for the 45th time will do that to you.

I was thinking the other day, when I was transported by a beautiful song about the absolute joy that comes from a song that tells a story. Not a story about being someone’s bitch, or that you think that someone is sexy, but a SONG. A song that comes from someone’s soul, and heart and pours out a tale about a person, a life, an experience, a STORY. These songs are usually not catchy, or popular, but they do something far more important I think – they get into YOUR heart, and they become favourites long after a hit has moved on.

Here’s some of my favourite story telling songs. Songs that I will be listening to and either find myself with tears running down my cheeks, or filled with joy, or wondering about them long after they are finished.

Droving Woman – by Kev Carmody and performed by Augie March, Paul Kelly & Missy Higgins

I saw this Kev Carmody concert about 5 years ago now as part of the Sydney Festival. It still remains one of the best concerts I have EVER been to: a selection of some of Australia’s best talent performing the legendary songs that are true stories by the amazing Kev Carmody. This song is long – over 8 minutes, but whenever I listen to it, well it just takes my breath away. It tells the simple story of a drover from outback Qld, who is killed. There’s no chorus just 2 verses of perfection, and if Missy Higgins singing (she starts around 6 mins) and emotion in this song doesn’t move you nothing will. This is an actual clip from the concert I went to.

Don’t give up – Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush

This is such a beautiful song (not such a great film clip though!) and another version I love by Willie Nelson & Sinead O’Connor. I think about this man, often. His story. His pain. “Whatever may come and whatever may go, that river’s flowin’…” Indeed.

Flame Trees – Cold Chisel

My brother gave me a double cassette of the Best of Cold Chisel when I was about 14 and told me to listen to it. I was so impressed that he was sharing something with his little sister that I forced myself to listen to it, over and over again, learning every lyric. The slice of Australian life at a certain time in this song, the town, the people who are created in a makes it legendary. I adore this song. And my big brother for making me listen to it. And don’t get me started on Bow River. They just don’t make songs like that anymore! Yes, I realise that sentence makes me officially old.

Shiver me Timbers – Tom Waits

Rob introduced me to Tom and this song when we were first dating. It’s just one of my favourite songs of all time. Each and every time I listen to it, I cry. That man, the sailor, his love for the sea. His story.

Maybe because I am a story-teller myself that I love these kinds of songs best of all? Maybe.
Do you have a favourite story telling song?


  1. Theres Paul Kelly’s How To Make Gravy, To Her Door, Dumb Things and everything else he’s ever made 🙂 He’s a songwriter.
    Also Crowded House fit into this true song category.
    And I love Flame Trees.
    My personal favourite Darren Hayes/Savage Garden has written some amazing stuff too – The Lover After Me is a song that really tells a story.
    I love wordy songs. I have books on Paul Kelly’s and Neil Finn’s lyrics and immerse myself in them regularly.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      So true. I was SO excited that I got to see Kelly/Finn in concert this year…what songwriters they are!

  2. I used to see Pete Murray before he became “Pete Murray” – he’s a beautiful story teller live. So I have his first album on play for long drives. I’m also a big fan of old school – Ministry of sound chillout albums. Amy Winehouse also gets blared along with Radiohead when I drive solo. Too many to choose from – but I hate all that blurred lines bs that gets produced these days. xx

  3. Leila Minter says

    The full three part version of Evie by Stevie Wright will always be on my playlist

  4. Also, you should check out the doco “searching for sugar man” – the music of Rodriguez is wonderful.

  5. Melissa Bisgrove says

    Yes the type of songs you are referring to are definitely a must for long kid free car trips. I love anything by Paul Kelly who I have seen perform so many times that I have lost count. Another favorite story telling band were Weddings Parties Anything. But Cold Chisel’s Flame Trees remains my all time number one based not only on the song but the memories it stirs in me from when I too was first introduced to it.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Same. I think it’s the connection to the time in your life that you loved these songs too don’t you think – it’s a whole other layer of personal emotion that goes into it.

      • Yes definitely. I also have the same reactions with sense of smell for example if you pass by someone wearing a perfume you used to wear or the scent of a plant that only flowers at certain times of the year. Whips the mind back to another place and time.

  6. Too many to list here, but here’s a couple:
    Wish you were here by pink floyd
    Wrapped around your finger by the police
    John Mayer’s Continuum album is one of my forever favourites too.
    I just got Peter Gabriel’s album last week, don’t give up’s been on high rotation here!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      We had the Best of Peter Gabriel on ALL the time when we were thinking about making the move down here. It instantly transports me back to that confusing time in our lives. I LOVE how music does that!

  7. Peta Venus says

    Bridal Train by the Waifs
    Anything Paul Kelly of course!!
    The Tower by Chris de Burgh is absolutely beautiful
    And how about the Gambler by Kenny Rogers to make you sing along.

  8. Cheekiechops says

    Leonard Cohen, Tower of Love and I have hairs prickling all over my body just thinking of him or Jeff Buckley singing Hallelujah

  9. Lisa Mckenzie says

    There is so many cool old songs I love ,but i am older than you and i agree they don’t make them like some of the old songs.I love some of Jack Johnsons for story telling and Divynls,Paul Kelly and so so many more.

  10. MotherDownUnder says

    I love a solo road trip…or one when my toddler is sleeping.
    And songs always make me cry too…that Anais Mitchell cd you recommended gets me every time and so does Cat Empire’s Miserere.

  11. Annie Maurer says

    Oh Beth…sometimes you just nail it!!! Songs with wonderful lyrics and haunting tunes, especially on a beautiful country drive, always move me and then I’m in tears….Maybe you should take up song writing have such a way with words x Annie M

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      I’d love to be able to write a song. I remember having a crack as a angsty teenager and they just sounded all rhyme-y and RIDICULOUS! Thank you for your kind words x

  12. Melanie Ann Tarr says

    great music Beth, all of it!

  13. Mandy Mason says

    Love anything by Paul Kelly, you should give Dan Sultan a go. His music I mean, although I’d quite happily “give him a go”……

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      I am a huge Dan fan – both his music and just the fact that he is HOT TAMALE. Rob is aware he is my celeb crush. We saw him at this very concert that I mentioned above and also at a solo gig. Oh Dan…

  14. Something Gorgeous says

    I love a solo car trip and an opportunity to listen to my music and I undoubtedly turn to music that stirs my emotions. At the moment that’s anything by Passenger. T

  15. agree completely, but you have to hear the sarah blasko version of flame trees.!

    p.s. how is it that peter gabriel & phil collins were in the same band?

  16. ahoy.jenni says

    Paul Kelly rules! Also jack Johnson, josh pike, I love their little ballads.
    I have only recently found out the meaning to George Harrison’s song ‘while my guitar gently weeps’ so I am listening to that alot in the car. It basically means wake up you idiots and feel the love that’s all around you (it was played at a funeral of a friend that I recently went to, so now I play it in the car and have a good cry remembering him)
    Also I really recommend Fred smith ! Bet you haven’t heard of him! He has some great songs about life in Afghanistan, from soldiers views and the afghans view…they are great, catchy little songs. Really good for driving or bopping about cleaning the house. (Fred is a diplomat who went to Afghanistan )

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Sorry to hear about your friend…that certainly is a beautiful song though. Haven’t heard of Fred – but now I have thanks to you!

  17. Maryandlil says

    oh. Droving woman! I LOVE that song. Often played up loud in our car on a long trip too!

  18. Kellie McCarthy says

    Yes!! So Damn Lucky – Dave Mathews… Moves me everytime I hear it… Prob not best song to play in car thou 🙂

  19. Reannon Hope says

    Gillian by the Whaifs. That song is so beautiful & paints such a picture- I can see her when I listen to that song. All of The Whaifs music does that to be honest.
    Fleetwood Macs Rhiannon is another one. I grew up knowing I was named after that song & my pop used to tell me ” you’re named after a witch!” & I thought it was a bad thing until I was a teenager & learnt all about Rhiannon the Welsh Witch. So when I hear that song my head fills with stories & pictures & I love that.
    A few years back I seem Pearl Jam for the first time. Their music is the soundtrack of my life & as they walked out in stage I looked at my husband & smiled with tears rolling down my face. He looked back & nodded because he knows how much their music means to me, that their music moves my soul & my feet. I couldn’t pick one, I just couldn’t…

  20. Dire Straits “Coming Home” makes me cry. It was played at my father in laws funeral as they carried the cask back out so that might be why – but a beautiful and emotional song regardless!

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