Michael Waugh has a great knack of making the ordinary sound extraordinary. He takes every day subjects and turns them into something very special. I now live not very far from where Michael grew up. I can probably even relate more to some of the things that he writes about, and of course, I know the place names. I grew up in the country, and many of the things that he writes about are very similar to what he talks about in his story songs. With the magic wand of Shane Nicholson guiding proceedings, the beauty, humour and sadness of Michael’s songs are enhanced.
I saw Michael Waugh at last year’s Tamworth, just before he went to the Golden Guitars as a nominee for best new talent. Michael made us laugh and made us cry all in one verse of a song. He does that. You have the hanky out one minute and you are falling off the couch at another with laughter. He was singing with two pretty tough dudes that day, who are also big softies and success stories in a sometimes tough industry. Michael is a very humble man. He sings about songs that you can relate to.
He is a plain speaker. He doesn’t hold back. He tells it like it is. Some of the stories are his own, others are also true stories but about other people. Who would have thought that you could make a song out of acid wash jeans, chickens, kindergarten fetes or a Datsun?
There are some stand out songs on this album, but I always knew that the whole album would be magic. It didn’t let me down.
Little C Word – This was lifted as a single and it won the Karl Broadie Heartfelt Song Award in my Kazzie Awards last year. It is a song about Michael’s brother and his fight with Cancer. It has humour as well as anger and sadness. It offers hope and it is thought provoking.
Footy Trip – A very Aussie song about a very Aussie thing to do. A bit cheeky and the subject matter will ring true with most Aussies.
They don’t let the girls in the game – Thankfully, things are changing, though there is still a bit of a stigma about women playing traditional male sports. I can relate to this as I probably could kick a ball (soccer, any code of footy) and bowl a better ball than most boys when I was a kid or at least as good as, but it just wasn’t allowed….at least not beyond primary school. Like most Waugh songs, there is a deeper meaning.
Willy’s Chickens – Our favourite Heyfield girl makes another appearance in a Michael Waugh song (his mum). In my hometown, I know of a lot of other women who had similar jobs and stories to this one.
Bailing Twine – Possibly the best song on the album, or pretty close to it. At first it sounds like Brendon Walmsley’s “Patches”, about how past generations didn’t throw things out, they worked on them and fixed them. It becomes much more than that. It has quite a heartbreaking ending.
For A Moment – Life is short. A song about enjoying the moments, special and simple before they disappear.
Shit Year – We all have these. God knows that I have had a few. Michael’s family have been through a lot – good to have that year over and hope that things get better.
Bloody Rain – Weather is often a topic of conversation in the country. Sometimes it is about the lack of rain, sometimes it is about too much rain. You can see the images of this pub scene, right down to the parma and Melbourne Bitter.
Tapping – This is without a doubt the most powerful song on the album. A simple tapping noise explodes into a big problem….a problem that a lot of women face at one stage or another in their lives. It builds and it builds….to quite a crescendo. Incredible song.
The Asphalt and The Oval – This song is about bullying, forgiveness, growing up, growing down and dealing. It is a song of reflection and moving on.
Acid Wash – A song that triggers the nostalgia trip, Acid Wash Jeans, blue eyeshadow, Peter Jackson cigs, the music of a different time and place for people of a certain generation.
Driving With the Window Down – evokes freedom, memories of a first car, road trips and simpler times…..and it is about a Datsun.
Kindergarten Fete – Without a doubt, the cutest song on the album. It will have a lot of parents and grandparents and aunties nodding in recognition and smiling with the memories. A charming song t o end an amazing album.
Michael Waugh is an amazing songwriter. He really knows how to get to the heart of things and he can tell stories in an honest and thought provoking way. He’ll be around for a long time.