The updated reissue of 2007’s ‘Cannot Buy My Soul’, a star-studded album that pays tribute to Australian icon Kev Carmody, arrived on Friday, featuring new covers from the likes of Kasey Chambers & Jimmy Barnes, Mo’Ju & Birdz, Kate Miller-Heidke, Alice Skye, Electric Fields and more. To celebrate its release, Carmody takes us through the six new tracks on the release, sharing insight into their origins and his thoughts on the new version.
FROM LITTLE THINGS, BIG THINGS GROW
I saw this version by Electric Fields live first, at the Helpmann Awards. At the end you could hear a pin drop and then all of sudden everyone broke into rapturous applause. It was very emotional.
They even have the old fellas voice in there. They got special permission from the Gurindji people. The spiritual feel in the language and the way Electric Fields presented it, it will be played in the history of music for hundreds of years to come. It’s so original. It’s not Paul Kelly’s or Kev Carmody’s, it’s become everybody’s.
The story of the song, that started back in 1966, I was 20 years old and not even a citizen of this country at the time. My mother told us the Gurindji mob had walk off Wave Hill station, we thought holy hell! What’s going to happen here. Paul Kelly knew the story and on a family camping trip to Winehoe Dam we had a couple of guitars and I just kept playing a chord progression over and over and the words just came out of the sky. Paul is such a quick writer. The song has been a sleeper but now it’s become a culture love song.
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It was originally recorded live as a stream of consciousness. I was at Steve Kilbey’s studio in Rozelle and Andy White and Liam Ó Maonlaí from Ireland and Tim Finn came in. They were keen to help out. Next minute Liam’s on 12 string, Tim’s on drums, Liam’s on keys and Steve’s producing.
It was spur of the moment and going with the lyrics. It was all done live. Hearing Alice Skye sing the song, oh my goodness. Her voice is so unique and her timing. The video that she made gave the song a real sense of place. She has anchored the song so well with her voice and takes it into another dimension. You got to hear it to believe it people! It’s beautiful.
Boy it was an explosion this one. There was an amplifier left in the middle of the rehearsal room and I just mucked around with the knobs. I plugged my old land rights guitar into it and de-tuned the guitar and played with an old slide that was made from me by an old friend in the welding shed I worked at. I just let loose. I was going nuts.
Someone said to me, “What’s that song called?” I said I don’t know. The next day I put words to it. There’s a story in their about a friend of mine who went to Vietnam and came back in an aluminium box. To hear Jimmy [Barnes] and Kasey [Chambers] sing the song it becomes something else. The darling of country music and the rocker. Kasey brings the beauty and Jimmy brings the anvil. It’s a song that really suits his voice.
JUST FOR YOU
I’ve only met Courtney Barnett recently. I’m so impressed by her. The way Courtney has made this song her own. I wrote this song years ago and only recorded it a little while back.
It can be applied to the family you love, mother earth or even the love and embrace of all existence. Or it can be simply for the love between two people. It’s very simple lyrics but it’s trying to get right to the core in that we all have our disagreements and stuff but I still love you, still love you all very much. The video Courtney made of the song was so simple. It even features Paul Kelly’s dog!
BLOOD RED ROSE
I was mucking around using four fingers on the guitar. Bass and rhythm. And I wondered how it was would work with open tuning and using an old blues method of slide. I thought it sounded so nice and different to the usual guitar setting. Clare Bowditch did a version back in 2007. It was so beautiful. Now with Kate Miller-Heidke’s voice singing it, it’s so angelic. Both Clare and Kate have taken the song to another level. I’d love everyone to hear all three versions!
RIDER IN THE RAIN
I was doing a few workshops in the Wacol Prison near Ipswich in Queensland and coming back out on the six lane highway there was this road sign, ‘Progress Road’. I thought progress? If they feel like those inmates in there are making progress they have another thing coming. More like a conveyer belt! We find it really hard as a society to get off. It’s about what people are worth these days. The more they make the less we have. With Mo’Ju, Trials and Birdz it’s amazing these young ones have connected to what this song is about. Just the feel and power of the song. They really did a great version of it.