Ruby Gill Shares Fave Lyrics: 'The Daggiest, Most Transcendental, Joyful Songs'

21 September 2022 | 9:01 am | Ruby Gill

To celebrate a recent tour announcement in support of new album 'I'm gonna die with this frown on my face', Aussie singer-songwriter Ruby Gill shares some of her favourite lyrics.

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This exercise took me deep, deep into my childhood. These are the daggiest, most transcendental, joyful songs and I’m so glad I have them in my life. I hope you have them in your life too. 

The First Lyrics That You Remember Being Grabbed By

Lolita - Selaelo Selota 

“Why don’t you learn from the mountain? ‘Cause the mountain taught the river to flow Why don’t you lean from the birds - cause the birds taught their little ones to fly.” 

My mum used to play us this song all the time, and I remember first realising what “profound” lyricism could feel like - when a song was teaching you something, moving something inside you, making you a better person, making the world a place worth living in. It made me fall in love with pianos and nature and communing with this living breathing planet we’re lucky to be a silly part of. There’s a religious edge to this that usually puts me off a song, but for some reason I am drawn even deeper into a strange reverence for this god of nature - the sun who taught the moon to shine. 

A Lyric You Wish You’d Written

Say Africa - Vusi Mahlasela 

“I may be walking in the streets of a city called Amsterdam / but the dust on my boots and the rhythm of my feet and my heartbeat say Africa.” 

An astonishing song so deeply placed in South Africa and its activism and humanity. There has never been another poem that captures so profoundly and gently for me the impact that those spaces I was lucky enough to grow up in have on you. There is something that never leaves you, wherever you are in the world. I take this song with me wherever I go. 

Your Favourite Lyric From Your New Release


“It’s a borderline offense to keep me locked in and I’m tired of all your bureaucratic nonsense.” 

It was fun to put ‘nonsense’ in a song about the government/immigration department. Also I have a secret list of all the ways you can hear or understand “borderline offense” that probably no one with ever know, eg. it’s a borderline, a fence to keep me locked in vs it’s an offense relating to borderlines vs it’s bordering on an offense to keep me locked in…. etc., etc. A silly love I have for double entendres. 

A Lyric You Think Is Perfect

Book of Love - Peter Gabriel 

“The book of love is long and boring / no one can lift the damn thing it's full of charts and facts, and figures / and instructions for dancing  but I love it when you read to me / and you can read me anything.” 

The nonchalance, wit and depth of this song always really f*cks me up. It is the perfect human capsule of this ridiculous thing we do - to fall in love, to fall apart, to think there’s reason to any of it. This dumb, transcendental life in community. Peter got to the heart of the joy, the despair and the absurdity all in one page. 

A Lyric That Makes You Happy

No Reptiles - Everything Everything 

“No reptiles - just soft boiled eggs in shirts and ties waiting for the flashing green man / Quivering and wobbling just like all the eggs you know.” 

Somehow the funniest thing I’ve ever heard and the kind of truth about society that you want to scream while running naked through the wilderness or at least around the house in the dark in your socks. 

A Lyric That Makes You Sad

Shot Down - James Phillips 

“I’m a white boy who looked at his life gathered in his hands and saw it was all due to the sweat of some other man / that one who got shot down in the street.” 

One of the most powerful protest songs to come out of the underground clubs of Apartheid Mzansi, when Sharpeville massacre and police brutality was at its height. A song that puts the wilful ignorance and violence of white privilege under a profound microscope, and critiques the ongoing tendency for colonising societies to “look left and pour the tea” when atrocities are playing out before them. I feel strongly that music has a role in shining a light on what is true and this one really affects me because of how it remains true, even so many decades later. 

The Most “Underrated” Lyrics

Woncha Come On Home - Joan Armatrading  

“Oh babe you know I get so scared / you know I couldn’t live alone, it’s just been confirmed, baby woncha come on home.” 

It’s that “it’s just been confirmed” that gets me every time. The sneaky, conclusive strength in that line paired with the vulnerability of the preceding line and then the plea afterwards has always been one of my favourites.  

A Lyric You Think Everyone Should Know

Society’s A Mansion - Mimi Gilbert 

“If society’s a mansion, I want to live in a shack.” 

The perfect gentle admonishment of an oppressing system that favours wealth over humanity. I think everyone should hold this song with them as they travel through the world to remember connection, earth and people over wealth and accumulation and structural gods. 

I'm gonna die with this frown on my face album tour 

Saturday 1 October - Sound Doctor, Wadawurrung/Angelsea^ (VIC)

Friday 21 October - New Hall, Wadawurrung land/Pt Lonsdale* (VIC)

Saturday 22 October - New Hall, Wadawurrung land/Pt Lonsdale* (VIC)

Sunday 13 November - Black Bear Lodge, Meanjin/Brisbane (QLD) 

Friday 18 November - The Bridge, Dja Dja Wurrung land/Castlemaine (VIC)

Sunday 20 November - Thirroul Music Festival (NSW)

Sunday, 20 November - The Vanguard, Gadi/Sydney (NSW)

Thursday 24 November - Northcote Social Club, Naarm/Melbourne (VIC)

Sunday 3 December - Tanswell Hotel, Yorta Yorta land/Beechworth (VIC)

Ticket and more info here

*with Liz Stringer  ^with Maple Glider

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