I’ve since learned that Paul is a songwriting legend in his native Australia, where he is celebrated for giving voice to everyday Australians. His portraits of aging widowers, bewildered children, imprisoned repeat offenders and more, bring to mind Bruce Springsteen’s blue collar Americans or Ray Davies’ workaday Londoners.
Paul has a sound all his own, though, and he’s built up a cult following in the U.S. thanks to consistent touring here over the last 30 years. And while that never translated into stateside chart success, that might have allowed him to keep focused on Australia. In doing so, he became a bard for his nation.
But where to begin? Diving into a catalog that spans nearly 40 years can be daunting. To help you get started, here is a playlist of 14 Paul Kelly songs to whet your appetite.
Most of these songs come from Paul’s A-Z Recordings. The career-spanning live recording came out in 2010 and features 106 songs Paul periodically performs over four nights to tell his life story.
Also included are some early singles, and some tunes from his latest album, Life Is Good. That album recently topped the Australian album charts, a first for Paul.