Posted May 07, 2018 16:53:55Shawm is one of Australia’s most celebrated songwriters, having written some of the country’s most iconic songs including ‘Dixie’, ‘Pineapple’, ‘The Sun Song’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
But he is not known for his melodic poetry or traditional lyrics.
Instead, he has used his songs to tackle themes that are both emotional and personal, often at odds with popular opinion.
In his new book, ‘The Soundtrack: Shawms Story of the Soundtrack’, he tells how his life and work began, and how he was inspired to write songs about the music of the past.
“I was just born into a very privileged life, in a really good family,” he said.
“My dad was a songwriter, my mother a song-writer, and my grandparents were songwriters.
It’s the story of my family and of Australia.”
Shawms journey to writing songs about music started in his native New South Wales.
“There were a lot of people living in the bush, and a lot more people with the music,” he recalled.
“It was a very primitive time, so it wasn’t very common to hear songs about animals.
But I was fascinated by the sounds of the animals and the stories that people were telling about them.”
He wrote songs about wild animals such as deer, rabbits and birds, which he recorded on his phone.
“And I was also writing about people, and about their life,” he explained.
“We were a family of writers and we were also singers, so we were writing about both sides of the music business.”
When I started writing songs, I thought that there was something special about people that would resonate with me.
“The sound of the song is something that people know about, but there’s a lot that we don’t.”
So I thought, ‘Well, what about the songs that people don’t know about?’
“Shawmes music career started in the 1970s with the release of ‘The Lost Highway’ and his first album, ‘I Was a Child of the Dust’.
But it was his second album, 1984’s ‘The Wind in the Willows’, that took his music to the world.”
What really happened was that I had been writing about a very specific subject matter and I had just gone through a very difficult time,” he remembered.”
That album, I was at a point where I thought ‘This is it.
This is what I’m going to be writing about.
I can’t let this go.’
“So that album became the catalyst for me going to the studio, where I started to write all the songs I had written on that album, as well as all the lyrics.”
These songs were very autobiographical and very emotional, and it was like writing about somebody else.
“In the process of writing his third album, 1988’s ‘A Good Woman’, Shawmes first found inspiration from his own personal journey.”
A lot of it was inspired by a lot the things that I was going through, and the people that I’d come across and the experiences I’d had,” he reflected.”
But there were also a lot, like in ‘Lost Highway’, which is about being very honest with yourself about your life and your faults and your weaknesses, and then coming out with something good about yourself.
“The album was also written while he was living in Australia.”
In Australia, there were a couple of songs that I hadn’t written yet that were about the idea of being an Aboriginal man, and that was the song ‘Boys on the Track’,” he said, recalling his initial songwriting process.”
After that, I didn’t write a single song for three years.
And then, when I finally did, it was very different from anything I had done before.
“Shaws first album ‘A Better Man’ was released in 1987, and was one of his most commercially successful.”
All of those albums have a sense of a big story that the listener can go through in a short amount of time, and I think that’s very exciting,” he revealed.”
For me, the best way to describe it is like a great love story that you can go back to.
“Every song on that record was like a different person’s story, and every song has a story, even the bad ones, and there are stories there that are very emotional.”
Shahshat, born to Australian parents in Western Sydney, has two sisters and one brother.
His mother was a writer, and his father was a poet and a teacher.
“He wrote a lot about poetry, he wrote about literature, he did a lot in music,” Shaws said.”[But] my dad was not a musician.
He was a teacher, a