Domestic

by Fred Smith

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about

A singer-songwriter renowned for his travelogue albums (Dust of Uruzgan, Bagarap Empires, Texas), Fred Smith has turned his attention to the domestic frontier with the wry observation and humour that are his trademark.

‘Domestic’ captures 21st Century Australia under pressure from drought to digital overload, bushfires to Bondi. It’s an essentially Australian album not just in its subject matter but in its outlook. “We’re a race of piss takers for better or worse, mostly for better – a scepticism which, I’d like to think, protects us from being duped”.

And a wry humour runs right through the album - there is a streak of comedy even through even it’s most serious songs. Although an overall exuberant album, Domestic does get serious. The aperture narrows in the second half of the record to a more personal suite of what might be called ‘love songs for middle aged folks’.

As Smith approaches his 50th birthday, songs like ‘Heart Work’ and ‘Certain Things’ paint domestic scenes of a couple under pressure - managing aging parents while raising children, overworked and overwhelmed by the demands of life in the digital era - glamourous no, but real enough for many of us.

“It’s been a tough five years managing the decline of my ancient Greek parent in laws mixed with the joy of raising our infant daughter - her indifference to our suffering has got us through!”

“There are times when marriage seems more about endurance than euphoria - we endure a lot together” said Smith.

Smith’s team of regular sidemen have served him well on this recording. Liz Frencham embodies taste on double bass while poli-instrumentalist Carl Pannuzzo serves the songs sublimely on drums, keyboards and backing vocals.

“There’s a trust and understanding that comes from playing hundreds of gigs together that made the experience in the studio quite lovely” said Smith.

The feels on this album vary from Kinks-like Britpop (Whenever We Make Art) to country (Four Strong Hands) to fingerpicking folk (There Go I). Smith has never accepted genre limitations, his only concern being the happy marriage of melody and meaning.

The album cover features Smith in a blue shirt against a pink backdrop. This is his first album in eight years not to contain songs about war. “I’m out of the beige and in to the pink!” Says Smith.

credits

released January 12, 2020

Credits:
Fred Smith – Acoustic Guitars, Harmonicas.
Liz Frencham – Double Bass; Vocal on Track 5;
Carl Pannuzzo – Drums/percussion; Keyboard, Backing Vocals
Fiete Geier – Electric Guitar on 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 12, 13; Bass 11
Dave O’Neill - Electric Guitar on 6
Mikel Simic and Phil Moriarty – BVs on 13

All tracks mixed by Fiete Geier and Steve Vella
Mastered by Kimmo Vennonen
Most tracks recorded by Steve Vella and Liz Frencham at Dog and Bear Studios, with some overdubs tracked by Fiete Geier at Ebden Studios
Track 1 and 4 rhythm sections recorded at Infidel Studios by Duncan Lowe
Track 12 recorded by Kimmo Vennonen live to the mixing desk at Street Theatre in Canberra.


All songs © Fred Smith All views expressed or implied on this recording are those of the author and not representative of any other person or organisation.

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Track Name: Whenever We Make Art
Life’s a highway, doing it my way, whenever we make art
Life’s a freeway, lots of leeway, whenever we make art
Life’s a nightmare, see the light where, whenever we make art
Life’s a riot, you should try it, whenever we make art

Walking on a sunny afternoon down St Kilda Esplanade
Walking on that sunny afternoon take a sip of lemonade

Young and pretty, inner city
Wearing tight jeans, in the right scene
Old and crusty, staying lusty
Through the portal, we’re immortal

Walking on a sunny afternoon, through the streets of Middle Park
Walking home beneath the rising moon we’ll be lovers after dark

Bony and stony I was doing it only just to prove I could make it alone
Bernie and Tony told me I was a phony they suggested I should postpone
Untill if and whether I should get my shit together put the horse in before the cart
There’s always a remake whenever we make art

There’s the key change we can be strange
Backing vocals, Holy Smokal!
Truth and beauty, rooty tooty!
In conclusion, sweet illusions…
Track Name: Ding Dang Dong
Ding, dang, dong, here’s a song, bear with me it comes for free and doesn’t go too long
It’s just some words I wrote on a boat I’m singing them to you because it wouldn’t do to leave them in my throat

Dong dang ding, damn phone rings, the man here wants to know if I would like to hear him sing
He’s says he’ll even pay, to hear him play, I said “ok Buck but if it sucks I’m calling in the NRA”,
And so he sang his song, ding dang dong, a song so sad I felt so bad I wanted to say so long
But he said “hang on man, understand, one of these you gonna find yourself with the begging bowl in your hand”

Ding dong dang, great big bang, for better or worse the universe began to do its thang
And all the moons and stars, Earth and Mars, out they rolled and we evolved to learn to drink in bars
Though we began as fish, with a wish, not to die and end up fried and served upon a dish
And so we left the sea, now follow me, I know a joint in Milsons Point but we can get sushi, oh yeah
Ding dang dong what went wrong? Half my brain’s in Deloraine the rest is in Hong Kong
There eating Chinese food, in the nude nothing kinky I don’t think he ain’t that kind of dude
Just likes his chow chow mein, it ain’t no sin, makes a mess so he gets undressed to keep his T-shirts clean
And that is quite unique, he’s a freak - his chopstick chops make lots of slops the dude has no technique!
And we have had this talk, I said “use a fork”, is what I said but he said “Fred, I’d rather eat my pork
The way the Chinese do, in the nude, you know the poem when in Rome don’t mention you’re a Jew
Cause they got Catholics, armed with sticks, and they’ll tell the Pope, so don’t pick up the soap, and watch out for falling bricks
And now they’re in a mess, sin and stress, who the hell would Cardinal Pell go to to confess
And get stuff off his chest and be blessed, well they got a little booth where you can tell the truth and still avoid arrest
The whole things sad I guess”, but I’ve digressed, we had a laugh but my other half still eats Chinese undressed
That’s where things get complex, food and sex, can mix well in some hotels but generally it’s vexed
The whole thing strains my brain, I like food plain, I’m a simple joe and that’s why am going back to Deloraine.
Track Name: Turn Around
Turn around, you never know where you’ll find me
Turn around, you never know where I’ve been
Turn around, I’m standing right here behind you
Turn around, you’re looking right ahead at the screen

You and I aint living in California
You and I aint living in Bangor Maine
You and I we’re moving under Capricornia
You and I travelling in our own trains

Coming home, on a train full of tired commuters
Coming home, all flaking out on their phones
Coming home, home to our home computers
Coming home, and going to bed alone.

You and I aint living in California
You and I aint living in Danforth Maine
You and I we’re moving under Capricornia
You and I are flying in our own planes

Turn around, you never know where you’ll find me
Turn around, you never know where I’ve been
Turn around, still standing right here behind you
Turn around, but pretty soon it’s me or the screen

You and I aint living in California
You and I aint living in Lincoln Maine
You and I are moving under Capricornia
You and I are strangling in our own pain

You and I aint riding on Italian scooters
You and I through the streets of Castlemaine
You and I are living on our own computers
You and I are pissing this down the drain.
Track Name: Open Country
I came in today flying over Sydney Harbour as she sparkled like a diamond on the Sydney summer’s day
Red hot roof tiles but it’s freezing back in China as the plane we’ll hit the runway it’s so long I’ve been away
I got into a cab I was talking to the taxi driver he described a land divided fingers pointing left and right
On the radio and old man selling anger on the airwaves he was blaming everyone who wasn’t middle-class and white
The taxi driver swore he said “mate we are all new Australians whether your name be Megalogenis, Frederick Smith or Penny Wong”
I said “yeah you’re right this is not the 1960s there is far more to being Australian than your Esky and your thongs”
And he said “Your’re not wrong, hear my song, I’m Australie and there’s plenty of space in me.”

Well he dropped me down on Pitt Street corporatoids were praying not for profits from the Bible they prefer theirs’ cash in hand
Took the Bondi bus up Oxford saw the pretty boys out walking I saw skin of many colours gracing Bondi’s burning sands
Meanwhile through the countryside the bushfires were blazing I saw people fight together everybody lends a hand
and out in the great dry West I hear the old stockmen talking about the good times and the hard times that had fallen on the land
and I say: understand, it’s our land, I’m Australie and there’s plenty of space in me

So Pauline, Pauline, love do you think you know the answers to you even know the question are we watching the same game?
Your politics of fear is your politics of anger but you’re not the only one to use the politics of blame
And I’m hearing arguments and fighting over reconciliation when we know a land divided is the worse we’ve got to fear
Well there’s gonna be more blues cause there’s so many different viewpoints if and when the matter’s settled then let’s sit down for a beer
And I say: there will be tears, but have no fear, I’m Australie and there’s plenty of space in me.

Well the time is now these hot winds of change are blowing we must bend and never break like a supple sapling gum
And if you’re telling me we can’t change if you saying were old and rigid I suggest you learn some yoga so you learn to bite your bum
So stand up now let’s look to the Horizon there’s still so much space to grow in we can learn how to succeed
But first things first we’ve got to find a little space inside us just to understand a complex land and in the plant the seed.
And I say young and free, Australie, I’m young and free and is plenty of space in me

Came in today flying over Sydney Harbour as she sparkled like a diamond on the Sydney summer’s day
Track Name: Four Strong Hands
I guess I don’t have to tell you, that was the bank man on the phone
He reckons we’re gonna have to sell here, we can’t repay the loan
Things haven’t worked too well here, since the drought in ‘95
Ever since we’ve worked our fingers to the bone, just to stay alive
But to lose this farm would break my heart I have worked here man and boy
I am too old for a new start and
Many a dream have we seen broken many a fire at our back door
Many a harsh word spoken I can take it anymore
So sign this letter to my brother, take the pistol from the shelf
We’ll put two rounds through its chambers and put an end to all this hell and
Take my hand now lover walk into an empty night
Take my hand now lover I have lost my will to fight

Many a dream have we seen broken, many a fire through our back door
Many a harsh word spoken, it hasn’t been easy that’s for sure
The kids moved out and went to Melbourne, must have been a year ago
The summer months were hot and lonely, now the winter’s here I’m cold
But when you hold me in your arms I am still a little girl
I can forget all the sadness and the anger of our world so
Take my hand now lover walk together through the night
Take my hand now lover we can make it work alright

Throw that letter in the fire throw the pistol in the dam
I am not prepared to die, not as long as I can stand
We can, make a new start, you silly old fart
cause we got four strong hands and two beating hearts so
Take my hand now lover walk together through the night
Take my hand now lover we can make it work alright
Track Name: Brand New Page
At the literary launch, wine and conversation
Back before I wore a paunch, as a fashion statement.
She was fashionably late, in her Converse sneakers.
She got pissed off her date, we ignored the speakers
She said “I’m writing for Green Weekly”
I said “I’m writing for The Age”,
She said “let’s get together sneakily
And we’ll turn a brand-new page!”

It all started just like that we moved in together,
To a little rental flat, nights of lace and leather
Lino and cobwebs on the ceiling,
Two of us on a writer’s wage, such an exhilarating feeling,
To have turned a brand-new page!

I was looking for my own little Brexit, she was looking for a Trump,
It all floundered when found her sexting with some other new chump.

I moved back in with my wife, such a good decision,
Now we spend the weekday nights, kids and television
We often wanna ring the changes, we lack the wisdom of a sage
I’ve lost my appetite for strangers, and to turn a brand-new
She’s started writing for the Aus now, writes to maintain Sir Rupert’s rage
She’s getting married to her boss now, and she’s turned a brand-new
They cruise the suburb in his Beemer, brunch Saturday in Double Bay
His wife says she’s a little schemer, guess he’s turned a brand-new page!
Track Name: Maryanne
If you’ve got someone who is special in your life
Maybe your old pet cockatoo, might even be your wife
You’ll know what its like, you will understand
That I’ve got a very special girl, her name is Maryanne

You know what its like, you know what its like
You may not know my Maryanne, but you know what its like

My girl, Maryanne walking down the street
She got a smile to make the day of everyone she meets
She’s got lots of friends, they all think she’s great
Dogs and children like her too, dogs and kids have taste

She got long brown curly hair and slightly pidgin toes
She got a song upon her lips, everywhere she goes
I like listening though she is tone deaf
I like the way she walks on home right foot after left

She goes shopping at, Salvation Army Stores
Gets better stuff than you might find, in a shopping mall
Picture frames and plates and cups, records of Jazz and folk

Lately I’ve been feeling great, something must be wrong
Getting home early staying straight, writing boring songs
What’s an artists life if there is no angst
“Did you enjoy your dinner dear, it was lovely thanks”

Me I sing these wholesome songs, up on stage at night
Maybe one day I’ll be a hit with the Christian right
But I don’t make much doe, in a world of greed
So long as I’ve got my Maryanne, I got all I need
Track Name: There Go I
Every day I write new songs, covering all that I’ve done wrong
Leaving my old ones to wither and die,
But as I lie here on my own, Writing this on my mobile phone
I’m free as a blue bird up in the sky, there go I

Some time ago I went to war, still do not know what I went for
Maybe to look myself in the eye,
Many good men there killed and maimed, many returned but not the same
One day the windscreen, next day the fly

And now I’m back on planet earth Here in the nation of my birth
Here in this country brittle and dry
As I walk past the junkies outside Coles, sunk in their sad and weary souls
I cling to my daughter as I walk by
Guess that I had my wilder days, lucky I made my getaway
Gave away dope I’m more or less dry, there go I

So if you see me in my shame, know that we’re more or less the same
Shuffling under the same autumn sky, there go I
Track Name: Staying Up Late
I was staying up late with Maryanne,
We were locked into debate trying to understand
How our matrimonials had come to be
She said “honey the truth will set you free”

I said “you walked into the cafe without a care
Yellow fabric flower in your hair
Must have been in September of 93
Love, youth, truth and Nirvana would set us free”

There were mattresses on the living room floor
There were actresses trying to sweep the floor
On the kitchen table was a fat TV
Stayed up watching cable to quarter to three

It was understood, that these looked like our halcyon days
Till friends there in the ‘hood all went their separate ways

I got married late to Maryanne
Like a sixteen year long date ‘cause working wedding bands
Had made me a little nervous of matrimony
She said “love and service will set you free”

Now I’m staying up late with Maryanne
Pointing out the spelling mistakes in her corporate plan
She said “life’s like the Soviet Union in 70s
Sometimes speaking your truth love won’t set you free”
I said “Through these middle ages I will comfort thee”
She said “honey go make me a cup of tea”
Track Name: Heart Work
If your father-in-law shows up at your door in a permanent state of undress
Says he is happy to stay for the rest of the days it could be that you’re less than impressed
See he had a fine mind but it’s been in decline by degree like a slow setting sun
Now it is dusk and he’s only got us and there’s heart work to be done

In youth we all press to rise above the rest in whatever the field or profession
We stress and we strain no pain no gain with a focus not far from obsession
Then something goes snap, the bone or a strap, or our wings get burnt by the sun
And we fall to the ground and fumble around with some heart work to be done

Now my girl Maryanne cannot do the CanCan nor perform a piano recital
She cannot hit a note she would not win a vote if she entered Australian Idol
Her strong suit is love and when push comes to shove there’s no need for a hired gun
I’m telling you pal she is my go-to-gal when there is heart work to be done.


If you find yourself alone in an old folks’ home one stop from the mortuary station
Best not to curse the nightshift nurse with your views on immigration
Seems she came here of late from some African state for centuries shabbily run
Now you may well infer, it’s just you and her and some heart work to be done
Track Name: Certain Things
There are certain things a man must be afraid of
There are certain things a man must rise above
When the kids move out will get the mortgage paid off
And it’ll be just you and me my love

Now your fathers on his second round of chemo
In our living room he’s living out his years
He’s monopolized the tv and the remote
Trying times for you and me my dear

And your work day’s full of meetings and appointments
In the evening too exhausted for good cheer
And the weekend is not without its disappointments
Sunday night it’s you and me my dear

As the rain falls in our home here in the suburbs
I am grateful for the ceiling up above
And I’m grateful you’ve not left me for another
You’re the one thing that I’m certain of

With some love and grace and clean communication
We may find a way to make it through the years
Failing that there's always grim determination!
Either way it's you and me my dear

So let’s fill this day and those that are remaining
With our labours and our laughter and tears
I will tender my umbrella when it’s raining.
I will try to keep you dry my dear
Cause in the end it’s you and me my dear
Track Name: Beautiful Girl (live)
Beautiful girl, new to this world
Your mama’s good-looking she’s been cooking you since May or June
And now you’ve come to steal my heart just like the dish ran away with the spoon

Beautiful girl, soft like a pearl
Laying there happy in your nappy like a lump of dough
Your mamas gonna feed you when you need to you just let us know

Beautiful girl, princes and earls
I know they’re going to come to court I’ll build a fort to keep their fingers off you!
But like your Grand daddy knew you’re gonna do just what you’re going to do

Well it’s as fickle as fashion, there’ll be bright lights flashing
As you crash into your darkest night
This old world’s going blind, but if you know your own mind
I know you’re going to be all right

Beautiful girl, it’s a dangerous world
And it’s suffering its huffing and puffing and its going to blow
But with a heart like Magellan there’s no tellin’ where you just might go
And your dad is going to be here if you need him, just so you know
Yes you daddy’s going to be here, if you need me, just say so.
Track Name: Rosa
I have a friend named Rose, she lives in the Barrossa
She spends all her time drinking Beaujolais wine
And sometimes forgets where her clothes are.

The aging Soprano was charming. She once sung the lead role in Carmen
I drank to the close With that fading old rose
Singing “Lilly the pink” with the Barmen

And the Frenchman Jean-Paul Kuma satre
Had a lover he met in Sumatra
And they’d dunny door, like Zsa Zsa Gabor
And swing it like Nancy Sinatra

The Captain of the Lara Kinsela, Was a gay and a hearty old fella
Said ‘there’s much to be learned, from the water astern
Cause its done its time with the propeller

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