Gareth Liddiard - Strange Tourist

1. Blondin Makes An Omelette
2. Highplains Mailman
3. Strange Tourist
4. You Sure Ain't Mine Now
5. The Collaborator
6. Did She Scare All Your Friends Away
7. She's My Favourite
8. The Radicalisation Of D

1. Blondin Makes An Omelette

It seems we're all in for a treat
Staring up, out of the street
And you can tell that Joe is really glad he came

Though downwind of him trails
A fog of alcohol
He fails
To do his best to be indifferent
All the same

'Cause there ain't no shaking the smell
Like there ain't no shaking the spell
As Blondin, Wirewalker
Braves the screams

Well, Joe is
Obvious impressed
Though he has something to confess
Above the sound of ten thousand creaking
Necks all craned

Joe says,
"Alone amongst the beasts and freaks
I dreamed of tightrope walking
While I tended Blondin's
Percherons and trailers

I'd see him
Training in the evening
There was no point trying to speak
You see, I doubted that he'd have
Time for the strangers

Who'd be there hoisting his big tents
Who'd be spying him from their naves
Staring down at them
Like batshit in a cave

Well, we hardly even met, but see
I worked for him, I thought I'd
Fill the space he left
But no, I was naive

Just another sideshow slow, I thought
He knew something I don't
But it would seem, all these Wirewalkers have
Is just the means to make you feel so bad

Man, no one
Cared for him at all
Until he crossed Niagara Falls
So you'd all feel
A little lower down the scale

And then his fame shot straight and fast
Right through a gloomy, narrow pass
He chanced through darkness, lightning storms
And into day

But I ain't here because he's tall
I'm only here to see him fall
If I get on the wagon now
It'll only be to run him down"

It seems we're
All in for a treat
Staring up out of the street

And you can smell that Joe's been drinking
On his breath

And then the clouds part overhead
And I make out a silhouette
As though I'm staring up through a trapdoor
And I'm waiting to be fed.

(back to top)

2. Highplains Mailman

And when it's dark he makes the highplains
On his quarter horse, with a canvas sack
And the stars they bleed together like the flames inside a forge
The Earth is molten, time is stretching on a rack
Yet he labours like a shadow across the meadows of the moon
A diver far beneath the breakers on the rocks
There are more bodies in the snow
Than there are things that you can know
But he knows you don't have to die to walk the netherworld
It is a cinch to reach if you can climb a rock
Then when the air's too rare to tell and the chill's clear as a bell
He lights a fire and he settles down to read
He pulls a letter from the sack, makes a pillow of his pack
Then hears a wild dog somewhere yanking on a rabbit trap
Going crazy as it dawns on it
It's beat

And the mailman reads,

"Oh baby take a moment just to think about me
You leave me living like a spinster while you're bachelor free
You're even more of a burden when you ain't here at home
Please, you can't leave me here on my own
I won't find my way
Please, you can't leave me here on my own."

The mailman laughs under his breath
And scrutinises the address
Who's the poor drunk that knocked up the Baroness?
Is it the youth that never talks,
'Cept out of earshot with his horse
When no one cares less what he thinks or what he says
Or the old drover by the fire
Who quite enjoys the peace and quiet
He's drifting off somewhere beyond the flames
Is it the stockman grinding beef
Between his horseshoe iron teeth
Until the wild dog in the rabbit trap falls quiet
He takes the rifle leaning up against a tree

And the mailman reads,

"I had to frighten off your girlfriend with a rock-salt gun
Ain't it enough that I adore you? do you prefer them young?
Is she a schoolgirl or an ostrich? she's all eyelashes and bones

Please, you can't leave me here on my own
I won't find my way
Please, you can't leave me here on my own."

In all his years lugging dispatches from the brides of overlanders
There's been no Dear Johns above 7000 feet
But now here comes a welcome change
He starts to relish the exchange
Until a far-off shot rings brightly through the sleet
Then through the valleys down below, through where
No-one ever goes

Spreading thin across the lowlands before vanishing at sea
And now a subatomic silence settles fog-like
Across the highlands
It's too cold here now and it's too quiet to sleep

And the mailman reads,

"I know now why you languish in your doghouse of stone
To leave me withered so by loneliness I welcome you home
And how could any poor boy leave his Mother in the cold?

Please, you can't leave me here on my own
I won't find my way
Please, you can't leave me here on my own."

(back to top)

3. Strange Tourist

It was all falling down and a long way from cheap
So tell me why did we live where we lived?
Above the old fish shop where they served up slop
And all the alley cats talked in their sleep

I spent a year there with B
After I quit the Mitsubishi,
Dragged my mattress up some stairs by the sea
Then watched the old van rust in the gusts of the coast
Ending its knightly expeditions for beer

B went psychotic in the navy and he wouldn't mend
Something about a sunk junk and speed
Well he couldn't shake the illness or endure the cure
And there was no point switching treatments in the
Timor Sea

I have never known someone who needed to talk so much
Or even fool himself disguising a guess
I just steered his bullshit through its next diversion
Never bothering with reality checks

Bowerbird, you'd turn a birdbath black
What the hell could be the matter with you?
Where did you come from and why'd you go collecting
Anything that turns the colour blue?

B took his refuge in the open where it stings
You think you'd seen him but he's gone in a blink
Once those Stilnox hit their target don't trust nothing,
No one
And don't go believing anything that you think

He'd say, "I'm half way through
But I don't know what I'm doing
I ain't feeling much of nothing at all
But it's my first time too, if that's a valid excuse
I'm going to wait here for the engines to stall

I've seen the tracks of some giant, the smoke of some fire
Fuse like hot sands in a bottleneck
Does all of beauty lie in being dead and gone
Or is all history made of chickens and their unhatched eggs

I've seen the spectre of a frigate on a dry rock face
A stone axe held together with an old bootlace
Anything betraying the drift of dead headway
You can shake it but it won't let go

All that so men can live like girls to keep their might pert
Digging music made by millionaires for car adverts
Save the whales, invade Iraq and have a hamburger
I can't distinguish between the nightmare and the joke

I was in Tokyo once without any cash
Koda Kumi sang a coda pink as sarin gas
I took a trip to Nagasaki in a rented Mitsubishi
Then went camping in the Jukai under Mount Fuji"

Bowerbird, you'd turn a birdbath black
What the hell could be the matter with you?
Where did you come from and why'd you go collecting
Anything that turns the colour blue?

But when his pension got suspended,
Well that spelled the end
And I joined his life of leisure in flight
It's too hard to row a boat using a periscope
Sometimes you gotta do wrong to do right

He got in trouble years back, I haven't seen him since
In a men's room in a night club in Madrid
He sold some dexedrine or something to a plain clothes D
Then raised a stink so bad they ended up deporting him

Then last I heard he was as free as a bird or into Scientology
Or into Heaven's Gate or Sharon Tate
Or in the Legionnaires
Or gone to Georgia with the Mujahideen

And someone else was walking eggshells in his birdcage
Someone else shared his unending lease on hamstrung rage
He was someone else's problem, and that made me glad
They can indulge him 'till he's ironclad

Bowerbird, you'd turn a birdbath black
What the hell could be the matter with you?
Where did you come from and why'd you go collecting
Anything that turns the colour blue?

I wound up working in a hospital
Renting TV's to the bored and the blind
Seems the DSS got sick of my BS
And had my unemployment privatised

They made a date with me, some agency
And I went down there like a fool in love
They made a few phone calls, found a real cure-all
Like I wasn't miserable enough

I was working night shift when he got there
The first time I'd seen a coma on the ward
The sister said he won't be needing TV now
Probably won't be needing nothing at all

He was in Tokyo for a while until he stabilised
They flew him back here and the story unfolded
They found him frozen in a hollow in Aokigahara forest
Where those harakiri weirdoes go

He died a little later, and was wheeled away
I'd blame his morbid fascination for it all
And his doubtless, groundless faith
In his outdoorsmanship
He didn't kill himself, he didn't have the balls

Hope dies last in a hospital
But has a habit of doing it next to you
While you shit kick around with your eyes to the ground
Like a bowerbird appropriating anything
The colour blue.

(back to top)

4. You Sure Ain't Mine Now

Hey - There's a light gone out
Hey - Nothing to get excited about
Hey - There's that one dream that's always the same
Hey - Terrain on terrain on terrain

Oh but where'd all of the fury go
Once it's gone you don't get it back you know

Where did all the fury go?
When she held me like I was her son
You can't lay no claims upon nothing that strayed
Into a path you chanced upon
She didn't break any promises
Though she was right on the brink
And if you ever see her she'll tell you what she thinks
If she's still in the mountains
I don't know where she lives

I'm looking out my window
Through a thundering arch
I'm looking through my window
To all the heavens that lie in the past
Where did all the fury go?
Did it lie did it lie did it lie

And I love you, I love you
I love you anyhow
You weren't mine to begin with
And you sure ain't mine now

Hey - How do you feel
Hey - Since the wounds you loved the taste of have healed
Hey - You're lovely and you're young
Hey - One day you'll have nothing and no one

Oh but where'd all of the fury go
Once it goes you don't get it back you know

She broke my ribs and the bones never knit
It's an honour to even exist
It wasn't the first time she'd pulled one on me
I see her drying her hair in the sun
On a roof in Birmingham
While the cold made me numb
No shoes, no coat, no cares, she don't succumb
No matter how sharp the wind blows
Or how gently it hums

I'm looking out my window
Like I've been shut out by glass
I'm looking out my window
Like there is somebody coming at last
Where did all the fury go?
Without the decency of saying goodbye

And I love you, I love you
I love you anyhow
You weren't mine to begin with
And you sure ain't mine now

Hey - There's a light gone out
Hey - Nothing to get excited about
Hey - I can't quit and I can't drop
Hey - You turn on a pin then next minute you stop

Oh but where'd all of the fury go
Once it goes you don't get it back you know

She left me before
But has come back again
In embers, in hailstones, in time
I don't really care for her that much but then
She makes for an interesting ride
The jet streams will dry out
Planks lean off their sheds
But it's the vanishing part that I
Can't get out of my head
Let life be your mistress
That's all that she said.

(back to top)

5. The Collaborator

Well here's a simple question
Were it 1941
An army came, changed all the names
And finished all your fun
Who'd collaborate?
Is it an easy thing to do
And if fate was just a choice
Who'd be on the side to lose?

Swearing they did not know
I swear I did not know
Hindsight can be cruel sometimes
I swear I did not know

I was waiting in a restaurant
Where officers would eat
And my wife ran the hotel upstairs
And she changed their dirty sheets

They'd treat us good, at least as well
As you'd expect to be
We just did what we were told to do
And then go home and sleep

I swear we did not know
I swear we did not know
We did not have a crystal ball
And had to bear a load

Then came the deliverance
The officers were gone
The tables were left empty
The hotel foreclosed on
We found no love in our city
We had nothing and no one
We lived on food stamps
Until I found work
Selling soap in Avignon

I swear we did not know
I swear we did not know
You lay with dogs, you catch their fleas
Much later down the road

So be careful who you're sleeping with
'Cause times have changed a bit
The borders are more porous now
They breach the walls with tricks
You could be one of them yourself
To someone, somewhere else
Don't mark your hands with blindness
Before all the cards are dealt

'Cause a change will always come.

(back to top)

6. Did She Scare All Your Friends Away

And Anna was a beauty in her youth
She had long black hair and looked a lot more like you
Than you think you do
I knew her mother well
Her lead light eyes were lovely coal smoke blue as well
But I knew her father too
And I viewed life like a bedroom
Through a keyhole on a door
While he saw it like a pantry through a window on a wall
We never got on well, were never friends at all
And I was just the barnacle that clung on through it all
He was a small time politician,
Or a tele-prompter's charge trying to
Bury a misdeed from way back when,
And so he lined all of the
Hacks up on the grass,
Called them gentlemen and friends,
Gave his dog whistle a blast
And every face there was a mask,
What is anybody doing who ain't pretending?
What is anybody doing,
Why would he frighten off his friends
With something useless as the truth?
Anna was a beauty in her youth

Did she scare all your friends away?
Did she frighten all your friends away?
Did she scare all of your friends away?

And Anna was a beauty in her youth
She had some fine boys on her trail, like the tailor's son
Who scaled the ranks of
Suits and all he touched turned into loot
I knew his kind very well
And when the doric columns cracked
It tore the shirt right off his back
So they sold him down the river before pocketing the cash
He weren't so lucky then
But it didn't bother Anna,
She had boys on tap
And Jack was a probono defence lawyer
At a firm called Young and Black,
He'd been made a junior partner
And shown how to work a rort
Making charitable donations to
Salvation Army Corps and Veterans Without Wheelchairs
And the Widows Of The Wars
He was a Liberating Angel with a
Clothes peg on his nose,
But he swooped a little low one time
And crashed into some locals who
Beat seven shades of shame through him
Then levied heavy taxes of their own
And said necessity is nine tenths of the surgery
He owed his face's health,
And to watch them very carefully
'Cause this is where the equal
Distribution of his wealth is going to
Anna was a beauty in her youth

Did she scare all your friends away?
Did she frighten all your friends away?
Did she scare all of your friends away?

And Anna was a beauty in her youth
It was at the garden party
Where we first were introduced
By her father who'd retired
Into a well of sweet vermouth
But I knew what was coming next
While he'd been winning plaudits for his ornithology
I'd been selling Winnebagos to less heeled retirees
It had not been going well
I moved RV's on hire-purchase
When I knew I should have leased
And my investors all went bankrupt
So I couldn't resupply
And I could not meet repayments
Even if demand increased,
I wished they'd pay me what they owed me
Then all fuck off like good pensioners
And die and have a holiday at least
Then he said "money won't bring happiness"
And I very nearly cried
But he didn't venture further, no one saying that ever tries,
I took a hard slug on my drink
And Anna watched me while I melted
Like an ice cube in the desert of her shade
And if she smiled at you there'd be nothing you
Wouldn't do cause women made like Anna
Are born coasting on
The admiration, which Anna made the most of,
She turned one against the other, all friends
At one time or other yet they
Set upon themselves
And cleared the way from me to her
You and I were happy then
And happy's no defence
But if it's any consolation
I expected someone else
That would be her masterstroke
And I am standing here today as proof
Anna was a beauty in her youth

Did she scare all your friends away?
Did she frighten all your friends away?
Did she scare all of your friends away?

(back to top)

7. She's My Favourite

She's dreaming up a holiday
Falling asleep
All the little miseries of Monday morning
Saying come back won't you please

Downstream into a quiet blue night
Sheltered from the stormy skies
Skipping over fields with ease
Won't be back until you need me

She sees a poacher cut a barbed wire fence
And the creatures flee the foothills in fear
And if a mountain is a monument to Nothing then
Ain't we a pack of sorry mutineers

But she's my favourite
Where she's bound
Honey, who can tell
She's my favourite
Where I went wrong
Honey, I can't tell

High over the smoking vents of sawmill towns
South into the Darling Downs
Down over the border where the rivers crawl
Before they're flushing out the bloodless sounds

That flow below the city skyline
Like a pipe organ that's choking on its tongue all tied
Harder on your ear than a Chinese new year
And louder than a sun if you could hear one once

Over the fruit bats heaving higher in the soup
Screaming, "why you coming here in just your birthday suit?
You make a Sodom then defend yourselves
You little demons like to love your Hell"

But she's my favourite
Where she's bound
Honey, who can tell
She's my favourite
Where I went wrong
Honey, I can't tell

She takes the Moon in hand and powders her nose
The stars are shimmering like the cymbals at a Broadway show
Meet me by the seawall before the high tides rise
She's going everywhere she's been with every boy
She's ever tried

Sands of Mercury make her black eyeliner
The seas of Neptune leave her eyelids blue
A kiss from Mars will turn her lips blood red
And a black hole makes a purse she drops a world into

She goes dancing by the waterfront
To every dance I never took her to
With all the boys who made her happy for a moment
Then abandoned her to being blue

But she's my favourite
Where she's bound
Honey, who can tell
She's my favourite
Where I went wrong
Honey, I can't tell

She sinks home low over the countryside
Drawing in her wings before the sun gets high
Down into my pockmark on that big old wheel
As earthbound as she left me

She's my hunted little favourite
For miles around they know her face
Rugged up in her winter coat
Sleeping by the fireplace.

(back to top)

8. The Radicalisation Of D

A young boy busts his dad's Hills Hoist, using it as a swing
Kills a magpie in the backyard with a homemade ging
Steals chlorine from the neighbour's swimming pool
Puts it in a coffee jar and pours brake fluid in
Makes a pipe bomb using match heads, and it fizzles when he runs
Tries again using the powder from the shells of his
Old man's shotgun
It hisses like a feral cat he's seen, slithers like the snake he killed
Leaves a scorch mark on the pavement,
And he's badly beaten for it
Finds a playboy on the way to school,
Tries remembering his Mum
Throws rocks at a girl he likes, and he's sent
Home before lunch
Finds a King Kong doll beneath a bush,
Probably some rich kid's
But it roars ants when he shakes it,
So he drops it in a bin
Later on dinner time comes,
He puts tinned beans on white Tip Top
Halves it with his fingers,
Shares it with the dog
Jumps a cyclone fence to the sound
Of his old man fucking through the evening
Finds a severed kangaroo hind leg
Just laying in a clearing
There's a tendon or a tapeworm
That retracts after a kick
Finds a new stink nearly makes him puke
When he pokes it with a stick
Meets a friend near there,
They go to see his house just down the road
The sister lets them in,
Then goes back upstairs in a bathrobe
He sees a Phillishave full of hair clippings,
In a bathroom, near a bra
They find some car keys,
Go outside and search a V8 car
And there's a Beta tape in a paper bag,
Hid under a seat,
Hit play on the VCR machine
And start to hear flute music
Now there's two girls on a farm somewhere,
Playing with a labrador
Which rolls onto its back, like it has
Been through this before and
It's the last time D hears flute music,
The last time he thinks about girls
He sneaks home about 10 o'clock,
Gets inside using the dog door

Channel 7 gets the scoop again,
There's a man gone crazy
He stole an APC from the army base
And closed down half the city
D's been expelled from school and he's quite happy
Staying in bed
He keeps track of all the updates,
Surfing networks instead
This tank arrives at police HQ about 8am
It makes pancakes out of 5 or 6 patrol cars and then
Runs out of diesel near a Castrol service station
And there's a standoff,
Then he's teargassed and
Not heard of again
D's father dies of cancer the next Christmas day
He's so hopped up on the morphine that he
Can't get straight
He says "be proud of me my boy,
Well I am finally off the fags
Since they caught me upstairs
Smoking on the helipad"
They cut the tumour off his liver
But he died without it
Seems like no one gets to choose
What they can't live without
It don't matter about money,
When there ain't no way around
You are living in a nightmare
And you can't bribe your way out

D finds a one room flat
That overlooks an underpass
He works part time as a labourer and it's ok
Though it's hard
Then some black kid steals his concession card
And beats him 'round the head
Next time D sees an army surplus store he steals a bayonet
Then one day the bus to work
Knocks down the kid that held him up
He dies laying in the street,
The driver don't make too much fuss
He smokes a ciggie with the cops,
The ambulance is running late
And something inside D finds all this very, very strange
Soon after that the work dries up
And D starts drinking hard
Starts drinking cheap cask wine with old black fellas
Living in the park
One has a tattoo of a swastika made with a candle,
Soap and spoons
Says he's half caste and that full bloods prefer
Petrol over goon
Says he was brought up on a mission,
Then became a Viet Vet
Ain't got a single tooth to chew
So D gives him his bayonet
He has white scars between his knuckles,
Or what's left of them and says
"See I'm white too,
I just cannot drink inside the way you like to"

Five years later D meets Werner at a rifle range
Werner's granddad was SS,
So now he goes by the nickname
Werner the Jew Burner and young D become so tight
They start going bush in his Landcruiser,
Living on roos they shoot spotlighting
They get a years lease on a duplex,
Werner finds D some work as
An unlicensed forklift driver in a fish market for cash
He's got pictures of Adolf Hitler,
Antique copies of Mein Kampf
But D thinks Hitler's obsolete
And Werner's practice too relaxed
But Werner finished high school
And then studied engineering
D never did finish school
And Werner breaks the news that evening
The RAAF say they accept his application
To be trained to work on Hercules' 2000 miles away
He leaves tomorrow for NSW
And throws a party
Late that night
They get to drinking and they're talking
Then they argue then they fight
D comes to bleeding in his bedroom
Begging Werner not to go
But Werner's full weight's on his back now
And he's face down in a pillow
D wakes up late next afternoon,
But Werner is long gone
D goes to find his .22,
But there ain't no shells at all
He finds 5 valiums in a Winfield pack
In a duffel bag in the hall
Then sits in front of the TV screen,
washes it all down with a bottle

Cliff has a beautiful wife
He's insured for his life
It is autumn here in Brooklyn,
In obstetrics, labour pain
And though his roots here are in slavery
Cliff is dressed himself by slaves
Credits rise like you're collapsing,
so bewilderingly fast
Seems the Cosbys of the world all go to bed 11 sharp
The rest of you have a choice of late night news
And more commercials
Yeah Just Do It, Have a Break, yes Life Is Good,
Because Your Worthless
Maybe She Was Born With It,
And maybe you were too
Seems that one way or the other,
There is nothing you can do
'Cause you can only go as far as denying
You haven't come anywhere
Forget Charles Darwin's namesake
Is surrounded with black hair
You are depressed now but need only take this pill
To ban despair
If East Timor can't be middle class,
It can't really be there
You are driving the Jeep Cherokee,
Burning Arabs for fuel
But you are driving the Jeep Cherokee,
And that's good enough for you
You are living among Taxpayers
Who welcome brown folks with a moat
Conducting policy with the one free hand
While the other's round their throats
You are living in a land besieged
By what the world might think or know
But with its head so deep in Turkish sand
This can't really be so
You are living in a nightmare,
Let them Balkanize the East
No one says a word these days,
They turn the other cheek
You are living in a nightmare
You can't trust a ceasefire bid
And any wall they build around Gaza
Will be begging for a lid
You are living in a nightmare
You can't bribe a want of doubt
You are living in a nightmare
You can't bribe your way out of

But now we interrupt this broadcast
To bring you breaking news
There is a building in Manhattan
And it's burning.

(back to top)