Self-deprecating singer does solo book signing
A book launch is a beautiful moment when a wordsmith gets to sign his latest edition for a fan who has just listened to him perform.
When you are a post-punk rocker known for your gravelly voice and ironic lyrics, the performance sings.
Dave Graney has published a book of song lyrics with some chords so they can be performed by others.
This makes a change from the grander memoirs by Australian rock legends that seek to rewrite history every decade.
Graney is leaving it to others to define the Melbourne music scene while he focuses on songwriting.
“I’m a great songwriter of my type of song,” he said at the launch. “Other songwriters go for a classic kind of thing. They’re competing for an ideal.”
Graney told an audience of about 50, squeezed into a small gallery, that jazz people don’t write as easily as rock people.
“Rock people write a song out of nothing,” he said of his founding days in the ‘90s with the band the Coral Snakes.
Graney’s ironic lyrics offer a meta commentary on the industry which musos appreciate, focusing as they often do on heroism and swagger.
He sings of one character called Lieutenant Colonel Cavalry: “I work without a net. I move without a map.”
An album released last year called In a Mistly contains a track with “I got that old swagger” as the chorus line.
People see me walking down the street. They may know my stride. I’ve got that old swagger.
Graney has a bit of the bush lad about him, having grown up near Mount Gambier in a “blue collar” family. “My dad painted houses and my mum raised six kids. We had no car or telephone.”
He found the Melbourne music scene quite intimidating. “I went to Melbourne, and they were all well-schooled. They were used to gathering in rooms and ordering people about. My background was very polite like Elvis’s.”
When Graney began performing in the post-punk scene, he said the zeitgeist was to write songs about your environment.
“It was a tiny scene within another scene. They were interested in imported things from the UK. I watched a lot of TV, so I wrote about that.”
Graney’s jokey lyrics and laidback style have endeared him with a younger audience who records his songs on tiktok and appreciate his “E-flat bits”.
Fan Lizz Heyes said the salon at One Star in Victoria St worked well as a way of exploring the skills of a songwriter.
“I like the solo feel,” she said. “He reads the audience well. He’s very playful.”
“There He Goes With His Eye Out” Lyrics 1980 – 2023, Dave Graney •