The Best Songs Written About Melbourne

The Beatles | © EMI/WikiCommons
The Beatles | © EMI/WikiCommons
Photo of Monique La Terra
7 December 2016

From the weather to the landmarks, there is much lyrical inspiration to be found in Melbourne, and both local and international artists including Paul Kelly, The Living End, Crowded House, Jet, and even the Beatles have written songs about our great city. These are our top five songs written about Melbourne.

‘Move On’ – Jet

Get Born, the 2004 ARIA award-winning debut album from Australian band Jet, sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide and produced hits such asAre You Gonna Be My Girl’ and ‘Look What You’ve Done’. The album also gave us another track, a track that played in the final moments of The OC in episode 12, ‘The Secret’, when Luke walks into school with Ryan, Marissa and Seth. ‘Move On’ talks about moving forward with one’s life and moving on from love, and despite appearing on a soundtrack for a show set in Orange County, the second verse is clearly pointing to Melbourne with a reference to the historic Flinders Street Station.

10.34: Flinders Street Station

I’m lookin’ down the tracks

Uniformed man askin’ am I paid up

Why would I wanna be that?

‘Four Seasons In One Day’ – Crowded House

Initially ‘Four Seasons In One Day’ was to be a part of the Finn Brothers album, but the 1992 single was instead included on the band’s third studio album Woodface. The album was ‘written in East St Kilda, rehearsed in South Melbourne and recorded in South Yarra and Caulfield’ and fittingly includes ‘Four Seasons In One Day’, a song which uses Melbourne’s temperamental and ever-changing weather as a metaphor for the ups and downs of depression and anxiety. The song has since been adopted as Melbourne’s unofficial anthem, as the band have told the Melbourne Age that Melbourne was the ‘birthplace of Crowded House and was always the town we chose to return to. It’s forever deeply ingrained in our collective psyche and was the backdrop for many of our best musical moments.’

Four seasons in one day

Lying in the depths of your imagination

Worlds above and worlds below

Sun shines on the black clouds hanging over the domain

Even when you’re feeling warm

The temperature could drop away like four seasons in one day

‘All Torn Down’ – The Living End

Angry about the redevelopment of Docklands and construction of City Link, The Living End used their third single ‘All Torn Down’ off their debut self-titled album to tell developers how they really felt. Released in December 1998, in the midst of a rapidly-growing Melbourne, the punkabilly single spent 18 weeks in the ARIA singles chart suggesting that the boys from Melbourne weren’t alone in angst. The lyrics describe a changing landscape where ‘the streets are freeways and the parks are just a memory’ and suggest that developers have a complete disregard for the historic.

I see the city and it isn’t what it used to be

A million houses goin’ up and down in front of me

No time to let the concrete set before it’s broken up again

Don’t care if it’s historic

Don’t really care at all

I see the city and it’s grown into a big machine

The streets are freeways and the parks are just a memory

No time to let the concrete set before it’s broken up again

Don’t care if it’s historic, don’t really care at all

‘Rain’ – The Beatles

In 1966, ‘Rain’ was released as the B-side of ‘Paperback Writer’, and yes, the song is about Melbourne. Unbelievably, John Lennon, one of the greatest songwriters of all time, was inspired by the city’s weather, with both he and Beatles roadie Neil Aspinall noting the dreadful weather as they arrived in Melbourne on Sunday in June 1964 as a part of their world tour. Lennon even said that he’d ‘never seen rain as hard as that, except in Tahiti.’ ‘Rain’ may not be a well-known Beatles track, but Rolling Stone placed it at #463 on their list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’. Ringo Starr also states that the drumming on ‘Rain’ is his best recorded performance.

If the rain comes they run and hide their heads

They might as well be dead

If the rain comes, if the rain comes

When the sun shines they slip into the shade (When the sun shines down)

And drink their lemonade (When the sun shines down)

When the sun shines, when the sun shines

Rain, I don’t mind

Shine, the weather’s fine

‘Leaps and Bounds’ – Paul Kelly

Written in the late ’70s, in South Yarra, by Kelly and Chris Langman, ‘Leaps and Bounds’ mentions the MCG and Richmond’s Nylex Clock. In 1987, it was released by Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls on their debut album Gossip. In 2006, Paul Kelly performed the song at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony in Melbourne. In the music video, the band performers under the Nylex sign, and different areas of the city are shown from above.

I’m high on the hill

Looking over the bridge

To the M.C.G

And way up on high

The clock on the silo

Says eleven degrees

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