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How To Make Gravy: A to Z, A Mongrel Memoir

by Paul Kelly

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1004231,250 (4.04)10
A memoir in a hundred songs--classy storytelling from Australia's most prodigious singer-songwriter. This extraordinary book had its genesis in a series of concerts first staged in 2004. Over four nights Paul Kelly performed, in alphabetical order, 100 of his songs from the previous three decades. In between songs he told stories about them, and from those little tales grew How to Make Gravy, a memoir like no other. Each of its 100 chapters, also in alphabetical order by song title, consists of lyrics followed by a story, the nature of the latter taking its cue from the former. Some pieces are confessional, some tell Kelly's personal and family history, some take you on a road tour with the band, some form an idiosyncratic history of popular music, some are like small essays, some stand as a kind of how-to of the songwriter's art--from the point of inspiration to writing, honing, collaborating, performing, recording, and reworking. Paul Kelly is a born storyteller. Give him two verses with a chorus or 550 pages, but he won't waste a word. How to Make Gravy is a long volume that's as tight as a three-piece band. There isn't a topic this man can't turn his pen to--contemporary music and the people who play it, soccer, cricket, literature, opera, social issues, love, loss, poetry, the land and the history of Australia. . . there are even quizzes. The writing is insightful, funny, honest, compassionate, intelligent, playful, erudite, warm, and thought-provoking. Paul Kelly is a star with zero pretensions, an everyman who is also a renaissance man. He thinks and loves and travels and reads widely, and his musical memoir is destined to become a classic--it doesn't have a bum note on it.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
This is a great book for people interested in the writing process, be it poetry. song or prose. Paul Kelly is an Australian singer/songwriter and Caron sent me this book a while back. I have noodled through it many times but decided to sit down and read it as a cover to cover.

If you know Paul Kelly songs and are looking for the answer to "what's this song about?" you won't get those answers here. This is more about, here is how I came up with the idea to write this song. It is also about the pebbles we put in our pockets as writers that we subsequently throw into a big wooden bowl when we get home, look at, pick up and ponder and polish until they become the final product.

It is refreshing to see that other artists have reams of paper, books of lists and time "wasted" pondering before the emergence of the final product. Many time people ask what I am working on, looking for an exact answer in the linear world. An answer that frequently I can't give and comes out in some mumbled half idea that sounds as if I am doing nothing.

A great example is an painting that is working its way to canvas. With each day, the idea becomes more clear but a brush hasn't touched my hand yet - the muse and the lightning strike work in mysterious way. Likewise, when writing, a hash of ideas, a conversation or turn of phrase heard here and there become the great work.

Paul Kelly does a great job explaining the inexplicable. ( )
  ozzieslim | Dec 28, 2014 |
Memoir of Paul Kelly. It's $49.95 so won't be buying it. Probably sit in Borders with a coffee and read it. ;0
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Paul Kelly writes beautifully. You should read this book just because of this.

It helps if you know some of his songs, but I'd suggest it'd still be a fabulous read even if you didn't.

There are the lyrics to 100 songs. After each song there is some writing. This may or may not be related to the song. Often it is, it is just an obscure connection at the beginning that becomes more obvious.

It is not a chronological nor complete autobiography. This is absolutely not an issue. In the end you build up a picture of his life as the pieces of the mosaic are laid down. He writes mostly about his influences, his interests, the people in his life, how he writes his songs, what it's like to be on tour, what it's like to be in a band, cricket, football (Australian Rules).

Highly recommended. ( )
  devilish2 | Jan 8, 2013 |
Lyrics and stories - must buy the CD ( )
  siri51 | Dec 5, 2012 |
Showing 4 of 4
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A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end... but not necessarily in that order.

- Jean-Luc Godard
I have read many books but I don't believe them. When it hurts we return to the banks of certain rivers.

- Czesław Miłosz
Dedication
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In the middle of the journey of my life I found myself inside a tent of mirrors.
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A memoir in a hundred songs--classy storytelling from Australia's most prodigious singer-songwriter. This extraordinary book had its genesis in a series of concerts first staged in 2004. Over four nights Paul Kelly performed, in alphabetical order, 100 of his songs from the previous three decades. In between songs he told stories about them, and from those little tales grew How to Make Gravy, a memoir like no other. Each of its 100 chapters, also in alphabetical order by song title, consists of lyrics followed by a story, the nature of the latter taking its cue from the former. Some pieces are confessional, some tell Kelly's personal and family history, some take you on a road tour with the band, some form an idiosyncratic history of popular music, some are like small essays, some stand as a kind of how-to of the songwriter's art--from the point of inspiration to writing, honing, collaborating, performing, recording, and reworking. Paul Kelly is a born storyteller. Give him two verses with a chorus or 550 pages, but he won't waste a word. How to Make Gravy is a long volume that's as tight as a three-piece band. There isn't a topic this man can't turn his pen to--contemporary music and the people who play it, soccer, cricket, literature, opera, social issues, love, loss, poetry, the land and the history of Australia. . . there are even quizzes. The writing is insightful, funny, honest, compassionate, intelligent, playful, erudite, warm, and thought-provoking. Paul Kelly is a star with zero pretensions, an everyman who is also a renaissance man. He thinks and loves and travels and reads widely, and his musical memoir is destined to become a classic--it doesn't have a bum note on it.

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This extraordinary book had its genesis in a series of concerts first staged in 2004. Over four nights Paul Kelly performed, in alphabetical order, one hundred of his songs from the previous three decades. In between songs he told stories about them, and from those little tales grew How to Make Gravy, a memoir like no other. Each of its hundred chapters, also in alphabetical order by song title, consists of lyrics followed by a story, the nature of the latter taking its cue from the former. Some pieces are confessional, some tell Kelly's personal and family history, some take you on a road tour with the band, some form an idiosyncratic history of popular music, some are like small essays, some stand as a kind of how-to of the songwriter's art - from the point of inspiration to writing, honing, collaborating, performing, recording and reworking. Paul Kelly is a born storyteller. Give him two verses with a chorus or 550 pages, but he won't waste a word. How to Make Gravy is a long volume that's as tight as a three-piece band. There isn't a topic this man can't turn his pen to - contemporary music and the people who play it, football, cricket, literature, opera, social issues, love, loss, poetry, the land and the history of Australia there are even quizzes. The writing is insightful, funny, honest, compassionate, intelligent, playful, erudite, warm, thought-provoking. Paul Kelly is a star with zero pretensions, an everyman who is also a renaissance man. He thinks and loves and travels and reads widely, and his musical memoir is destined to become a classic - it doesn't have a bum note on it.
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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1926428226, 1926428269, 1926428323, 1926428277

 

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