Sweet Songs is a collaboration between Doctor D and Fergus Maximus, multi-award-winning songwriters based in Adelaide. They first worked together in the sell-out Adelaide 2021 Fringe Show SWT_HM_ADL. Since then they have been delighting audiences with their music, stories and amiable on-stage personas. Their debut album Back in ADL is out now and you hear a great sampling of it, with seven full tracks in this episode.
The episode image was shot by Ben Searcy.
The SA Drink Of The Week - no featured drink this week.
And the whole episode is a Musical Pilgrimage segment this week!
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Running Sheet: Sweet Home Adelaide Songs
00:00:00 SA Drink Of The Week
No SA Drink Of The Week this week.
00:02:48 Fergus Maximus and Dr D, Back in ADL
Back In ADL is an album by Fergus Maximus and Dr D, drawing together some of the songs of their Adelaide Fringe hit show, Sweet Home Songs (and its earlier manifestations). There is so much goodness in the album, that we have them in the studio to walk us through a selection of songs about this state and this city, which has been named the Coolest Place In Australia by the Wall Street Journal.
Fergus, you've been on the Adelaide Show before, and you have 100% South Australian bona fides, having been born in Whyalla and grown up in Clare. Plus, you are married to one of our longest term listeners, Andrea Ferguson. I picture Johnny Cash walking along a railway line in the country and picking out a tune like, I Walk The Line. When did you first write a song based on a location in South Australia?
Dr D. In the early days of our podcast, you had to be born and bred in SA to get a gong, but having moved here from the UK after your frequent visits gradually hardwired SA into your DNA, you are warmly welcomed. You've performed on five continents including legendary venues in London and Chicago. Is there a tangible, physical difference between the venues in those places compared to venues in South Australia OR if they feel more significant, is that due to the aura of those cities?
It took me 4 or 5 songs on my first listen to fight through the echoes of cultural cringe. I’ve spoken about this with Peter Goers about how I don’t bat an eyelid when a song talks about Baton Rouge or New York or Chicago or London, but when it mentions anywhere in Australia, let alone South Australia, it feels tacky or too familiar. I don’t think it’s actually cultural cringe because I’m very proud of our country and our townships. I think it might more closely be linked to the saying that a profit is never recognised or respected in their homeland.
Let's get going with the title track, Back in ADL.
BACK IN ADL (17:35)
When you are writing about places, how do you stop them from sounding like TV commercials or slogans or jingles for property developments? Henley Square is one of those songs that comes very close to sounding like this, but so, too, does the title track, Back in ADL.
The line take me to your deli counter and let me taste your ways because there's lots of innuendo there especially with smallgoods ... or is that just me?
In our early days, we had the Adelaide Visa Council because people made lazy jokes about Adelaide being boring and Paul Barry from Media Watch was very cynical about Adelaide earning the Coolest City label from the Wall Street Journal. Let's listen to his cowardly backhander from a recent episode of Media Bites.
I thought we were past these lazy jokes. Your thoughts?
The second track on the album, Gulf of St. Vincent, contains the O word. Is that pedantic to query that? Is that just Total Adelaide?
Talking of Vincent, I think St Vincent Street is a great song that needs to be included, all about about a particular female police officer.
VINCENT STREET (36:00)
Talking of streets, let's address the myth of naming conventions and the belief you cannot cross the king. In episode 28 of The Adelaide Show, around the 45-minute mark, Keith Conlon highlights that it was popularly believed that the reason none of our city streets continue either side of King William Street is because you CANNOT CROSS THE KING.
PLAY KEITH CONLON INSERT
Have you caught much flak about that song?
CROSS OUT THE KING (47:50)
When you get into history, I note that This Is Our Beef has an early Redgum feel.
THIS IS OUR BEEF (58:05)
The thing about writing songs about places we know and live it, is that we all have stories that intersect with your songs. Do people call out during the show or want to talk to you afterwards?
FOUR TREES (MIRNU WIRRA) (1:08:01)
If I were at your show, I'd be chewing your ear about Johnnie's Gone Away because I worked at John Martins in the 80s in the West Lakes store in boyswear. And my maternal grandman, Lillian Field, she worked in the basement of the city store in the late 1930s when a young man from an engineering company turned up to fix the lifts. He soon became my grandpa.
Why did you guys write about John Martins, which we're reflecting on the day after the 2023 Christmas Pageant which was a gift to SA from John Martins for most of its 131 years.
JOHNNIE'S GONE AWAY (1:17:00)
Finally, your Fringe show has won awards, and gotten great reviews. What is next?
Has your song, Letter To Paul Kelly, caught Paul's attention?
LETTER TO PAUL KELLY (1:28:45)
00:00:00 Musical Pilgrimage
This whole episode was an extended Musical Pilgrimage segment.