My conversion to Australian country music came about because of the song ‘Lazy Bones’ by Beccy Cole. It was so smart and funny, and performed so well, that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already heard it. That was before I understood how country music is so often not played on major radio stations and that, despite its large and loyal audience, it’s not considered as important to our national culture as some other forms of music. That latter element is a big part of the reason why I started writing about it – and so was ‘Lazy Bones’. That song and other country songs like it deserve to be known by as many people as possible, because the quality of this music is good. And Beccy Cole as an artist has few peers. Her live performances are legendary, her albums always a collection of songs that are heartfelt and entertaining, and sometimes just raucously good fun. There’s actually not an artist like her in the whole land. Which is why it was a huge honour to interview her recently about her new album, Lioness, which has all her fantastic hallmarks and also brings something new.
I’ve been lucky to listen to an early copy of the album, which has been a thrill because you have long been one of my favourite country music artists. Congratulations – it’s wonderful. Your fans will be very happy.
Thank you. I hope so. It’s definitely an album that I wanted to make so all I can do is hope that they like it.
This album has all women working on it, and I was really pleased to see you had a female producer working on it – there is a noticeable lack of female producers. Catherine Britt has been doing some producing but I’m really struggling to think of other producers working in country music who aren’t men. You had Julz Parker producing this – how did that come about?
I wanted it to be a 100 per cent female project. I love the sound that Julz gets for the Hussy Hicks and some other projects that she’s done, and I just think she’s awesome. She gets me. She’s got a very similar sense of humour – we always get along really well whenever we’re touring and doing shows. I get the Hussy Hicks whenever I can. They’re overseas a lot. Whenever they’re around they look up my tour dates and say, ‘Hey -can we do those six you’ve got coming up in Queensland?’ and I say, ‘Yeah!’ [laughs] But they’re just really cool to hang out with and I knew that Julz got my music and understood me. I didn’t really have any doubt. When we were choosing people to mix the album we sent away ‘Lioness’ and got about six mixes back and I had to choose which one I liked, and I said, ‘I like number three’, and Julz said, ‘That’s my mix.’ I thought, Yay!I love the fact that it’s an all-female album as far as the players on it go. There are nine girls on it.
Continue reading “Interview: Beccy Cole”
South Australian artist Beccy Cole is one country music’s greatest performers – and one of the funniest – as well as one of Australia’s most astute songwriters. A tour through her catalogue takes you from the sharp, hilarious ‘Lazy Bones’ and ‘Sorry I Asked’ to the touching ‘Gloria’s Roses’ and the sentimental ‘Blackwood Hill’. Beccy has ten Golden Guitars (including four for Female Artist of the Year) as well as multiple ARIA Top 10 Country and Top 40 Mainstream albums, a Top 10 DVD, three gold-certified releases, and more than a dozen #1 Australian country singles. She is a country music icon – and that is entirely because of the music she produces and the way she brings it to audiences.
Beccy’s last album was Sweet Rebecca in 2015; on 24 August this year she will release Lioness, and the title single is out now. It is classic Beccy in that she tells a great story and always feels like she’s singing directly to the listener; it is new Beccy in that it’s her first release since marrying long-time partner Libby O’Donovan, and Lioness is the first album produced 100 per cent by women, from the artist to the producer to the musicians.
Any new music from Beccy Cole is an occasion, and this song is no different.
Listen to the single on Spotify or Apple Music
Pre-order Lioness here
Make that my picks of the gigs … These are the artists I’m most looking forward to seeing at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival. [All dates given are January 2014.]
21 – Tudor Hotel Front Bar, 5.30 p.m.
23 – Qurindi RSL, 6 p m.
24 – Tudor Hotel Back Bar, 12 p.m.
21 – West Tamworth Leagues Club, 5 p.m.
21 – West Tamworth Leagues Club, 8 p.m.
21 – Tamworth Services Club, 9.30 p.m.
22 – Tamworth Services Club, 9 a.m.
23 – Tudor Hotel, upstairs, 10 p.m.
22 – Tamworth Services Club, 9 a.m.
23 – Tudor Hotel, upstairs, 10 p.m.
22 – TRECC, 2 p.m.
22 – The Pub, 8 p.m.
23 – The Family Hotel, 7 p.m.
23 – The Pub, 8.30 p.m.
Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes
24 – The Family Hotel, 12 p.m.
24 – North Tamworth Bowling Club, 2 p.m.
Karl Broadie and Katie Brianna
24 – Tamworth Tennis Club, 4.30 p.m.
Beccy Cole appeared on Australian Story this week and revealed something that wouldn’t have surprised many people who are involved in Australian country music circles, but would, no doubt, have surprised some of her fans. As this is a blog about Australian country music (mostly) I thought it would be remiss to not say something. And what I have to say is, ‘Good on you, Beccy!’ Beccy’s revelation took courage, because she would have known that some of her audience would have trouble adjusting to her news. But it is them who need adjusting, not her. Beccy Cole is no different now than she was five years ago or five weeks or five days ago. All she’s done is changed the information we have about her.
There are people asking why she felt the need to ‘out’ herself, and I would think there are some very good reasons, such as the many gay and lesbian teenagers who feel completely alone – often desperately so – and think there is no one who understands them. Many of them are in rural and regional communities where country music is very popular and Beccy is a person who is admired. If Beccy’s ‘outing’ helps just one of those teenagers to realise they’re not alone, she’s done a good thing. But I bet there will be a lot more than one. And I certainly hope Beccy finds the love and happiness she richly deserves. She brings light and laughter to every venue she plays – may we all offer her the same in return.
As a final note: what really stood out for me in the program was the strength of Beccy’s friendships with Kasey Chambers and Gina Jeffreys. In this country we are blessed to have such individuals of great talent and strength to be our cultural leaders (which is what they are, even if it’s only for the country music culture), and their friendships are a reminder of how strong, too, the country music community is.
Beccy Cole is, not unlike her close friend Kasey Chambers, one of our most consistent singer-songwriters, although I wouldn’t mind betting that a lot of people don’t realise she writes most of her own songs, mainly because she’s seen as a ‘performer’. Indeed, Beccy is one of our great entertainers – she consistently puts on high-quality shows that combine humour, storytelling and musical performance in a way that ensures everyone leaves smiling. She is also a songwriter of considerable accomplishment, and has been for a while – her early song ‘Lazy Bones’ is a textbook case in how to turn a phrase in a clever, funny way.
Songs & Pictures is Beccy’s latest CD and again features her own compositions, some of them written in collaboration with Kasey Chambers, Travis Collins, Luke Austen and others. It is a nostalgic, almost wistful album – there is very little of the brassiness that could be found on Feel This Free or even Little Victories. It is a ‘pretty’ album in many ways – Beccy has always produced melodically pleasing songs, but there seem to be more of them on this album. And perhaps more songs in minor keys. They are songs of reflection and contemplation, of appreciation for what she has and who she loves. It is the most personal of her albums, and the first that I can recall where there isn’t what one could call a ‘joke song’ (for lack of a better word) like ‘The Girls Out Here’ or ‘Sorry I Asked’. This is probably for the best: the joke songs may have previously obscured the fact that she is a really, really good singer, and on this new album her voice is front and centre.
It’s a strong album – the songs are solidly constructed and Beccy’s remarkable voice is in charge of them all. ‘Millionaires’ also features Kasey on vocals and it is clearly about the friendship they have have since they were teenagers – it’s a lovely song. Although I love Beccy’s joke songs, I do think this is the most consistent of her albums in terms of having an overall message and the songs all feeding into each other to create a complete portrait. It is also the album most likely to appeal to people who don’t usually like country music – so buy it for your non-country friends.
Beccy Cole is one of Australian music’s great entertainers and, as such, highly underrated – I always wonder why she isn’t better known, because she has a wonderful voice and an extraordinary stage presence (yes, the superlatives are flying thick and fast – she deserves them).
Perhaps Live at Lizotte’s will enable more people to understand this live-performance powerhouse, because (unlike some live CDs) it is representative of what a Beccy Cole gig is really like: a range of musical moods and a great deal of genuinely funny on-stage banter – even after several spins round my CD player, I was still holding my sides laughing at some of her lines. It’s also a chance for fans like me to get their hands on some new songs, including ‘Lifeboat’ and ‘Opposite Prayers’, plus some covers – Carole King’s ‘Natural Woman’, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Say You Love Me’ and 4 Non Blondes’ ‘What’s Up’. There’s also tested Beccy favourites such as ‘Blackwood Hill’, ‘Men Don’t Dance’, the always-funny ‘Sorry I Asked’ and what I think is one the cleverest songs ever written (and she wrote it): ‘Lazy Bones’. Those who have seen Beccy live will know what she does in the coda of this song – recorded on this CD for repeat-play entertainment.
Beccy is joined by Kasey Chambers for a truly lovely rendering of ‘Those Memories of You’ , and by Gina Jefferies and Sara Storer for a cover of John Williamson’s ‘Galleries of Pink Galahs’. The latter is probably the only song that I didn’t out-and-out love but this album really is a worthwhile purchase for Beccy’s existing fans – in true country-music fan-friendly style, she has included enough old and new material to keep them happy. Live at Lizotte’s is also the best possible introduction to the Central Coast songstress for those who have heard the odd song – probably ‘Poster Girl’ – and are wondering whether the rest of her work is any good. It is. She is fabulous, and one of the best assets to the Australian music industry (not just country music). Now – where is her ARIA?
Beccy Cole: Live at Lizotte’s (ABC/Warner Music)