Saturday, October 16, 2021

Song #57 Out on the Ocean





There’s a wind out on the ocean

There’s a breeze that comes from far away

And ‘cos we live here in Australia

We know the air is fit to breathe



And what are you gonna do?

To make sure it stays that way?

What are you gonna do?


There’s a land across the ocean

Where people suffer and stand in line

Wait their turn just to come here

For they’ve heard this land is golden




But you gotta have love in your heart

There’s gotta be someone to hold

But you gotta have love in your heart

There’s gotta be someone to hold


What if you knew that out on the ocean

There’s someone coming here for you

She’s got brown skin and she’s from your dreams

She loves your child and wants to hold you


What are you gonna do?

To make sure that she will stay?

What are you gonna do?


(M Coghlan 1990)



I don’t know what promoted this song. But with the current sad reality of offshore detention centres and temporary protection visas it seems eerily prescient. I don’t remember how it went either. Perhaps it’s waiting for a new tune …..

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Song #56 Far Away Gone



(Listen HERE)

Pack up your things and walk out that door

Just don’t expect me to follow no more

No don’t expect me

To be here in the morning


I think I feel that’s the sun’s gonna shine

I didn’t notice that I’d lost my mind

So don’t expect me

To be here tomorrow


‘Cos I’ll be gone – far away gone

         I’ll be gone – far away gone


I think I feel like going alone

Without that constant moan and groan

So don’t expect me to be here in the morning


I’m tired of listening to you

I’m tired of following you


It seems to be time when I tell the truth

Being the nice guy let you stay aloof

So don’t expect me

To be here if you return


‘Cos I’ll be gone – far away gone

         I’ll be gone – far away gone


© Michael Coghlan 1990


Circling back to the break-up with Joti's mother several years later. Getting rid of more anger. Assisted by some wonderful clarinet from Sean Mangan.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Song #55 Arizona


CC Image courtesy of azmichelle



You chose a road, a road you knew was long

And you found it hard, as hard as hell

Yes, you knew somewhere that you should not go

That you had no call to leave alone

It’s a long way to the USA


I’m sittin’ in Tuscon, Arizona

Remember how they said ‘Get Back’?

That’s exactly what I want to do now

Get out on the track that takes me home


I discovered I’d been living in a dreamtime

And I had to see the songs I’ve sung

I had to see those towns as they really are

And I came across Tonopah – and it’s a hole!

But they’ve blue skies in Arizona

And they’ve got a desert that goes on forever

        to Mexico         


Ain’t you been north lately?

Walked in your own backyard lately?

Checked out your own desert lately?



Some will tell you don’t waste your money boy

They’ll tell you it’s just too far

Some will tell you you gotta travel boy

They’ll tell you you gotta travel far

You know it’s hard to please everyone


Some will tell you that it’s all right here

They may be right but still I go

I discovered

They’ve got a desert that goes on forever

                                                              to Mexico    


They’ll tell you don’t waste your talents boy

They’ll tell you don’t abuse your charms

You chose a road, a road you knew was long

And you found it hard, as hard as hell

But it’s a long long way to the grave


M Coghlan 1990)



I remember waiting to check in for the flight out to the US and for the first time in my life being afraid of what might happen while I was off travelling far away. Why? Because I now had a child and I felt guilty leaving him. I felt like I was shirking my responsibilities, and that I shouldn't put myself in risky situations beyond my control. And as the lyrics tell, I spent much of the time wishing I was home. But I'm glad I went!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

4000 Miles - Amy Herzog

4000 Miles
University of Adelaide Theatre Guild, Little Theatre, Sat 9 Oct 

Amy Herzog’s Pulitzer Prize winning 4000 Miles covers a lot of territory. It skips across multiple social and political issues affecting the contemporary American landscape. Ageism, dementia, the generation gap, incest, blended families, communism, gender balance in relationships, the importance of real communication, the role of therapy, alienation and loneliness to name a few. And yet not for one minute does it get bogged down in polemics or virtuous lecturing. Indeed, these are all side issues neatly woven into the basic tale of a young man trying to reconnect with family via his grandmother after an exhilarating and heartbreaking bicycle journey across America.

His grandmother, Vera, is in her 80s and lives alone. Though she is struggling with the old age curse of forgetfulness, she is still sharp enough to surprise her grandson with insights about politics and her past. Vera is wonderfully played by Julie Quick. You are immediately drawn into her increasingly lonely world and share her childlike excitement when her grandson Leo, played by Jackson Barnard, decides to stay awhile with her in her New York apartment. Barnard does a good job of playing the confused young man who slowly learns to relate to his grandma who chatters way incessantly while the young Leo struggles to get a word in. It’s endearing to watch their relationship grow and a shared rooftop joint ironically cements the connection!

Two strong, self-assured performances by two of Leo’s love interests complete the cast line-up. Naomi Gomez is gorgeous and beguiling as Amanda, the ditzy young thing whose language skills don’t appear to extend much further than the ubiquitous ‘oh my god’. Leo brings Amanda home to grandma’s apartment and this delightful comedic scene adds an unexpected element to the ongoing theme of communism.

Director Erik Strauts’ direction is unintrusive and suitably uncomplicated. Excellent use is made of the Little Theatre’s split levels and multiple entry and exit points. Slightly longer than usual interludes between scenes gave the audience opportunity to enjoy Emma Knight’s original piano pieces written specifically for this production, and reflect on what they had just seen.

Really entertaining theatre. Easy to enjoy, plenty to think about if you want to go deeper and in the delightful space that is the Little Theatre, everyone is close to the action.

(This review also published on The Clothesline.)

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Song #54 The Sea is Rising


(listen HERE)

It's the sea that makes me feel
Feel like this - so young and free
Yes this is me; down by the sea

From across the sea we all came
To live in this land, so far away
From where culture calls home

I'm a man so I could be wrong
I've got white skin so I'm probably wrong
I was raised a Catholic so I'm definitely wrong
But I'm not guilty here down by the sea

Now look at the sea, it's slowly rising
As the ice caps melt; oh how young I felt
Down by the sea

Men and women all so we could be wrong
We've all got white skin so we're probably wrong
All raised by parents so we're definitely wrong
No need to feel guilty; what's all the fuss
This is us - down by the sea

And now I hear there's a hole in the sky

If I want dark skin I might be young when I die
Feelin' older as I stroll on the sand
The sea is rising

What I'm trying to say is there's a lot of things wrong

There's been a lot of blamin' about who done it wrong
No one of us did it; we're all part of a throng
And the sea is rising
And the sea is rising
And the sea is rising

(Copyright M Coghlan 1990)


Continuing an extraordinary rush of new songs over a couple of years, here is another contribution to the gathering clamour around climate change. 31 years ago - the song could be still as an anthem for the cause. With a few sideways digs at those who wish to believe that white men and Catholics were responsible for all the ills of the world :) (Things were only going to get much much worse on this front.) 

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Song #53 A Hug for the Borderguard



Last night they opened up
A source of wonder to us all
Now those who live on the other side
Can walk in peace that great divide
And go on home again

    The world is changing
Cold War - what was it anyway?
I was born too late to have a say
That wall - I touched and I gazed at it
And wondered at the why of it
Last night they tore the damn thing down
No man's land became a place for clowns
    A hug for the borderguard
As I watch the tears and joy of all those who
Can't quite believe it's OK to go through
Makes me think that I would like to be there too
As they pull the whole thing down
No man's land becomes a place for clowns
Berlin becomes a reunited town
    Is the Cold War over?
      If it happened there it can happen anywhere
      A source of hope for the unfree everywhere
Last night they opened up the wall
A source of wonder to us all
No man's land became a place for clowns
Berlin became a reunited town
    Is the madness over?
    A hug for the borderguard
    The world is changing

(Copyright  Michael Coghlan 1989)


Like millions of others I watched the TV in awe as vision showed cars and pedestrians moving freely out of East Berlin into the west. I remember seeing a car stop. A woman got out and gave the soldier at the border post a huge long hug. It was one of the more powerful images I'd ever seen. I've never forgotten it. This is my celebration of the Berlin Wall coming down.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Song #52 Grand Old Lady


Grand old lady of the family

Mrs Green to some; to me Aunty Marie

The family turned around her

And smiled at her ways

To keep us all together, but now she’s gone

I guess her time had come


So many stories of times so long ago

When you were young and beautiful they said

Fifty when I was born, you were always old to me

A sweet and charming grey-haired and old lady

I never knew how old until the last time that I saw you –

Thank you for waking up and squeezing my hand –

Saying whatever it was; telling me whatever it was




You won’t be coming ‘round on Saturdays no more

While my father’s at the football

My Mum will sit alone; she’ll drink her tea alone

Thinking of her trusted friend

        her dear and trusted friend


Of course now you’re gone I have to say I’m sorry

For walking out on your never ending stories

I was young and in a hurry

I was young and in a hurry


About your son – you need not be ashamed

I’ll wave a flag for that soft and gentle man

(After) Two years away you told me how I felt

You said it couldn’t be any other way

But sadder and wiser – how true

      Sadder and wiser - now that you have gone




...of the family

Grand old lady of the family – Aunty Marie

   Goodbye goodbye

   See you in heaven


(© M Coghlan 1989)



I think this is the first song I ever wrote on piano. For our dear Aunty Marie. Talked incessantly but was full of life. Never really recovered from her son (my lovely cousin John) killing himself. After I had been away for a couple of years she told me on my return that I was no doubt sadder and wiser. It surprised me, and I soon realised she was right. She made my childhood and early adulthood a lot more interesting. Rest in peace grand old lady.

Song #57 Out on the Ocean

    OUT ON THE OCEAN   There’s a wind out on the ocean There’s a breeze that comes from far away And ‘cos we live here in Australi...