When Josh Pyke lobbed into triple j’s 2013 Hottest 100 last month with “Leeward Side”, it brought the Sydney singer/songwriter’s total appearances in the listener-voted countdown to nine over the course of four albums. With the title track of last year’s The Beginning And The End Of Everything album just released as his latest single, Pyke is celebrating with a solo trek around the country dubbed the Lone Wolf Tour. Before he jumps in the Tarago we asked the eloquent songsmith to make us a mixtape of his favourite lyricists.
Elliott Smith – ‘Needle in the Hay’
This song is so brutal and raw, and the lyrics really allow you to get inside the head of a guy struggling with addiction, and the guilt and pleasure and pain involved in it.
The Shins – ‘New Slang’
This was the first song I heard by the Shins, and I was struck by James Mercer’s poetic and at times abstract imagery in his lyrics. I love the line about the “queen of the eyesores”. It’s heartbreaking and self-deprecating, but really hopeful somehow too.
Interpol – ‘Not Even Jail’
I think Paul Banks is a really underrated lyricist. All of the Interpol songs read like poems if you scan them without the music, and I love the subtle desperation in this track.
Augie March – ‘Owen’s Lament’
I’m a huge AM fan, and this song lyrically really highlights Glenn Richards’ mastery in storytelling. It’s a song about leaving someone for war, but it could be about anyone leaving, and it’s heartbreaking and very beautiful.
Fiona Apple – ‘Shadowboxer’
It’s not my favourite song of hers, but these lyrics take me back to a place when I first heard her work. Lyrics that transport you are the best ones I think.
Neutral Milk Hotel – ‘King of Carrot Flowers’
Such a great track. The lyrics tell the story of a young couple discovering love in an abusive and kinda messed-up environment. Beautiful and visceral.
The Doobie Brothers – ‘What a Fool Believes’
If you can get past the ’80s synth funk jam, the lyrics and story of this song are pretty great… A proper story through time about people realising that there is really nothing holding them together at all, and that maybe there never was.
Wilco – ‘Reservations’
I love all Wilco songs and reckon Jeff Tweedy is a great lyricist, but I just love the angst and almost Woody Allen-like anxiety in the line “I’ve got reservations, about so many things, but not about you”.
Holly Throsby – ‘Things Between People’
Holly is such a great storyteller, and I love this song because it transports me to my mid-20s living in the inner-west of Sydney. It’s a familiar landscape, that tells a story that I think most people can relate to.
Bob Dylan – ‘Tangled up in Blue’
This was the first Dylan song that really sparked my interest in his lyrics. Of course he’s a genius, and we all know that! But, I really love the story and the way it poetically jumps from one time and place to another, which no one was really doing in mainstream music back then. Very cool.