The Common Touch

Okay, here's how we play the game.

Custard put out a new album and I go through it, one lyric at a time, writing down everything I know.

I've been a Custard fan for a long time, and I'm from Custard's hometown of Brisbane, so sometimes the connections I make are well-informed. But it's pretty hit and miss. Really I'm just sharing the thoughts that bounce around my weird little brain as I listen to a new record over and over. Repetition makes for some pretty crazy thoughts.

The Common Touch

In The Grand Scheme Of Things (None Of This Really Matters) #

Your lips are moving
But I can not hear
A word that you're saying

This is clearly reminiscent of the first line of "Everybody's talking at me", to wit:

"Everybody's talking at me, I don't hear a word they're saying."

You may be complaining a little too much I fear

Is it too early in the album to mention Shakespeare? Not if you're Custard.

The line above is clearly a reference to this from Hamlet,

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks"

I wonder how much of the Bard's work we'll see throughout this album?

And do you think, as Shakespeare lie dying in 1616, he would've thought to himself, "I wonder if, 401 years from now, my paltry works will finally be referenced in the works of Custard?"

Oh what are we gonna do?
Oh no

Existential Angst.

I really don't want to
Wear out my welcome here

The previous album, Come Back All Is Forgiven was Custard's first album in 15 years. They were very suspicious of this gift they'd been given, an extra chance, and in We Are The Parents (Our Parents Warned Us About) intimated:

we must have made a deal with someone
either up above
or down
we've scored one more night to
make amends

...which I've interpreted as being about the record deal that ABC presented them with. Now, they're still suspicious of this gift, and still not sure how things will turn out. They don't want to wear out their welcome.

The truth is you're saying
that maybe we're straining
a little too much I fear

Oh what are we gonna do?
Oh no

(Mouth Wah-Wah)

There is also some mouth wah-wah in 'Hit Song' (The second single from Loverama)

By "mouth wah-wah" I mean the effect of using the facial apparatus to impersonate the sonic distortions that arise from playing a tremolo arm fitted to an electric guitar.

And in the grand scheme of things none of this really matters
Just close your eyes
Don't give me no alibis

In a world that's out of time
All the books explode

Scene from Zabriskie Points with books exploding

Scene from Zabriskie Point with books exploding....

Zabriskie Point soundtrack featured Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead and others.

Here's the cover: zabriskie_point_cover.jpg

I don't know much about the film beyond that. Did the books explode in a world that was out of time?

Or is this perhaps a reference to the Nazi Book Burnings of World War II?

Hold my hand

Reminiscent of the first lyric of the album Wahooti Fandango: "I will, take your hand, we'll travel across the land"

But also reminiscent of the kind of

I'll do for you what I can

  • Cello arrangement by David McCormack
  • Cello - Jack Ward
  • Piccolo Trumpet - Desmond Honeybottom
  • Harmonica - Little Roy Grunt
  • Strawberry fields

Halley's Comet #

I watched Halley's Comet go by

Hey! I remember that! I watched Halley's Comet go by.

From a backyard in Indooroopilly
It was cold, it was autumn '86

Back in those halcyon days of '86 you could hardly walk down a school corridor without being assaulted by a reproduction of this portrait of Edmond Halley

Edmond Halley

This is part of the recurring astronomical motif from many custard albums. (And I'm checking out venus and I'm checking out mars.... Lucky Star... Pluto parts I and II... if the sun exploded... etc etc etc)

We drunk the rest of your gin
You could have done anything

But don't play "Forever Now"

The meteor shower caught us all by surprise

Benson

After talk about Halley's comet, Kraus dreams that she and Benson are the only ones left on earth.

And how'd we get to here and how are we going home?

  • E.T. Phone home

Well I don't know
I don't know

Walking past the deserted agency
I stopped the cab and tried to see

  • Cab

What was that place you lived before?

  • Nostalgia

How'd you get all those bruises?

  • Domestic violence

I don't care what your excuse is

Don't play "Forever Now"

The meteor shower caught me right between the eyes

Ann Hodges was hit by a meteorite in her Alabama home in 1954.
The True Story of History's Only Known Meteorite Victim

It's unlikely that this song is about Ann Hodges.

How'd we get to here and how are we going home?
Well I don't know
I don't know

Bridgey Bridgerson, the bridgiest bridge in bridge land:

I feel like you've intrigued me for centuries
I love you just the way you are
Just let those comets go by
They shouldn't mess with you
There's just one thing I would like to say to you

Oh please don't play "Forever Now"
The meteor shower caught me right between the eyes
And how'd we get to here and how are we going home?
Well I don't know
I don't know
I don't know
I don't know

  • Pedal Steel - Jy-Perry Banks

(I Told You) I'm Not Well #

It's only a little piece of sky
It's only a little tear in my eye
Take the ones you think will last
Take another one on my behalf

And as long as we can hold it together
Well, the rest can go to hell
And as long as we can hold up in here
As the weather starts to swell

I'm thinking of a number
Somewhere between me and you
I'll just sit here for a minute
Watch the oil water red and blue

So take a walk around the grounds now
Hear the sprinklers chiming in
And as long as we can hold up in here
We'll let the rest of the world begin

(I don't think anyone can tell)

I told you I'm not well

  • Spike Milligan

i_told_you_i_was_sick.png

spike_milligan_grave_stone.jpg

I told you baby, yeah I'm not well
I told you I'm not well
Pretty soon everyone can tell

So I sold off all your memories
Gave away all the things you don't need

  • Reference?

But there's something I couldn't let go of
But it's nothing you don't know of

So let's just call it quits now
And farewell those Graceville girls

  • Graceville?

And as long as we can hold up in here
And wave goodbye to this world

  • apocalypse

(I didn't think anyone could tell)

But I told you I'm not well
I told you baby, yeah I'm not well
I told you I'm not well
And pretty soon everyone can tell

Merry Christmas baby
We're gonna miss you baby
Merry Christmas baby
We're gonna miss you baby

Merry Christmas
You're gonna miss us
Merry Christmas
You're gonna miss us

  • Backing Vocals - Meghan Drummond

Princes HWY #

  • MAP

(PRINCESS HIGHWAY)

The Princess Highway
Was so quiet at the dawn
You can't make it on your own
Have you thought of going home?
Leaving everyone alone

  • alone

Don't cry

  • don't cry

Come inside
You can't hide the fact my heart is melting by the fire
It's true, it's true, you never promised a happy every after
Cos you don't know how

  • don't know how

  • oasis

These childhood streets

  • nostalgia

Are wider and dryer than I remember

  • experience of returning to brisbane after a visit elsewhere

Down here is where we used to live
The phone rings but no one ever answers
It's been ringing here for a thousand years

  • it's unlikely that a phone would be left to ring for a thousand years

Don't cry
Come inside
You can't hide the fact my heart is slowly melting by the fire
It's true, it's true, you never promised a happy every after
Cos you don't know how

And it's now
You expect all the damage to start
When you're digging around those parts
You said you'd never mention
Well it's true
What they said that you put me through
I'm fine, how are you?
.... and congratulations

Five years later
It must be getting close to dawn
I think of all those things undone
And all the places in the sun
And the shadows fall apart in time

I'll be fine
But I can't hide
The fact my heart is slowly melting by the fire
And it's true, it's true, I was never promised a happy ever after
Because you don't know how
I know you don't know how

  • Pedal Steel - Jy-Perry Banks
  • Cello - Jack Ward
  • Cello arrangement - Antony Partos

Sinking Deep #

Drove through the AM
Just to get my prescription filled

  • The truth about drugs.
  • Driving songs

And the local, the local authorities

  • Local authorities

Inform me that they have several leads

We're sinking deep in our love
We're up to our necks in it, it's all we're thinking of

Throw me a question mark

I stared at the stars for so, so long I wasn't sure if they were really there
So come back, come back into the light
It appears to me right now that you were right

We're sinking deep in our love
We're up to our necks in it, it's all we're thinking of
Yeah we're like sheep in a trough
We're up to our necks in it, it's all we're thinking of

Just throw me a question
It couldn't be anyone else
So throw me a question
It couldn't be anyone else
But still there's you
Always shining in the sun
Yeah baby it's you
Dipping your lights at everyone

We're sinking deep in our love
We're up to our necks in it, it's all we're thinking of
Yeah we're like sheep in a trough
We're up to our necks in it, it's all we're thinking of

  • Backing Vocals - Meghan Drummond

You Always Knew #

I'll give all my money to your friends that I can't afford
Stick my head out of your limo as we pass at dawn
It's not the first time, it won't be the last
End up in a station thinking about pumping some gas

And you always knew how to do it right
Yeah, you press on the button, I'll turn out the light

This ain't a setback, can't be a setback
Give me another reason to stay off the decks
This is the first time, this is the first time
Sweaty George hangs on the back of your toilet door

And you always knew how to do it right
Yeah you press on the button, I'll turn out the lights
And you always knew what you were asking for
Yeah you acted like you'd seen it all before

Yeah you always knew how to do it right
Yeah you press on the button, I'll turn out the lights
And you always knew what you were asking for
Yeah you acted like you'd seen it all before

  • Backing Vocals - Adele Pickvance

Hands On Fire #

You know I really don't mind it when you hold my hands on fire
It took a really long time of slamming doors and kicking tyres
Then I found you rock'n'roll
Stones Corner fruit bowl
That's when my radar locked
You know I really don't mind it when you hold my hands on fire
If it's all the same with you I'd like to carry on
And invite our friends over and get our marry on
You know I really don't mind it when you hold my hands on fire
You owned a Holden then a Zephyr then an even better Holden car
I was so jealous of your wheels and always wondering who you are
And if it's all the same with you I'd like to carry on
And invite our friends over and get our marry on
You know I really don't mind it when you hold my hands on fire
Then I found you rock'n'roll
Stones Corner fruit bowl
That's when my radar locked
You know I really don't mind it when you hold my hands on fire (*4)

Armageddon #

All your friends
They all dress up pretty smart
Filling rooms
Chuckin' darts and breaking hearts

But I can't bring myself to care anymore
What with this coming Armageddon

Go!

"I'm running out...... I'm running out of time", she said
"And these four walls.... they're loose in my mind"
She said that I can't bring myself to care anymore
What with this coming Armageddon

So why don't we go?
We don't have to stay

You gave me a look
A look like I should just stop
I tied my mouth
I tied my mouth in a knot

But I can't bring myself to care anymore
What with this coming Armageddon

So why don't we go?
We don't have to stay
What are you complaining for?
And what are we waiting for?

I don't wanna cause no offence, but baby your friends they're not worth dying for
I don't wanna cause no offence, but baby your friends, no way
I don't wanna cause no offence, but baby your friends they're not worth dying for
I don't wanna cause no offence, but baby your friends, no way

Dr Huxley Creeper #

I found myself singing One Plus One

Walking around the house
Empty in Bexley
And I remembered they were making a film about you
And I thought I had some photographs upstairs that might be useful

Oh, don't say you've gone
You'll be back here when the morning comes
You'll be back in a little while
Oh, don't say you've gone
You'll be back here when the morning comes
You'll be back in a little while

Up here it's warm, not hot
Jacaranda everywhere
And I went through all I got
Some dating back to '89
But I could only find one photograph of you

Oh, don't say you've gone
You'll be back here when the morning comes
You'll be back in a little while
Oh, don't say you've gone
You'll be back here when the morning comes
You'll be back in a little while

And I can say here with no doubt
Of all the time we were left without
Not even a ghost to upset her
We didn't think it could any betterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

October 2001
Somewhere in West End
You're playing my white guitar
I might have even taken the shot
But I just can't be sure
So I put the photo away

Oh, don't say you've gone
You'll be back here when the morning comes
You'll be back in a little while
Oh, don't say you've gone
You'll be back here when the morning comes
You'll be back in a little while

2000 Woman #

She's 2000 WOMAN, she can shoot you with her robotic eyes
She's 2000 WOMAN, and she can see through all of your lies
She's 2000 WOMAN, yeah, you can run but you can't get away
She's 2000 WOMAN, she knows everything you're gonna say before you even say it
She's 2000 WOMAN, she don't need no twentieth century man
She's 2000 WOMAN, she's much more powerful than such a primitive man
She's 2000 WOMAN, she's got the answers and she got a plan
She's 2000 WOMAN, she's got the aces you hold in your hand before you even play it
She's 2000 WOMAN
She's 2000 WOMAN, you can run but you can't hide from the
She's 2000 WOMAN, she's better at telling your own lies
She's 2000 WOMAN, she'll run you down with her autonomous cars
She's 2000 WOMAN, she's got the moon and she's got the stars right in her fingers
She's 2000 WOMAN

  • Additional vocals by Matteo Zingles, Anwyn Watkins and Haylee Poppi
  • Attack of the 50 ft woman
  • Autonomous cars
  • red right hand
  • Wonder woman

Police Cars #

Calling all police cars
Deploy them on the streets 'cause
There's trouble in the states
The power of the people
The government and steeple
It slowly dissipates
Suspend all disbelief
Suspend all disbelief
Shake it up
Shake it, shake it all up
I want my communism back
It's on the other feet hmm
The picture's incomplete hmm
We had to run away
It never works out now why why why why why
why why why why why
why why why why why
It never works out now why why why why why
why why why why why
why why why why why
Shake it up
Shake it, shake it all up
I want my communism back
Suspend all disbelief
Suspend all disbelief
Shake it up
Shake it, shake it all up
I want my communism back

  • communism

Take It From Here #

And this is what we'll talk about
And this is what we'll say
I heard that you signed yourself out and then moved away

And you can hold my hand just like some old time movie

And you can take it from here
You can take it from here
You can take it from here

We should pull in soon
There's storms up ahead
And it's good that you now know we can make this the last one, then let it go

And the lightening crackles the songs on the AM station

And you can take it from here
You can take it from here
You can take it from here

And the lighting cracks just like some old time movie
And you can take it or leave it here
You can take it or leave it here
And you can take it or leave it here
You can take it or leave it

  • Cello arrangement - Antony Partos
  • Cello - Jack Ward
  • Backing Vocals - Meghan Drummond
  • Pedal Steel - Jy-Perry Banks

References