No matter where you sit on COVID, lockdown, vaccination debates, everyone can relate to local Melbourne legend Henry Wagons’ new tunes released July 23rd.
Henry is an unfailingly generous personality, possessed of a keen mind and an ability to produce songs that tap into the prevailing psyche and resonate with us all. And that’s exactly what he has done with these two latest offerings.
The A side is a cover of Bob Dylan’s 1989 ‘Everything is Broken’. It’s true to the original and bounces along jauntily despite the subject matter. It captures the feelings of frustration everyone is so familiar with at the moment…slow vaccine rollouts, enforced isolation from friends and family in lockdown, and the increasing pressures for all those unable to work. Not least in Henry’s own industry where musicians, venues and the staff and crew employed by them are doing it pretty tough.
Henry infuses the lyrics with a tongue in cheek delivery, so the tune has a humorous edge matching the pace of the music. It feels good to admit that ‘yeah, everything is broken actually,’ without giving into the despair of that reality.
The accompanying video, with broken and abandoned imagery, is not dark or bleak, nor self pitying. It could easily have had an angry edge, but instead feels more like the song, a kind of shoulder shrugging sigh. An acknowledgement that we are, as the world is, a little bit broken right now.
The B side, in contrast, is as uplifting as a warm hug. ‘I Cooked You a Meal’ sees Henry inviting us into his home, cooking a meal, taking pleasure in the simple acts of preparing and sharing.
Henry describes it as ‘a saloon door swinging tune’, and it certainly does evoke that imagery, aided expertly by Lachlan Bryan on music hall style piano. It meanders along in a happy, relaxed way, full of the warmth that comes with a comforting meal, a few drinks and easy conversation.
This song and video make me smile, bring me hope for that time when we can gather round each other’s tables again, or watch our favourite musos play face to face, sharing drinks, laughter, making happy memories.
So, who is Henry?
Henry Wagons is a singer-songwriter, musician, and front man of outlaw country rock band, Wagons. He also obviously has his own solo career (that’s why you’re here folks!) as well as hosting a weekly radio program ‘Tower of Song’ on Double J, and doing the odd turn as TV personality too. He hosted ‘Delivered Live’ last year, a livestream series featuring Australian musicians and comedians performing. It not only gave us all a welcome entertainment fix, but also raised much needed funds to help support the struggling venues, artists and crews that work in our local industry.
Those of you who follow me on instagram at @wishinghistory or @ftlob, or have read my blog here at littlebird tweets, will already know how much I adore Henry. He spreads joy in whatever he does, and his humanity always shines through. On his insta livestreams he checks we’re all ok, and shares his own highs and lows through this COVID journey. I never walk away from time with Henry, be it live, livestream, or live to air, without a spring in my step and a smile on my face. That’s a gift right there.
You can purchase the song/s via Bandcamp and as an added treat, Henry has designed tea towels, also for sale alongside the songs.
A little confession here…I’m quite addicted to Henry’s tea towels, so I purchased both to hang alongside my Wagons’ ‘Songs from the Aftermath’ merch from their 2018 album.
I’m still waiting for all the framing bits and pieces to arrive so this is not the photo I’d hoped to show here. Sigh, lockdown delivery woes, anyone? Still, you can see how excellent the tea towels are, so rush off and grab yourself one (only a few left folks, so be quick!)
Hopefully it’s not too long before we can get out and see Henry play these songs, and others both solo and with Wagons. For now though, get onto BandCamp and throw some money at these tunes, (and don’t forget the tea towels!). Your ears will thank you, and I think so will your head and heart. And as ever, my constant refrain…SUPPORT the artist BUY the music!
peace and love