Don Walker doesn't waste words.
He doesn't miss anyone with them, either.
Those traits, along with a life lived at the coal-face of Australia's burgeoning cultural transition from the mid-1970s to the present day, help explain how many Don Walker songs became imprinted on the modern history of Australian rock'n'roll.
Now, Black Inc has published a book of lyrics to songs penned by Don Walker. Simply called Songs, it contains the lyrics to 240 songs written by Walker, starting in 1970 and continuing to this day.
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The first song in the book is Khe Sanh. It shines like an electronic billboard. The message is clear: Don Walker by virtue of his songs, is tattooed into this country's music history.
There are several gems in it, of course - Breakfast at Sweethearts, Shipping Steel, Standing on the Outside, Cheap Wine, Flame Trees, Tucker's Daughter. And some known better to true fans of Walker's own shows - Eternity, Three Blackbirds, Young Girls. And there are even a few that have never been recorded.
As if to magnify his literary importance, Black Inc has also reissued Shots, Walker's memoir of his wild days in the 1970s and '80s living at Kings Cross and working as a member of an emerging rock band, Cold Chisel.
Shots offers an intense portrait of a tough life. It's not a story painted in glory, but rather in drugs, sex, music, poverty, bars, benders - and making sense of it all.
Walker, 67, is about to tour on the back of the Songs book. He's been doing one-on-one interview shows already, with upcoming chats at the Bendigo Writers Festival (August 10-11), Melbourne Writers Festival (September 1) and Brisbane (September 4 with Troy Cassar-Daly).
He's also got a 10-show run of concerts in August and September.
The book is broken into 10 chronological sections, starting with 1970-1976. Each carries an introduction by Walker, adding context to the origins of some of the songs and his state of mind at the time. The last song in the book is Darwin, which Walker only recorded last year (Live at Camelot Lounge), and now plays at most of his own shows.
"I put a bit of time into the writing," Walker says of the intros. "I actually did the final compilation over two days on the hill overlooking Newcastle beach . . ."
"I've never lived in Newcastle, but I like it a lot."
No wonder; it's a storyteller's town, full of characters and history.
It's also a beautiful city.
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I put to Walker that lyrics in a few of his songs reflect a person who is a "man's man," where man conquers everything and women are his objects of desire and mystery.
He shoots back: "I don't think anybody is a man's man. I've certainly never been. That's a cartoon.,"
He clarifies his position.
"I've never been confused or bewildered about my gender. But I just count myself lucky in that regard," he says. "That remains a huge burden that some people have to struggle with, and have to figure out . . . that left me free to deal with other things."
I take another run at the subject, referring to his great ability to write about women and sexual desire, but stopping just short of describing sex acts.
"Yes, I am heterosexual man," he says. "I always avoid being salacious I hope, in what I write . . . I think women are wonderful."
Walker is not just prolific, he's still busy, as a musician and songwriter. When we speak, in early July, he's just spent two weeks in a studio demoing songs with his Cold Chisel band mates, including Charlie Drayton, who has flown in from the US for the sessions. He anticipates they will record in August, and do some Cold Chisel dates in 2020.
His own recording projects have by slowed by down by the recent death of Glen Hannah, a long-time guitarist with him.
"I am primarily a songwriter," he says. "I can't divorce myself from being a lyric writer. They come in rhythms. It's not a simple matter of a couple of rhyming lines. Hopefully they are galloping and extensive lines. Momentum is very important in songwriting."
He backs off naming his personal favourites of the songs he's written.
"There are many favourites, not just one," he offers. "In saying that, there are quite a few good ones here, but I have to balance that by saying there's quite a few bad ones I didn't include.
"I have 450 songs on my hard drive, and about 240 in this book. That's my strike rate. If I was a football coach, I'd be out of work."
In the intro to the final section, he notes "there are new, strange songs developing, half-written".
"I don't know where they are going yet, but I haven't been there before," he writes. "It's like fresh oxygen in a headwind for breathing. Revives the mind and stiffens the sanity."