Songwriting is one of the hardest aspects of being a musician. Sure, it’s definitely difficult to nail down chords, melody, beats, rhythm, and every other aspect of a song, but to be able to craft the delicate poetry that cascades over the top of the instrumental accompaniment? Well that takes years of hard work and dedication that is most often innate, and simply cannot be taught.
While there are plenty of brilliant songwriting partnerships that have achieved high levels of fame for what they’ve achieved, such as John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and many more, we’re more interested in learning more of the famous Australian songwriting partnerships out there.
With Angus & Julia Stone having just returned with their new record Snow, we’ve decided to take a closer look at some of the pairings that have resulted in some of Australia’s best contributions to the world of music, truly putting the Gerry Goffin and Carole Kings of the world to shame.
Angus & Julia Stone
Angus & Julia Stone have been knocking it out of the park for well over a decade now. Since they first appeared on our radar’s in 2006 with the infectiously cute ‘Paper Aeroplane’, the brother and sister duo have been crafting some of the best singles that Australia has produced in years. Of course, the duo preferred to work alone for the longest time, allowing each other to craft their own lyrics, and only collaborating in the final stages.
Now, with the group’s fourth record Snow, the Stone siblings decided to work together for the first time. Instead of taking their usual approach, working as a pair has seen the duo craft some of the best lyrics of their entire career. Taking inspiration from various sources, the Stones have managed to use each other’s knowledge of the songwriting process to put together a record that stands up as not only one of their best, but one of the best records of the year.
Harry Vanda & George Young
If you were to ever think of an Australian songwriting partnership, Harry Vanda & George Young were the originals. With a career going all the way back to the mid-’60s, Vanda & Young have been in charge of some of the biggest singles in Australian music history. While their early days saw them create ‘Friday On My Mind’, one of Australia’s most famous songs, the duo also saw success performing as new wave band Flash And The Pan. Of course, we can’t forget how they helped George’s younger brothers Malcolm and Angus by producing records and writing songs for their band AC/DC, adding their touch to a wide variety of musical genres.
Julian Hamilton & Kim Moyes
When people think of The Presets, very rarely do they regard Julian Hamilton & Kim Moyes as some of Australia’s best songwriters. With countless compositions behind them, numerous singles, and over half a dozen ARIAS won due to their work, Hamilton & Moyes are one of Australia’s most successful pairings, with their work being recognised as some of the most-played music in the country over the last decade.
Robert Forster & Grant McLennan
The Go-Betweens have gained a reputation for being one of the most beloved indie-rock groups ever to come out of Australia. Formed in 1977 by Robert Forster & Grant McLennan, the pair would go on to write some of the greatest songs to ever come out of Australia, with the duo sharing a passion for relatable songs that displayed a tender side of humanity rarely captured by mainstream songwriters. While Grant McLennan sadly passed away in 2006, his legacy lives on through the brilliant work he left us.
Darren Hayes & Daniel Jones
If you had to look at one of the most successful Australian acts of the ’90s, the chances are that you’re going to look directly a Savage Garden. An unassuming pop duo from Queensland, Savage Garden broke onto the world stage in 1997 with the release of their debut record. A perfect marriage of songwriting and composition, Darren Hayes & Daniel Jones came together to make some of the best Aussie pop you’ve ever heard. After all, there’s a reason this album has sold more than twelve million copies.
Don Walker & Steve Prestwich
Aussie pub rock has undoubtedly never been the same since Cold Chisel burst onto the scene in the ’70s. But while music fans will tend to be drawn towards the charismatic stage presence of Jimmy Barnes, it’s the underrated work of Don Walker & Steve Prestwich that we’re focusing on today. With a penchant for crafting songs that most could only dream of, the duo are the backbone of Cold Chisel, and therefore indirectly responsible for helping to further the reach of Aussie pub rock.
Individually, Don Walker is considered to be one of the greatest Aussie songwriters ever, add in the undeniable talent of the late Steve Prestwich, and you’ve got one world-beating team of writers on your hands.
Glenn Shorrock & Graeham Goble
While the Little River Band’s success may have been confined mainly to the ’70s and ’80s, you can’t deny their success, selling over 30 million records here and overseas. Undoubtedly, the majority of their success came from the songwriting talents of Glenn Shorrock & Graeham Goble, with their ability to capture the essence simplicity in their music becoming one of their biggest assets.
Famously, there are no original members of Little River Band left in the group, but let’s face it, with a legacy for writing songs this good, you can’t blame other musos for wanting to be associated with the Little River Band name.
Andrew Farriss & Michael Hutchence
Throughout their career, INXS have sold over 50 million records, and the fact is that without the songwriting talents of Andrew Farriss & Michael Hutchence, that number might have just around 20. (Well, Michael Hutchence’s charisma might have driven that number up anyway.) With the pair having met way back in school, INXS formed in 1977, and driven by one of the best songwriting duos in Australian rock, managed to go on to become one the country’s biggest musical exports of the 21st century.
Doc Neeson, Rick Brewster & John Brewster
The Angels have been considered one of Australia’s best rock bands by a number of huge international names, such as Pearl Jam, Guns N’ Roses, and Nirvana. With reference like that, we hardly need to go on, but the fact remains that Doc Neeson and the Brewster brothers formed one of the greatest hard-rock songwriting partnerships that this country has ever seen. With countless singles between them, including ‘Take A Long Line’, ‘No Secrets’, and ‘Shadow Boxer’, the musos have done plenty.
It’s just a shame that they weren’t the ones who wrote that brilliant line from ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ – that one came from an enthusiastic punter at a show.
Tom Morgan & Evan Dando
We’re aware that Evan Dando isn’t Australian, but let’s be fair, with all the time he’s spent in the country, he might as well be. Back in the early ’90s, Evan Dando teamed up with Smudge’s Tom Morgan, creating one of the best cross-continental partnerships that has ever existed in the process. With Morgan and Dando working hard together writing songs that would later become part of The Lemonheads’ brilliant It’s A Shame About Ray album, the duo’s songwriting prowess was envied the world over by countless musicians who have spent years trying to recreate their casual, yet heartfelt style of writing.