Choirgirl (song)

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Cold chisel choirgirl.jpg
Single by Cold Chisel
from the album East
B-side "Conversations" (live)
Released November 1979
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 3–14 October 1979, Paradise Studios, Sydney
Genre Pub rock[1]
Label WEA
Songwriter(s) Don Walker
Producer(s) Mark Opitz
Cold Chisel singles chronology
"Shipping Steel"
"Cheap Wine"
"Shipping Steel"
"Cheap Wine"

"Choirgirl" is a 1979 single by Australian rock band Cold Chisel. A ballad with an R&B influenced melody,[2] the single was released months before the album East that it featured on. It was the first time the band had recorded with producer Mark Opitz. It peaked at number 14 in Australia


Author Don Walker said, "I made a conscious attempt to write a hit single. It was a matter of pride and craft. And then I thought, 'What'll I write it about...' I wrote it about pregnancy termination and it was a massive hit."[3] At the time of release, many people seemed unaware of the subject matter, and the song was played on radio stations 2SM & 3XY owned by the Catholic Church.[4] Barnes said, "Even though nobody knew what "Choirgirl" was about, everybody felt an emotional connection."[5]

Producer Opitz said, "I used all the old Alberts Tricks as we built "Choirgirl" - where to bring in the backing vocals, have a half-chorus first...all the things I'd learned from Vanda & Young about keeping the listener interested."[5] Walker said, "Mark was the first person who came along who took the barriers away, who said, "Yes, doing that is not a problem. In fact, that's the way we should do it."[6]

The song is driven by Walker's Yamaha CP70 electric grand piano and although Jimmy Barnes sings lead on most of the song, Ian Moss provides close harmonies on the second verse and sings lead vocals on the bridge.

The single reached number 14 in the Australian charts in November 1979[7] and was Cold Chisel's first hit.[4] Walker was nominated for best recorded songwriter at the 1979 TV Week/Countdown Music Awards for the song.[8]

A 12" version was also released, featuring an additional live version of "Khe Sanh" on the b-side.[2]

An appearance on Countdown was made to promote the song, with the band wearing matching white clothes and miming.

Walker later said of the song, "Things can be intensely personal when you write them, but then that gets graded away as you play it 200 times a year over the subsequent five years and then gets played on the radio fifteen times a day right across the country for the next twenty years. It's like saying the same phrase over and over again, it becomes meaningless."[9]

The original album credits for the album East list the song as "Choirgirl", but on some subsequent releases it is written "Choir Girl".

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Bernard Zuel. "Cold Chisel review: 'Last stand', 30 years after the last one, still brings the house down". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. 
  2. ^ a b Michael Lawrence (1998). Showtime: The Cold Chisel Story. Belmont, Victoria: Michael Lawrence. ISBN 1-86503-118-6. 
  3. ^ John O'Donnell, Toby Creswell & Craig Mathieson (2010). The 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Victoria: Hardie Grant Books. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9. 
  4. ^ a b Anthony O'Grady (2001). Cold Chisel: The Pure Stuff. Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-196-5. 
  5. ^ a b Mark Opitz (2012). Sophisto-Punk. North Sydney: Ebury Press. p. 80. ISBN 9781742757933. 
  6. ^ Don Walker (2001). Cold Chisel. MusicMax. 
  7. ^ David Kent (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, New South Wales: Australian Chart Book. p. 72. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  8. ^ Angus Cameron, ed. (1985). The Australian Almanac. North Ryde, NSW: Angus & Robertson. ISBN 0-207-15108-3. 
  9. ^ Kruger, Debbie (2005). Songwriters Speak. Balmain, New South Wales: Limelight Press. p. 282. ISBN 0-9757080-3-1. 
  10. ^ Melissa Redman (27 November 2013). "Album Review: Taylor Henderson – Taylor Henderson". Renowned for Sound. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 

External links[edit]