From St Kilda to Kings Cross

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"From St Kilda to Kings Cross"
Single by Paul Kelly
from the album Post
A-side "From St Kilda to Kings Cross"
B-side "Blues for Skip"
Released April 1985
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded January–February 1985
Silverwood Studios, Sydney
Genre Acoustic
Length 2:53
Label White
Songwriter(s) Paul Kelly
Producer(s) Paul Kelly, Clive Shakespeare
Paul Kelly singles chronology
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"From St Kilda to Kings Cross"
"Before Too Long"
"Rocking Institution" "From St Kilda to Kings Cross"
"Before Too Long"
Audio sample

"From St Kilda to Kings Cross" is an acoustic song performed and written by Australian musician Paul Kelly. The title refers to inner city suburbs St Kilda in Melbourne and Kings Cross in Sydney. It was released in April 1985 as the only single from Kelly's first solo album Post. The single did not chart on the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart. The song has found later acclaim with it appearing on lists for 'Top 20 Sydney Songs' and 'Top 25 Melbourne Songs'. The track has been recorded by other artists including Bob Evans' version on Before Too Long (November 2009) – a Paul Kelly tribute album.

Composition and background[edit]

In late 1984 Paul Kelly wrote "From St Kilda to Kings Cross" on Don Walker's piano while living at Walker's Kings Cross flat.[1] Kelly had met Walker (Cold Chisel keyboardist and songwriter) through his ex-wife's sister.[1] Kelly started composing the song as a blues variation on "From Memphis to Norfolk Is a 36-hour Ride" by Robert Johnson.[1][2] By using Walker's piano the composition shifted to include the influence of "Never Going Back" by The Lovin' Spoonful.[1] The song was released as a single in April 1985 but did not appear on the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart.[2][3] The single's cover depicts a "black and pink image of Paul's face" on the White Records imprint by Mushroom Records.[4] The song was written in a bleak period in Kelly's life: after the break-up of his band and his marriage, he had moved from Melbourne to Sydney in late 1984.[1][5] In the biographical notes distributed to the media when Post was released, Kelly advised that in 1984 he packed all his worldly goods in a trailer, borrowed his father-in-law's Holden and drove from St Kilda to Kings Cross.[6] During the second week of recording Post with Clive Shakespeare (ex-Sherbet guitarist) co-producing, Kelly recorded the track and he had a heavy cold which affected his voice but "seemed to suit the track".[1] In 2000, he recalled working on it:

The Go-Betweens, the Triffids were really big influences ... the Saints. "From St. Kilda to Kings Cross" was a fairly early song for me. I felt that I was on to something and it was ... I was very aware that it was more like a Chuck Berry song where you named names and places – you named sounds and cities. I thought that was interesting to get words into songs that people hadn't got in before.[7]

Allmusic's Mike De Gagne was not impressed by the track, he felt "this Aussie loves his homeland. With regional reference titles like 'From St. Kilda to King's Cross' and 'Adelaide,' his inclusion of cities and towns seem to gather too much detail, familiar to only those who reside down under".[8] "From St Kilda to Kings Cross" was used as the B-side of Paul Kelly & the Messengers' 1991 single, "Don't Start Me Talking". This version was released on their 1992 album Hidden Things. It later appeared on Kelly's first compilation album, Songs from the South in June 1997.

Later appreciation[edit]

Palm trees, St Kilda Esplanade

ABC Radio's Richard Fidler has described "From St Kilda to Kings Cross" as "embedded in our [Australian] cultural psyche".[9] In 2004 the song was listed by The Sydney Morning Herald's Bernard Zuel in his "top 20 Sydney songs",[10] and of "immortalising" Kings Cross in particular.[11]

Conversely, it has also described as an "iconic anthem" about St Kilda.[12] In August 2004, according to a panel of writers for The Age, it is one of "The Top 25 Melbourne Songs".[13] The song's lyrics "I want to see the sun go down from St Kilda Esplanade / Where the beach needs reconstruction, where the palm trees have it hard", have been mentioned in relation to proposed re-developments of the foreshore of St Kilda,[14] especially in reference to the palm trees on St Kilda Esplanade.[15]

In April 2006, the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club released a cover version on their album, A Long Way from Home, which was broadcast on The Coodabeens programme on ABC Local Radio with Billy Baxter compering – Kelly had written a 1980 hit about him, "Billy Baxter".[16] In October 2009, Gomez members Tom Gray and Paul Blackburn performed the song on the "Like a Version" segment of Triple J's Breakfast Show.[17] In November that year, Bob Evans (aka Kevin Mitchell of Jebediah) performed "From St Kilda to Kings Cross" at two Triple J concerts, Before Too Long, in tribute of Kelly, which was released as a triple-CD of the same name.[18]

Track listing[edit]

From St Kilda to Kings Cross
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "From St Kilda to Kings Cross" Paul Kelly[19] 2:53
2. "Blues for Skip" Paul Kelly[20] 3:07
Total length: 6:00



  • Paul Kelly – vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Steve Connolly – lead guitar, harmonies
  • Michael Barclay – harmonies
  • Chris Coyne – saxophone
Production work

Release history[edit]

Format Country Label Catalogue No. Year
7" single AUS White Label K-9666 April 1985


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kelly, Paul (21 September 2010). How to Make Gravy. Camberwell, Vic: Penguin Books (Australia). pp. 182–184. ISBN 978-1-926428-22-2. 
  2. ^ a b "Before Too Long – Triple J's Tribute to Paul Kelly". Triple J. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 11 November 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book Ltd. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  Note: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1974 until Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) created their own charts in mid-1988. In 1992, Kent back calculated chart positions for 1970–1974.
  4. ^ Blanda, Eva (2007). "Paul Kelly – Discography – Part IIa – The Recordings of Paul Kelly as a Solo Artist". Other People's Houses (Eva Blanda). Archived from the original on 15 December 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  5. ^ Kelly, Paul; Judith, Kate; National Educational Advancement Programs (2005). Don't Start Me Talking: Lyrics 1984–2004. Carlton, Vic: National Educational Advancement Programs. ISBN 978-1-86478-099-4. 
  6. ^ "Sound of Sydney Volume 3". Method Records. Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Episode 6: Gathering of the Tribes 1984–2000". Long Way to the Top. ABC Television. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved 7 February 2012. 
  8. ^ DeGagne, Mike. "Post – Paul Kelly & the Messengers – Review". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  9. ^ Fidler, Richard (23 November 2011). "Paul Kelly". Conversations with Richard Fidler. ABC Local Radio. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  10. ^ Zuel, Bernard (18 September 2004). "A Tale of Two Cities' Ditties". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "The Concrete Jungle Leaves Its Mark". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 1 November 2005. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  12. ^ Smith, Bridie; Evans, Chris (8 June 2004). "Streets Ahead in Pop Stakes". The Age. Australia: Fairfax Media. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Carney, Shaun; Jenkins, Jeff; Dwyer, Michael; Beck, Chris; Flanagan, Martin; Attwood, Alan (28 August 2004). "Songs of Melbourne". The Age. Australia: Fairfax Media. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  14. ^ Cameron Houston and Royce Millar (26 May 2007). "New Playground for Patron Saints". The Age. Australia: Fairfax Media. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "Palm Trees Do It Hard on St Kilda Esplanade". The Age. Australia: Fairfax Media. 18 June 2003. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "The Coodabeens Music". The Coodabeens. ABC Local Radio. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 2 April 2006. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "'Like a Version' – Gomez". Breakfast Show. Triple J. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 23 October 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Before Too Long – ABC Shop". ABC Shop. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "'From St Kilda to Kings Cross' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  20. ^ "'Blues for Skip' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  21. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "Paul Kelly". Australian Rock Database. (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 

External links[edit]