Songs About Brisbane

By Daniel Colasimone
29th Jun 2013

Brisbane has been the muse of many a talented song-writer over the years.

To be fair, many of lyrics about Brisbane tend to be complaint-based, banging on about how much better it is in Sydney or Melbourne, but we can put that down to artistic-types getting all hipster and wanting to tell us all about the much cooler scenes they are a part of.

There is no doubting this city has produced more than its fair share of great bands and artists per head of population, though, and many of those have found the time to pen the odd loving ode to our fair city.

Here are five of the best tunes that refer to Brisbane:

Bernard Fanning | Departures (Blue Toowong Skies)

Let's let Mr Fanning explain this one: 'My Dad died at the beginning of 2011, which coincided with the biggest floods Brisbane has seen. This was something that loomed pretty large for me over the whole writing period of 'Departures' and I suppose a song like this was bound to come out. The lyric is talking about the place in Brisbane where I grew up. Toowong, a near city suburb that my Dad also spent his childhood in and ended up being buried in, along with my older brother, who I now happen to be older than.


You're right where you belong

Beneath blue Toowong skies

Cut so deep in our bones

You surround those of us you love

The Saints | Brisbane (Security City)

The best part about despotic, corrupt governments is that they tend to incubate excellent rebel music. Brisbane punk pioneers, The Saints obviously didn't appreciate the slow-driving police of the Joh era, so they penned this classic ode to paranoid angst. 


Thirteen hot nights in a row

The cops drive past and they move slow

I start to feel I'm being used

In some scheme that's been hidden from public view

I don't want it let down my own hopes for this town

It's so hard to get around

Lots of cars but not much sound

In town

Custard | Apartment

So, to summarise in just a few words, this is a song about a chap who moves into a new apartment and is quite pleased about it. Actually, that pretty much covers it. The apartment in question is rumoured to be on Waterworks Road in Red Hill where Custard vocalist Dave McCormack once lived.


I've got a new apartment baby,

And it protects me from the lonely whistling streets,

And I've got a new apartment baby,

The interior colour is red,

And my only friend is my stereo receiver,

Playing my favourite song all night long,


Midnight Oil | Dreamworld

This is a lament about change in general and, more specifically, the changing faces of our cities as a result of the greed of urban developers. Dreamworld mentions the iconic Breaky Creek Hotel being sold off, and also refers to the demolition of the popular Brisbane dancehall, Cloudland, a venue that Midnight Oil had frequently played at, in 1982. 


The Breakfast Creek Hotel is up for sale, 

The last square mile of terra firma gavelled in the mail, 

So farewell to the Norfolk Island pines, 

No amount of make believe can help this heart of mine.

The Go-Betweens | Streets of Your Town

The juxtaposition of a sweet-sounding tune and some pretty dark lyrics gives this song its melancholy power. Like many of the songs written about Brisbane, it hints at the artist's love/hate relationship with the city.


Don't the sun look good today?

But the rain is on its way

Watch the butcher shine his knives

And this town is full of battered wives.

Image credit: Australia 


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