“Self, Muso, Poet, Re-Planetarizationist” | Billie Reid

“He’s a great poet. A great tunesmith. Somehow he’s fallen between the cracks, but for those in the know Billie Reid is the real deal. Human despair – joyous love – the flow and the eb. Soft alt-rock butts cheek ‘n’ jowl with hillbilly banjo. No compromises. There is no label you can stick to him. He’s a free spirit. He doesn’t fit in. He won’t play the game. I love his music. I love the words. He’s going to dark places. He doesn’t give a shit about the music machine. My life is richer for it” John Young (Contemporary Musicologist).

Here we have some footage of the great man himself. Billie Reid busking in Fremantle. (Perth Western Australia) September 2014.


“Poet Billie Reid’s music delivers heartfelt reminders that “things will never be the same again” …”

The thing is, you don’t see it coming. You think it’s all fine between you, and then … WHAM!! Out of nowhere, you’re left dazed by an unexpected revelation. The difference between the person you thought you were dealing with, and the one she turns out to be. It’s been the stuff of wistful songwriting since whoever it was first realised that the way they felt worked better put to music than it did grouching to a stranger in bar. That those sentiments shared would be ones that an audience would relate to. Because we all have those feelings of hurt, alienation, pain, that blister up when love goes sour. Billie Reid gets this. Gets it better than most, and delivers heartfelt and caustic reminders that “things will never be the same again”. Simple words, big truth, and the line as it’s sung carries a charge that we can all recognise if we’ve ever opened our heart to another and had them snack on it.

The line that sticks with me right now is “You played me like I was a steel guitar”, from ‘Gilded Lily’. Whether or not it’s true in any objective sense, it certainly feels real, and is all we have to go on given that we never reach that point of objectivity but stagger instead through a hall or mirrors presenting distorted surfaces at every turn. Billie’s just as astute when he points the lens at himself, acknowledging that all he can offer the woman who already has a lover is “a house on Demon Street”. It’s good to recognise that in yourself, however painful it is for you, and those you attempt to entice.

Honesty is the writer’s watchword. Without it, the writer has no compass, can produce only words, becomes a spindoctor for his or her own campaigns. That can be shiny, sophisticated, but sooner or later it loses its appeal. All that’s left is a surface that the writer either sees themselves in, or averts their eyes from. Billie Reid’s gaze is steady. Throughout the songs on his album ‘Ode To The Dudes’, his grasp on his own feelings and failings is sure, strong. And that conviction comes out too in his voice, a clear whisky tone that I want to hear in a live setting some day soon.

I remember a bar in Melbourne, a boho place where a gypsy band played one night with wooden box percussion and a candy-floss-haired cellist. Just the right feel for Billie to step onto the stage after they’ve played and follow their renditions of European folk tunes with his bittersweet concoctions, drinking deep from the well of Americana. A few hours ago I received one of those unexpected blows that I mentioned at the start. A talk with a savvy ex helped me realise where this new woman was coming from. That she was operating from a place of fear, which is why she lashed out at me in the way she did. Fear makes you do crazy things. One of the better choices it’s helped me with is to listen to Billie Reid while I reflect what’s going on with me and her. Thanks Billie.

Charlie Reynolds