“Hello Dan, it’s Joe here…” So begins one of Australia’s best stories as sung by our top bloody storyteller, a sprawling folk yarn about the unconditional bond of family, about a bloke in the slammer with a big heart, about celebrating Christmas in a scorching summer. It’s true blue Aussie emotion, capturing raw camaraderie that will forever be etched within our country’s great songwriting canon. “How To Make Gravy” is also about how to make gravy.
Earlier this month, nearly two decades on from when Paul Kelly first recorded “How To Make Gravy”, a new icon emerged. Firing with the opening salvo that simply reads “Gravy”, Twitter user Paul Kelly (aka @itsthegravyman) made themselves known to the world. Twitter parody accounts are invariably shithouse, let’s face it, but the ones that strike gold are usually the ones taking the piss out of parody accounts with a finely tuned meta self-awareness. The caricature presented by @itsthegravyman is simple – a propagation of a singular aspect of “How To Make Gravy”, stripped of metaphor and coated in obscene larrikinism.
The account caught the eye of a few media outlets, with mystery surrounding who exactly was responsible for the gravy train of tweets – with radio station Triple M committing a rare misstep in gender bias attributing the account to “Some weird bloke” (since rectified in an edit). Amongst the minor frenzy of media attention, the gravy man even scored a series of retweets from the official Paul Kelly account. Good shit, as the gravy man would say.
We tracked down the legend behind the account to get the lowdown on their motivation, their love of the great man, their love of all things gravy, food trend predictions, and their (gravy-less) beef with Peter Garrett. Like the account itself, it got meta.
NOISEY: First up, who are you?
@itsthegravyman: My name is Lizzie and there's been some trepidation in revealing myself because I've felt so bloody powerful parodying a bloke and finally garnering the attention of Triple M's pub talk who dubbed me 'some weird bloke on Twitter.' My existence has never felt more valid.
Why Paul Kelly? Why gravy?
I have two ears and a heart so, like any self-respecting Australian, Paul Kelly is one of my favourite artists. I used to work at a venue and on the occasion that Paul would play there I had to exit myself from the concert hall a bunch of times during his sets because I would be blubbering uncontrollably and it was really unprofessional.
Fast-forward a coupla years and here I am sitting in my vehicle listening to “How To Make Gravy” and realising it's the only thing that my mate Angus who openly hates all forms of music has admitted to loving and the only song my entire family mutually loves.
I started canvassing ideas for a really obnoxious remix of this really beautiful, untouchable song called the “Gravy Song” which was effectively just the song with hip-hop air horns overdubbing it. And then, naturally I got too lazy to download the air horn sound effect so relented to saying heaps of dumb shit about the song on the internet instead.
Ok, so I've made the gravy from the recipe you put in the song, what do I pour it on?
LAMB, BEEF, PORK, PEAS, CARROTS, POTATO, PUMPKIN. Anything outside of that immediate food group and you're a coward.
How would you describe your relationship with old mate Peter Garrett?
Wouldn't piss on him if he were on fire. He's going round claiming a ghost-writer penned the gravy song which is bullshit. He's honestly been big-noting me and riding my coat-tails from day dot and the inception of my Twitter account was just the perfect opportunity for him to weasel his way back into my life via-cyber bullying. I often subtweet him and I think my fans are catching on. But hey, I'm human too! “Power & The Passion” is fucken fantastic.
There have been a lot of food trends and fads pop up in recent years, how do we get gravy on the same level as extreme milkshakes and Nutella?
As soon as these pissweak cafes pull their heads in and stop injecting shit into donuts and glorifying Nutella (which is for horrible piggies with no self control or respect for decorum) the sooner we can agree that it should be socially acceptable to carry sole pieces of meat dowsed in gravy in our bare hands. That's a trend I'm backing in 2015.
Your dream dinner party (obviously with shitloads of gravy on offer), who's invited?
Neil Finn just because I know some wild shit would go down and I could tweet about it! Plus, if you've even been to one of the bloke's live shows he tells a great story about someone rooting in a wool shed.
There was an explosion of media coverage for the gravy man last week, how did that feel?
I didn't tell anyone about my foray into parody Twitter so I found out about the media explosion via mates sending me the link telling me this dumb Paul Kelly gravy account seemed right up my alley. I wasn't going to tell anyone - but if my desperate need for attention and The Crying Game have taught me anything - keeping secrets is ultimately a bad idea. Plus, I was hoping if I told people it was me I'd make some kind of a profit but dirty deeds do indeed come dirt cheap (pay me, motherfuckers).
You copped a few RTs from the man himself.
I know! WHEN ARE WE GONNA HANG OUT SO I CAN RAG ON YOUR FOOTY TEAM PAUL? I AM OPEN TO LIFELONG FRIENDSHIP OR ALTERNATIVELY, BACKSTAGE PASSES TO THE MERRI SOUL SESSIONS. Cheers.
How protective of the gravy song are you? Reckon there are any acts you wouldn't mind hearing a cover from?
You can't replicate perfection. Just don't touch it unless you're a carton deep with an acoustic guitar on Christmas Day and your entire family is equally shitfaced and aren't exercising any quality control. I'm looking in your direction, James Reyne.
Final question, it’s a doozy: who's gonna make the gravy?
I've been asking the question myself for years, mate. My alternate ending to the song is that old mate's sentence was actually botched up and the prison warden advises him that he's got immediate parole just in time to make the gravy before Dan fucks up the tomato sauce portions.
Follow the gravy man on Twitter for all things gravy.
Follow Lachlan Kanoniuk on Twitter for sweetness and that extra tang.