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  • Published: 30 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781926428321
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Audio CD
  • Pages: 36
  • RRP: $59.95

How to Make Gravy

His own stories in his own voice. Paul Kelly reads his award-winning 'mongrel memoir' in its entirety on 16 CDs, plus bonus disc with guest readers Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Judy Davis and Ben Mendelsohn.

Paul Kelly is a uniquely gifted storyteller, and here, using his lyrics as starting points, he reads stories of his life and his songs, including 'Before Too Long', 'To Her Door', 'Leaps And Bounds', 'Don't Start Me Talking', 'Dumb Things', 'From Little Things Big Things Grow' and 'How To Make Gravy'. Mirroring the structure of his legendary A to Z shows – where he performs around a hundred of his songs alphabetically over four nights – Kelly describes the highs and lows of performing, the art of songwriting, being on the road with the band, tales of his childhood, family, friends and fellow musicians.

He is then joined by special guests on a bonus disc as some of Australia's finest actors – Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Judy Davis and Ben Mendelsohn – each read a selected chapter.

Playful and honest, insightful and intimate, How to Make Gravy is an irresistible reflection on both the big and little things in life.

Paul Kelly has recorded seventeen studio albums as well as several film soundtracks and live albums, in an influential career spanning more than thirty years. His prose has appeared in Meanjin, The Monthly, Rolling Stone and The Age.


'The pre-eminent writer of his generation.' The Weekend Australian

'This book delivers.' Sun-Herald

  • Published: 30 November 2011
  • ISBN: 9781926428321
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Audio CD
  • Pages: 36
  • RRP: $59.95

About the author

Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly was born in Adelaide, one of nine children, in 1955. He wrote his first song in 1976 and has been making records since 1978, over thirty to date. He has collaborated with many other songwriters and written music for film and theatre.
His prose has appeared in Meanjin, The Monthly, Rolling Stone and The Age, and in 2010 he published a ‘mongrel memoir’, How to Make Gravy. His most recent studio album is Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train, released in 2021.

Also by Paul Kelly

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Praise for How to Make Gravy

The pre-eminent writer of his generation.

The Weekend Australian

Paul Kelly is the Bob Dylan of Australia. This autobiographical work ... provides more than ample evidence of it ... Every line is an enlightening treat.

Robert Messenger, Canberra Times

Kelly yarns about his life, his work and his obsessions with low-key, self-deprecating humour ... How to Make Gravy is a delight.

Linda Jaivin, The Monthly

A carnival of ideas; memories of songs and friends, family, cities, shows, passions; insights into his own and reflections on other artists' work ... The flavour of Kelly – his openness and honesty and passion for the detail of life – suffuses the book ... The closest we've come to an insight into the thoughts and work methods of this great poet.

Peter Wilmoth, The Weekly Review

Here is a body of work that goes far beyond the cliche of Kelly as a plain-thinking everyman of folk-rock ... This [book] is diverse, funny, moving and elaborate.

Sydney Morning Herald

A very generous book ... Worth every cent.

Jeff Jenkins, InPress Magazine

Paul Kelly's reminiscences about 30 years of creative endeavour have it all ... Call it a gift.

Michael Dwyer, The Age

Fascinating ... It has a vigour, intelligence and humanity ... a wealth of insider detail about life at the coalface of the music industry.

Ray Puris, West Australian

Totally original ... really great stuff ... the writing is to die for.

Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Australian

This book runs like a concert, shifting moods, tempos and subject matter ... Kelly is, I think, the pre-eminent writer of his generation. His body of work stands against any novelist, playwright or filmmaker as the definitive narrative of recent decades.

Toby Creswell, Weekend Australian

Kelly is a consummate storyteller.

Deborah Crabtree, Australian Bookseller & Publisher

The Bard of the People has turned his career-spanning A-Z shows into a fascinating autobiography ... Often hilarious.

Time Out, Sydney

An entertaining insight into Kelly's inspirations, influences and personal creative process ... His writing talent stretches far beyond songs ... Not just for fans.

Herald Sun

Kelly is not only an acute observer but also a very good, often inspired, writer ... Kelly has a great deal to tell us ... This book delivers.

John Clare, Sun Herald

A hundred tales that traverse the emotional, the personal, the historical, the factual and the political.

Mel Bampton, Yen

Provides insight into Kelly's inspirations, influences and creative process, showing him to be a man of gentle humour ... His writing talent stretches far beyond songs.

Susan Bugg, Daily Telegraph

A long and winding book full of engaging tales.

Kathy McCabe, Daily Telegraph

Stands apart from the run-of-the-mill rock biography template ... The memoir you'd expect from Kelly ... A rare peek into his very private world.

Julian Tompkin, X-Press Magazine

Funny, moving, entertaining and perilously easy to read.

Sunday Telegraph

A very good read indeed ... Fascinating ... A must-have.

Mary Vernon, Townsville Bulletin

A most unusual memoir ... Kelly is a very talented songwriter and he proves a damn good storyteller as well. If you're interested in music, you have to read this.

Glen Humphries, Illawarra Mercury

The singer, songwriter and musician has a lot to say ... Compelling reading.

Shepparton News

Awards & recognition

Australian Book Industry Awards

Winner  •  2011  •  Biography of the Year

Australian Book Industry Awards

Shortlisted  •  2011  •  Book of the Year

Indie Award

Shortlisted  •  2011  •  Non-Fiction

Nielsen BookData Booksellers Choice Awd

Shortlisted  •  2011  •  Prize for Writing for Young Adults

Prime Minister's Literary Award

Shortlisted  •  2011  •  Non-Fiction

National Biography Award

Shortlisted  •  2012  •  Prize for Writing for Young Adults

NSW Premier's Literary Awards

Shortlisted  •  2012  •  Douglas Stewart Prize

Melbourne Prize for Literature

Shortlisted  •  2013  •  Best Writing Award

Discover more

Paul Kelly Shares his favourite Christmas food (and it’s not gravy!)

We caught up with Paul Kelly to learn about his Christmas traditions, favourite Christmas song, go-to gravy recipe and more.