Folk musician Jed Rowe's track 'Tailem Bend', off upcoming album The Last Day of Winter, inspired by River Murray town

Melbourne songwriter Jed Rowe still remembers the moment inspiration struck, as he stopped by the side of the highway just out of Tailem Bend.

He was on his way back from the Fringe Festival in Adelaide, in the early stages of the long drive down the highway.

"On a long drive – this is a solo tour – your mind is half occupied by driving and half daydreaming, and that's how the song came about," he said.

"I was taking a bit of time on this trip to stop and take photos if I saw interesting buildings or sheds or things.

"I found one just on the edge of Tailem Bend, going back towards Adelaide, one of those old sandstone houses that has obviously been sitting empty for 50 years.

"Sometimes those places spark a story for me."

The lyrics to the song he wrote speak about a bloke working in the town where he grew up, waiting to hear from an old high school flame, wondering where life will lead when the railway closes down.

"Usually it's a bit of a chunk of melody, maybe a few words," he said of the creative process.

"They might end up being words that make sense or might be nonsense sounds that get the idea going.

"You're spitting out sounds and at some point in the process usually, if the song's got something to it, a story will start to emerge."

The country was different around his own home town, back of New South Wales' north coast between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast: lush, green subtropical forests and glittering beaches.

But many of his songs echo a sentiment repeated across country Australia: a longing for home, for simpler times or for loves lost.

A year later he was setting out mics and cameras at a mate's place on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula to lay down an acoustic recording of the track he called Tailem Bend.

He liked the bare-bones version enough to throw it onto his upcoming album in place of the one he had recorded in a studio run by ARIA Award-winning musician Jeff Lang.

The Last Day of Winter will be the fourth album of his decade-long career, which has included countless gigs, festival appearances and tours of Germany and Europe.

"There's lots of sitting in the car for eight to 10 hours driving between Melbourne and Adelaide, things like that," he said.

"At the moment I'm in the planning phase for this album launch.

"But songwriting, playing and recording is part of the fun."

The Last Day of Winter will be released in stores and online on July 14.

A tour date in Adelaide will follow.

‘Tailem Bend’ lyrics

I remember sitting by the river in the falling dusk

Watching the sunlight turn from gold to rust

You had a half-crushed packet of Winfield Blue

Red cigarette glowing in the evening gloom

My hands were shaky but your eyes were calm

As you set my heart ringing like a fire alarm

And I'm right here where I started from, I hit the same dead end

Time is always moving on, moving like the water round Tailem Bend

Last night I drove by your mother's house

Sat in the driveway with the headlights out

Got a picture of you in your high school dress

Not a child no more, but not a woman yet

And I'm right here where I started from, still waiting on a friend

You were always moving on, moving like the water round Tailem Bend

While the Murray River runs wide and deep and the inner state never lets me sleep

I've been waiting for you to write or call, but a year's gone by, I've heard nothing at all

The Loxton line is still running freight

I've been working in the yard in my way

When the railway closes in a year or two

I'll be another angry kid with nothing to do

And I'm right here where I started from, I hit the same dead end

Time is always moving on, moving like the water round Tailem Bend

I tell myself one day I'll ride this highway to the end

I'll turn my back and I'll be gone, moving like the water round Tailem Bend


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