From hearing ‘Feeler’ played on triple j for the very first time to being told by a tearful Rockhampton security guard that ‘Better Days’ saved his life, Pete Murray unpacks five songs that hold special significance for him. Words by Bryget Chrisfield.
One of an elite few Australian artists to exceed 1.2 million album sales, Pete Murray promises audiences at his upcoming shows will be treated to the hits – those tried and tested, cathartic-singalong moments he’s famous for – alongside fresh cuts from his recent pair of EP releases: The Night (2020) and Before I Go (2022).
To help refresh your memories, we asked Pete to choose five essential tracks from his vast back catalogue, which spans two-plus decades.
Album: Feeler (2003)
“‘Feeler’ is the song that kicked off my career. I love playing it live and I’ve never gotten sick of it. It’s a pretty important song. I think at that stage, when that particular song came out, there really was nothing like it on the radio so it stood out as being different from everything else that was around.
“[The first time I heard it played on the radio] I was having breakfast. It was on triple j. Robbie Buck was just talking about this new artist who was coming along and they were expecting big things from him, and he was just talking this guy up and I’m thinking, ‘Who is this guy he’s talking about? God, no one’s that good!’ And he kept sort of talking about it, ‘Oh, this is gonna be a really big album and we’re gonna play the first song off that album pretty soon for you.’ And I was sort of thinking, ‘Okay, who’s this guy? Bit of competition out in the marketplace,’ you know?
“And next minute he says, ‘I’m gonna play a track for you now,’ and then ‘Feeler’ came on and I was like, ‘Wow!’ I was totally blown away, because I thought he was talking about someone else. But then the unfortunate thing was I had all my friends call me one after the other after the other, right? And I couldn’t just listen to the song, because my phone kept ringing! ‘You’re on triple j!’. ‘Yeah, I know, I know’. ‘You’re on triple j!’. ‘Yeah, I know, yeah…’
“But it was a good moment – a real surprise for me. And then that song just kept going and really took off. There’s lots of stories about that one. Joey Johns – who is obviously a rugby league legend – even told me that he had all the New South Wales guys singing along to ‘Feeler’, getting sort of pumped up on the bus going to the [State Of] Origin game. Which was a hard thing for me to hear, ‘cause I’m a Queenslander! [laughs].”
‘Ten Ft Tall’
Album: Feeler (2003)
“A popular song but not a single, ‘Ten Ft Tall’ has a beautiful story. When I describe the song and talk about the lyrics and what it’s about, a lot of people will cry ‘cause it’s a really emotional song. It’s about a friend of mine who lost his wife to breast cancer, years ago in Chinchilla.
“When she was a little girl, she said to her father, ‘When I die, I’m gonna come back as a butterfly,’ and so this story kind of got around… So when she did pass away, about a week after the funeral a lot of the locals and friends were at the local bar in Chinchilla around closing time, which is midnight or something like that. And this butterfly flew in the room, it flew in between all of them and landed on [the deceased’s] husband’s shoulder.
“And, look, that’s a nice story there, but the interesting fact of that is it’s actually impossible for butterflies to fly at nighttime! That’s a true fact. And this happened at nighttime. So I heard that story and I wrote that song ‘10 Ft Tall’. So it’s got a really nice meaning, for me, and also I think a lot of people who have lost family members or friends have really connected to that song.”
Album: See The Sun (2005)
“It’s a very inspirational song that lifts people’s spirits and reminds them that you can get through hard times and, no matter what life throws at you, you will get through it.
“I played a gig in Rockhampton one time. We’d finished the gig, went out to a bar and it wasn’t too long before I had this massive big hand on my shoulder. I turn around and it’s a security guard, and I was thinking, ‘Oh no, what’s happened here? One of the guys in the band’s done something stupid and we’re about to be thrown out.’ But this guy had tears rolling down his face and I’m like, ‘Mate, are you okay? What’s going on?’ And he said, ‘You saved my life,’ you know? And he went on to tell me that he’d had bad experiences, things had happened with his business and he split up with his wife and sorta lost his family – they weren’t seeing him – and he was really low and just wanted to end his life. And he said there was one song that he listened to morning and night – when he’d wake up and then when he’d go to bed – and it was ‘Better Days’. And he said, ‘That song kept me alive, kept me knowing that this will get easier, we’ll get through this hard time and I’ll get there.’
“That’s the first story that I heard from someone who said, ‘Look, your song saved my life,’ and, for me, there’s nothing greater than having someone say that your song saved a life.
“And the funny thing is, when I was talking to the record label I didn’t like that song at first – I didn’t think it should be a single and I just wasn’t into it as much. But I think the version we recorded and the way it is now sounds really great – I just found it a little bit too poppy before and that’s what I didn’t like about it.”
Album: See The Sun (2005)
“For a long time, a lot of kids leaving school – graduating – used that as their motivational song; I still hear that from kids that’ve finished school – a very relevant song, I guess.
“So that one was written in two days – it was very, very quick. I’m super-proud of it, lyrically. The song’s just so positive. It’s about changing your life if you’re not happy and really trying to work out what you wanna do in life, and making sure that you get to the end of it and have very few regrets. It’s motivated a lot of people to make changes in their lives.
“The thing that blew me away was, [‘Opportunity’ is] just acoustic guitar and a bit of piano and it was the most-played song on commercial radio in Australia [in 2006]. And that’s including international songs – it was massive! It was a great experience to see where that one went.”
‘Found My Place‘
Album: The Night EP (2021)
“‘Found My Place’ is about family and passing wisdom down to your kids, basically letting them know that life‘s not gonna be easy – it will be challenging – and passing on those messages to them just to stick to what you believe and be yourself in life, and everything will come together. And always know that family is your home; that’s where your love is.
“And in the video, too, my daughter Saachi, who’s 4 ½ now, came into shot out of nowhere and did this cute little dance, and it’s such a beautiful moment. We were just sort of on the beach trying to get some silhouette shots and I don’t normally put my family in the limelight or in my socials, but she just started dancing and it was so nice and my wife, myself and also the guy who was shooting said, ‘We’ve gotta keep that. That was so good!’ It’s a special moment for me to to have that there, having Saachi come in and dance – it was great!”
Pete Murray – ‘Before I Go Tour’
Saturday, August 27
Ettamogah Hotel, Kellyville Ridge NSW
Thursday, September 1
York On Lilydale, Mount Evelyn VIC
Friday, September 2
Chelsea Heights Hotel, Chelsea Heights VIC