I was walking in Jamieson Park in Narrabeen when the words for A Universal Sadness Deep Inside My Soul came to me. It was 1973. I had just escaped from Spain with my son, Alex and was working at Fleets Tennis Shop in the city. It was a poem to start off with but later on the music came to me and it became a song.
All three verses were written about things which I had actually seen.
I used to go and play in the Badge tennis competition at White City on Saturday afternoons and on the way back was when I used to see all the mostly men in a very bedraggled state, sitting on the steps of empty houses in Paddington, already well underway in the drinks department.
At lunch time I would sometimes walk up to Hyde Park and that was where the old man who wheeled his barrow up and down the streets of town would hang out during the lunch hour. I can still see him in my mind’s eye – his long tattered coat, his rounded shoulders, as he shuffled along pushing his barrow filled with his worldly possessions.
Kings Cross was full of American Soldiers on leave from the Vietnam War in that era, so business was brisk for prostitutes. They used to stand in their doorways or walk up and down dressed in miniskirts and revealing tops, perched atop very high heels. Some of them were very young and I could see they were affected by drugs.
A UNIVERSAL SADNESS DEEP INSIDE MY SOUL
I feel a universal sadness deep inside my soul
For hopes and dreams they must have had
As they sit there in the cold
Their sad and lonely faces
Attached to ragged forms
On steps of empty houses
Drinking booze all night long
The families they must once have had
And lost along the way
The friends they’ve had all now long gone
And living far away
The man who wheels the barrow
Around the streets of town
With all his world tied atop
He goes up the street and down
At night he sleeps in the park
On a bench made of stone
Warmed by the metho in his gut
He’s far away from home
The family he must once have had
All lost along the way
The friends he’s had all now long gone
And living far away
And there’s the working woman
In Kings Cross they’re about
On the streets and in the bars
All night they stand around
They’re young faces show despair
From the death in life they lead
On smack and hash and coke
When it’s love is all they need
Chorus again twice