Songwriter
New Zealand







Tom Cunliffe began his musical journey writing songs of injustice, songs for the hard-done-by and songs for star-crossed lovers. The songs smelt like whiskey and sounded like it too. They had the heart of a sailor, the hope of a new morning. The places in the songs were the same places people heard the songs – subterranean bars, street corners, under bridges, around campfires and fireplaces. If you went looking for a Tom Cunliffe song, you’d find it off to the side, in the shadows, lit by street lights instead of stage lights.

Along the way things started to change shape. As he took them around the world, Tom’s songs started to take him to new places. Not just to the knotted trees of Barcelona, or dawn on Primrose Hill, but somewhere else, to strange worlds. Now the songs spoke of zombies and wild dogs. Electricity ran through their veins and their hairs stood on end. They howled and laughed and cursed and got high if they felt like it. They had burning blood and trembling hands, drank coconut tequila and bellowed dirges for the lonely.

Then the waves died down. The storm rolled back out to sea. Joy came in through the cracks, just like Leonard said it would. The muse appeared in all things, big or small. It was there in fragile moments and late-night conversations, in the fleeting and in the eternal. An old piano lent its sound and time lent its temperament. New songs appeared where the old ones used to dance – these ones just smiled and held out their hand.