Iain Campbell Smith

Iain Campbell Smith

BandPopAdult Contemporary

Once described as “Australia’s answer to Billy Bragg, Iain Campbell Smith is the subject of a documentary about his experiences on peace keeping operations in the war-torn islands of the South Pacific. His american debut CD, Bagarap Empires, won the Screensound Australia Award for Best New Release.


"His CD was good, but his live performance blew me away"
Rich Warren, Folk Alliance Digest, VOl 14, Issue 12

“One of the most interesting and original artists I had the luck to discover last year”
Massimo Ferro, Radio Voce Spazio, Italy

Australian songwriter Iain Campbell Smith is a 2005 NAFA Official Showcase Artist.

Recently moved to Washington DC, Smith has spent much of the last 5 years living and working in the war ravaged islands of the South Pacific.

Sent to the islands by the Australian Foreign
Ministry, he learned pidgin dialect and began
writing songs, in both English and pidgin, from the stories of people he worked with in their struggle to build trust and peace after a bitter civil war.

He became a celebrity on Bougainville Island
collaborating with local musicians to release 20,000 copies of a “Songs of Peace” cassette, and hosting a weekly program on the island’s only radio station.

The Bagarap Empires CD reflects his experiences in the Pacific. The album won the Screensound Australia National Folk Recording Award and was rated among the top 5 albums of the year by ABC Radio’s Paul Petran.

He has added 4 new tracks to for the US release of Bagarap Empires. The new songs were written during his most recent tour of Bougainville Island when filmaker Nick Agafonoff shadowed him for 3 weeks shooting footage for the documentary "Bougainville Sky" scheduled for release in June 2005.

Smith appears regularly at Australian festivals
including the National, Woodford, Port Fairy and Blue Mountains. He has led workshops on “Songs of Peace” during which he often has attendees
singing along in Papua New Guinea pidgin!

In concert he performs songs ranging from wry comic songs to tender ballads of loss and survival reflecting personal stories from life in a conflict zone. He presents with a warm humour and a unique gift for illuminating worlds both familiar and unfamiliar to the audience.

Iain has recently relocated to the USA and will be touring this coming fall and winter to promote the Bagarap Empires album and the Bougainville Sky documentary.

“One should seriously consider purchasing Bagarap Empires. Especially if you are, or would like to be, a songwriter, just to hear how good it sounds when it’s done really well”
Mike Cooper, fROOTS magazine (UK)

“In addition to the rollicking songs full of humour and politics, it turned out that Smith was capable of the most touching heartfelt ballads.”
Dometrius Romeo, Stand and Deliver, ABC News Radio

“His songs range from the deeply affecting, to the astringently observant, to the rousing singalong. He has a perceptive eye for modern life, its foibles and joys, and an ability to express this in song.”
Philip O’Brien, producer, ArtSound FM 103.1

“A definitive Australian icon, Smith never ceases to amaze and delight his audiences...”
Victory Harper, www.the-riotact.com


Blue Guitar

Written By: Iain Campbell Smith

Blue Guitar

There is no law and order in Honiara now
Maelunga up at Rove says the ship is going down
But the Walkers in the corner ain't here for playing cards
They say "boy you' ll be alright, just play your blue guitar"

So I picked my blue guitar and I started playing slow
I had another heavy night again last night you know
I was up till 730 at the Tropicana Bar
Playing 'Baby I Go to Rio' on my lucky blue guitar

These small Pacific towns all start to look the same
Missionaries and mercenaries play their little games
"Better bash 'em with the Bible than the butt of an SLR"
Or so they say but either way I'd rather play my blue guitar

SIPL Plantations yesterday went up in flames
See the mining boys are asking if the candle is worth the game
While the captain of the yacht club lights his last cigar
And says "the only thing still working here is that blue guitar"

Some old expat from the bar said "boy your guitar isn't blue"
I said "what the hell you talking 'bout and who the hell are you?
I hit a six off Dennis Lillee and I clean bowled Gavaskar
This is the 27th Century, this is a blue guitar"

My friend the bargirl Annalisa she is uglier than sin
She's got an arse as big and wide as a yellow wheely bin
Her husband Clive is 6 foot '5" weighs only seven stone
They say you ought to hear the racket when she's jumpin' on his bones

Well I've been to many nations, caught many a fine disease
I've got a little dog called Samson with 7000 fleas
The French anthropologist said "buy un flee collar"
I said "mercy on your soul ma'am", she said "merci au revoir
Jeu une autre chanson bleu sur ta chanceuse bleu guitare"

From the Bigfaet (pidgin=WWII) hear the echo of the eight inch guns pound
Sending sailors to the bottom of the Iron Bottom Sound
In the evening see their spirits crawling up from the sand bar
They all like to come ashore some nights to hear my blue guitar:

My friends I'm going back to my homeland I do believe it's time
Work for Ashton's Circus toe the line
Get my ship together watch it fall apart
'Cause my boots are made of leather and there's sorrow in my heart
'cause my boots are made of leather and I cannot play the part
'cause my boots are made of leather and I've got this blue guitar

Iain Campbell Smith©2005


Written By: Iain Campbell Smith

Texas ---Iain Campbell Smith ©2006

1. I was in Oklahoma city at the setting of the sun
In a bar full of self pity I had nothing going on
I started to write this song about Texas I could not believe its true
There was a woman there beside me writing a song about Texas too, she said:

Chorus 1: Do it for the money and it just wont work.
Do it for me honey and you wont get hurt
Let’s go make a living singing lullabies
Underneath the Texas skies

2. She said “let’s hit the road together”, I said I thought that sounded nice
You know I ‘m the kind of fellow like to make the same mistakes twice
So we gassed up my old pickup and we set off heading south
With a buckwheat cake upon her know and a banjo in my mouth singing:

Chorus 2:

3. In a hotel room in Dallas I could not believe my eyes
Lord she had a map of Texas tattooed in between her thighs
With El Paso and Texarkana on each corner of the map
When I got to Corpus Christi well there was no turning back


4. That November and December we did 47 shows
From the Oklahoma border to the Gulf of Mexico
We sold half a million records we made 7 million bucks
In a state as big as Texas hell you never know your luck


5. Well we busted up in Houston you will not believe your ears
She was playing there beside me after 27 beers
She sang “Life’s finer with a Shiner” in a voice like Mama Cass
I said “Madam you’re a drunkard” she said “Sonny kiss my ass!”

Chorus 5
Instrumental (similar to verse):

6. Well she got herself a lawyer and he got her all that wealth
Now I’m back in Oklahoma feeling sorry for myself
Got me wondering and a thinking how a good thing can go wrong
Guess there’s nothing left to do but to finish off this song singing:

Chorus 6

Four Strong Hands

Written By: Iain Campbell Smith

Four Strong Hands
© Iain Campbell Smith,


I guess I don’t have to tell you
That was the bank man on the phone
He reckons we’re gonna have to sell here
We can’t repay the loan

Things just haven’t worked too well here
Since the drought in ‘95
Ever since we worked our fingers to the bone
Just to stay alive

But to lose this farm would break my heart
I have worked here man and boy
I am too old for a new start and

Many a dream have we seen broken
Many a thief through our back door
Many a harsh word spoken
I can take it anymore

So sign this letter to my brother
Take the pistol from the shelf
We’ll put two rounds through its chambers
Put and end to all this hell and

Take my hand now lover
Walk into the endless night
Take my hand now lover
I have lost my will to fight


Many a dream have we seen broken
Many fire through our back door
Many a harsh word spoken
Hasn’t been easy that’s for sure

The kids moved out and went to Melbourne
Must have been a year ago
The summer months were hot and lonely
Now the winter’s here I’m cold

But when you hold me in your arms
I am still a little girl
I can forget all the sadness and the anger of our world so

Take my hand now lover
Walk together through the night
Take my hand now lover
We can make it work alright

So throw that letter in the fire
Throw the pistol in the dam’
I am not prepared to die
Not as long as I can stand

We can, make a new start
You silly old fart
cause we got four strong hands
and two beatin hearts so

Take my hand now lover
Walk together through the night
Take my hand now lover
We can make it work alright


North America:
Ballads and Barsongs, recent release receiving strong airplay on AAA Stations

Bagarap Empires, several tracks from were featured on ABC Radio National and local stations around Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.
Australia: Bagarap Empires, Into My Room, Party Pieces, Soapbox
Papua New Guinea- Songs of Peace

Set List

Can play anything from 20 minute sets to 3 hour gigs. Set lists include: Blue Guitar, Texas, Century Girl, When She Cries, Bougainville Sky, 7 Ways, You and Me, Out There, Watch the Road, Dark Shadow, Living, Salvation Jane, Infinite Ocean, and over 50 other originals.