“The Boys Light Up” by Australian Crawl
It has been ascertained that what “The Boys Light Up”, which reads at points as if it is multi-subjected, is primarily about is a prostitute. Such is not necessarily an easy conclusion to come to, since for instance James seems to start off the narrative by taking on said character himself, only to later refer to her in the third person.
Calling this song a celebration of prostitution would be a stretch. But sex hero is presented as some type of hero, or let’s say someone who has mastery of her craft. So for example some of her bigger clients, when they get together with their inner circle of homeys, laud her services. And this lady is such that, most simply put colloquially, she has many a john p*-sywhipped and beat in the head.
There’s also mention of her having a husband who enjoys playing the field himself. And it is implied that she likes to use a vibrator. Then as far as the chorus goes, where “the boys light up”, that is actually a slang term pointing to smoking cigarettes that James Reyne picked up in school. So maybe what he is trying to get at, ultimately, is a something like he and his buddies used to patronize prostitutes back in the day.
Or let’s conclude by saying that it’s not abundantly clear why Australian Crawl dropped a song like this, though track biggin’ up prostitutes, if you will, do tend to come out from time to time. But in any event, “The Boys Light Up”, as confusing as certain sections may be, was discernible enough for the powers that be to pick up on what’s being said, and therefore it did meet with some censorship resistance before achieving mainstream acceptance.
Australian Crawl was indeed a rock band from the land down under who were around for about a decade, from the late 1970s into the mid-1980s. During that brief time they experienced major success in their homeland. They were so big in Australia that they were eventually inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1996.
Facts about “The Boys Light Up”
“The Boys Light Up” is the title track from the first of four studio albums Australian Crawl managed to put out. This track was released via EMI during May of 1980.
At the time the band crew consisted of frontman James Reyne backed by the following instrumentalists:
- Simon Binks
- Bill McDonough
- Paul Williams
- Brad Robinson (1958-1996)
It was James Reyne who wrote this song, with its producer being David Briggs, who concurrently was officially part of another Australian act known as Little River Band.
“The Boys Light Up” served as the second single from the aforementioned album, and it did proceed to, according to Reyne, ‘scrape’ its way onto the top 30 of the Kent Music Report.
Contrary to popular belief, this song isn’t about smoking dope. James has categorically stated that this song has nothing to do with “dope-smoking”.