Paul Kelly sang that “all the king’s horses, all the king’s men wouldn’t drag me back again to Adelaide”.
But the revered singer-songwriter has returned yet again to his home town, this time receiving an honorary degree at the University of Adelaide.
Kelly was one of four honorary degree recipients on Tuesday who joined more than 1100 students at the university’s September graduation ceremonies.
Kelly, 59, was awarded a doctor of arts (honoris causa) in acknowledgement of his “exceptionally distinguished service to society”.
Professor Jennie Shaw said the award recognised his service not only to Australian music but also to creative writing.
She went on to cite his “significant collaborations with indigenous Australian musicians and filmmakers, and his significant community service through nationally profiled benefits and fundraising concerts”.
Kelly has won numerous awards, including eight ARIAs, and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1997.
His long career includes 19 studio albums, film and TV scores and soundtracks, a memoir, and being the subject of an acclaimed documentary.
“Paul Kelly has made a significant contribution to contemporary Australian music and more generally to contemporary Australian culture,” Prof Shaw said.
“His large and diverse catalogue of songs clearly shows an engagement with contemporary issues over a number of decades.
“He has been described as a rare poetic voice in contemporary Australian music.”
The three other honorary degree recipients were Australian inventor and engineer Professor Neil Weste, Papua New Guinea medical pioneer Dr Roy Scragg and leading plant scientist Professor Dabing Zhang of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.