What makes an “Australian” song? Apart from whether or not the performers are Australian, and the song is recorded in Australia, I think that a key component is how such a song makes you think about Australia, and the images that it brings to mind. Here are some of my favourite “Australian” songs:
1. Icehouse – Great Southern Land
“anyone will tell you its a prisoner island
hidden in the summer for a million years”
Great lyric tying in both European and Indigenous history of the continent
2. GangGajang – Sounds of Then
“Out on the patio we’d sit,
And the humidity we’d breathe,
We’d watch the lightning crack over canefields
Laugh and think, this is Australia”
Anyone who has lived through a humid Australian summer can sympathise with these lyrics!
3. Go-Betweens – Cattle and Cane
“I recall a schoolboy coming home
through fields of cane
to a house of tin and timber
and in the sky
a rain of falling cinders
from time to time”
Another song that draws on the imagery of far north Queensland
4. Goanna – Solid Rock
“Well they were standin’ on the shore one day
Saw the white sails in the sun
Wasn’t long before they felt the sting
White man, white law, white gun
Don’t tell me that it’s justified
The first “commercial” song to talk explicitly about the European conquest of Australia, and the impact it had on the indigenous people who had been here since time immemorial.
5. Warumpi Band – My Island Home
“in the evening the dry wind blows from the hills and across the plain i close my eyes and i’m standing in a boat on the sea again and i’m holding a long turtle spear and i feel i’m close now to where it must be my island home, is waitin for me”
Makes all Australians homesick if they hear this song when overseas!
These have all been songs with a deep and serious theme, so now it is time to finish with a bit of fun – Lucky Starr’s 1962 version of “I’ve been everywhere, man!”
A celebration of some of the great Australian place names!
If you have any suggestions for your favourite Australian songs, please list them in the comments