Day 133: The most Australian-sounding song you like (one that reminds you of down under).
“Great Southern Land” – Icehouse
For today’s post I quickly ruled out “Down Under” by Men At Work. Too predictable. I also ruled out “Waltzing Matilda.” Too old-fashioned. (And incidentally not Australia’s National Anthem.)
In terms of “Australian-sounding,” I originally thought about using Midnight Oil’s “Bullroarer,” which starts—get this—with the sound of a bullroarer. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a piece of oblong wood attached to a string. When you whip the string around, the wood spins not only in the plane of the string, but twists in the wind as well, resulting in a humming sound.
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I also considered Midnight Oil’s “Helps Me Helps You” which prominently features the didgeridoo. And then, of course, there are the Yothu Yindi songs I’ve written about before.
“Great Southern Land” doesn’t feature these native instruments or Aboriginal singers, so it may not be the most Australian-sounding song (whatever that means) but for my money it’s among the most Australian. And, without a doubt, it never fails to remind me of down under.
Have a listen:
“Great Southern Land”:
The lyrics tell the story of its humble beginnings and of the land, with its dry, hardened soil parched by the never-ending heat. And, it bemoans the loss of its identity to outsiders. But it’s also a celebration of a wonderful place.
At least that’s how I interpret it.
Musically, it’s stripped down in structure and arrangement, but carries a power with it as well. And, for me, the music evokes a certain sadness. I can’t hear this song without simultaneously getting a big smile on my face and a longing in my heart. Australia is my second home, and I miss it. “Great Southern Land” brings me back there.
Hear that? That’s the sound of me smacking myself out of my emotional fog and returning to reality.
It’s rumored that Iva Davies (driving force behind Icehouse) wrote the song in the closet of a friend’s house one night when he couldn’t sleep. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if it is
- it just goes to show that genius can happen anywhere
- it’s a better use of a closet than blowing out your eardrums trying to have a spiritual experience
“Great Southern Land” is also reported to be Icehouse’s most popular song in Australia, so I’m in good company. Although they don’t have to close their eyes to get a look at that Great Southern Land.