The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #23513   Message #1840521
Posted By: GUEST,Rowan
22-Sep-06 - 12:25 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Give Me a Home among the Gum Trees
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: to an australian song
I heard this during the newscast this week of the memorial service to Steve Irwin. The messages above seem to be dismissive of its apparent sentimentality so I thought I'd add a bit about its background.

Joe Offer has given the only substantive info about is origins when he wrote, above, "(GIVE ME A) HOME AMONG THE GUM TREES" Written by W. Johnson/B. Brown (Mushroom Music) Reprinted by permission

I first came across this song on an LP (no discographic details come to mind) featuring the songs of an Eltham/Christmas Hills/Warrandyte celebrity known as "Captain Rock"; one of the two names given by Joe may be Captain Rock's real name but I don't know. The LP belonged to Disie Bragg who was, at the time (1981), part of the Eltham/Christmas Hills/Warrandyte folk scene. Not many copies of the LP were made. Disie played it for me and I thought the track was worth including in Flying Pieman's repertoire; when I played it for them they also dismissed it. Disie then loaned the LP to John Rasmussen who, with my brother Marshall, played in Smith's Gully. They loved it and played it extensively.

Although Smith's Gully were a great band, they didn't perform very far from Melbourne. Bullamakanka, although not a Victorian group, somehow got the same lyrics as Smith's Gully and made the song famous around Australia, helped by Ian Macnamara's "Australia All Over" program broadcast on Sunday mornings; the song made Bullamakanka's name famous around Australia too. I once heard an interview of someone from Bullamakanka being interviewed and asked "Did you write this song?" The answer broadcast was a superb example of allowing the mantle to settle on one's shoulders without actually saying, explicitly, that it HAD been written by them. I gather they were, later, quite responsible about proper disposition of royalties

The song has never looked back since, in terms of popularity but no performance of it that I've heard has ever included the middle verse that Captain Rock sang on his LP. The liner notes he wrote mentioned that he was sitting in the loo at the Louvre, feeling homesick. In this mood, he wrote the song. The middle verse was all in French and was untranslatable into anything in English that made any sense. Never having met Captain Rock, I've never been able to ask whether the 'French' he sang was really random phrases from the graffiti on the walls of the dunny but I think it likely.

Perhaps this may change some people's attitudes to the song; perhaps it may reinforce them. But I'd love to hear it sung with the middle verse included.

Cheers, Rowan