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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

True blue sounds of Australia

What do a 1990s tune from Aussie rock band Silverchair, the first record to highlight the didgeridoo and Gough Whitlam’s election campaign jingle all have in common?

They’ve just been announced among 10 new additions to the Sounds of Australia registry, a list of recorded sounds that have played a part in shaping Australian culture and history, maintained by the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA).

A panel of industry experts selected the sounds from submissions from the public, and nominations are now open for 2021.

NFSA curator Thorsten Kaeding said the project receives hundreds of nominations each year.

“Many of the sounds receive multiple nominations over many years before they are included on the Sounds of Australia registry,” he said.

True Blue is a well-known number featured on the new list, an Australian folk country song by John Williamson AO.

The lyrics are chockablock full of Aussie slang, the title of the song being the first example – ‘true blue’ means authentically Australian.

This year Mr Williamson released a brand-new lyric video featuring photos submitted by his fans, responding to what ‘true blue’ means to them.

If you voted in the 1972 federal election, you may remember the sound of It’s Time, a song written for former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s successful campaign.

The track was performed by lead singer Alison MacCallum, accompanied by a chorus of beloved Australian entertainment and sport personalities at the time, including Tony Barber, Barry Crocker, Lynette Curran, Chuck Faulkner, Jimmy Hannan, Brian Henderson, Col Joye, Graham Kennedy, Little Pattie, Bert Newton, Maggie Tabberer, Jack Thompson and more.

A compilation album, Arnhem Land Popular Classics, is also highlighted. It was the first record to draw attention to the sound of the didjeridu (didgeridoo), or more specifically, the yidaki, an instrument owned exclusively by the Yolngu people of North East Arnhem Land.

The album was recorded in an improvised studio near Katherine in the early 1960s.

One of the men on the track, David Bylanadii (Blanasi), was an Aboriginal man of the Mialili language group of West Arnhem Land, who subsequently went on to promote the didjeridu internationally, collaborating and touring with Rolf Harris.

He also toured with a traditional dance troupe including songmaster Djoi Laiwanga and dancer/actor David Gulpilil.

The full list, in chronological order:

  • Starlight by Hamilton Hill – 1907
  • Etude de concert in F minor and Etude de concert in A flat major by Eileen Joyce – 1933
  • Olympic Games, Melbourne 1956: Official souvenir recording of Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony – 1956
  • Nausicaa: Opera in Three Acts by Peggy Glanville-Hicks – 1961
  • Arnhem Land Popular Classics: Aboriginal Dance Songs with Didjeridu Accompaniment by David Blanasi, Djoli Laiwanga and others – 1963
  • Because I Love You by The Master’s Apprentices - 1971
  • It’s Time by Alison MacCallum – 1972
  • True Blue by John Williamson – 1986  
  • Tomorrow by Silverchair - 1994
  • Martin/Molloy by Tony Martin and Mick Molloy – 1995-1998

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