Wednesday, 16 January 2013

10 and 1 - The Great Australian Songbook?

I did something I don't usually do last week. I walked into the ABC Shop. Now, for those readers who aren't Australian, the ABC Shop isn't a place to buy giant alphabet letters and it isn't the home of television's Grey's Anatomy (the American Brodcasting Company). Nay, it's a place to buy products associated with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. You can find Triple J Hottest 100 CD's, books to bore and a whole bunch of junk not suited to my tastes - like the book on 'Best Australian Floods' I was asked to purchase. While hunting down a book that must be a riveting look at how lots of water can make life suck for people, I stumbled upon The Great Australian Songbook. A mild groan followed by a laugh led to the creation of a game in my mind. Before I could look at the track listing, I had to guess as many of the artists (and songs) as I could that would be deemed 'great' by some random attempting to satisfy every Australian's music tastes. John Farnham ('You're The Voice'), Cold Chisel ('Khe Sanh'), INXS ('Never Tear Us Apart'), AC/DC ('Back In Black'), Kylie Minogue ('Can't Get You Out Of My Head'), Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds ('The Ship Song), Powderfinger ('My Happiness'), Silverchair ('Tomorrow') and The Whitlams ('No Aphrodisiac') were decided upon (in my mind - this is a game against myself... don't act like you don't play games with yourself). It's sort of a 'no-duh' selection of Australian artists and their defining tracks you'd expect to make a list like this. With the exception of AC/DC and The Whitlams, each artist made the list. 'Need You Tonight' made the cut over 'Never Tear Us Apart.' Acceptable. 'Tomorrow' lost to 'Straight Lines.' Not acceptable. The full list, released in November of 2011 includes;

The Easybeats!

1. Rolf Harris - Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport
2. Midnight Oil - Beds Are Burning
3. Cold Chisel - Khe Sanh
4. INXS - Need You Tonight
5. Men At Work - Down Under
6. The Church - Under The Milky Way
7. Mondo Rock - Come Said The Boy
8. John Farnham - You're The Voice
9. Daddy Cool - Eagle Rock
10. The Easybeats - Friday On My Mind
11. Skyhooks - Living In The 70s
12. Paul Kelly - Dumb Things
13. GANGgajang - Sound Of Then (This Is Australia)
14. Little River Band - Cool Change
15. Olivia Newton-John - I Honestly Love You
16. Australian Crawl - Reckless
17. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds ft. Kylie Minogue - Where The Wild Roses Grow
18. Icehouse - Great Southern Land
19. You Am I - Heavy Heart
20. Hunters and Collectors - Throw Your Arms Around Me


1. Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl?
2. Powderfinger - My Happiness
3. Silverchair - Straight Lines
4. Eskimo Joe - Black Fingernails, Red Wine
5. The Veronicas - 4Ever
6. Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out Of My Head
7. Empire Of The Sun - Walking On A Dream
8. The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition
9. Gotye ft. Kimbra - Someboday That I Used To Know
10. John Butler Trio - Zebra
11. Delta Goodrem - Born To Try
12. Pete Murray - So Beautiful
13. The Middle East - Blood
14. Missy Higgins - Where I Stood
15. Angus and Julia Stone - Big Jet Plane
16. Sarah Blasko - All I Want
17. Alex Lloyd - Amazing
18. Gurrumul - Djarimirri
19. The Living End - Wake Up
20. Wolfmother - Woman

Right, so the biggest challenge for the selectors must have been choosing twenty tracks for this century. Apart from the glaring omissions of AC/DC, The Bee Gees and Crowded House from 'Last Century,' you can't argue too much with the artists and tracks that make up the list. Although I'm not quite sure what a GANGgajang is, but it sounds like it's a lot of fun and slightly illegal. Just kidding, I know their song and I hate it. Yothu Yindi would have been a better choice. Heck, even Tina Arena would have been a better choice. And where is Darryl Braithwaite's 'The Horses' at? Again, I'm joking, but in all seriousness I'm not. Or am I?

What of this century? Yeah... where to begin. I applaud the selection of Missy Higgins' 'Where I Stood' over 'Scar.' Sarah Blasko making the list at all is another feel good moment. For me. The Veronicas' '4 Ever?' As part of the 'great' Australian songbook? 'Black Fingernails, Red Wine?' Yeah. No. I guess I just need some clarification on what makes you worthy of being included in the 'great' Australian songbook. Do you just have to perform a song that either does well on the Hottest 100 or make it big on the charts at home and overseas? Or does the song actually have to be great. Because if so... buh-bye 'Born To Try.' It's impossible to make a list like this that's going to satisfy everyone's tastes. It certainly didn't satisfy mine, but I love Killing Heidi so nobody's saying I'm invincible. I'm sure every Australian has their own Great Australian Songbook that they turn to when they need a little reminder of home. Here's ten songs I'd put in my Great Australian Songbook that didn't make the list above. Songs that would fare well in terms of songwriting if they were to be placed in a songbook. You know? At the very least, they're way better than John Butler Trio's 'Zebra.' Man... that song is gashtacular. As is the rule with the 10 and 1, I'll leave you with one song that should never be considered great and it may or may not even be Australian. No it's not 'Zebra.' I haven't picked it yet, so I'll decide while you look at the songs below. Enjoy!


Breathe Me
by Sia  
- This Century

No Aprodisiac
by The Whitlams
- Last Century


London Still
by The Waifs
- This Century

The Nosebleed Section
by Hilltop Hoods
- This Century

One Crowded Hour
by Augie March
- This Century

The Captain
by Kasey Chambers
- Last Century

Aloha Steve and Danno
by Radio Birdman
- Last Century


The Ship Song
by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
- Last Century


He's Nick Cave. He can appear as many times on the list as he wants. You can throw 'Into My Arms' in as well. 

Finding You
by The Go-Betweens
- This Century

It's A Long Way To The Top
by AC/DC
- Last Century


'Ooh Ahh'
by Tamara Jaber
- This Century... urgh.


What songs would make your Great Australian Songbook? 

Check out the real deal Great Australian Songbook at the ABC Shop. The book actually looks like an interesting read. Despite John Butler's presence.  

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