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Their musical moments


For the past week or so Radio National has been promoting a special called “My Musical Moment” in which well known Australians choose a song that has particular meaning to them.

I didn’t think it would be very interesting even after a friend raved about it, but last night I happened to hear the repeat purely by chance.

I’m glad I did.

Few of the guests had impressed me in the past and only a handful of the songs had ever appealed to me, but by the end of the program I had been forced to revise my opinion of both for the better.

Rob Hirst is someone I have admired for a long time and the Redgum song “I was only nineteen” has moved me to tears more than once, but listening to Rob explain what the song meant to him drove it home with an impact it hasn’t had for many years.

Then Malcolm Turnbull rocked me by choosing the Divinyls’ “Fine line between pleasure and pain”.
We have very few things in common Malcolm, but that song – and especially that singer – is a powerful bond between us I would never have suspected.
A lawyer, a merchant banker, a conservative politician – but someone who gets Chrissie Amphlett.
I don’t think I will ever again be able to dislike you as much as I would like to.

Marcia Langton has rubbed me up the wrong way for a long time.
A complex woman who has devoted much of her life to Aboriginal issues, Marcia – much like Noel Pearson – sold her soul to the mining industry many years ago. Everything she has done since has been tainted by that ongoing betrayal.
No, not everything.
It wasn’t only her choice of Yothu Yindi’s “Treaty”, but her reasons for choosing it.
Turns out Marcia and I don’t only have near identical views on Aboriginal sovereignty, both the issue and Yothu Yindi’s paean to it have found a place in the cores of our beings.
You still have a soul Marcia. Please, abandon the rapists of the Land and exploiters of the People. Come home.

Tanya Plibersek surprised me most.
I don’t dislike her as much as I do most Australian politicians, but nonetheless she is a lady who has sacrificed too much of her integrity to the monster that is the Australian Labor Party (notice how the suckholes even spell ‘Labor’ the American way?).
And The Triffids? How could anyone be touched by the milquetoast pop of The Triffids?
You’ll be flogging The Go Betweens next (which is exactly what Andrew Ford and Robby Buck subsequently did).
Then she told me.
And she was right.
“Wide open road” is a song with its roots deep in the Land. A song of Country. White fella Dreaming.
Now I understand.
Thank you Tanya. Thank you so much.
A gift of musical appreciation I will carry until I return to the Land myself.

Bob Katter.
What more can I say?
A bombastic clown. As sensitive as a cricket bat. A pervy misogynist to boot. And proud of it.
You would choose Slim Dusty’s “Cunamulla Fella”, wouldn’t you Bob? Playing to your own ridiculous stereotype.
Then he sung it. Horribly. But with heart.
OK Bob, I get it now.
Its actually possible to be proud of being Bob Katter. If I knew you personally I would probably be proud of you too.
As I look out the window into a sheeting deluge I can almost hear you trying to croak some pathos into “When the rain tumbles down in July”.
And I smile.
And I’m glad there’s a Bob Katter.

The only disappointment of the night was Michael Kirby.
He pretended to talk about the impact Handel’s “Messiah” had on him as a teenager struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.
If he had done that with sincerity, I am sure he would have evoked my empathy.
But he didn’t.
Instead he used it as yet another opportunity to show off and establish his superiority over others.
(“Most people erroneously call it ‘The Messiah'” says Kirby. Bullshit they do. And even if they did – why bother mentioning that?)
It seems the mantle of bogus authority and habit of pompous play acting he picked up from the Bench are hard to drop.
You are not just homosexual, your No-Longer-Honour.
You are not merely a retired High Court judge.
You are not simply an over-educated elitist who is nowhere near as clever or humane as your sycophants would have it.
You are a human being.
Get in touch with it.
You’ve come out to the rest of us, now come out to yourself.

I won’t try to describe the feelings the contributions of Archie Roach, Fred Watson, Julie Rigg, Jean Kittson, Jim Denley, Richard Gill, Sandy Evans and Janet Laurence evoked in me.
Its getting late, I feel emotionally drained and I don’t believe I could do them justice.

And I won’t spoil the moving account of a performance of Mozart’s “Requiem” offered by Vanessa Dowling.
Listen to it yourself.
Then wipe the tears from your face.

I’ve been a devoted music fan for nearly my entire life, yet never before had I realised how the human soul could be so revealed by the frank discussion of a song.
And the human soul is such an incredibly beautiful thing.

From → music, radio

  1. I don’t really listen to music… And I know none of these people. But this review was very interesting to read. Did you know your words have the power to really absorb a readers attention?


  2. I don’t really listen to music…

    It’s never too late you know.

    The late, great Chrissie Amphlett at her darkest.

    Are you allowed to listen to this sort of stuff during Ramadan?
    After sunset maybe?


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