06. Down Here
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Originally entitled “Girt by C”, thisis a rare song written in the key of C, and is a line from Australia’s national anthem (‘our home is girt by sea’). But I was concerned the mirth might be too much. Great and timeless songs like “Tie Me Kangaroo Down” and “I’ve Been Everywhere” have unfortunately been tainted forever by the revelations of Rolf Harris’s unsavoury activities (a real shock to my generation). Will his music ever be disassociated from the person?
I think this has created a vacuum for new quirky Australian songs, and a bush-band feel is not something I’ve tried before. With yet another advert from the Tourist Board hitting our screens and nudging my mind, this is my alternative ... multiple Australian tropes, a simple rousing chorus, and a happy toe-tapping rhythm.
I tried for a ‘memorable’ tune ... different from but close to something traditional (on reflection, it does feel a little like “Ding Dong Merrily on High”). This is also the only song of mine that hammers home a repeated chorus, something common in trad folk tunes but what I normally strenuously avoid. I had reams of lyrics with Australiana references and pruned them for concise effect.
I threw in a lot of instruments, influenced by “The Intro & The Outro” by Vivian Stanshall (Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, 1967) ...
Say hello to big John Wayne, xylophone. And Robert Morley, guitar.
Billy Butlin, spoons. And looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on vibes. Nice!
I found a scrap MDF board in the garage that worked as an excellent wobble-board. Takes only a few minutes to develop the technique to play consistently, although I found it needs to be played more than a meter from the mic else the air displacement ‘whump’ is overpowering.
As ‘crowd’ voices are hard to fake with the tech I have, I sang the chorus six times acting out different ‘voices’, as did Elaine (5), with 5 from Tim Goodburn (BigNote Productions). When combined, it sounds like a singalong.
I ordered a ‘Jews/Jaws Harp’, apparently from Norway, via ebay and was very disappointed to receive an envelope from the USA containing what appeared to be just a picture of the instrument. On querying the seller they said ... “we are a stamp seller, you got what you requested”. I had in fact bought a Norwegian stamp depicting a Jews Harp. Fortunately only $5 was wasted, but makes for a good story.
When I purchased an actual unit, I was very cautious trying it out as there are many stories on the net about people chipping enamel off their teeth!
A $15 tambourine from ebay completed the ‘live’ instruments. A Kazoo was bought (three for $2!) but it went unused ... it didn’t seem to fit.