Twenty- five years after Whispering Jack, John Farnham is going back to the future, writes Cameron Adams
Q: You’re 62 next month. Any plans to celebrate? A: No, I’m 63. I was born in 1949. 63. That’s scary. I might have a lie down. Q: Born in 1949 makes you 62. You’re ageing yourself a year. . .
A: Oh. I thought I was 63 already. I don’t even know my own age. I’ll probably celebrate at a restaurant in Melbourne with my boys and my missus and some mates and drink some red wine. Q: Your son Rob has Playing to Win tattooed on his chest. Did you know about that in advance?
A: He told me he was going to get it done. He loves the song [ Farnham co-wrote and sang with Little River Band] and the sentiment. I said, ‘ What are you getting a tattoo for, you silly bugger?’ but it looks fantastic. But what do you do, he’s his own man. That’s what kids do. He’s also got ‘‘ my brother’’ on his arm, and his brother’s got ‘‘ my brother’’ on his arm. They’re really close. Q: You disappear off the radar between albums and tours. What do you get up to?
A: Well, [ wife] Jilly and I went to Africa for a month on safari in Botswana and Kenya. What an experience, amazing. It was to celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary. Jilly has wanted to go there since she was a little girl. Q: But you do enjoy having a low public profile . . .
A: Absolutely. I’m not a red-carpet chappy. I haven’t got a Twitter account. I don’t think anybody’s interested in the minutiae of my day. ’ Just had a coffee put two sugars in’ ooh wow. I don’t hit the hip restaurants or bars. I’m at home with my wife or family doing the things I love. If I can walk
around the garden or play with my horses, I’m happy. I’m a lucky man. I’ve got a good life. I don’t need to be on the radar all the time. The most important thing in my life is my family and the second is when I get to play with the band. I love making music. Q: Where do fishing and horses fit in there?
A: Well, as soon as I finish this [ Whispering Jack 25 Years On] tour, I want to go fishing. I haven’t been fishing for a year and it’s driving me nuts. Then I’ll get stuck into my [ cutting horse] riding again. It’s like riding bucking horses sideways. They can really move, they’re very athletic. Q: Any plans to follow up last year’s Jack?
A: No plans, but I’m always keen to make music with my band if the songs are there. I’m still looking for another You’re the Voice . It ain’t gonna happen, but if it does I’ll be in there like a rocket. Q: Did you read ( manager) Glenn Wheatley’s recent autobiography covering his stint in jail ( for tax crimes)?
A. No. I haven’t read any of Glenn’s books. I haven’t even read the one they wrote about me. I was there, I know the story. We worked together for a long time, but the work did drop off there for about 15 months. He’s done the time, he’s paid his dues, that was then, this is now. We’re good friends. We trust each other. I have no qualms in saying I love the man like a brother. We argue like brothers, but we get on really well. Q: This Whispering Jack tour is something new for you.
A: It’s a show in two halves. The first half is an unplugged thing, an acoustic set of songs people will expect and
others they won’t. The fan club have told us songs they’d like to hear me sing, maybe some preWhispering Jack things, some apres Whispering Jack things. I’ll probably put [ 1970 hit] Comic Conversation in the set, that’s a beautiful song I love singing.
Q: Any covers?
A: Yeah, maybe. When I had the Farnham band back in the day we did Hold the Line, Hollywood Nights, Ride Like the Wind . . .
Q: You did Coldplay’s Lost on tour, which no one expected.
A: It wasn’t an obvious choice. It had a lot of meaning for me. It affected me. I Googled the boys and went looking for something people wouldn’t expect and that jumped out. Q: If you’re playing the songs in
order, You’re the Voice is second. When was the last time you didn’t play that song at the end of a show?
A: Not for a long time. It will be weird, I’ll be thinking, ‘ What am I gonna finish with now?’ We’ll work out something where I’ll leave with a bang. Or I might leave with a whisper.