Boy from the bush is back

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - 22 Eguide Music - ROSS PURDIE THE BIG RED is out now

JOHN Wil­liamson was born in Vic­to­ria, forged his ca­reer in New South Wales and will re­tire in Queens­land but don’t ex­pect the coun­try mu­sic leg­end to hang up his gui­tar soon.

While his new sin­gle Hang My Hat In Queens­land is an au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal ac­count, de­scrib­ing Wil­liamson’s jour­ney from his birth town of Mallee ‘‘ to Syd­ney on the back of an emu’’ and north to his cur­rent home in Spring­brook, he has no plans to slow down.

‘‘ I en­joy writ­ing songs and once you write a song you want ev­ery­one to hear it,’’ Wil­liamson ( pic­tured) says.

‘‘ Ev­ery time I write a new song I go ‘ oh here we go again’ but that’s what keeps the shows fresh.’’

Of all the Aus­tralian mu­sic greats still plug­ging away, the ARIA Hall Of Famein­ducted singer has cov­ered more miles than any­one.

His 48 al­bums are packed with a life­time’s worth of sto­ries and re­flec­tions in­spired by the great out­doors.

Wil­liamson’s lat­est al­bum The Big Red, a first of­fer­ing of orig­i­nal songs in four years, re­veals a hunger to dis­cover more.

The lead track talks of es­cap­ing Syd­ney across the An­zac Bridge, over the Great Di­vide and into the open plains coun­try for the red cen­tre.

‘‘ I was brought up in the bush so I re­late to it but it’s the free­dom of it, and all Aussies think that way,’’ Wil­liamson says.

‘‘ We have a big hori­zon in our psy­che and I think we take it for granted but even­tu­ally we all want to jump in the car­a­van and have a look.’’

Nick­named The Mallee Boy due to his Vic­to­rian coun­try roots, Wil­liamson has built a ca­reer on chan­nelling the essence of Australia into iconic songs like True Blue and Coota­mundra Wat­tle.

With a song­book brim­ming with odes to var­i­ous ar­eas and towns, in­spired by char­ac­ters from Bro­ken Hill to Dar­win, the 66- year- old nails his colours to no sin­gle state and proudly calls all of Australia home.

‘‘ I’m not re­ally into‘ state- ri­otic’ at­ti­tudes,’’ Wil­liamson says.

‘‘ It sep­a­rates us and I think the strength of us is be­ing Aussies that love the whole coun­try. That’s why you’ve got to get out and have a good look be­cause then you re­alise it’s not all about Syd­ney and Melbourne and Bris­bane.’’

Wil­liamson ex­plains his four- year creative drought on a will­ing­ness to road- test new songs on live au­di­ences. He also fo­cused on last Jan­uary’s con­cert with the Syd­ney Sym­phony Or­ches­tra at the Opera House to cel­e­brate 40 years in the busi­ness.

Look­ing for­ward, a new record deal with Warner Mu­sic has of­fered a wa­ter­shed mo­ment and the chance for new mu­sic to re­place songs that have been cir­cu­lat­ing for decades. But Wil­liamson will never let go of the mu­sic that made him The Mallee Boy, es­pe­cially orig­i­nal favourites like Old Man Emu.

‘‘ That’s the joy of cre­at­ing your own fu­ture,’’ he says. ‘‘ Emu was my foun­da­tion song . . . for a while I used to drop it out and peo­ple used to com­plain.

‘‘ But it is still my big­gest sin­gle hit and it re­ally got me off the farm.

‘‘ I’ll never back away from it be­ing an im­por­tant song for me.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.