TALES OF HARD-WON FREEDOM
Troy Cassar-Daley’s songwriting life has been all about telling Australian stories. Some are yarns he has heard or seen on his travels. And some feel very close to home.
Like the title tune of his latest album Freedom Ride, which recounts the civil rights bus ride led by Charlie Perkins in 1965.
The song was co-written with Paul Kelly and in February they joined the journey commemorating the 50th anniversary of the ride in western NSW.
For the Grafton-raised indigenous man, the story of Perkins and the freedom ride has been special ever since he researched a school project on the subject more than 30 years ago.
“It’s an important part of Australian history,’’ Cassar-Daley says. “It gave people a look at the segregation in those smaller towns and started people thinking about having a referendum and giving indigenous people the vote.”
Since You Left This Town also addresses racism.
“Part of it is my story, another part is from a mate’s story, who had a girlfriend who did run away. I’ve had the uncomfortable dinner at a girlfriend’s place where I didn’t feel exactly welcome.
“I’ve tried to make the story more contemporary, about what kids might face now. These stories are parts of our culture and it’s important to highlight them whether they are good or bad.’’
There are other deeply personal stories too. This Old Hat is about his grandfather’s Akubra hat, which survived the 2011 floods on Cassar-Daley’s Lockyer Valley farm. Drive It is inspired by his passion for cars and EH Holdens in particular.
Trains have been a constant too. His grandfather was a fettler and his mother worked as a cook on the railways.
“When I was writing Something About Trains with Pete Denahy he said: ‘Everything you are coming up with is so real’. I told him how much time I had spent on trains and how many cherished memories I had.”