Game 87 – Folklore Songs
Song Ten– Jeannie Lewis – Headed For Melbourne
Result: SF 4th – Final 12th
Reason for choosing the song:
This was a challenging theme for an Australian to say the least. Other than aboriginal music – most of which is ceremonial and not really intended to be listened to “recreatively” – Australia has very little home-grown folk music. Most of what exists stems from our convict period, and reflects the pain and anguish suffered by the men and women who were uprooted from their lives in Europe and banished to the strange and hostile country on the other side of the planet. There are obvious parallels with the blues music that arose from the period of slavery in the US, albeit that the roots of the music were Irish and English rather than African, and the period of suffering and injustice was relatively short.
That latter point is probably the most crucial reason why Australia has never developed a full-blown “own” style of folk music. The music, such as it is, is still very recognizably European, with the lyrical content the main adaptation. The fact that most ex-convicts and their descendants went on to lead fruitful and relatively prosperous lives in their adopted country also quickly relegated the convict-era songs to the history books, and to the machinations of the administrators of the young country who were keen to forge a new national identity. As a consequence, for the last century at least, most Australians have learned these songs at school, or in relation to activities organized to promote feelings of “Australianness”. This is in sharp contrast to blues and other folk music in America, which has been kept alive as living folk music that is transmitted and adapted within communities, in the case of the blues fueled by continuing hardships and injustice that persist to this day.
In the late sixties and early seventies Australians started to become more aware of their cultural heritage, and attempted to breathe new life into the convict-era songs and assorted bush ballads that until then had largely been sung in sanitized form on Australia Day or other official occasions. The problem was that most people didn’t really have a clue what these songs really sounded like in their original form. The result was a period of experimentation in which the old songs were performed in new arrangements and new songs were added that attempted to capture the feeling of hardship and alienation felt by Europeans trying to forge a life in the harsh and strange Australian continent. Long story short, the submitted song was one of the early attempts to capture this feeling.
About the song/artist:
Jeannie Lewis is one of the grandes dames
of Australian music. A highly eclectic artist with a strong social conscience, she has been active since the mid to late sixties, and has performed songs in a wide range of styles, including folk, jazz, latin and even opera. Her endless musical explorations ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, including the soundtrack to what has been called one of the worst movies ever (Shirley Thomson vs. the Aliens). Her willingness to experiment has earned her comparisons with artists such as Kate Bush, which IMO flatter Ms. Bush, at least in terms of vocal performance.
I have been utterly frustrated in my attempts to find out more information on the submitted song. It does not seem to have appeared on any of Lewis' official recordings, nor on any of the many compilations and collaborations she has engaged in over the years. Other than this youtube posting and a website providing guitar chords to Jeannie Lewis songs there is also no reference to the song to be found anywhere online. In any case the song largely speaks for itself, and tells the story of a couple who leave the city to seek their fortune in the remote opal fields in the Australian outback. Like most of the fortune seekers, their luck and money ran out, and they were left with little option but to return to the big city and accept defeat. The “bold young women” are probably prostitutes who gravitated to these regions, that offered little prospect for normal human relationships. For me the song captures the essence of almost all Australian folk music, that is the mismatch between the awkward pale-skinned Europeans and the harsh primitive continent they have chosen to inhabit. Which helps explain the extreme degree of urbanization in Australia
Votes received in the final:
10 traddles, Chastainiac
7 Dolly Rose, John., Silver Persian
5 Hugues Daniel
4 Rui., Mustafina
3 Crux Squall, TIEFSEE
2 Tennisfan102, histery, Milan.
1 salmon pants
Votes received in the SF:
10 John., TIEFSEE, traddles
8 Shvedbarilescu, Silver Persian
7 Dolly Rose, Mustafina
6 Baraboo, DJDVD, histery, Hugues Daniel, Rui.
5 Crux Squall, Tennisfan102
4 Milan., salmon pants
3 Litotes, Shia
2 Otlichno, Perun
1 Avada Kadavra, Monzanator
Votes given in the final
12 Litotes - Christian Borlaug - Fanitullen
10 traddles - Victor Copacinschi - Ciocirlia (The Lark)
8 Otlichno - Voz de Mando - Los Tres Mandos
7 Monzanator - Kapela Harnasie - Sazlala, szalala
6 Rui. - Amália Rodrigues - Canção do mar
5 Shvedbarilescu - Pentangle - Willy O’Winsbury
4 Silver Persian - John Williamson - With My Swag Upon My Shoulder
3 AdeyC - Steeleye Span - All Around My Hat
2 Tennisfan102 - Gaby Moreno - Blues de Mar
1 TIEFSEE - Anita Mui - Years Flowing Like Water
Diamonds in the rough
Mustafina – Salih - Gambos Ya Omar
Chastainiac - Nan Quan Mama - Peony River
salmon pants - Cleoma Breaux & Joe Falcon - La Vieux Soulard et sa Femme