CONTEMPORARY COUNTRY MUSIC


AUSTRALIA AND ITS TRADITIONAL MUSIC – a brief overview

 

CONTEMPORARY COUNTRY MUSIC

 

© Warren Fahey

Contemporary country music tries hard to provide itself with an Australian stamp but usually not as successfully as the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) would probably like. I say this with some knowledge of the artists and the association. In many cases young people have come to this music as an entertainment and it not from a cultural root. Singers and musicians tend to sing in American accents although not necessarily consciously. Most would deny that they have such an influence but even Blind Freddie can hear it.

The songwriters still find it difficult not to introduce Americanisms in their words, also probably unconsciously. This is a sad reflection of a music that does try to define itself as Australian. I have a problem with country music as it never seems to ring true to any tradition. I acknowledge it has some cultural root however it simply isn’t true to its own tradition. A listen to old timey and bluegrass roots music will show a different tradition. That said, I do appreciate country music as a way of maintaining the sung story and, apart from the tear-jerking, truck-driving and yankee-fied variety, I can appreciate the value. I guess I like my songs more open-faced.

One of the most widely known early country songs was popularised (and written by) by Gordon Parsons and, later, by Slim Dusty.

THE PUB WITH NO BEER

It’s lonesome away from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night where the wild dingos call
But there’s nothin’ so lonesome, so dull or so drear
Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer

Now the publican’s anxious for the quota to come
There’s a faraway look on the face of the bum
The maid’s gone all cranky and the cook’s acting queer
What a terrible place is a pub with no beer

The stockman rides up with his dry, dusty throat
He breasts up to the bar, pulls a wad from his coat
But the smile on his face quickly turns to a sneer
When the barman says suddenly: “The pub’s got no beer!”

There’s a dog on the verandah, for his master he waits
But the boss is inside drinking wine with his mates
He hurries for cover and he cringes in fear
It’s no place for a dog round a pub with no beer

Then in comes the swagman, all covered with flies
He throws down his roll, wipes the sweat from his eyes
But when he is told he says, “What’s this I hear?
I’ve trudged fifty flamin’ miles to a pub with no beer!”

Old Billy, the blacksmith, the first time in his life
Has gone home cold sober to his darling wife
He walks in the kitchen; she says: “You’re early, me dear”
Then he breaks down and he tells her that the pub’s got no beer

It’s lonesome away from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night where the wild dingos call
But there’s nothin’ so lonesome, so dull or so drear
Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer

There is a parody of this song on my ABC CD ‘Larrikins, Louts & Layabouts’ titled ‘The Pub With No Dike’. A dike being slang for toilet.

For information on country music – CMAA visit www.cmaa.com.au