The culture, interests and concerns of a nation are generally to be found in their songs, among other places. This is definitely the case with the best Australian songs.
However, for some reason, many of the best songs from Down Under appear to get virtually ignored outside of the country, so here are some of them you might like to listen to.
Khe Sanh – Cold Chisel
This is rated as one of the best Australian songs of all time but I wonder how many non-Aussies have even listened to it. To be fair, I can’t imagine this rock classic gaining such widespread appeal anywhere else on the planet. That’s not to say that it isn’t good. It’s just that the boozy, bleary-eyed tale of a jaded Vietnam vet, Asian prostitutes, drugs and flying helicopters isn’t exactly mainstream fare. Maybe someone could ask Mariah Carey to do a cover version of it.
Bye Bye Pride – Go Betweens
Why do some bands make it big while others fail miserably? Just listen to a few songs by this band, such as Streets of Your Town, Head Full of Steam or The House Jack Kerouac Built. Pretty good, eh? Now look up their Wikipedia entry and check out their best ever chart positions. Wow, they once got to number 16 once and were regular visitor to slots in the 70s and 80s! This is my favourite song by the band but I got confused when I went to check out what other people thought of it online. The Aussies who have made comments about it have generally all bafflingly said that you need to have grown up in Brisbane in the 1980s to understand it. I thought I had understood it without ever even having visited Brisbane but it seems not. Anyway, any song which contains the line “a teenage Rasputin takes the sting from a gin” really deserves a bit more attention.
Kelly’s Blues – The Triffids
What’s that? You’ve never heard of these guys either? To be fair, they don’t seem to have been all that popular in Oz either. What they have in common with most of the best Australian bands is that they have the kind of music and lyrics which could only have come out of the island continent. I can’t quite put my finger on it but there is a feeling of open spaces and isolation to their songs which I love.
Eagle Rock – Daddy Cool
I had never heard of either this song or the artist before I did some research on the best Australian songs in order to find some more gems to include here. It turns out to have been listed by the Australian Performing Rights Association as the second best song in the history of the country’s music. That’s a pretty impressive feat. Apparently Elton John’s rather more famous Crocodile Rock was inspired by this song. It’s a feel good sort of a tune which you won’t be able to resist tapping your feet to. Honestly.
Friday on My Mind – The Easybeats
In that same list of the best Aussie songs of all time this one was the numero uno, head honcho and big cheese. I’d never heard of it ever. It was pretty popular in the 60s and I also read that Bruce Springsteen played it during an Australian tour so maybe you’ve already heard it. If you haven’t then give it a try and you might like it.