1 December 2017

Give me a home among the gum trees song by John Williamson

I was recently introduced to this humorous, heartwarming song which is sung so skillfully here by John Williamson.  I love the up-beat tune and the lyrics are so funny.  One gets a real appreciation for Australia and all things Australian just by listening to it although people who have never set foot in this beautiful island, country, continent may need some help understanding the meaning behind the jargon in the lyrics.  The wonderful lyrics are co-written by Bob Brown and Wally  Johnson.

Give me a home among the gum trees 

I've been around the world
A couple of times or maybe more
I've seen the sights, I've had delights
On every foreign shore
But when my mates all ask me
The place that I adore
I tell them right away

Give me a home among the gum trees
With lots of plum trees
A sheep or two, a k-kangaroo
A clothesline out the back
Verandah out the front
And an old rocking chair

You can see me in the kitchen
Cooking up a roast
Or Vegemite on toast
Just you and me, a cup of tea
And later on, we'll settle down
And go out on the porch
And watch the possums play

There's a Safeway's up the corner
And a Woolies down the street
And a brand new place they've opened up
Where they regulate the heat
But I'd trade them all tomorrow
For a little bush retreat
Where the kookaburras call

Some people like their houses
With fences all around
Others live in mansions
And some beneath the ground
But me I like the bush you know
With rabbits running round
And a pumpkin vine out the back

So, here is a key explaining some of the jargon in the lyrics so that everyone who listens to this song will be able to understand it.  I have provided some of the definitions myself and others such as the name of Australian fauna are definitions from the internet.

Gum tree - is a local term for a type of Eucalyptus tree.
Mate - is another term for friend.
Kangaroo - is a large plant-eating marsupial with a long powerful tail and strongly developed hindlimbs that enables it to travel by leaping, found only in Australia and New Guinea.
Vegemite -  a type of savoury spread made from concentrated yeast extract.
Possums - a tree-dwelling Australasian marsupial that typically has a prehensile tail.
Woolies - is a colloquial name for Woolworth's which is a large supermarket.
Bush - a term used especially in Australia and South Africa for a native forest which has not been exploited.
Kookaburra - a very large Australasian kingfisher that feeds on terrestrial prey such as reptiles and birds.

Give Me a Home Among the (or Home Among the Gum trees) is a popular Australian song written in 1974 by Wally Johnson and Bob Brown (aka Captain Rock). It was originally performed as a satirical number in Johnson and Brown's comedy act at the Flying Trapeze Cafe in Fitzroy, Melbourne and was first recorded in 1975 on the Captain Rock album Buried Treasure on Mushroom Records.  At that time the Australian Government had decided to scrap God Save the Queen as the national anthem and was running a contest called the Australian National Anthem Quest to find a replacement. The Gum trees song was Johnson and Brown's response (it did not win).

In 1982, the bush band Bullamakanka reputedly found a copy of the Captain Rock album in a music shop sale bin (although this story is not confirmed by all members of the band). They recorded a cover version of Gum trees, which then became a hit. The song was later recorded by popular Australian country music singer-songwriter John Williamson, thus increasing its popularity (many mistakenly believe Williamson to be the original composer). Bullamakanka made some changes to the lyrics, which were also retained in Williamson's recording. These tended to water down the original tongue-in-cheek nature of the song. This song has become one of the most frequently recorded Australian compositions of all time and is a standard in Australian folk music. 
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