And then it comes . . . this year it will be an all-Australian affair. How novel, Australian acts for a particularly, peculiarly Australian act. On the day there’ll be legends, there’ll be young ’uns. In suggesting they all be punted out of the ground is not to cast aspersions on their talents. After all, there’ll be Paul Kelly, Tones and I, John Williamson, Dean Lewis and, of course, inevitably, without any doubt at all, Mike Brady to sing the national anthem. Sorry, that will be done by Conrad Sewell. But Mike Brady will be there.
If there is an argument to only Up There Cazaly being the only song, then perhaps it should be that wonderful ode to the swagman who stuffed a jolly jumbuck in his tucker bag. The last time it was sung at the MCG it was Guy Sebastian in 2004. Before that the waltzing of the warbles has been performed by a veritable variety show of Australian artists: John Farnham, Jon English, Barry Crocker, Slim Dusty, Glenn Shorrock, Normie Rowe, Tina Arena, Daryl Somers, The Seekers and Human Nature.
Williamson, who’ll be singing it this year, told The Age, “No other Australian song comes near Matilda when it’s sung by a crowd. It is the only song that all Australians will sing from the heart.”
Which is a strange, but more than likely truth about us. Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda? Only we know the answer, and we’re not saying, mainly I suspect because literally few know. But is it rousing, is it patriotic, does it not scream I am Australian? It does.
But the true anthem of the day is, of course, Cazaly. It celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Whatever your musical or artistic bias, Cazaly defies them all. When the lines come round:
“Up there Cazaly/In there and fight/Out there and at ’em/Show ’em your might. Up there Cazaly/Don’t let ’em in/Fly like an angel/You’re out there to win.”
It would be a heart of stone not to feel a stir of emotion. It’s the vibe. Whether you can hear it or not is another matter. Depending on the wind’s direction and strength, the good folk of Launceston might hear it better than the good folk in the Southern Stand.
But at least their listening to silence would be better than listening to the sounds of a Meatloaf.
Warwick McFadyen is an Age desk editor.