One of the unexpected pleasures of my first visit to Australia was
getting a dose of Aussie folk music. My tour drivers liked to put on
a tape on the way back into town after a hard day wandering the
countryside. And what I liked best was how different it was from the
American version, in both pacing and choice of subject. I found a
great collection of songs before returning home, which I've listened
to many times since.
Which is how I encountered Slim Dusty, who performed several classic
tracks on that album. His version of
Man From Snowy River is stirring stuff. And his rendition
about a famous aboriginal painter, is fascinating both for its
paternalistic attitude and for the strangeness (to me, at any rate) of
an artist being the subject of a traditional song. It's stuff like
that that reminds me, if I ever need it, that it isn't just with the
Brits that we're separated by a common language.