John Williamson still singing his melodic bush protest songs
AT 70 years old Australian bush balladeer, national treasure and boat rocker John Williamson reckons that, just like most folk his age, he's mellowed. When it comes to protests in 2016 he says mildly:
"I leave that to the younger folks.”
Nevertheless, there are qualifiers. He still wants Australia to be a republic and have its own flag. And at every concert, the voice of his convictions is expressed through his classic songs with same fervour and beauty.
Take the 1990 lyrics of: A Flag of Our Own.
"Cause this is Australia and that's where we're from. We're not Yankee side-kicks or second class Poms, And tell the Frogs what they can do with their bomb, Oh we must have a flag of our own.”
On his website he says: "The nature of Australia being represented on our nation's flag is something I have always been very passionate about, I have dreamed for many years that our nation's banners celebrate our most important heritage: the nature of our ancient island continent.”
While he is sure of the land, he asks us to think about who we are: the words of True Blue - Australia's unofficial national anthem, asks the questions: "Hey True Blue, is it me or you, is it Mum and Dad, is it a cockatoo, Is it standin' by your mate when he's in a fight, Or just Vegemite, True Blue, I'm asking you.”
You see, while Williamson is not only a country music musician, he is a folk singer who takes up social issues . A Flag of Our Own saw the RSL ban him for disloyalty to the flag, monarchists have attacked his republican viewpoint. His environmental song Rip Rip Wood Chip upset the logging industry. He believes strongly in marriage equality and reckons country singers need to be grounded in Aussie culture, not American, and he welcomes a diverse Australia and reckons the more mingling the better. He is also a big fundraiser for a variety of worthy causes.
In 2016, Williamson the eldest of five boys, who grew up in Quambatook, in the Mallee district of north-western Victoria, reveals how he still interprets Australia through his unique poetic voice.
"I am writing under a wise old coolibah beside a billabong on the Wilson River on Mt Margaret Station in Western Queensland,” he says in a newsletter to his fans.
"We have two dozen yabbies and still pulling them in for an entrée tonight.”
That has to be vintage John Williamson. The man that not only plays to thousands but also limited numbers on his own property. Williamson and his wife have settled on a property in Springbrook in the Gold Coast hinterland and for the last two years he has hosted the Willoshed concerts there, with a limited number of about 400 tickets.
The Gympie Muster is another annual gig and this month in its 35th year, he can say that it's only about two or three he hasn't been able to make. And without a doubt, it's all on for this year.