25 April 2006

Anzac - que?

Well I heard The Herd's remake of "I was only 19" and saw the video clip for the first time last night. Thinking how smart they were to release it on the eve of Anzac day, I now realise I'm a tad behind the times. They first performed it on the Triple J show like a version sometime last year, and the studio recording was released on March 17 this year. I think they've done an excellent job, and the man who penned it from Redgum, agrees. The words are certainly not a nationalist call to arms, and in this version they ring out nice and clear in an Australian accent 20 ears on, infused with the cadences of western Europe and the Middle East via Sydney's western suburbs. They've kept great slabs of the original lyrics and just added more description to others. From the original:
"And can you tell me doctor, why I still can'y get to sleep/And the Channgel Seven chopper still chills me to my feet? / And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means? God help me.. I was only 19."

And the Herd's embellishment: "I can still hear Frank, a screaming mess, the bleeding flesh, couldn't retrieve his legs/ y' see the ANZAC legend neglected to mention / the blood, the fear, the blood the tears the tension/Dad's recollection beyond comprehension, didn't seem quite real until we were sent in."
You can hear it and view the video here (quicktime viewer - not good for dialup). I remember this song effecting me when it was on Countdown when I was a kid, and now doing my research I found out it was at number 1 for 40 weeks in 1983. What I didn't know was that apparently it was all the Vets who "latched on immediately" and that its played on ANZAC day all over the country. Always leapt out as one of the most hit-you-in-the-guts anti-war song I've heard. (If you've got others, go ahead and post in comments). I don't think its about glory or reminisence at all - and to hear these young blokes rap it is incredible. A band member, Urthboy, puts it best in an inteview for the SMH , pointing out tht The Herd's audience were not born when the song was originally released, but still responded to its message. "A lot of our audience members are fairly politically aware … [for them] war is an issue that should not be downplayed." Nice one, The Herd.


Betty Sue said...

I heard the guy from Redgum talking on the radio saying that children of vietnam veterans are 10 times more likely to suicide compared to non-veteran kids the same age. And have much higher levels of depression, mental illness, and general underachievement.

Three cheers for the Herd - about time someone took ANZAC day back to what it should be - not a tickertape parade, not an excuse to get pissed, not a day for a spectacular display of zulu warriors.

How long now till we get ANZAC Day sales?

meririsa said...

Completely unrelated claim to fame - I played with John Schumann's (lead singer, Redgum) niece when I was a kid - her family lived on my street.