Last year I was very excited and honoured to do this assignment for BushTV. I have always been a fan of the song ‘Solid Rock.’
Shane Howard, Irish Australian song-writer of ‘Solid Rock,’ and founder of Goanna, has spent a life time trying to understand and distil the collective Australian story.
This journey has been because he strongly believes songs have great power to make a ‘new dreaming,’ for Australia.
“If it’s a song of great power in the contemporary popular era it might filter through and become part of the traditional culture for a thousand years, and not just five minutes – but Australia seems to be living in that very disposable pop world – we don’t value the folk tradition very much here.”
Part of creating a ‘new dreaming’ is the process of uncovering the truth about Australian history, and for Howard his finding of truth has been made possible through Irish Australian parents who were “very open minded, good and just” and instilled in him a love of music and song (from Irish Parlour songs to Bob Dylan, Peter Seeger, Woody Guthrie) and an openness to Aboriginal Australians who he credits with educating him with the truth.
Howard vividly remembers ‘serious questions’ gradually being raised in his mind from meeting with Aboriginal people – from Robert a friend who set next to him for a short time in class in primary school – to all the Aboriginal people encountered on his travels as a youth, with a limited budget, including an old man of the stolen generation.
“I kept running into Aboriginal people and grew more and more interested in the fact they were the real people of this country, they were the traditional owners, the original inhabitants. And that starts to invite some very serious questions – when you’ve been taught all your life that Australia was settled peaceably and there was no blood spilt here. Meeting Aboriginal Australia taught me that was a lie and that you’ve gotta search for the truth.”
His journeys took him to Uluru, the place which was to inspire the words of ‘Solid Rock’ in his twenties.
To read the rest of this article go to THE EVOLUTION OF SHANE HOWARD
Australia a home for all people, but looking for peace within with some of its first people.
Travelling overseas we find out what others truly think of us, and sometimes it might shock us to know we are seen as a racist nation when we think of all nations within our nation.
Small country towns have made a place for all peoples, and striven hard to attract, employ and make sure they feel at home in their new homes far from their birthlands.
But there is a space for coming together for all peoples, and despite the debates many make a place for friendship with all peoples, first in this land, latest in this land. The land does not discriminate but offers up its surface for all to walk on, and its beauty for all to enjoy.
And there are those who serve quietly and humbly – thinking of others before themselves. They are ever searching for the happiness of others, and in that is their own. They show all of us how to be and inspire us to rethink who we are as Australians, as world citizens.
And the youth will make a new future, reach out across all boundaries and take up our cultures within culture and meld it into something we don’t yet fully know, or let’s hope so because no person, no cultures, no culture can reach perfection and understanding is the beginning of the journey for perfection. It’s alright to have a good laugh along the way. Joy makes us think more clearly – make our futures more dearly.
My wonder for today – Australians, and the Australia that could be.
(c) June Perkins