Two of Australia’s most outspoken singer-songwriters, SHANE HOWARD (Goanna) and JOHN SCHUMANN (Redgum and The Vagabond Crew) have decided to collaborate on a new national anthem.
Few songwriters can claim to have written anthems that have changed the way our nation thinks.
Shane Howard’s ‘Solid Rock’ shone a forensic light on the dispossession of Australia’s Indigenous peoples and the devastating destruction of their proud, rich cultures. John Schumann’s ‘I Was Only 19’ helped bring Australia’s Vietnam veterans home and looked at the inhumanity and the brutality of war through a deeply compassionate prism.
“Shooey and I were having one of our long, rambling conversations on the phone about that fool Trump, geopolitical destabilisation and the generally parlous state of the world,” said Shane.
“Closer to home, we thought it was predictable of Gladys Berejiklian, given her current difficulties, to ‘pivot’ towards the national anthem. If you are not pivoting these days, you’re clearly a burden to the nation,” John said.
“As songwriters, John and I have both loathed our national anthem for ages.”
“Somebody needs to explain to us how we have tolerated ‘girt by sea’ and the rest of the inconsequential drivel for as long as we have,” said John.
“Enough is enough. We decided to focus our attention on the need for a truly great national anthem that everyone will love to sing,” said Shane.
“Once Victorians are allowed out again, we plan to meet up halfway between our respective homes, find a billabong and camp for as long as it takes to summon up the ghost of Henry Lawson and the spirit of all our ancestors,” John said.
Shane and John have collaborated on a number of occasions. In 2017, they co-wrote ‘Times Like These’, a scathing critique of the national and international chaos of a world ruled by venal despots but desperately crying out for leadership.
“This will be yet another bruising contest of ideas. We will succeed or fail spectacularly. No one will ever die wondering what either of us think, including each other. You have to lay it all on the line.”
When will Australia get to hear it?
“When we finish it” they said. “Probably not before that.”
Stay tuned for Australia’s new national anthem, coming soon from Shane Howard and John Schumann.