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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bmag Sept 17th 2013 - Novelty songs

I can’t resist a good novelty song. Even better is a bad novelty song. The ABC’s music programmer Bill Riner diagnosed me years ago when he said I caught the bug as a young fella growing up in England, where there is a tradition of novelty songs “topping the pops”.

It is true that I was still living in the UK when, in 1980, the St Winifred’s School Choir spent eleven weeks in the charts, including two weeks at #1, with Grandma, We Love You. Look it up on YouTube – the lyrics might be simple but boy does it tug at the heart-strings. “There’s no-one quite like Grandma/And I know you will agree/That she always is a friend to you/ And she’s a friend to me.” Fortunately, two months later, I moved to Australia and was saved. Or was I? Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 20-plus years on Queensland radio, it’s that Aussies are suckers for a silly song too.

I was reminded of this recently when we did a story on 612 Breakfast about a new four-story building at the University of Queensland – a building with no toilets! Apparently this isn’t a problem, because the building next-door is well-equipped, but I wouldn’t like to be dealing with an upset stomach whilst working on the fourth floor of a loo-less office block! Anyway, I dragged out the 1997 song Don’t Go in the dunny after Dad by then-Kallangur primary school teacher Geoff Whitehead (and his students): “Don’t go in the dunny after Dad’s been in/No, don’t go in the toilet, don’t go in the loo/Don’t go in the dunny after Dad’s been in, if you know what’s good for you.”

The song made it into the top 40 in 2002 when it was covered by Jamie Dunn and Agro but I hadn’t played either version for well over a decade. One play on the radio and we were inundated with people asking whether you can still buy the song. For the record, yes, Geoff has copies of the CD and if you call him on 3264 5198, he’ll fix you up!

So what’s the latest novelty song to attract my ear? Well, it won’t be released until next year, but I have been listening to a new Chad Morganesque album by Brisbane’s own Franky Walnut. This really has the potential to go somewhere, I reckon. It includes the song As Australian As. “I’m as Australian as a sheep’s turd in the shape of Australia riding on the back of a sheep named Bruce who’s been shorn in the shape of Australia/I’m as Australian as a pie that’s been run over by a ute being driven by John Williamson while he narrates a documentary about Australia/I’m as Australian as a red-back spider and a funnel-web spider having a root inside a kangaroo scrotum purse/I’m as Australian as/I’m as Australian as.”

But then the song takes an ironic twist: “I’m as Australian as a surfie who gets really bloody hungry and then he goes and eats some sushi/I’m as Australian as sushi.” And eventually, “I’m as Australian as the moon (when viewed from Australia).” So who is this Franky Walnut? Well, he’s the creation of Keir Nuttall, Kate Miller-Heidke’s husband and collaborator, so this record has some serious musical clout. And yes, Kate sings backing vocals.

The first time I played As Australian As on 612 Breakfast, tweeter @JaneofAustralia tweeted @FrankyWalnut: “Catchy tune. Note sure re lyrics”. Franky replied: “Neither am I. Actually, I’m not sure about the tune either.” For now, the CD is only available at gigs.

Finally, thanks for all your emails and tweets about Teddy and Pun’kin, who we recently adopted from Red Hill cat rescuer Katina Balson. Katina was thrilled to be mentioned in the magazine. She wrote: “Thank you so much for the lovely write up in bmag. Fab message about the sweet scaredy cats. I get so teary when I hear how well-loved my/your babies are. They are lucky boys. Give them a big kiss for me. Love your work, Katina.” As I mentioned in my last column, Katina can be found at the Pussies Galore charity shop on Musgrave Road or you can peruse her “scaredy cats” online at

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