It’s arguably the most important day on the Aussie calendar – a day of quiet, mournful respect. But this year a little bit of music will be thrown into the ANZAC day celebrations.
The singers of two famous Australian anti-war anthems will be visiting Canberra this week to help commemorate our Anzacs, namely Eric Bogle and John Schumann of Redgum.
Bogle, who penned ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’, will headline the Legacy Anzac Concert at the National Convention Centre in Canberra on Sunday. The Legacy Anzac Concert is an annual event held to commemorate the soldiers who fought for Australia and New Zealand in the wars of the past century.
Bogle wrote his famous protest song in 1971, after his first Anzac Day. The singer emigrated from Scotland and was quite surprised by the Aussie response to their fallen soldiers. He told The Canberra Times that “in the UK where I came from and where they’ve had millions of young boys sacrificed over the years, they don’t put aside a whole day.” “[There was] dichotomy of opinion and I thought if ever there was time for an anti-war song it’s now.” – Eric Bogle
“It’s just a couple of minutes every 11th of November and that’s it,” said Bogle of his country’s own tributes. The new experience of such a young nation gathering together so solemnly to honour their fallen Australians was, to him, “quite strange and quite moving,” he adds.
The 68-year-old folk singer-songwriter says that he promises to keep his Legacy Anzac Concert set short and sweet. “It will be a few songs, a few tears and then I’m off.” He says he will certainly play his 1971 hit – set in Gallipoli and describes the futility of war – as well as a few lighter songs as well.
‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ came out during the Vietnam War, at a time when Australia held a contentious view on war. Bogle explained that at the stage he saw there was a real “dichotomy of opinion and I thought if ever there was time for an anti-war song it’s now.”
Bogle says that his focus will be to remind everyone of why they are here: specifically to remember the sacrifice of the ANZAC soldiers.
John Schumann, the writer of the #1 charting protest song ‘I Was Only 19’, will also be heading to Canberra this week, doubly celebrating the 30th anniversary of his famous single and to deliver his musical message to the diggers. “I think that for the hundreds of thousands of Australians who bought the record, in some form it was a way of saying sorry to the veterans of the war.” – John Schumann, Redgum
‘I Was Only 19’ was released in 1983 by Schumann’s band Redgum, it went straight to the top of the Australian charts and stayed there for 40 weeks.
“Redgum had only been playing 19 live for a little over a week and it was knocking people sideways,” the singer recalls. “We’d just played Tathra and then at Batemans Bay I was told that the band had had a meeting and voted and they didn’t want to release it as a single.”
“But we didn’t have any new songs and no money to record them anyway so 19 had to be a single if it was going to get out there at all,” he remembers.
Schumann added that the song provided a moment of national realisation for the Australian public, who had not shown much support to troops returning from the Vietnam War.
“I think that for the hundreds of thousands of Australians who bought the record, in some form it was a way of saying sorry to the veterans of the war,” he reasons. “Sorry for not welcoming them home, sorry for not believing them when they tried to tell us they were crook, and sorry for not supporting them as we should have.”
An unplugged version of the Redgum hit is being released on iTunes to commemorate Anzac Day in the lead-up to the Canberra concert, which takes place Sunday 28th April in Canberra. Redgum also play the Gum Ball Music Festival, which kicks off on April 25th. Details below.
The Gum Ball Festival 2013 Line-up
April 25th – 27th
Belford, Hunter Vally
details at thegumball.com.au
Turin Brakes (UK)
The Hillbilly Killers
The Eastern (NZ)
Money For Rope
The Leisure Bandits
Eugene Hideaway Bridges (USA)
King of the North