Almanac Music: Australia’s Best Song Revisited


In August 2020, I wrote a piece for The Footy Almanac entitled “Australia’s Best Song. Discuss.” (which can be found HERE). It generated plenty of interest and a long, detailed discussion thread resulted, which included many nominations for the category. Many individuals put forward multiple nominations, which is of course entirely reasonable. I did anticipate this in my introduction to the piece:


“Of course, there could be many nominations in this category, but for what it’s worth, I’ll write about mine. (Or, at the very least, mine at the moment – one’s feelings can change with regard to matters such as this.) And let’s not get caught up in what defines “best” here – we all know the general meaning of the word. That said, I will put a time frame: 1950s onwards.”


Recently, I was listening to a “Best of Hoodoo Gurus” compilation, which was the direct prompt for this current piece. Also, the seed of this piece is in my previous one, where I say “ … mine at the moment – one’s feelings can change with regard to matters such as this”.


The Hoodoo Gurus compilation made me realise that, surprisingly to me, anyway, not one Gurus song made it into the “Best Australian Song” Footy Almanac discussion previously referred to, let alone received a nomination. I found this surprising in relation to a band that recorded some wonderful material, such as “Bittersweet”, “Like Wow – Wipeout”, “Death Defying”, “What’s My Scene?”, “1,000 Miles Away” and “The Right Time” (All of these songs were written by the band’s lead singer and guitarist, Dave Faulkner.) I wonder why they didn’t receive at least a mention. Are the band considered lighthearted, “fun”, rather than to be taken seriously?


Anyway, if I had to nominate one number from the Gurus to be included in a collection of great Australian songs (1950s onward), it would be “Bittersweet”. It’s such a melodic piece of alternative pop/rock, with its highly effective circular chord pattern, fabulous chorus, and key change, and is a song that has always sung summer, Sydney beaches and lost love to me; indeed, I very much think “Sydney” when I think of the Gurus in general terms. And when I say “Sydney”, I mean the city at its extroverted, larrikin best; a place with a surprising touch of sophistication, too, if one is perceptive enough to see it.


My current question for Almanackers, then, is, looking back on your nomination(s) in response to my past post concerning Australia’s best song, would you now add a new song, or songs? Otherwise, if you didn’t respond to my initial Almanac article, the question is straightforward: what song or songs would you nominate in this category?






Read more from Kevin Densley HERE


Kevin Densley’s latest poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, is available HERE


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Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, will be published in late 2023 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. Kevin Densley says


    (These songs were mentioned in the comments responding to my article in August 2020 – for more detail and context please refer to the article itself and these comments .)


    Throw Your Arms Me by Hunters and Collectors


    Everlovin’ Man by The Loved Ones
    Leave Love Enough Alone by Doug Ashdown
    When the River Runs Dry by Hunters and Collectors


    How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly
    Khe Sahn


    Sounds of Then by Gang Gajang


    Pub with no Beer by Slim Dusty
    She’s my Baby and Shout by Johnny O’Keefe
    Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport by R. Harris
    My Boomerang won’t Come Back by Charlie Drake


    Flame Trees by Cold Chisel
    Khe Sahn by Cold Chisel
    Up There Cazaly by Mike Brady
    How to Make Gravy, The Oldest Story in the Book, Love Never Runs on Time by Paul Kelly
    Talk of the Town (Live in Ireland version) by Shane Howard
    Hymn to Love by Paul Kelly
    Pauly Roberts Scores A Car by Perry Keyes
    Blow Up The Pokies’, ‘Charlie No. 1’, ‘The Curse Stops Here’ by The Whitlams


    How to make Gravy by Paul Kelly
    Raining on the Rock by John Williamson


    “Anything by the Go-Betweens”


    Sounds of Then (Gang Gajang)
    Good Advice, The Moment, and State of the Heart by Mondo Rock
    I Was Only 19, The Diamantina Drover by Redgum


    April Sun in Cuba, though I prefer an obscure cover – by Sally Ford and the Pachuco Playboys.


    Bye, Bye, Pride by The Go-Betweens.


    Wide Open Road, Bury Me Deep in Love by The Triffids
    Just Like Fire Would by Bruce Springsteen… and the Saints original is pretty good.
    Shane Howard’s Flesh and Blood by Mary Black


    Pleasure & Pain by Divinyls
    Anthem by Tiddas

    KD (again)

    Only Lonely, I Touch Myself by Divinyls

    FISHO (again)

    I am Woman and Angie Baby by Helen Reddy

    DB (again)

    The Way You Are Tonight by Missy Higgins


    Cattle and Cane by The Go-Betweens


    When the Rain Tumbles Down in July by Slim Dusty
    Friday on my Mind by The Easybeats
    To Love Somebody by The Bee Gees
    I Remember When I was Young by Matt Taylor
    Howzat by Sherbet
    Jailbreak by AC/DC
    Way out West by The Dingoes
    Kangaroo Hop by Dave Warner
    Solid Rock by Goanna
    We Have Survived by No Fixed Address
    Treaty by Yothu Yindi
    Down City Streets by Archie Roach
    My Island Home by The Warumpi Band (and Christine Anu)
    Not Pretty Enough by Kasey Chambers
    Depreston by Courtney Barnett
    Boys will be Boys by Stella Donnelly
    Science Fiction by The Divinyls
    I’m Stranded by The Saints

    RICK KANE (again)

    American Sailors/Too Hot to Move, Too Hot to Think by The Triffids, but the better version is their spin-off band, The Blackeyed Susans with Rob Snarski singing. Speaking of …
    Either Oceans of You or The End of the Line.


    Bernie and Is That What They’re Saying by Dan Warner


    I’ll Be Gone by Axiom


    My Baby’s Gone by Axiom.


    My Island Home by Christine Anu
    I Was Only 19 by Redgum
    On the Punt by The Aerial Maps
    Wide Open Road by The Triffids


    Dear Prudence verion by Doug Parkinson
    Renee Geyer – anything!
    State of the heart by Mondo Rock
    The Dingoes – whole of self-titled album.


    To Her Door, Dumb Things, From Little Things, Big Things Grow, Leaps and Bounds by Paul Kelly


    Way Out West
    Suburban Boy by Dave Warner
    Most people I know think that I’m crazy by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs
    Evie, parts 1,11& 111 by Stevie Wright

    KD (again)

    Father’s Day by Wedding, Parties, Anything
    Greg, the Stop Sign! By TISM


    The Real Thing Russell Morris


    Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool
    Sometimes by Midnight Oil

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