Almanac Music (Podcast) – The Beatles: They Came to a Land Downunder

 

Dear Almanackers,

 

I feel somewhat guilty making this post as I realise quite a few years have passed since I have contributed any writing to the site. Perhaps it was the fog of COVID-19 and a generally troubling world. It could also be the fact that Hawthorn has been going through an extensive rebuild.

 

Well, while that rebuild is progressing, I’ve been distracting myself from bad news by putting together my first podcast (with my friend Frank). We thought we’d try it out and see what came of it; we focused on my other life passion – the Beatles.

 

And yes, there’ll be plenty asking – why do we need yet another Beatles podcast. We asked that question of ourselves. But inspired by this world of deep dives and investigative podcasts, we thought there was something interesting and new to say. We could see that the story, while being told plenty of times by the mainstream media, had more interesting layers and characters to reveal. Technology and social media has provided us with plenty of new methods, sources and inspiration.

 

Further, there is now much more to reflect upon 60 years from those times (when Frank was only a few years old and I hadn’t been born). As Frank reminds me, the point of history is to go back over stories and take a fresh look. Often we find new insights from looking at events from the vantage of a very different era.

 

So, there’s going to be a little bit of everything in this nine-part series – for music lovers, music historians, social historians, fans, and even perhaps students of historical method, the classics and philosophy.

 

We start with some scene setting – who are we and why are we doing this? What sort of questions are we interested in? And what has come before us in the past couple of decades of Beatle watching with the explosion of information, blogs, podcasts and so on? Is their history somewhat contested now as newer perspectives – including that of more women and fans at large – are incorporated into the narrative?

 

Then we descend more deeply into the lands downunder – in episode three, we consider what sort of place the Beatles were coming to. How socially conservative was it? What was it like for women, migrants and others?

 

Later we explore more specific parts of the tour – who wanted to see them, where did they go, what buildings did they play/stay in (are they still there?), and who did they meet (humans and animals). But, throughout, we are able to weave in so much more about the nature of the lands downunder – including how our native flora and fauna have become symbols or tools of soft power!

 

For colour, we’ve purchased historic audio from radio stations, the ABC and other journalists. We include retro advertisements of the era. We read some poetry and cite readings from journalists and authors of the time.

 

We’ve also been to the national library, archives and Arts Centre Melbourne – allowing us greater behind-the-scenes insights into the tour. A striking discovery was a 1963 book by a Nigerian journalist who met the Beatles but had also been carefully writing down insights about issues like race and Australian identity.

 

So you can probably tell, this project took on something of a life of its own. It’s pretty ambitious and maybe just a little eccentric at times.

 

But I reckon Almanac readers are just the sort of inquisitive people that would find some of it nostalgic and perhaps insightful.

 

On any connection to sport – well, the Beatles were invited a couple of times to some Victorian and South Australian footy games but declined. It really wasn’t their thing. We do know that a couple of AFL giants went to their concerts – including in Adelaide and Melbourne (Ron Barassi).

 

You can find it on Spotify, YouTube and Apple Podcasts.  We add a new episode each week through May-July.  Please check it out and perhaps provide a review/rate – that’d be very helpful.

 

Episode 3 will be coming in the first weekend of June and it starts to get more deeply into the Australian side of the story.

 

https://open.spotify.com/episode/5Rk0iigAMsEnGao9Y4L8Yt

https://www.instagram.com/they.came.to.a.land.downunder/

https://podcasts.apple.com/…/the…/id1739896392

https://www.youtube.com/@TheyCametoaLandDownunder

 

Gaz

 

 

 

 

 

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About Gareth Meyer

Part-time food, wine and travel writer (and photographer), Hawks supporter since Huddo senior had the football on a string, proud owner of Martha the toy poodle.

Comments

  1. This sounds like a really interesting idea, Gareth.
    Particularly for a rusted-on Beatles fan such as myself.
    I will definitely take a listen and I wish Frank and yourself every success.

    Thanks.

  2. Gareth Meyer says

    Thanks Smokie.
    We are learning as going, so the sound quality improves a bit in future episodes. So hang in there. And we are just going where our many interests lead us…. which hopefully means there’s something for a range of listeners who both love the band or just know something of them. Always keen for a review on Apple Podcasts if that’s possible!

    Gareth

  3. Grand stuff. As a podcast nut and a Beatles nut I look forward to listening.
    I was 9 living in Adelaide and they captivated the town. We had Beatles or Stones; Beatles or Elvis voting lists posted on the primary school notice board. Crowds flooding across North Terrace to Parliament House steps to see their “royal waves” from the South Australian Hotel (long gone) balcony. Centennial Hall at Wayville Showgrounds for the concert where no-one could hear for the screaming, and where Jethro Tull was my first live concert around 1973. A big barn of a place.
    Interviewed by Big Bob Francis for 5AD who seemed to become a friend as much as a DJ. Decades later I always marvelled at how the rocky jockeys from the 60’s like Francis and Bynes became right wing reactionary shock jocks in the 90’s.
    I guess we’re all a bit nuts.

  4. Gareth Meyer says

    Hey Peter. Good to hear from you. We have an episode looking at where they stayed and played and situate in within an era in which Australia was starting to pull down its buildings and cultural heritage. So there’s some discussion of the Adelaide venues. We also have a great reading from Geoffrey Dutton’s 1964 poem ‘The Beatles in Adelaide’ – which stands as a fabulous summary of the social divide between youth and the establishment that feared the Beatles as the modern-day equivalent of facism-induced hysteria! And yes, I did notice some of Francis’s views in his later career! You will probably enjoy some of the historical audio, including the advertisements from the time. Remember Porphyry Pearl! We even find a Surf laundry advertisement which is based on She Loves You. Hope it is of interest.

  5. Listened to the first two episodes. It’s Ripper 1964. “Do yourself a favour”.
    The production quality and level of research are amazing. Love all the audio clips you found. Just a great reminder of the times and how much simpler life was. There is audio of one of them reading the tour schedule for Australasia. Pretty clear he doesn’t know which cities are in Australia and which in New Zealand.
    In an era without the internet or satellite tv how would a 20 something young Englishman know places on the other side of the world? Just a lot of empire red on the school wall map.
    They went to “Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington”. Who knew? And some place called “Dunny Din”. Dunedoo perhaps in outback NSW? On reflection probably Dunedin NZ, adding to the list of small cities that never see international acts these days.
    Some of the debate of historical theories about the cultural and political significance of The Beatles was s bit obscure. Who knew there were Departments and Professors of Beatleology these days? Thankfully these straw men are mostly raised to be knocked over by the presenters who don’t let their deep knowledge blind their love of the boys and their music.
    I guess that having lived the Beatles era I have my own lens for appreciating them. Born of 1950’s Black R&B roots (Twist and Shout) and a rebellion against straightening 1950’s post war conformity.
    My only choice is the Red compilation (62-66) or the Blue one (67-70) on the CD player this morning. Which child do you love more?
    Hope lots of Almanackers, their family and friends tune in. This is great fun and an immense labour of love and scholarship.
    5 stars.

  6. Gareth Meyer says

    Thank you so much. Now I remember why this forum is so great – positive and constructive discussion, and unlike the rest of the social media world.

    And on some of the detail, – yes, the Beatles went to Dunedin! Part of the rationale for New Zealand may have been that John’s Aunt Mimi had relatives there. But I am not the authority on that by any means. There’s also a book being published in coming days which goes into far more detail on all the specifics of the tour.

    A favourite discovery for me was Geoffrey Dutton’s amazing poem on Adelaide – published in the Bulletin in 1964. It just captures the tensions there between establishment and youth, and seeks to settle the nerves of the locals that the Beatles may be a revolution but it’s all ok!

    Here is a link to it in the National Library online archives. I am sure Almanackers would appreciate his skill here.

    https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-682135239/view?sectionId=nla.obj-698195184&partId=nla.obj-682286003

  7. Gareth Meyer says

    Thanks again Peter B for the kind review on Apple Podcasts

    Episode 3 is now out and dives into what Australia was like. There’s some interesting historical material we draw on and I hope to be able to post some of the supporting documents in the next week.

    Gareth

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