“I don’t want it to be involved in anything that stirs up hatred for anybody in this country.”
This was John Williamson’s response to his song ‘True Blue’ being used at the recent Reclaim Australia rally.
Speaking to John about the intention behind the track and the recent controversy, he explains that ‘True Blue’ was always meant to be inclusive of all Australians.
“It’s not about being a white Australian, I’d be ashamed if that ever happened, that people think that way,” he said.
“It’s not about religion or where you came from originally or whether you’re white, black, brindle or yellow.”
‘True Blue’ was released in 1986 and has become as iconic as John Williamson himself.
Throughout his 45 year career John Williamson has become an integral thread in the fabric of Australian country and folk music.
Last year the singer/songwriter reached another milestone, with the release of his 50th album, ‘Honest People’.
“I’ve got to the stage now where I don’t need anymore songs really,” he laughed when asked about his extensive back catalogue.
What inspires John to keep writing is his love for new material and to ensure he doesn’t fall into a boring routine.
“I suppose one of the reasons I write is because I don’t want to keep practicing the same songs when I’m getting warmed up for a weekend of shows,” he said.
“So I’d rather write something that’s fresh for me and I can work on it and it helps me exercise the voice and get the fingers going.”
His long music history includes 26 Golden Guitar awards, three ARIA music awards and an induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame. But beyond the music, John is passionate about many causes, including his work with children’s charity Variety.
He participated in his first Variety bash in 1998 and when we spoke he was once again on the road with the bash in the city of Bunbury in Western Australia.
Together with hundreds of participants from all walks of life, from those just scraping by to multimillionaires, John is stopping in at schools and providing them with much needed assistance, including school supplies and play equipment.
He said it’s a great thing to be involved with.
“It’s very hands on, that’s what I like about it,” John said.
“It’s not like just handing your money to some person on the street with a badge on their chest and not knowing what happens to it.”
The NSW Variety Bash is Australia’s largest motoring event, having raised more than $173 million since the first one (the inspiration of Dick Smith) in 1985.
Last year John was awarded the 2014 Variety Australia Heart Award as a Variety Ambassador.
John’s other passion is the environment. He has long been involved with environmental organisations including Landcare and has written many songs about the Australian landscape, like the track ‘Rip Rip Woodchip’ which addressed the issue of logging.
When asked how he feels about the handling of issues like climate change and renewable energy in the political arena, John is very clear that in his eyes the focus is too strongly in favour of money.
“It’s annoying because it’s the old story, money seems to win most of the time,” he said.
Born in 1945, John turns 70 this year but is as active as ever, still on the road performing and writing new material.
He is back in the local area next month, performing at Rooty Hill RSL.
Listening to John’s music and hearing him speak it’s clear that he places great importance not only on this country’s people but also its landscape.
“I would die without the wonderful nature of our country,” he said.
John Williamson will be performing at Rooty Hill RSL on Saturday, September 12. Tickets are $44 for adults and $33 for children. For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.rootyhillrsl.com.au or call 9625 5500.
– Kate Reid