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The Poets of my Generation


A few years ago, just after the Kid and I had attended the funeral of a friend, we started a new family tradition. He was the kind of guy who made the most out of life. We were sitting at a red light after the service, and the song that they had played at the funeral came on the radio, Mumford & Sons, I Will Wait For You.

I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, and then I thought to myself, what would he have done at this moment. So right then, I rolled down all the windows down, turned the volume up as loud as it would go and the kid and I sang at the top of our lungs. People at the lights were staring at us like I had lost my mind, but it was just this one moment of pure joy on an otherwise really sad day.

The Kid and I now do this on a fairly regular basis. It’s all part of my master plan. By the time she is a teenager I figured I would have embarrassed her enough that she won’t care what other people think. When I look back on my teenage years, I think about all the things I missed out on because I worried about making a fool of myself. I never want her to miss a great experience or something she might love for that same reason.

January is a really big work month for us. With the kid being on holidays, she comes everywhere with me. The last week of the month is always devoted to the Tamworth Country Music Festival. The most family-friendly festival on earth (in my humble opinion).

Sitting at one of the busiest intersections in town with If You Want Blood by AC/DC playing (which is one of our favourite songs), I looked back at the kid and smiled. The windows went down, and we started to sing. By the time we made it to the next set of lights the song was into the last chorus and the most countrified ute I have ever seen pulled up next to us, with a pair of young guys hanging out the windows. I was so impressed that not only did they join in singing, which made the kid laugh hysterically but the driver didn’t miss a beat when the next song started – Madonna – in all her glory. Not bad for a bunch of country boys.

I think that is the thing about country music. It’s not a bunch of songs about your wife leaving you or your dog dying or your ute. There are plenty of those, but you only have to look at the nominees for the 2019 Golden Guitar awards to see the diversity in the industry. Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart have three nominations for an album called Weeds. The first track is about the current American political situation, and there is a track called Just Down The Hall which recounts the heartbreaking treatment of an indigenous woman and brings me to tears every time I hear it. Andrew Swift was nominated for the first time this year with some of the most beautiful songwriting, in particular, his current single Fire and Ice.

I look at some of the songs I love from lots of different music genres. For example, January 26 by AB Original, Lyn Bowtell’s The way it is, Foy Vance’s Burden, Ryan McMullan’s Belfast City. Totally different styles, but all touch on social commentary and the raw human experience in a way that makes you feel something deep down in your soul. I lay here in the dark the night before the Golden Guitar awards and wonder if, someday, we will look back on these beautifully written lyrics the way past generations look at Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson and we will thank them for telling our stories. For the Kids sake, I’m thankful to them all for putting things into her heart that I could never phrase that eloquently.

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