This is an old song born in the trendy days of wine bars (late 1970s). I had completely forgotten that Laurel and I performed this song as a duo. This live recording dates from late 1979 at the Quart Pot Folk Club, Toowoomba. The original cassette was transferred to MP3 with no edits.
The question Bob gets asked most about this song is – “Is there a book called The Theory of Control”? The title track from our most recent studio album was included on the compilation CD, Pick of the Crop 8, produced by the national folk music publication, TradandNow.
Featuring the exquisite fiddle playing of Silas Palmer.
We chose November 11 (Remembrance Day), to launch a new song about the achievements (and setbacks) of Gough Whitlam, our most controversial politician. The 11th marks the 46th anniversary of The Dismissal, when the Queen’s representative, John Kerr, sacked Whitlam and installed a caretaker government under Malcolm Fraser. The dramatic events of 1975 greatly overshadowed the many reforms Gough Whitlam introduced, including free education, free healthcare, no-fault divorce, a single parent’s pension and legal aid. He also ditched conscription and capital punishment and finalised the end of our involvement in the Vietnam War. And, as the photo indicates, he was the first Australian PM to visit China. Many people our age reflect on the Whitlam years as the only time in their adult lives they actually wanted to vote for someone. Unlike most politicians, Whitlam stated clearly what he wanted to do, won the election and then set out to do it all, and then more.
He abolished conscription and capital punishment and made a point of releasing seven men who had been in jail for refusing to go to Vietnam. And, as chronicled in the outstanding song by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody, he started the process of Aboriginal land rights. Whitlam’s government had the misfortune to be taking the wheel at the time when the economy was going bad; there was inflation and massive unemployment. The global oil crisis did nothing to soothe the people who saw Whitlam as a dangerous maverick. The song includes the downside so is not quite a hagiography, although I did admire the man for allowing me and my peers the chance of a free tertiary education.
Have a listen to the song here and if so inclined, add it to your music collection.
‘Well may we say God save the Queen…’
We do take a while to get around to recording songs. Bob wrote this for his 70th (in 2018). The subject material is of course realising you have lived your biblical life – three score (sixty) and ten. As we all know people can and do live well into their 90s now and we know a few who made 100 or more. You can listen to the song by following this link to Bandcamp. If you like it, download it for $1.
This is one of those songs which have gone out of style – a man and a woman having a conversation. Think ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ (Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren) or ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, written by Frank Loesser to sing with his then wife, Lynn Garland.
Three Score and Ten is one of a series of songs we have been recording with Roger Ilott at Restless Music near Stanthorpe. Roger’s been doing some collaborating with his brother Tony who lives in New South Wales. Like us, their forward plans have been thwarted by Covid-19 and restrictions on movement. Nonetheless it is possible to complete recording projects by remote control.
Bob dug out an ancient photo of himself posing with a statue in Paris, circa 1977. As he recalls, “I put the camera on a tripod, set the self-timer then ran like hell”.
By the way this song in no way resembles the folk ballad of the same name about a maritime tragedy, as sung by The Dubliners.
Sometimes it takes years for a song to rise to the surface. I first read about The Pearl when the late journalist, Ken Blanch, wrote an account in the Sunday Mail. I wondered why nobody had written a song about that, but then went on to other things. The Pearl came to grief on a February evening in 1896. The river was in flood and the ferry was swept by the current into the anchor chain of The Lucinda, which was moored in the river. The Pearl capsized and was torn apart by the impact. As the lyrics say, the death tally was never known, but it remains among Australia’s worst ferry accidents. The song is based on newspaper reports of the day and also from talking to historians who have researched the story. The leaps of imagination are all down to me. As usual, the unreliable narrator (me) has the last word, casting himself as a character in an otherwise true story.
Those with an interest in this topic can find accounts of the time at the State Library of Queensland. Historian Paul Seto has also written a book about The Pearl.
Well it only took 20 years or so to put my most popular song online. We recorded Underneath the Story Bridge in late 1999 on a seven-song EP which also contained covers, problematic when wanting to post music online. Along came Bandcamp which lets you post ‘singles’ Underneath the Story Bridge uses the device Randy Newman calls ‘the unreliable narrator’, that is, the narrator is a character, not me!
The original EP, Courting the Net, is now out of print although both songs were included on the Australia all Over collection, Macca’s Top 100.
We have plans to include both songs on a collection, Goodwills by Request. There are at least six or more new and unpublished songs which could be on this recording, which is, like Covid-19, a work in progress.
You can find the song here and download it for $1 (or more if you are expecting a tax return).
Bob Wilson, July 1, 2021
Our third gig for 2021 is a guest spot at Brisbane’s famous Red Hill Folk Club on Wednesday June 16. The venue is the Red Hill Community Sports Centre, 22 Fulcher Rd, Red Hill, starting at 7:30pm. Entry $5, free supper, fully licensed, easy parking.
The evening starts and ends with with chalk board artists each performing three or four items. The Goodwills, including singer/fiddler Helen Rowe, are on about 8.30, after supper .
During the Covid hiatus we have been keeping a low profile. yet beavering away at new songs at our new home in Warwick.We have recorded a c0uple of new songs with Roger Ilott at the Restless Music studio on the Granite Belt, with plans for more in the near future.
We last performed as a trio at a garden concert at a friend’s property in Pine Mountain. On June 6 we are performing as a duo at a picnic lunch organised by the Southern Downs Refugee and Migrant Network. The lunch is to mark the recent decision by the Southern Downs Regional Council to declare the local government area a Refugee Welcome Zone.
For those who have not heard us before, we are a husband and wife duo (Bob and Laurel Wilson) who have been performing together for 35+ years. We usually perform Bob’s original songs. He plays guitar and harmonicas and sings lead or provides tenor harmonies to Laurel’s vocals. Her performances on the kazoobugle (her own invention) are delightful. These days we are often joined by outstanding Brisbane singer/songwriter Helen Rowe, who plays fiddle and adds alto harmonies to the mix.
Our music has been described as “eclectic, fun and occasionally deeply touching”. Songs can range from a zany exploration of famous people named Paul to touching stories about migration (Impressions of New Zealand) and refugees (Get the Kids Off Nauru). In addition to originals, we explore a wide variety of styles through a range of blues, jazz, country and folk by songwriters we admire.
Red Hill Folk is one of those rare listening venues where performers sing without amplification. Mine host Anne Infante ensures singers (and poets) get a good hearing. The club now uses the larger function room so there are plenty of seats and space to observe Covid social distancing.
In the depression years, poverty and homelessness drove people to build shelters on common land, often on the outskirts of towns. Inventive Aussies cut kerosene tins into tiles and stapled them together over a sapling framework. The huts would often be lined with animal skins and/or hessian soaked in lime. Over the villages would develop, its residents sharing a tap and a community garden. There is a replica hut in the historical village at Morven between Roma and Charleville. If you are driving through, check it out
To listen to the song and download it, visit our Bandcamp site:
Since posting the song to Bandcamp we have also released a DIY video of us performing the song inside the kerosene tin hut. You can find it on our video page or here.
In episode 2 of Goodwills in the herb garden, we roll out a version of Bob’s 1998 internet song, Courting the Net. Replace ‘Kerouac’ with ‘anyone’ and it is right for the times. Stick around for our attempts at self-promotion which turns into a covid-19 instruction manual.
Hello Friends of the Goodwills,
The Goodwills are performing at the Maleny Music Festival on Saturday August 31. You can find us at the Platypus Lounge, 11.45am.
If you want to learn more about the Festival on August 30, 31 and September 1, check out the website, buy tickets or get involved as a volunteer. The festival starts on Friday evening at the Maleny Showgrounds.
If you miss us there, we will be at Club Acoustic at the Maleny RSL on Thursday evening, October 3.
We have been progressively recording new material with our friend Pix Vane-Mason, who has relocated to the Gold Coast after operating Pix Records from Conondale for many years. Watch this space.