Goodwills launch new song about Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam in China, image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia, CC.

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.

Bob Wilson

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…’

Three Score and Ten

The author in 1977, reflecting on mortality and the biblical life span, still 41 years away.

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.

The Pearl – a folk ballad about a tragedy on the Brisbane River

The Pearl, image courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

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.

Underneath the Story Bridge online

Bob Wilson on location, photo by Giulio Saggin

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

The Augmented Goodwills at Red Hill Folk

The Goodwills at Neurum Creek Festival, photo by Paul Brandon.

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.

Kerosene Tin Hut – a new song from The Goodwills

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.


Goodwills in the herb garden #2

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.

Return visit to Maleny Music Festival in 2019

Hello Friends of the Goodwills,

The Goodwills (Bob and Laurel Wilson, with regular guest musician Helen Rowe (centre).

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.


Gone Molly house concert Maleny April 28

Gone Molly (l-r) Sally Harris, Rebecca Wright, Lachlan Baldwin

A month after releasing their new EP ‘Culloden’, awarding-winning Celtic group Gone Molly will perform at a Goodwills house concert on Sunday April 28.

Brisbane-based Gone Molly comprises Sally Harris (singer-songwriter), Rebecca Wright (cello, vocals) and a new member, multi-instrumentalist Lachlan Baldwin.

Sally has been quietly building a repertoire of songs that bring together a love of history, mythology, traditional song, tunes and sessions.  Sally, Rebecca and Lachlan bring these stories to life with exquisite cello lines, heart-melting harmonies and a flair for the theatrical.

Their debut album Gone Molly features songs that breathe life into colourful characters and tales imagined or discovered.

Gone Molly took home three gongs from the Australian Celtic Music Awards in 2018, including Artist of the Year and Celtic Group of the Year. Maleny sound engineer Pix Vane Mason won Producer of the Year for his work on the debut album.

Gone Molly was a finalist in the 2019 Queensland Music Awards, which came a week ahead of the launch of their EP “Culloden” in late March.

The debut album has received favourable reviews and radio play in Australia, the UK, Canada and the US, resulting in many requests from other folk musicians to cover their songs.  A second EP is due to be released in November 2019 ahead of a planned tour of the UK in 2020.

The Gone Molly house concert on Sunday April 28 starts at 2pm with an opening set from hosts and house band The Goodwills (Bob and Laurel Wilson and guest Helen Rowe). Tickets are $15. Afternoon tea will be available for a gold coin donation.

Bookings are essential. Email Laurel

Goodwills’ house concerts are sponsored by Woodfordia Inc.

Karen Law Band house concert

Maleny house concert Sunday February 24

Karen Law and her family band are our first house concert guests for 2019. Karen was last at our place in Maleny for a house concert in 2016. If you enjoyed that concert, we’re sure you’ll want to come again, and if you missed it, here’s your chance to see Karen and all of her family (husband David and children Murray, Hazel and Roanna) perform for you. Lovely harmonies and quite a variety of instruments, including guitars, flute, trumpet and didgeridoo. The band has performed at many folk festivals in recent years including the National, Illawarra, Maleny and Neurum Creek festivals.

Nambour-based Karen Law released her latest album, The Calm after the Storm, last year. It has been well reviewed and received radio airplay .

Karen has been writing upbeat and reflective folk songs for over 30 years. She began in the folk clubs of her native England, supporting the likes of Roy Bailey and Vin Garbutt. After moving to Australia in 1995, she soon became a regular at clubs and festivals around the country. Her debut CD ‘A Point on the Map’ was released at this time. A children’s CD followed, then some years later a new beginning, with a wealth of new songs and a band to perform them. Her CD ‘Asking Questions of your Soul’ (which includes Tommy Leonard on guitar and backing vocals), was released in 2014. Her latest CD, ‘The Calm After The Storm’ is gaining impressive feedback with fans. “Such beautiful harmonies, great stories about everyday experiences, amazing guitar and a nice variety in the songs…uplifting, yet soothing to listen to” was one such comment; a remark which could well sum up the band’s performance.

The Goodwills with guest Helen Rowe will perform the opening set of approx. ½ hour, from 3pm followed by afternoon tea. Our special guests will then perform from about 4pm to 5pm.

Tickets are $15, payable at the door. Owing to limited space, it’s essential to book. For bookings, and venue directions email Laurel goodwills <at>

Thanks to Woodfordia Inc for sponsoring Goodwills house concerts.