Music by The Goodwills

Goodwills at Mungindi – photo by Fiona Murphy

Music by The Goodwills

Bob and Laurel Wilson (The Goodwills) have had an unconventional music career, starting late and spending years in obscurity performing their quirky songs and covers in folk clubs around the country. Bob started writing songs in the 1970s, about the same time he started to learn guitar. In 1998 Bob Wilson re-entered a new phase of songwriting, as he tells it, the writing improved by a career in journalism where you grow a thick skin.

“Knowing what I know now, I’d say my first 100 songs weren’t really finished songs at all. I got a lot better at re-writing as the years went by. Any serious writer will tell you it’s usually the 10th draft that works. Having said that, I have had complete songs tumble out of me inside half an hour. After that it’s just fine-tuning.”

Bob decided to “come out” as a songwriter at his 50th birthday party, after a dozen years or so of building a journalism career and putting music on the back-burner, apart from a side project, The Petrified Trio. His friend Alan Buchan, who did the sound at Bob’s live gig, recorded the evening and then later persuaded Bob to release a CD. The limited edition CD “Little Deeds” (out of print) sold out in three weeks. Encouraged, Bob and Laurel set about recording an EP in 1999 with three of Bob’s songs and four covers. Australia all Over host Ian McNamara picked up the title track “Courting the Net” and played it what seemed like every Sunday for a year. The witty ballad about a net-obsessed spouse and long-suffering partner captured people’s imaginations for a time.

“Why won’t you come to bed with me, we could yahoo all night long for free, but every time I hear that modem squeal, like a lover’s cry that’s not quite real, I put a bookmark in my paperback, and think of all the things I lack and dream about a real time guy.”

“Modems don’t squeal anymore but the song still resonates with people,” says Bob.

Next came Big Country Town, a fully fledged studio album which Bob and Laurel completed in 2002 while holding down demanding day jobs. “Macca” liked that one too and played four or five songs from the album over the course of the next year or two and included some of Bob’s songs on his popular compilation albums.

“One of those songs has certainly stayed the course, with Macca playing If It Doesn’t Rain Soon, Mate quite a lot in 2014,” Bob said. “It is about the banks pushing farmers off the land and that seems to be a cycle related to droughts and the increasingly tough line taken by multinational financiers.”

The Goodwills moved to Maleny in 2002 and got involved in community groups, including Tapestry choir, featured on their third CD, Loungeroom Legends You can read more about this live CD produced in 2006 by clicking on the drop down menu.

Bob got on with running a media consultancy from home while Laurel more or less retired but remained very involved in local activities. They travelled a lot – overseas and around Australia and some of those experiences rubbed off on Bob as you will find out when you listen to their latest CD, The Last Waterhole.

For the future, Bob and Laurel are looking at more land travel in their little pop-top caravan. Laurel just ordered a car magnet that may just give the game away when The Goodwills pull into a new town. Watch this space.