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How the man from Down Under inspired my choice for Scotland's National Anthem

It required a four-hour round trip from my home but I happily made the effort last week to catch a solo gig by throaty troubadour Colin Hay.

Despite some impressive musical credentials, Colin isn't exactly a household name, though you'll know his best known song, the seminal Australian worldwide smash, Down Under, which he recorded with his 1980s band Men at Work.

And guess what?  Despite living in Australia since the late 1960s, Colin is one of us, hailing originally from the seaside paradise of Saltcoats, which must have really spoiled him for the beaches of Oz, where the sand is yellow and the sea turquoise, rather than the other way round.

Part singer-songwriter, part stand-up comedian, Colin put on a brilliant show, playing guitar and talking about his life and the people he's worked with, including spot'on impersonations of, among others, Paul McCartney and Zach Braff from the TV show Scrubs.

My favourite moment was when Colin spoke about what he believed was one of his more "poetic" lines from the song Overkill – "Ghosts appear and fade away..." and how an inebriated Aussie punter at a concert had shouted out – "Hey mate, will ya play that song about the goats?"

I like the idea of goats appearing and then fading away as we have a goat – the imaginatively named Nanny - who was acquired for the purposes of keeping the weeds down, but has devoted herself to eating anything – dog leads, wellington boots, library books, small furry animals – but weeds.

Last week, on an especially hot day, I put out a bucket of water for her.  And what does the bold Nanny do?  Tips over the water and eats the bucket.  Yeah, this particular goat could fade away all right.

You might not know, but as the writer of Down Under, Colin Hay was sued for plagiarism by the company which owns the copyright to the song, Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, which I remember singing as a round in Fatty Farquarson's Music Class at Primary School.

To his initial horror but now philosophical acceptance, the judges ruled that Colin had "inadvertently borrowed" two bars of the Kookaburra song which has injured him financially but also given him some great material for his act – "We thought it sounded vaguely Australian – turned out it wasn't 'vague' at all...

Down Under is a song which encapsulates the quintessential Aussie spirit though, of that there's no doubt.  In fact, I think it does so far more then the official National Anthem, the bland Advance Australian Fair, an easily forgotten ditty which is notable only for featuring the archaic and clunky word "girt", as in "our land is girt by sea".

(In case you're wondering, girt means surrounded which obviously, being longer, wouldn't have fitted.)

Though I don't really have much truck with the concept of National Anthems, the idea of a relatively recent pop song capturing the essence of a nation grabbed my attention, as we Scots stumble apprehensively towards the referendum which will decide our future.

Given the obvious unacceptability of God Save the Queen, with its third verse about us lot getting crushed, where are we these days on the question of Scotland's tune?

Flower of Scotland has had a good crack at being the one, but I wonder if I'm the only person who thinks it's nearly as much of a national embarrassment as Susan Boyle and  Starvin' Marvin.

I've never taken to Flower of Scotland's pseudo emotion, its clichéd defiance and weird exhortation for Edward to meander homeward and think again.  None of the Rugger Buggers who bellow the song out at Murrayfield seem to appreciate that Edward, or at least his ancestors, did think again – and duly sent a few thousand of their handiest lads up to Culloden to give us the doing of all time.

So, if we discount the Corries' most famous number, what are the other options?  
There's Scots Wha' Hae' of course, a Burns lyric but which has always reminded me of Carry On Film stalwart Jack Douglas whose shtick as Alf Hippytittimus was a twitching, bunnet flying off – "Waaayyy heeeyyy..."

Scotland the Brave used to be the biggie, pre Flower, but its rather corny, self-reverential words has conferred it no favours in this modern ironic era.  To be honest, I far preferred the Glen Daly version anyway: "Land of the purple heather, land of the dirty weather, land where the midgies gather, Scotland the Brave..."

However, much as I love the work of Glen, I have to say no, for there is a song which, much in the style of Colin Hay's Down Under is characteristically Scottish in mood if not necessarily in content.

What's more, it's instantly recognisable and to my certain knowledge, popular across all age groups and demographics.

I'm talking, of course, about that staple of weddings, parties, piss-ups and funeral purveys, The Proclaimers' I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles).

For me, it's got the lot.  It's catchy, it's Scottish but doesn't at any time mention hills and tartan or feature our famed and let's face it, getting a bit tired, anti-English deep fried chip on the shoulder.

It does however have the word "haver" in it, which I think is great. I once had an earnest discussion with an American bloke who was certain haver had a druggy connection and simply could not be convinced he was wrong. According to my dictionary, haver is defined as: talking nonsense, babbling, prattling on with little or no evident purpose or point.

In other words, talking s****e.  And let's face it, you can't get much more Scottish than that.

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