Amanda Vanstone's freshly penned patriotic song
is several stars short of a Southern Cross to me! Under Southern Stars
just rings hollow to me and I would be disappointed to see it infiltrated into schools.
So here's my uninvited and likely unwelcome critique:
Home to first Australians / Joined from near and far / Shining light for freedom / Under southern stars
This is a nice acknowledgement that "first Australians" existed before being joined from near and far, but it doesn't make it clear WHO they are. If I was a five year old learning this song I would wonder to myself why it had been worded so strangely and what was the point of explaining that Australia is home to the first Australians. Isn't that a tautology, I'd think, in concept at least since it would be a while before I'd learn words like 'tautology'! When I turned seven or eight, if I was lucky enough to have good teachers I'd have come to understand the first verse refers to indigenous Australians and that "first Australians" is a politically neutral term to disguise the fact that we are talking about black people who weren't legally considered equal humans until sometime in the late 1960s. If I didn't have good teachers I'd no doubt still be imagining the "first Australians" as dashing young sailors running up the Union Jack alongside eleven boatloads of smelly convicts exported from the UK.
Nation made of many / Bound in hope as one / Building for the future / Under southern sun
Let's face it. Nationaly unity is a kind of mythology politicians use to their political advantage. Australians on the whole are well educated and therefore smart enough to know that diversity is as much a strength as unity and that in Australia we constantly are trying to strike a balance between those two forces. But that doesn't come through in these words.
Free and friendly nation / Born of our own hands / Peace our greatest virtue / Mighty southern land
Free and friendly? It's a rich thing coming from our former immigration minister to say, being privy to what was going on in Baxter, Villawood and Nauru, and presiding over the department that deported Vivian Alvarez/Solon (whatever her name was) and imprisoning Cornelia Rau.
For most citizens, free and friendly are the reality, but for muslims or non-white people I doubt it rings true. The old "land of opportunity" does ring true however. I feel like Australia is a country where if you have citizenship or have been granted permanent residency or permanent protection then pushing will get you everywhere! If have a strong enough ambition, you probably can fulfil it.
Valiant in to battle / Courage to the end / Standing firm for freedom / Loyal southern friend
Yes Australia did participate in both world wars and the Aussie diggers apparently did earn a reputation for "bravery" and "mateship". That will do, though it would be nice to talk about the bravery and courage of non-military citizens...
Nature's earthly heaven / Glory for our eyes / Ours alone these treasures / Under southern skies
I like the fact that Vanstone's version doesn't overdo the "nature's gifts" description of Australia, which is completely fair, but who's to say that Iran isn't just as naturally beautiful? What I mean is that it's not a feature unique to Australia.
Shining light for freedom / Under southern skies
of her composition was: "Indigenous Australians were here first, we are an immigration country, freedom is what we've enjoyed all our lives and we are under southern stars – everyone knows the Southern Cross." Fine, why not say it like that in your lyrics then? You've done a 3-star job, Amanda, but more effort required on the lyrics. That said, good on you for trying.
Also, I find the repetitive tune majestic but dull. It is derived from Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1"[midi]
which is a bit more exciting than this watered-down version, but still very British to its core. Why can't an Australian composer produce a majestic musical composition which is stirring like 'Pomp and Circumstance' or 'God Save the Queen', yet not dull like 'Advance Australia Fair'?! I believe the capability and creativity is all there; the talent just needs to be focused in this direction!Categorised as: societyTechnorati Tags: Under Southern Stars, Amanda Vanstone, patriotism, Australia, national anthem, national song, Edward Elgar, immigration detention
Labels: Amanda Vanstone, Australia, Edward Elgar, patriotism, society