The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia includes a speech by Robert Menzies, the vegemite jingle and even the sound of a Lyrebird as well as songs by Men At Work, Kylie Minogue and Cold Chisel but it does not include the historic classic ‘I Was Only 19’ by Redgum.
Redgum’s 1983 classic was written by Adelaide singer John Schumann. The song told the story of an Australian conscripted into the army and sent to war in Vietnam. It told of the physiological scaring the experience caused and the ongoing suffering the soldier then experienced returning home after the war.
Schumann based the song on the experiences of his brother-in-law Mick Storen.
‘I Was Only 19’ became a number one hit in Australia in 1983 spending two weeks at the top of the singles chart.
Since its release ‘I Was Only 19’ is referenced in media every year, especially around ANZAC Day. It was the first Australian song to detail the horror of the war, speak of chemical warfare and address the return soldiers forced to rebuild their shattered lives with little support from the government and understanding from the community.
Despite ‘I Was Only 19’ being a marker of Australian culture and history in music it has been ignored to date by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Ahead of it, the AFSA has acknowledged ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ by Kylie Minogue, ‘I Am Woman’ by Helen Reddy, ‘Living In the 70s’ by Skyhooks, ‘Boys In Town’ by Divinyls’, ‘Aether’ by The Necks and ‘Tender Prey’ by Nick Cave as culturally important. It is questionable how widespread the awareness of those last two would be in the Australian community.
Songs such as ‘Khe Sanh’ by Cold Chisel, ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ by Paul Kelly’, ‘Took The Children Away’ by Archie Roach and ‘Great Southern Land’ by Icehouse are all worthy inclusions as their lyrics describe a fabric of Australian culture.
‘Eagle Rock’ by Daddy Cool, ‘Most People I Know Think That I’m Crazy’ by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, ‘It’s a Long Way To The Top’ by AC/DC and Russell Morris ‘The Real Thing’ are all well-known Australian rock anthems and are well-placed in the archive.
It is time ‘I Was Only 19’ by Redgum was recognised and given a place within the Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Sounds of Australia.
It should also be noted that ARIA has also failed to recognise Redgum’s achievements with a place in the ARIA Hall of Fame as well.
The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia is accepting nominations until September 4, 2015.
Nominations can be submitted via:
Twitter: @NFSAonline #SoundsOfAustralia
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