Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Australia Day

It’s coming to the end of Australia Day. It has been another hectic day, taking the kids into town, where they purchase tokens and go on the rides. You see, while it is Australia Day, it is the actual theme park show and events that steals the day and the fireworks that steal the night.

For the Indigenous people, Australia Day is the day that they got invaded. For people who reside in the other states, Australia Day is on the day that celebrates the colony foundation of the state of New South Wales.

I love Australia. I am Australian by birth, the son of European migrants. My two older brothers were born in Europe in the Sixties. I don’t know any other way of life, except the Australian way. My three boys born in the two thousands are the second generation of Australians. They don’t know any other way of life, except the Australian way.

My father worked his whole life for BHP Steel. From when he arrived to when he retired hurt. He and so many other workers. So when Jimmy Barnes released “For The Working Class Man” in 1985, I saw that song as the perfect definition of what it means to be Australian. And it is written by Jonathan Cain (the keyboardist from Journey) who is American.

Working hard to make a living

My dad was a bloody hard worker. Not only did he make a living for his family in Australia, he sent money every month to his father in Europe. He supported two families.

He’s a simple man
With a heart of gold
In a complicated land
Oh he’s a working class man

My parents left their communist country two days before their visa to come to Australia expired. The main hold up was my dad’s father (aka my grandfather that I am named after). Since my Dad was the oldest, my Grandfather wasn’t happy that his eldest son was leaving to come to Australia. He threatened to harm all of my Dad’s brother and sisters as a way to make Dad stay.

Now from the stories that I have heard, my grandfather was a bad ass. No one messed with him. My grandfather was born in the 1920’s and my father was born in 1944, towards the end of World War 2. This guy was battle hardened and very protective of his family. He expected obedience.

I saw my Grandfather for the first time in December 1993. Dad paid for his ticket to come to Australia for my oldest brothers wedding. By know he was over seventy and man I almost cried when I saw this frail looking 150cm tall, a bit hunchbacked, walking through customs. Time is a killer. The whole three months he spent in Australia, I just sat with him and asked him about stuff and he told me story after story, along with a lot of regrets, like NOT LISTENING TO MY FATHER AND COMING TO AUSTRALIA WHEN HE HAD THE CHANCE.

Saving all the overtime
For the one love of his life

I hardly saw my dad growing up. He was always at work, doing double shifts and triple shifts. Yep back in the Seventies and the Eighties, workers did triple shifts. I remember a lot of times when I misbehaved and my mom used to say that if I don’t behave, she would call my dad. I ran straight to my room and locked the door. I was frightened of him because I didn’t know him. And the funny thing is that he wasn’t even home. That was the power he had in the household. Whereas today, I want to be mates with my kids.

There is another lyric that is similar.

I hear my father’s working night and day
In Struggle Town it has to be that way

It is from the song “Struggle Town” by the Australian band “The Choirboys” that was released in 1987 on their “Big Bad Noise” album. The town I grew up in “Port Kembla” was becoming a bit like towards the end of the Eighties, so this song resonated and then when I started to drive around to other towns, you start to see the same thing. People working hard to make a living and struggling at doing it.

Jimmy Barnes is more or less an Aussie legend. Typical of Australia’s multiculturalism, he was born in Scotland. His previous band “Cold Chisel” was just about to sing a lucrative contract with Elektra Records in the US and at the last-minute Elektra Records reneged on the deal and took a chance with Motley Crue. If you don’t believe me, read “The Dirt”. It’s all in there. Eventually Cold Chisel called it day, however, Barnsey just kept on working hard to make a living.

The Choirboys are also Aussie legends. One of the bands I was in even opened up for The Choirboys back in the day. Still to this day they put on shows, working hard to make a living.

Australia is just that. People working hard to make a living, so that we can let our hair down, have a few beeries and catch some sun and surf. And then we call in sick after a long weekend. Happy Australia day everyone.

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