To most of Australia, this song is one the few really well-known flower child anthems. It represents free love and hippie shit and all that. The other side of the Sixties from songs about Vietnam.
And there’s certainly an element of that in the song. But to most people listening to it, it’s more an anthem of individuality. We all prize that about ourselves. The little eccentricities that make us us. (The irony of an anthem for individuals is as lost on the fans of Billy Thorpe as it is on the fans of, say, Rage Against The Machine.)
To me, though, what’s more interesting is the one line in the song that talks about God. You know, the line that most fans of the song ignore and wish wasn’t there.
Because isn’t that mostly how we feel about religion in this country? Oh, we have our various faiths, but in the national character, there’s a deep discomfort with anyone who talks about it too much. It’s not so much that it’s an embarassment as simply that it’s a matter that most of us – at least until the last decade or so – think of as a private one.
But this song violates that privacy at the exact same instant that it defeats our expectations of what a hippy anthem should say. And it’s that irony, and that contradiction that makes me think this song would be a good national anthem.