[Powderworks] PG on Slim Dusty
Fri, 19 Sep 2003 22:07:30 -0500
I don't believe anyone has sent a link to the following column, written by Peter Garrett, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Slim, the man with no peer
September 20, 2003
Slim Dusty, who died yesterday at 76, was Australia's great communicator, and not simply because he had 1000 songs to sing, writes Peter Garrett, ex-Midnight Oil.
Slim Dusty transversed generations. He crossed over musical genres with his distinctive and authentically Australian voice. In pioneering terms, first he made country a musical form that was viable in Australia - it WAS Australian country music - and second, he laid some of the foundations of building and sustaining a career for all who followed, by heading out and playing to people all over the country.
Slim's secret was that he was more than a singer, he was yarning to the audience as well. His was an unaffected Australian voice that brought real intimacy to the performance. That he was talking to you as much as singing to you, I think, makes him a giant among performers in our history so far.
What is absolutely unique about Slim is that he made it happen for himself and his music right from the start. He withstood the ravages of time; he was almost the perpetual fountain of youth, the constant voice of Australian country music. Slim Dusty was an extremely accomplished performer as well as being a strong writer of songs, partly because he was able to always rise to the occasion.
He'd done it in so many dusty showgrounds, raw rodeos, remote towns, cities, clubs, creek beds, on flat-top trucks, in school-of-arts halls. From the Opera House down, is there one place Slim has missed on his Australian odyssey? I remember when Midnight Oil first toured in the desert in the '80s and we thought we were true pioneers. On more than one occasion someone came up to say, "Slim was here five years ago . . . or Slim was here 10 years ago."
Importantly, Slim played to Aboriginal and European audiences alike throughout his long career and he was quite clear he wanted everyone to come and share in the performance.
In terms of the number of shows he has done, the number of recordings made, the number of times he geared himself up for the whole business of releasing another album, going out on the road again . . . Slim has run the marathon of music 1000 times over.
At the end, Slim Dusty was as good if not better than the day he started. That's the phenomenal thing about it. His career did not go up and down like most of ours go up and down. His career went up, found its rightful place - the Slim Place - in the galaxy of Australian country and stayed there.
There's the country music industry place and there's the Slim Dusty Place.
Any understanding of the Slim phenomenon has to include the remarkable contribution of his wife, Joy McKean, as a business strategist and quasi-manager and also as an outstanding performer and extremely accomplished song writer. She brought a unique set of skills and abilities to the partnership. It made them truly invincible in some respects.
They were going to endure, they were going to survive, they were going to succeed. And what they delivered was going to have great value.
It is worth remembering that Slim Dusty did not come from the wrong side of the tracks. Where Slim came from, there were no tracks at all.
This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/09/19/1063625214240.html