Last year I was very excited and honoured to do this assignment for BushTV. I have always been a fan of the song ‘Solid Rock.’
Shane Howard, Irish Australian song-writer of ‘Solid Rock,’ and founder of Goanna, has spent a life time trying to understand and distil the collective Australian story.
This journey has been because he strongly believes songs have great power to make a ‘new dreaming,’ for Australia.
“If it’s a song of great power in the contemporary popular era it might filter through and become part of the traditional culture for a thousand years, and not just five minutes – but Australia seems to be living in that very disposable pop world – we don’t value the folk tradition very much here.”
Part of creating a ‘new dreaming’ is the process of uncovering the truth about Australian history, and for Howard his finding of truth has been made possible through Irish Australian parents who were “very open minded, good and just” and instilled in him a love of music and song (from Irish Parlour songs to Bob Dylan, Peter Seeger, Woody Guthrie) and an openness to Aboriginal Australians who he credits with educating him with the truth.
Howard vividly remembers ‘serious questions’ gradually being raised in his mind from meeting with Aboriginal people – from Robert a friend who set next to him for a short time in class in primary school – to all the Aboriginal people encountered on his travels as a youth, with a limited budget, including an old man of the stolen generation.
“I kept running into Aboriginal people and grew more and more interested in the fact they were the real people of this country, they were the traditional owners, the original inhabitants. And that starts to invite some very serious questions – when you’ve been taught all your life that Australia was settled peaceably and there was no blood spilt here. Meeting Aboriginal Australia taught me that was a lie and that you’ve gotta search for the truth.”
His journeys took him to Uluru, the place which was to inspire the words of ‘Solid Rock’ in his twenties.
To read the rest of this article go to THE EVOLUTION OF SHANE HOWARD