Continuing the Slim-a-thon, here’s another Slim Dusty Classic. My dad was still alive when I first went to Australia, and this was one of his favorite songs, once I introduced him to Slim Dusty.
“Blue” is an Australian nickname for guys with red hair. The word can also refer to anything from being glum to a fight to a type of Australian cattle dog, but if you use “Blue” as a man’s name, it means he’s a redhead. (Because calling him “Red” would be too obvious.) If you’ve read my book, Waltzing Australia, you’ll know that I encountered a couple of Blues on my travels, which probably also contributed to my enjoying this song.
In this song, Slim sings of the virtues of a man named Blue, saying he’s never on the bite and never a skite. On the bite means looking for loans, and a skite is a braggart. So, lacking these vices, Blue is a good bloke to have as a mate.
Now that I’m in Slim Dusty mode, I can’t resist posting another song.
I bought the album “Walk a Country Mile” during my first trip to Australia. This song in particular became a favorite over the years because it reflected for me what life was like. My favorite lines in the song are “you meet a friend or two along the highway, and you learn a lot you never knew before. And if the journey takes a lifetime when you thought a year or two, well you just don’t give up easy anymore.” It’s a great song to hear when the road feels long — and even when you feel like you’re getting somewhere but it took a while.
The song was written by Joy McKean, considered the “grand lady” of Australian country music — who also happened to be Slim Dusty’s wife. In this video, Joy joins Slim on stage.
In my book, I mention that, during a final venture into the Outback, as the rain began to make travel increasingly difficult, our driver put on a Slim Dusty tape and played “Send ‘er Down, Hughie” — a splendidly funny song about a truck driver trapped on a muddy road during a torrential downpour, who decides he’ll just have to lighten the load to get the truck out of the mud. The load just happens to be beer, so lightening the load is no hardship.
I’m certain that Slim Dusty’s popularity is strongly anchored in shared experience, because his songs capture so much of what Australia is like. For those of us on that bus, it was being trapped by a flood that made this more than just an amusing song — it was what we were living (well, except for the truck full of beer part).