Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Would John Farnham have lunch with me?

You know the question 'If you could have lunch with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?' My answer has been the same for as long as I can remember, John Farnham. I unashamedly love him and have done since I was a small child, I probably heard his records in the womb. My first arena concert was seeing Johnny with my mother and sister and it was awesome. I think I fell asleep for a bit, but only because the party animal in me had yet to tap in and staying up past 10pm was a challenge. While other kids in primary school were discovering Boys to Men and Mariah, I was listening to The Age of Reason on my red Sony Walkman. My sister and I also tried putting our JF tapes in our Teddy Ruxbin, but if you're my age and you've given it a go, you will know his mouth doesn't move and it's not that much fun.

At age 6 I attended a birthday party down the road wearing my cutest pale blue pinafore and pinned to it, right above my heart, was my John Farnham button badge. The birthday girl (I never really liked her) asked to see it, only to take it from me and refuse to give it back. I'm not sure if I cried or simply wandered around the party looking like a wounded puppy, but at the end of the day she gave it back.

Of course by my early teens it wasn't necessarily deemed 'cool' to like John Farnham. By then my musical world had opened up to the likes of Nirvana, Silverchair and The Smashing Pumpkins. That kind of amazing angsty 90s rock which I listen to now wonder how I wasn't more depressed and bleak as a teenager. I was pretty bleak though. Perhaps I just covered it up well by wearing a faux fur jacket, shell toes and gold hoops everywhere I went.

Although never forgotten, in 2009 John Farnham entered my stream of consciousness again after teaming up with Coldplay for a storming version of You're The Voice for Sound Relief. The clip did the rounds of my friend's Facebook pages (this is before we discovered Twitter) and I doubt there was a person in this country who wasn't proud to see an Australian icon team up with one of the biggest bands in the world. Shortly after, I moved overseas for 3 years and didn't hear a single JF song until the month I was due to leave. My Aussie friend Bridgett and I went to Ultimate Power in Camden and finally, as if to remind us both of our homeland, You're the Voice blasted from the speakers and we lost ourselves, and our voices, screaming along with a throng of 20 somethings dressed in spandex and head bands.

When I got back I stole my Mum's iPod so I could listen to her JF albums (you could also lose hours on his VEVO). They're seriously great to do anything to- ironing, running, dancing around the lounge. I'm not the only person to immerse myself in the world of Johnny after a stint overseas. I Skyped with my ex shortly after his karaoke birthday party and he revealed his opening song had been a rousing rendition of Two Strong Hearts with his best (male) friend. 'I've been listening to a lot of John Farnham since I got back,' he said. 'Just seemed like the right thing to sing.'

Like most, I was not surprised in April this year when John Farnham was voted by his peers to be Australia's greatest singer of all time. Of course his abilities are outstanding, he has a great voice and many noted his enviable range as a source of admiration, but there's more to it than that. John Farnham is arguably our most likeable musician. I loved him, my sister pretended she didn't (but she did), my mother loved him (Dad hated him) and her mother loved him. He is the kind of musician entire families can agree on when Christmas day has reached drunken bloat and you can't bare to hear another Christmas carol. Although it wasn't always the case. During the early stages of his career wen my mother was in her early 20s, she and her friends hated him. 'He was like Justin Bieber is today.' I think she means that in terms of a ubiquitous boy sensation, more so than an uppity dick who left his monkey at a German airport.

After featuring in a number of TV shows and specials, it was a variety show called Farnham and Byrne which aired on the ABC in 1980 that turned Rosanne's opinion around. The show gave him the opportunity to showcase his full range of talent, but also to win the nation over with his playful sense of humour. My memories of John aren't tainted with stories of him trashing hotel rooms in a drug fueled rage, totaling cars or getting in fights. John appeared on Hey, Hey it's Saturday, made guest appearances as himself on Home and Away and never thought he was too good to sing a line or two from Sadie. Listening to his music now brings back memories of my childhood, filling me with joy and a real sense of pride that he is an Australian artist. You almost feel like you know him personally. 'He's like your favourite uncle,' Rosanne said. 'He's just an all round nice guy.'

That's why he tops my list of icons to lunch with. So I can thank him for his music, so I can tell him I was heartbroken when Rosanne pretended he was her boyfriend, so we can just generally have a laugh. We'd have a beer and I'd probably try to convince him to sing That's Freedom at karaoke with me. Of course he'd politely decline and we'd part ways with me taking a terrible selfie on my iPhone and then calling everyone I have ever met squealing in high pitched tones only dogs can hear. Like Missy Higgins said "I mean, nothing can touch Farnsey. He’s the voice!"

Images via gizmodo, mysynonym, buckleup
quote via news.com.au

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