“Eagle Rock” (1971) by Daddy Cool
“Eagle Rock” (1971) by Daddy Cool
The first time I heard this song was when it was used in a Levi’s ad, or maybe it was Marbecks ad, I don’t know. That was back in the late 80’s. The ad was so popular that the song was re-released and topped the New Zealand music charts in 1990 – not bad for a twenty year old record! Robert Rakete could’ve only been in his twenties when I watching RTR Countdown. Remember that show? When he said what the number one hit song of the country was, I expected Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ or MC Hammer’s annoying signature tune. But seeing the grainy, black and white footage of this video made me realise that not only was the song THAT old, but that music is great, no matter what decade it originally came from. Baggy pants and bright Neons were not a perquisite to be cool in 1990. And the country agreed, topping it at the top. It was only a few months later that I heard that the band were Aussie. And from that moment on, every time I think of Aussies or ‘Straya, I think of this song.
The first visited in 1995. As you would expect, it was a big experience. And as the plane touched down, I noted for the first time in my life, I was in someone else’s country. Driving away from the airport, I noticed how ridiculously humid it was – just atrocious. Never in New Zealand did all the windows of the car have to be wound down. It was truly ridiculous. I was sweating and it wasn’t even an hour since I’d been here. I heard the stories, but this was ridiculous. As the car drove, I looked out at this unfamiliar land – trees were dry and the horizon barren. I remember seeing large billboards, but with strangers’ faces on them. ‘Oh, she must be their version of Paul Holmes!’
When I met my extended family there, my cousins looked like they were my cousins, but there was a slight hint of a strange twang in their address. Not too strong, as Islanders usually hang around their own kind, but enough for me to notice. As my family, just then, were the only source of being sane in this odd land and in this whirlwind experience of only two hours, I was glad at least to be around something familiar. It was there at my Auntie’s house I would spend my first night on foreign soil.
That night, I couldn’t sleep that well. There were new, bizarre bird noises emanating from outside. These were not the chirps and cheeps of the cheerful chicks I knew of New Zealand. These were ghastly gawks and gullows of god knows fucking what. Scared the shit outta me.
The next day, we took a trip to town. There were more people hanging around the Queen Victoria building than I could imagine in the entirety of Queen Street. People, People, People, just hundreds of People. I asked my cousin what their version of Queen Street would be. He said it didn’t work like that in Sydney. There’s George Street, but there’s also other hubs of activity at Circular Quay, King’s Cross, Bridge Street and down near the Opera House. My tiny little brain almost exploded thinking how many urbanites that would involve.
A few days later, I was on a bus to visit my family in Adelaide. And once again, the terrain outside was only arid. One time I looked outside and saw nothingness – unconditional nothingness. One tree was trying not to die in a vast space of dead ground. No greeneries, no nothing. This was certainly someone else’s country.
The only things of interest that the bus passed by, were the town signs: Wagga Wagga; Gundagai; Benalla; Wangratta; Gawler; Nuriootpa. Aboriginal names, of course, sounded very silly to an adolescent mind. (Mind you, I still laugh at Wagga Wagga.) But as I explained to my sister, once I arrived in Adelaide, she thought Maori names sounded just as funny. Fair call, Whakatane … fair call.
After a month, I left Australia to come home. I cherished that experience for some time, as it was a totally novel experience. But now, I’m older. Since, I’ve been back and forth, Aussie is basically the same; the wonder has diminished. Besides, one reason why it Australia feels like home is because there’s so many Kiwis over there.