Rolf Harris
Review By: Gringo

Without a doubt, Rolf Harris remains Australia's greatest export ever. This jolly little piece of writing has been made to bring him to the attention of those who may never have heard of him. Rolf Harris could possibly be a musical genius - then again, he could just be a loon who makes really bad songs. I choose the former opinion, and you should too. Just for today, lose your cloud of cynicism and embrace the magic that is Rolf. Let me introduce you to the man by telling you about his music. Specifically, I'm going to focus on three of his biggest hits; Waltzing Matilda, Jake The Peg and Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport.

Rolf Harris left Australia many years ago and came over to England seeking fame and fortune. He slowly built up a following due to his arsenal of bizarre Australian musical devices. Rolf is best associated with the didgeridoo - a long stick that people blow down to make a rather annoying noise - and a wobble-board. Wobble-boards are simple to make; take a piece of bendable board. Make it wobble. Congratulations. Rolf also has a peculiar trait; he makes a weird stuttering noise when singing which means he can make whole sentences out of the following words: "Um dee ah diddle ah um do".

It was this unique musical talent that gave Mr. Harris his big break; he used music as his route in to show-business. And all the better we are for it, too. Onto the songs!

Waltzing Matilda. This one's great, plain and simple. The main reason being that Rolf gives a lengthy spoken introduction before the song. Ah, to hear his dulcet tones telling us that the song is about "an Australian...hobo, I guess you'd call him". What else would you call a homeless man who talks to the bag he carries on his shoulder? A crackpot would be one suggestion. Mr. Harris helpfully explains what the various lingo used in the song means. It's helpful to know what billabongs, coolibahs and jumbucks are (water hole, trees, and sheep respectively). In addition, Rolf gives a wonderful, in-depth description of what exactly a tucker bag is. You can find out too - click here to be enlightened! With the lengthy introduction over (and half the audience no doubt asleep), Rolf kicks into action and starts pumping his accordion like no-one else can.

The song tells the tale of this talk-to-bags-madman as he sits down for a night's rest by a tree. He then proceeds to steal some cattle, putting it in his bag (must be a big bag) - and finally he drowns in a pool of water. Amazing. But Rolf sings it with such passion that it'll win you over. The chorus is nice and simple, being as it is a chant of the song's title. This is three minutes and forty seconds of Australian-style goodness. However, Rolf wasn't content with singing folksy songs about hobos and violent cattle owners. His next song took him to much more dramatic territory.

Jake The Peg. Ignoring any crude innuendo, Rolf leaps into this jolly song telling the tale of a boy born with a third leg. The strange thing is that it's sung in the first-person, with Rolf proudly telling us that he is indeed "Jake the Peg, with my extra leg". Why he says this in a mock-quasi-German accent (how to speak this way: just change the ending of some words to the letter 'z', so "with" becomes "wiz" and so on) is beyond me, but then many things are. The story of the song goes something like this; Jake, complete with extra leg, has suffered some severe trauma from people commenting on his extra limb.

Jake bitches about his tortured childhood where the school teachers used him as the wickets for a game of cricket and the fact that he had to run in three-legged races on his own. The perky way Rolf tells you this makes you believe that whilst Jake may have been mentally scarred for years, he's got over it now. If anything, he should be worried about his accent. There's very little in the way of backing music with this song, but that's not the point. This is Jake's - I mean, Rolf's - moment. The song puts across the joyful message that if you're a freak of nature then you should just let people bully you - so long as you sing about it afterwards using the words "diddle-iddle-iddle-um".

Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport. This is without a doubt Rolf's most repetitive song. But when you're talking about Mr. Harris, that's no bad thing. Obviously, the dark edge of Jake The Peg hadn't paid great dividends, because this song is a return to the folksy Australian charm that is the essence of Rolf Harris and his many adventures.

I'm happy to tell you (no, really, I am) that in this clip not only can you hear the chorus of this fine song, but also a wobble-board being used by the great man himself! This song also requires a spoken introduction, but only so that Rolf can explain it's about a dying Australian who gathers his friends around to tell them what to do with his many animals. Why this man has so many animals and - slightly less believable - so many friends is never answered. He demands that his friends take good care of them - all to a nicely repetitive bit of guitar and wobble-board. And that's more or less it. The guy dies, and they hang his tanned corpse on a shed. Quite.

So where is Rolf Harris these days? Well, I'll tell you. He's very much alive, enjoying his current gig on British television show Animal Hospital. This involves him observing vets in action, weeping over dogs and cats with no legs and inviting us to join in the joy of a fox being mended and released back into the wild. The week after, it's back to sobbing over a chicken that the fox mauled upon his return to nature.

Aside from getting in the way of vets for his television show, Rolf is a frequent guest on talk shows and the like. Confused by the picture above? Don't be, my friends. The multi-faceted Mr. Harris has joined in the British campaign to get the nation's lazy fat kids to drink some milk rather than those acidic, sugar-laced canned drinks. With this guy on board, I think they might succeed. To promote "the white stuff", Rolf stars in a cartoon where he ends up saving the day at a kid's birthday party. The screaming brats can't start their barbecue, so Rolf leaps over the fence, using his didgeridoo and wobble-board to start a fire. And all because he drank a glass of milk!

This superstar is even keeping up the singing career - his most recent release was Fine Day, whose lyrics went something like this: "Umm diddy ah umm ah ah gonna be a fine day" said over and over again. Kind of like rappin' Dean Stockwell, but more laid back. All this, and he's still the good side of seventy years old. The best news is that he's embraced technology and now has his own website, where you can order all kinds of Rolf paraphenalia from his online store. Truly, life is wonderful.


This website is © 2001-2008 Listen To Me. All pictures, sounds and other stuff which doesn't belong to us is © its respective owner(s). Everything else is a free-for-all. Steal anything we created (as if you'd ever want to) and we'll...well, we probably won't be motivated to do anything. But you never know. And yes, that is Colonel Sanders throwing a punch at this copyright notice. SMACK
|