How much grief can one country bear?
A bit over three weeks ago, we received the news that singer Archie Roach had died. Not only a member of First Nations people, Archie Roach was a voice for the Stolen Generation. Indigenous or not, the loss of “Uncle Archie” was felt keenly across the Australian community.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that the following includes images of people who have died.
Less than a week later, news came that Judith Durham, the elfin lead singer of The Seekers, had died. Another integral member of the history of Australian music lost to us.
A mere three days later, we learned that our beloved Livi – Olivia Newton-John – had succumbed to the Big C that she had beaten back in the 1990s. We were heartbroken but so grateful for her advocacy for cancer treatment and the establishment of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellbeing Centre in Melbourne. Yes, she had made a life in America but she would always be our Livi.
And so it seemed we had had our “Bad things come in threes” collection of three huge Australian music losses.
This morning we got the news that John Farnham, a favourite musical son, had been admitted to hospital for cancer surgery and treatment today. Oh, boy.
Reading the news this evening, it got worse, most particularly for this lover of singing. Farnham had been admitted for cancer of the mouth. In removing the lump from his mouth, part of his jaw had to be removed.
It’s hard to communicate what any surgery to do with the mouth or throat means to someone who loves to sing, let alone someone who has made their career from singing. I’m still traumatised by the news of Julie Andrews’ botched surgery for vocal nodes.
Wednesday is my music program day at my school. We made sure to sing You’re The Voice in Johnny’s honour. It’s a song I have long felt should be an anthem for young people campaigning for gun control in the USA. Just listen to the lyrics.
Please, no more losses in our Australian music community. Our hearts can’t possibly take it.