I want to fly and run till it hurts
I used to have a bit of a personal affair with this song. I don’t know why and I don’t know how it started, but I always felt extremely alive and happy when I listened to Australia. I haven’t got the faintest clue why. All that’s been brushed aside over the years but I can’t help but still feel a bit of an unexplained special resonance with Australia.
Along with Enola/Alone and Everything Must Go, Australia is one of the central songs of its parent album when it comes to the overall theme of the whole 12-song collection. Everything Must Go is essentially about loss, coping with it, coming to terms with it and all sorts of personal conflicts and liberations involved with such things. Enola/Alone realises the loss, the title track is about asking for forgiveness when decided to move on and Australia is about personal freedom – the desire to just throw all the worry away and escape to somewhere isolated and private to be just with oneself for a while. In Nicky Wire’s case, Australia. Which is pretty cool cause Australia’s pretty cool.
Gigantic 90’s rock anthem follows. Awesomeness ensues. It’s really just guitar rock heaven musically, there’s nothing special to it. But it does show why Manics have always been awesome in doing guitar rock.
Not that it would have happened if the band had went on with Stephen Hague as the producer as they originally intended. The original version of Australia is found on the 10th anniversary re-release of EMG and as much as I love my handclaps and horn sections, they don’t work with Australia. That’s right, horn sections and handclaps. Yeah.
Don’t bother hunting down the Lionrock remix unless you’re a really huge completist fanboy. It’s probably the rarest Manics remix there is but it’s also completely forgettable and dull. The Australia related rarities in general are of the wishywashy sort: Wire was going through a writer’s block so all of the single’s studio b-sides were covers which, as covers tend to do, are pretty okay but nothing to write home about. It didn’t harm the single’s success though as Australia gave the band their fourth top ten hit in a row.
Same could be said about the video which takes the stupidly obvious route of mixing wildlife shots from Australia mixed in with band (mainly James) footage. And some of the footage is actually from the Kevin Carter video which just shouts laziness.
Single sleeve quotes:
“Sleep away the years, sleep away the pain, wake tomorrow – a girl again”
“I am a little man and this is a little town but there must be a spark in a little man that can burst into a flame”.