Freelance writer living, working and mostly playing in Brisbane and wherever the action is. Check out my blog at www.truanttraveller.com.
Published March 5th 2023
Good anthems evoke a sense of pride that compels even the least melodious of us to embrace a gold medal or grand final sing-along. Great anthems do something more. They reassure us that we're a part of something bigger and connect us to home in a way that only music can. They make us celebrate and mourn and hope all at the same time.
We're lucky here in Brisbane. Be it at Festival Hall, QPAC, The Triffid or The Zoo, we've all seen great local bands play great local anthems.
Forget 'girt by sea'. Here are my two nominations for Brisbane's official anthem - should we ever secede.
Streets of Your Home Town by The Go-Betweens
If you're of a certain age, this wistful 80s favourite is probably an automatic winner. It's been embraced by Brisbane radio stations as our unofficial anthem for decades and we all know the Go-Between Bridge.
It transports you to the sweltering long-forgotten lounge room of that Queenslander share house, humidity beyond oppressive as a storm rolls in. Or out on the brown river snake aboard a CityCat with zero ideas which stop you're heading to - it doesn't really matter. Maybe to your favourite riverside park, leaning against a Moreton Bay Fig and trying to find a reason - any reason - to go back to the office after lunch.
Whichever narrative it takes you on, the Story Bridge won't be far away.
Burn Your Name by Powderfinger
From the smoking opening riff to the fan-the-fire-of-love lyrics, this is Bernie and the lads at their most anthemic. For the thousands that attended one of their farewell shows at the mighty River Stage, it takes you straight back to a grassy knoll, shouting the words like bullets into a heavy Brisbane sky.
Burn Your Name is also Riverfire - a pyrotechnic explosion of impatience and energy blazing its way across a misshapen cityscape. Each Roman candle and rocket spells out a burning name that sparks a flame in the hearts of Brisbanites. The names that materialise for each of us are different but the feeling is the same.
Brisbane thanks you Powderfinger - we are forever in your debt.
Look forward to hearing your nominations. If you're looking for inspiration, check out the Valley Walk of Fame directly in front of Fortitude Music Hall in Brunswick Street Mall. Alternatively, head to The Triffid's Wall of Fame in Newstead - a cracking visual celebration of Brisbane's best bands.
Well both songs are very good in their own way. My initial instinct is to suggest My Happiness by Powderfinger. Bernard is said to have written it about touring. I think coming home or having someone come home to Brisbane is happiness.
(By the way I didn't know there is a song about Nundah, where I lived for most of my life.)
I love when people mention Streets of Your Town as a Brisbane anthem. It was highly ambivalent about living in Brisbane and among other things a very clever indictment of the Joh era:
"They shut it down
They closed it down
They shut it down
They pulled it down"
It also makes a point about male aggression and domestic violence as well:
"Watch the butcher shine his knives (shine)
And this town is full of battered wives."
(Courier Mail used this for their TV adds some years ago, without irony I suspect.)
So, as a song that celebrates the beauty and troubled history of Brisbane, this is a great choice.