I Still Call Australia Home

Album: The Best Of Peter Allen (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • The story goes that while touring his successful Broadway show Up In One through Australia, Peter Allen liked to close all his shows with an enthusiastic proclamation to his audience. He would stand at the edge of the stage and proudly proclaim, "No matter how far, or how wide I roam, I still call Australia home!" It was a nearby record executive who told him, "You know, Peter, you ought to put that lovely sentiment of yours to music!" Allen agreed, but only if the record executives would let him record and release it as part of his original album, "Bi-Coastal". However, there was a tight amount of time between the release of this album, and the next performance of his play, that Allen was told there wouldn't be enough room on the album. With less than 24 hours to pull it together, he had forgotten to bring the original poem which he had written, and when the music for the song was written during the half-hour intermission on a piano in a backstage room in the theater, he had to go from memory, but found it a little hard to remember all the words he had written down. In this tender ballad, written in 9/8 (triple-meter waltz) time, Allen sings of longing to return home to Australia, where he could be near his family and friends once again. The song was performed for the first time on the final night of the tour, in Melbourne. It was received so well that Allen insisted on a recording being included on his next compilation album, "The Best Of Peter Allen". The song was released on this album, as well as released as a single in 1980. Consequently, it has never appeared on an "original" Peter Allen album. It has been a necessary fixture on every compilation and retrospective since. It has been used to suggest Australian patriotism and nostalgia for home. An example is the series of Qantas Airlines television commercials where it was sung either by individual Australian musicians or by the group sometimes known collectively as the "Qantas Choir," a group of singers which actually combines members of two choirs, the Australian Girls Choir and the National Boys choir Of Australia.
  • In the 1984 Summer Olympics' Opening Gala TV special (in Los Angeles), Olivia Newton-John performed this song from Sydney, Australia with the choir in a medley with "Waltzing Matilda." Later, both songs were used in the musical, The Boy from Oz, about Allen's life in which starred Hugh Jackman as Allen.
  • Along with "Waltzing Matilda," this song is widely believed to be one of the running contenders for a new National Anthem for Australia.
  • In the version of the song popularly used by Qantas, "Rio" is replaced by "Rome." Qantas does not operate flights to Rio de Janeiro, but flew to the Italian capital at the time the video was made. The version of the song used by Qantas in its 2009 advertisement replaces the entire first verse with one sung in Kala Lagaw Ya, a dialect of the Torres Strait Islands.
  • The song was used in the evening closing sequence for Tasmanian television station TNT-9 Launceston, and later by TasTV. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Annabelle - Eugene, OR, for all above

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