I haven’t perfected ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ on the piano after three decades. Should I quit?

Q: I’ve been learning to play I Still Call Australia Home on the piano since 1987, but I’m still having trouble reading the bass staff notes on the sheet music. I’m thinking of quitting. Should I?
A.M., Clayfield, Queensland

Illustration by Simon Letch.Credit:

A: I’m actually a guitar guy myself. I only play a bit of piano, and I play it like I play guitar: just using chords, holding the piano on my lap, and strumming the strings through the lid. But even a pitiful piano player like me knows that I Still Call Australia Home has a very simple bass line; it’s just descending notes repeated over and over again, so even a cat could accidentally play it just by walking down the keyboard, followed by another cat, then another cat, then a slow fat rabbit for the big, rousing refrain.

A complete musical bozo would have learnt this bass line over 33 years, which is why I’m wondering if there’s something else going on in your question; if it’s actually a brilliantly cryptic comment about Australia Day tomorrow.

Let’s break it down: 1987 was the 200th anniversary of the First Fleet leaving Portsmouth in England, so maybe you’re wondering if you can “still call Australia home” because Indigenous Australians have been treated like “sheet” since the Europeans arrived, and now you’re “thinking of quitting” this country by heading off on a boat from “Bass Strait”.

If that’s what you’re asking – and I’m pretty sure it is – my answer is no, don’t quit this country. Continue to call Australia home. Just find a new, more inclusive national day to celebrate its greatness, exactly like Peter Allen suggested when he sang, “Some day we’ll all be together once more.” You know, I have to be honest, at first I thought you were a bit of a dope. But now I’m kind of impressed.


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