John Williamson is Winding Back

Photo: supplied

Stefan Bradley

After more than 50 years of music, legendary Australian musician John Williamson is planning to slow things down after the Winding Back tour, which will include a stop at The Wedge in Sale this month.

“As time goes along my memory is not going to be as good”, Mr Williamson told the Gippsland Times.

“My arthritis will get worse on my fingers, so I guess I’m just warning people that I’m going to slow down gradually, but I’m not just going to pull out of the music scene.

“I am preparing myself for retirement as I never want to just sit around and watch the cricket, I want to grow veggies and be home when they’re ripe and I might have a chook yard again.

“Right now I’m building a big greenhouse with a couple of mates helping me.

“I don’t know how I’m going to handle not doing music, but the break during COVID showed that I can still enjoy having time off.”

Mr Williamson gave a hint for what to expect for the set at The Wedge.

“I’ve got the two new songs I wrote during COVID, and I’m throwing some of the earlier songs in there,” he said.

“I’m trying to make my show a real story now. It always had been to a degree. I’m kicking off the show with my childhood and a story about my little town, and then go around Australia.

“I try to keep it interesting by keeping the story flowing, my show is kind of like a musical.

“I’ll do the songs that people expect to hear, like True Blue, Old Man Emu and Raining on the Rock – they’re all in there.”

One of the new songs is called The Great Divide, which Mr Williamson said was written about state borders during COVID and had resonated with fans.

Mr Williamson covers similar themes in his other new track, Come Back to Me, Country.

“It becomes obvious what it’s about when you listen to it,” he said.

“In our industry, Australia is our oyster, I don’t think of us in a ‘statriotic’ way.

“We are Australia, and COVID has made us realise that’s more important than being separated the way we’ve been.

“I’m not going to whinge about it too much because I’ve had a good life with my music, and I did enjoy the break, to be honest.

“We got some shows in, I even did one in Western Australia and got away with it.

“It’s nice to get back into it now, 2022 is going to be twice as busy as I expected it to be as we had to move all those shows into this year.”

Mr Williamson says his current favourite song is one he’s reintroducing to the set, called It Goes Without Saying.

“It’s a song about my dad, and I heard it on one of my live albums and thought I had to bring it back as I was getting sentimental listening to it, so anyone who loves their dad will enjoy that,” he said.

“I don’t perform any songs I don’t enjoy, I got enough to pick from.”

Mr Williamson said the best advice he had for younger musicians was to be sincere in your songwriting, and write what you know.

“Whether it’s about your love life, about your dad or mum, about living in the bush, you’d be surprised how many people will relate to it,” he said.

“Don’t try to be something you’re not.

“If you’re performing covers at pubs, try to gradually insert an original song or two and see what the audience thinks, and if they’re good enough they’ll work, that’s what I did.”

John Williamson is performing at The Wedge in Sale as part of the Winding Back tour on Sunday, February 13, and Mr Williamson said it will be a show to remember.

“My message to all those seeing me in Sale is that if you don’t go away happy and feel proud to be an Australian, I’ll give you your money back,” he said.

[Originally published 4 February 2022]