Over the past month or so, Channel 7 here in Melbourne has been heartily promoting its upcoming Peter Allen biopic. I’m actually quite looking forward to it, being a bit of a long-time, closet Peter Allen fan. There’s something about his music that gives me goose bumps. Whether it’s the sentimental, soft side of me during ‘I still call Australia home’ or a peppier me during ‘When my baby goes to Rio’*, I just can’t help it getting all emotional when I hear him sing. And you have to admit, his music is oh so very catchy.
Mum told me that when I was a wee kid and he was on the television, I would sit in front of it, transfixed, singing and jigging along. And with good reason. He was a very talented and engaging performer, whom few can mimic.
And here’s where the long overdue apology comes in. Because I tried to mimic him – and I failed abysmally.
I don’t remember exactly what year it was, but I think I was around 10 years old. Mum and I were flying back to Australia after spending a few weeks overseas, visiting family. I’d like to say we were on a Qantas flight, so I could claim some influence over Qantas' brilliant choice of his song in their marketing. But it was more likely we were flying with Singapore Airlines, because they were our airline of choice.
The pilot announced we had only an hour or so before landing. I was extremely excited about going home, for reasons long forgotten now. This news and my excitement took me to a whole new level of annoying. With little else to do to pass that final hour, I started listening to the inflight radio.** Lo and behold, ‘I still call Australia home’ started playing through my wonky airline headphones.
Being a kid, I didn’t really have much consideration for the comfort of my fellow passengers, or any insight into my absolute lack of vocal talent. But this didn’t stop me from belting out the couple of lines of the song I could remember. Loudly. Over and over. For the remainder of the flight.
And for this, I give my most sincere and heartfelt apologies to those passengers on that flight, whomever you were and wherever you may be now. Because I think that at the end of a 10ish-hour journey (or longer if that was just the final leg of your trip), the last thing you wanted to be subjected to was an amplified version of what surely sounded like a helium-affected cat being strangled. Especially when you had no avenue of escape from the relatively small confined space in which it was occurring.
To their credit, and that of the air hosts/hostesses, no one complained (to me or mum anyway). I somehow doubt the same would happen today...
So, to make amends, I would like to share with you the original, tuneful and gifted Peter Allen singing one of his greatest hits. Enjoy!
*Actually, to be honest, these two songs and ‘Tenterfield saddler’ are the only Peter Allen songs I know. But they are arguably his best and most noteworthy.
** Yes, a strange choice for a child. However, for those of you old enough to remember, this was back in the good old days when you had to share a TV screen with the 100 other people in your section, and the airline only played one or two movies the entire way – which you had to watch through a haze of cigarette smoke. There were no inflight movies or TV on demand (or apparently much care for health and wellbeing) waaaay back then. Thank goodness for progress!