Neighbours theme song a Sound of Australia

Julia Gillard's misogyny speech joins Sounds of Australia

Source: YouTube/ABC News

In 1985, singer Barry Crocker was watching television when the call came to record the theme for Neighbours, a song that would become part of the Australian psyche.

Now 87, the veteran performer recalls learning the song in half an hour with composer Tony Hatch and lyricist Jackie Trent, and quickly making a demo track that would become the show’s theme from 1985 until 1992.

“It was very easy, and Jackie made me a lovely cup of tea,” Crocker said on Tuesday.

The song is one of 10 iconic pieces of audio that have this week been added to the National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia registry for 2022.

Neighbours to return in 2023

With the cancellation and rapid resurrection of the soap opera during the year, the theme’s addition to the list couldn’t be more timely.

“There’s probably a handful of television theme songs that everyone knows and as soon as the first bar of it starts up, they know exactly what it is,” curator Thorsten Kaeding said.

Just as Neighbours fans were preparing for the show’s final episodes to air, the archive was arranging to add videotapes of the soap to its extensive collection.

In June, 10 pallets stacked with tapes of old Neighbours episodes arrived at the archive’s Canberra warehouse – 6470 tapes in total.

The institution holds every episode that was ever produced on analog tape, from episode one to 7230, along with later shows shot in a digital format.

The videotapes have been catalogued and will be digitised so they can be preserved indefinitely.

It’s an honour to be included in the Sounds of Australia, according to Crocker, whose version of the song is still played frequently.

“It’s still used when they do stories about Neighbours. It’s just rather nice to hear my voice coming back at me from some television show,” he said.

The Sounds of Australia list for 2022 also includes another well-known earworm, 1977’s Stayin’ Alive by The Bee Gees, while the late Sister Janet Mead is remembered with her pop-rock version of The Lord’s Prayer.

The song, recorded in 1973, was a surprise hit, climbing music charts worldwide and becoming the first Australian song to sell one million records in the US.

There are more political additions too, with Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech from 2012 making the list, alongside about 17 hours of Radio Redfern broadcasts from Australia Day 1988.

In October, on the 20th anniversary of the famous speech, Ms Gillard revealed her motivations for it, saying it was fuelled by anger.

“I felt analytical. I knew precisely what I wanted to say,” she said.

“And I felt empowered, not embattled, not cowed.

The National Film and Sound Archive includes more than 300,000 audio items. Much of it is stored only on audio tapes, which degrade over time.

The tape collection will likely be unusable by 2025, and the archive has called for donations to help it digitise items before that deadline.

The 2022 Sounds of Australia

  • Farewell address, Hallam Lord Tennyson, 1904
  • Digger, Jack Lumsdaine, 1942
  • Horrie Dargie Concert, The Horrie Dargie Harlequintet, 1952
  • The Drover’s Dream; The Bullockies’ Ball, The Bushwhackers, 1956
  • Out with the old and in with the new (decimal currency jingle), Ted Roberts (lyricist), 1965
  • The Lord’s Prayer, Sister Janet Mead, 1973
  • Stayin’ Alive, The Bee Gees, 1977
  • Neighbours theme song, Barry Crocker (Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent), 1987
  • Bicentenary protest coverage, Radio Redfern, 1988
  • The misogyny speech, Julia Gillard, 2012

-with AAP

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