Book CD review by Bruce Elder
Don Henderson Project

The Songs of Don Henderson: Review by Bruce Elder (June 2010)

Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum: Saturday 5 June

The Songs of Don Henderson

In the hierarchy of Australian folk, Don Henderson is an iconic figure who, although he died in 1991, is considered by many as the closest this country ever came to producing a singer-songwriter of the calibre of Woody Guthrie.

The reason is simple. Henderson was no great craftsman. He didn't have a great voice and wasn't a particularly good guitar player. But he did write a substantial body of "news" and contemporary "social commentary" songs.

Think of the wry and Guthrie-like talking blues of Talking Mt lsa, about the miners' strike. Or the melancholy Westgate Bridge Disaster, a swingeing attack on the incompetence that led to the collapse of the infamous bridge. He never deviated from his passionate support for unionism, anti-war activism and belief in the decency of manual labour.

Recently, a disparate group of left-wing organisations and individuals - notably the Queensland Folk Federation, Brisbane Labour History Association, Illawarra Folk Club, the CFMEU - have worked to preserve Henderson's legacy.

This double CD, containing 40 songs, comprises 20 original recordings and 20 of Henderson's songs recorded by such Aussie folk luminaries as Gary Shearston (Put a Light in Every Country Window), Declan Affley (Rake and Rambling Man) and Danny Spooner (It's On).

This is an important piece of Australian folk history. Henderson deserves to be remembered.

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