Wally Johnson

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On the American music scene, the diminutive of Wally for Walter seems like a must to avoid; at least for songwriting and recording credits, artists have expressed a strong preference toward Walter or…
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On the American music scene, the diminutive of Wally for Walter seems like a must to avoid; at least for songwriting and recording credits, artists have expressed a strong preference toward Walter or Walt. Travel down under, however, and the situation changes dramatically, if the concept of drama and the name Wally can be linked without prompting waves of guffaws. There are many well-known people named Wally Johnson in Australia -- never mind that they include a biohazard expert, a scientist specializing in shorebirds, and a legendary if somewhat sleazy ivory hunter. Representing the musical arts is the Wally Johnson who creates songs about the island continent's peculiar charms, primarily aimed at children.

Johnson often works in collaboration with fellow songwriter Bob Brown. Their best-known creation is the plaintive "Give Me a Home Among the Gum Trees," something of a standard along the lines of Rolf Harris' "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport." The title of the former ditty was utilized for a somewhat popular compilation CD, the children's music audience affirming Australia as a subject of childish fascination perhaps the equal of dinosaurs. "Give Me a Home Among the Gum Trees" has also become a repertoire piece for Australian groups whose tunes are not just for tots, perhaps because it is one of the few songs in existence that makes a reference to Vegemite. The song has been covered by Bloodwood, putting aside the band's usual preference for songs about alcohol to perform one that, Australian references aside, is really about the drawbacks of so-called progress.