Give A Little Credit to Your Dad by Buddy Williams
Buddy Williams sings Give A Little Credit to Your Dad, urging sons to visit their fathers – including a monologue section and a yodelling finale. This excerpt is from the start of the song.
Summary by Paul Byrnes
Singing with great simplicity and emotion, the 21-year-old Buddy Williams shows here that he was already an accomplished performer by 1939, when Give A Little Credit to Your Dad was recorded. His guitar playing is crisp, he sings in his own accent, but his vocals are full of sophisticated accents and flourishes, like the way he ‘cracks’ the word ‘when’ at the end of the first verse. Williams was influenced by the recordings of the American Jimmie Rodgers and Canadian singer Wilf Carter, as well as the New Zealand-born Tex Morton, whose popularity was already high by 1939. Williams and Morton would remain friendly rivals for the next 45 years, with followers on both sides arguing over who was the undisputed king of Australian country music. With the arrival of Slim Dusty, who appears to have been heavily influenced by both, it would become a three-cornered contest.
Give A Little Credit to Your Dad synopsis
Buddy Williams recorded six songs in his first recording session, on 7 September 1939 – the start of a career that would last 40 years and make him one of the foundation artists of Australian country music. Three of those songs – including the two presented here – were about parents, a subject that was intensely personal, as he had grown up in an orphanage in Sydney.
Australian country music was in its infancy in 1939, with few local recording artists and even fewer who sounded Australian. Tex Morton had made his first Australian recordings in Sydney in 1936, for EMI’s Regal Zonophone label, but he modelled himself initially on American singers and sang American songs (hence the name ‘Tex’). Morton was already a big success by 1939, and his songs had become much more Australian in subject by the time that Buddy Williams walked into the same studios at EMI at Homebush, Sydney. Williams was also heavily influenced by American country and ‘hillbilly’ idioms, but these first recordings show a distinct Australian flavour. They are also intensely personal, possibly because of Williams’s own difficult childhood.
The man who became known as the ‘Yodelling Jackaroo’ was actually born in Newtown, an inner-city working-class suburb of Sydney on 5 September 1918, two months before the end of the First World War. Some sources give his birth name as Harold Taylor. He spent seven years at the Glebe Point Orphanage, and then several years on a farm near Dorrigo, New South Wales, with foster parents. The experience doesn’t seem to have made him happy, because he ran away at 15, around 1933. He began to busk at public gatherings around Coffs Harbour and found he could make good money passing around the hat. Six years later, he persuaded Arch Kerr, of EMI, to record him singing his own songs. Kerr had recorded Tex Morton three years earlier, and EMI’s Regal Zonophone was the premium label in Australian country music. Getting to record six songs on such a label shows that Williams had both talent and a drive to succeed. That three of the songs he recorded were about parents might tell us that his orphanage background had had a profound effect on his personality.
Williams continued to write songs and record during the war years. He enlisted and was wounded at Balikpapan in Borneo. He became a member of the 2/31st Battalion Concert Party, an entertainment outfit. His greatest recordings, according to country music historian Eric Watson, were those he made between 1942 and 1946. They include the songs ‘Music in My Pony’s Feet’, ‘Where the White-faced Cattle Roam’ and ‘The Overlander Trail’. He ran a travelling rodeo tent show for nine years after the war, then a country and western variety show for the next 25 years. Like many other country artists, he toured constantly, taking his growing family on the road for up to 20,000 miles a year.
In 1976, Tex Morton became the first name inscribed in the Country Music Roll of Renown. Buddy Williams was the second, in 1977. He died in 1986, from lung cancer.
Notes by Paul Byrnes