The third and last of Jack O’Hagan’s popular songs about Gundagai, after 'Along the Road to Gundagai’ (1922) and ‘Where the Dog Sits on the Tuckerbox (Five Miles from Gundagai)’ (1938), was ‘When a Boy From Alabama Meets a Girl From Gundagai’. It was a hit upon its release in 1942.
The recording features Joy Nichols and The Youth Show Band. The Sun newspaper described the background to the creation of the song:
Picking up a day-old newspaper, O'Hagan saw eight engagement notices of Australian girls and American soldiers. That didn't keep him awake, but, when he went to bed, he didn't sleep. Around 4am he got it – the new hit number. He went to sleep then, thinking about how lightning could strike twice in the same place, if the place was in the song and it was Gundagai. This week recordings of 'When a Boy From Alabama Meets a Girl From Gundagai' went out to waiting radio stations, which proceeded to wear out the disc … 'When a Boy From Alabama Meets a Girl From Gundagai' has a honeyed lilt and just the right sort of sentiment to ring in dollars and cents, as well as shillings and pence, on the O'Hagan cash register. Radio stations say it will go high on the 'hit' list.
This newspaper report was in the context of recent changes to the Broadcasting Act requiring 2.5% of all music played over radio stations to be Australian-composed.
Cover image: 'When A Boy From Alabama Meets A Girl From Gundagai' (1942) sheet music, featuring Joy Nichols. NFSA title: 793146.