FORMER Tweed songwriter Ray Burton.
FORMER Tweed songwriter Ray Burton. Supplied.

Songwriter Ray's feminist anthem

RAY Burton is amused the song he is most famous for writing is not only a feminist anthem but has been chosen by industry leaders as one of 10 Australian recordings to be remembered forever.

The guitarist, who has strong links with the Tweed despite moving away from the area to the Gold Coast about ten years ago, worked with singer Helen Reddy to pen the international hit I Am Wom an in 1972.

Now the gold and platinum single, which was the first Australian song to win an American Grammy and top the Billboard charts, has been named one of the Sounds of Australia for 2009 by the National Film and Sound Archive, and will take its place alongside the Vegemite jingle, Yothu Yindi reconciliation anthem Treaty and other recorded historic and cultural moments.

“The word archive makes me feel like a dinosaur, but yes, I am proud of the song's success,” said the 62-year-old musician.

“Technically, it is not one of the best songs that I have written, but it is the one that had the most success and did the best in sales, air play and awards and I guess that is what it is all about in this business.”

A panel of 21 experts from the recorded sound industry and cultural institutions whittled down nominations to 10 for this year's list that also includes a recording of Dorothea Mackellar reading her iconic Australian poem My Country and the recorded broadcast of the Aboriginal boxer Lionel Rose's world title winning bout in Japan in 1968.

“I think the song is one that people remember because of the combination of both Helen's empowering lyrics and my music.

“The song was popular here and overseas because of the timing - it was the song for the moment, especially because the women's liberation movement has just come about - we were just there at the right place, at the right time.”

With a catalogue of more than 100 photos that have never been recorded, Ray has recently gone back into the recording studio to put down tracks for the first time since the 1970s.

The album Blue Azz was recorded in Bryon Bay's 301 Studio and Ray hopes it will help a new generation of singers find and fall in love with his song writing.

“Music is a young man's game. I don't feel my age, even though I am 62 - but don't tell them that.”

For the record Recordings that made Sounds of Australia list:

1. Newcastle Steelworks Band, recorded in London in 1924, from the Jack Greaves Collection.
2. The Vegemite Jingle, 1954.
3. The Adventure of the Singing Bullet, Smoky Dawson, 1955.
4. My Country - read by Dorothea Mackellar, recorded circa 1918.
 5. Georgia Lee Sings the Blues Down Under, by Georgia Lee, recorded in 1962.
6. In the Head the Fire, by Nigel Butterley recorded in 1966.
7. Lionel Rose Wins the World Title, fight commentary recorded in Tokyo, Japan, on February 26 1968.
8. I Am Woman, Helen Reddy and Ray Burton, recorded 1972.
9. The Loner, by Vic Simms, recorded in 1973.
10. Treaty, by Yothu Yindi, recorded 1991.

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