The track, written by Leonetti and Bobby Troup (who additionally gave the world the R&B commonplace Route 66) was broadcast properly into the 1980s previous to the station closing down round midnight or 1am. As a child, if you happen to had been awake to listen to it and see the white kangaroo pull down the blind which mentioned goodnight, it meant you had been up approach too late and your mother and father doubtless did not know.
Leonetti’s late-night Sydney TV selection present, The Tommy Leonetti Present, which ran from 1969 to 1970, got here on simply earlier than the signature track. The dwell present introduced collectively a few of the finest musicians within the enterprise, taking part in dwell on the tv station’s Mobbs Lane, Epping studios.
Based on Garry McDonald, the Norman Gunston Present was initially devised as a parody of this present. The track had such a cult following that punk band the XL Capris launched a canopy of it in 1979.
The band chief on the late evening Leonetti present was Billy Burton, and was on the unique recording of the track again in 1969. Now 87, for years he’d been telling Sydney-born, US-based singer Gregg Arthur about it for years, encouraging him to file a brand new model.
Quick ahead to Changi Airport in March this yr, when Arthur, 56, had a load of labor cancelled stateside and in Singapore. After 25 years of dwelling in Los Angeles, singing as all the good crooners have accomplished in virtually each membership on the Las Vegas strip, he headed residence to Sydney after 1 / 4 century away. He settled at Carss Park, close to the place he spent a few of his childhood, close to Oatley on the Georges River.
Like many in lockdown the world over, he grew to become nostalgic for the town of his childhood, and located My Metropolis of Sydney had a brand new resonance.
“The lyrics … My metropolis of Sydney, I miss the heat of you, miss the guts of your folks, that little church steeple of Woolloomooloo, struck a chord,” he says.
The unique 1969 lyrics – “miss the Opera Home lights from the bridge, or the nights in a quiet Hyde Park” –all of the sudden did not appear so corny. He actually had missed them whereas dwelling abroad, in the identical approach Peter Allen sang in I Nonetheless Name Australia Dwelling.
He started singing some Wednesday nights on the Avalon Bowling Membership with Billy Burton on trumpet, they usually started reminiscing concerning the historical past of this track.
“Billy’s daughter Julie jogged my memory about her father’s want for me to file it – so we labored out a approach to do this in lockdown,” Arthur says.
Arthur utilized for Metropolis of Sydney’s Inventive Fellowships Fund and received it (in addition to a bit observe from Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who had fond recollections of the track as a younger lady rising up at Gordon on the North Shore).
The swinging new version was recorded – socially distanced with just a few musos within the studio at a time – to rejoice the town coming again to life after COVID-19. Organized by sax participant Andrew Robertson, he introduced strings and a giant brassy sound to the track, with a few of the metropolis’s most interesting performers together with the Conservatorium of Music’s chair of jazz research Craig Scott on the bass. And, after all, Billy Burton on the trumpet, 51 years after he first recorded the track.
The recording classes additionally supplied a lifeline for the members of John Morrison’s Swing Metropolis Large Band, a lot of whom haven’t been capable of carry out dwell for the reason that metropolis’s live performance halls had been shut in March. “A few of the guys actually hadn’t labored in six months, so I used to be very proud to convey everybody collectively,” says Arthur.
“I used to be requested by a buddy in Melbourne, why a track about Sydney? However everybody all over the world is aware of New York, New York – this track is a celebration of our metropolis, however you may rejoice your metropolis or residence, wherever you might be.”
Arthur would love the band to carry out the track on the steps of the Sydney Opera Home for the midnight fireworks on December 31. To suggest the tip of 2020; the identical approach the track was used to log off on TV each evening. Let’s hope he pulls it off. All of us want one thing to sing about.
Helen Pitt is a journalist on the The Sydney Morning Herald.