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Going Country (ATOM Study Guide)

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In this joyous and heartfelt series, Justine Clarke sets out on a road trip into the heart of Australian Country music. Along the way, she connects with some of our greatest musicians, performing some of the genre's most iconic songs. The two-part series features six carefully selected songs, with performances by Paul Kelly, Kasey Chambers, Briggs, Troy Cassar-Daley and Fanny Lumsden, amongst many others.

These talented musicians re-interpret the landmark songs in their own musical styles, and perform them in evocative settings. Justine engages with the star performers to examine each song in detail – its musical genius, its lyrics and its varied meanings. It is through these re-interpretations that we gain a new appreciation of the lasting power and resonance of this genre.

The series gives us a community of musicians openly sharing Australian Country music and talking not only about the ways in which it has influenced and inspired them, but also how these songs remain alive and continue to speak to wider themes about our identity, history and values. Justine discovers songs that capture who we are as a people and a nation and learns just how important Country music has been – and still is – to Australians. Country music – in the hands of some of our finest Indigenous artists – has become a powerful testimony to our troubled history and a reckoning with the truth.

Going Country also includes fascinating archival footage and interview material with a range of informed and articulate journalists, promoters and historians. It culminates in a moving finale, with Justine and the Melbourne Indie Voices performing a song that resonates with Justine and countless others. In Going Country, Justine uncovers the authenticity of this unique and resilient musical form. Like the country she travels across, the series is expansive and unhurried, a powerfully cinematic and emotional viewing experience.

Curriculum Links:

Going Country can be situated in an array of different teaching and learning contexts. It is a valuable classroom resource for developing skills in listening and analysing cultural artefacts.

How do we critically position creative material in social and historical contexts? 

It allows us to examine how artworks, in this case popular songs, can shift, evolve and speak to different generations in different and continuous ways across time. Attending closely to the thematic material of this series can also deepen students' respect for other perspectives and cultural experiences.

Going Country has detailed links to the Music Curriculum and links to the cross-curriculum priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures. It would also make a wonderful addition to any Literacy Units on Poetry, from Years 5–10.

Going Country also provides opportunities to develop General Capabilities in Critical & Creative Thinking; Intercultural Understanding; and Personal & Social Capability.

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