arts & cultureCairns QueenslandEFFINCUEfar north Queensland


It’s not often you get to choose the music you hear on your local radio station. Here’s your chance to program your favourite songs on ABC Far North. Over the next few weeks, I’m asking you to nominate your top tunes and we’ll play them and tell the stories of how they were made. We’ll put together the ultimate far north Queensland jukebox collection.

Every afternoon, we explore popular music on the Trip Down the Time Tunnel of Top Tunes We’ve told the stories of thousands of songs in the ten years since the Tunnel began.

Nominate your favourite songs, any style, any genre, and we’ll compile a FNQ top 40 and play them on the Time Tunnel. Post your songs and what they mean to you at the bottom of the page and we’ll do the rest.

To get this started, here’s today’s list of my top ten, in no particular order. It’d be a different list every day, but these are the tunes at the top of my favourites list today.

Big Joe Turner’s Shake Rattle & Roll. Later covered by Bill Haley, this was one of the sign-posts along the road to rock and roll. Joe was one of the great blues “shouters” and a giant of a musical talent.

Leaps And Bounds – Paul Kelly. From the Gossip album, a fine example of Paul’s gift for conjuring people and places in song. Every time I hear it I’m instantly transported to a cold Melbourne day, mid 80s, looking out over the MCG.


Coyote, by Joni Mitchell, from the Hejira album of 1976. Possibly inspired by Joni’s travels with Bob Dylan on the Rolling Thunder revue tour. Musings on the way people “from different sets of circumstances” connect. Joni’s gift for strong lyrics and musical exploration are evident, the studio version enhanced by the fretless bass of virtuoso Jaco Pastorius.



Bob Dylan’s Talkin’ New York, recorded live at Gerde’s Folk City 1962. Dylan had recently arrived in the big smoke from Minnesota and tells of his early city adventures in this rambling laugh out loud classic.  He wasn’t yet the big star he would become, but talent and sense of humour combine here to great effect.

The Bangles – Walk Like and Egyptian. I’m a sucker for good pop song-writing and this is a great example of the craft. Full of pop hooks, a cleverly constructed lyric, and a great arrangement. The 80s wasn’t renowned for these things but the Bangles delivered on this one.

Soul Makossa by Manu Dibango. An early 70s hit and one of the first African tunes played on Australian radio. Manu is from Cameroon, and now one of the giants of African music. The song found its way to an Indian grocery store in New York, from there to radio station WBLS and soon was an international hit. A must have for long distance drives.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was the modern day great of Qawwali, a style of devotional music with its roots in the Sufi branch of Islam. I’ve always been partial to the music of Pakistan & India, so when I first heard Nusrat sing, I was hooked. He was one of the first stars of the 1980s boom in “world” music, but there’s much more to the great Nusrat than his international releases. This is the first Nusrat piece I heard – Shams-ud-Doha, Badr-ud-Doja, from the Shahen Shah album.

Or watch a traditional live Qawwali performance of it at

Hoagy Carmichael was a master song-writer. His 1930 composition “Up a Lazy River” became a jazz standard. Louis Armstrong’s live take on it soars above the hundreds of covers of this song. Here Louis and His All-Stars work their magic at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground – a haunting gospel-blues piece by Blind Willie Johnson recorded in 1927. It’s Willie humming over his self-taught bottle-neck slide, no lyrics, but you get what he was going through. One of 27 songs launched into space on the Voyager mission in 1977 to represent the diversity of life on planet Earth — it was chosen to express and explain the human feeling of loneliness.

My earliest musical memories are my uncle’s jazz collection, and hearing 50s pop songs on a bakelite radio. The Del Vikings were great exponents of that 50s vocal harmony style, and their Whispering Bells is probably the first song I can remember hearing on the radio. The Del-Vikings were members of the US Air Force when they put the group together in 1955, and were one of the few racially integrated groups of the time.


OK – that’s my list. Now – over to you. Nominate your favourite songs here and get ready to hear them on your ABC Far North.

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  1. G’day Richard, favourite songs…many.
    1. The Beatles, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ from 1967. An amazing song and sound, so reminiscent of the brave new world of 1967.
    2. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, ‘Purple Haze, Hey Joe/ Red House/ Voodoo Chile (slight Return)/ Castles Made of Sand’.. What can I say…Hendrix… Yeah!.
    3. David Bowie, ‘Ashes to Ashes’, from near to the end of my school life. An ‘interesting’ time.
    3. Boston, ‘More Than a Feeling’, I’ve always been impressed by the production on that track!
    4. Gerry Rafferty, ‘Baker Street’, It always brings the mind innocent and carefree childhood days from the mid 1970’s.
    That’ll do for now. More later perhaps. Thanks Richard. Regards, Felix in Ingham.

  2. Richard – best afternoon radio ever. How about Let the Canefields burn by Graeme Connors for a top song from NQ – thanks Tony Gordonvale.

  3. Hi Richardd,

    Don’t want to be naff, but love Jimmy Barnes’ Working Class Man. It was even filmed in Effen Cue.

  4. deeper water paul kelly, i listen to the song as fathers to son its stir emotion. bow river live great band song. acdc highway to hell. because i seen a tv news grab of 80 yo mum of bon scott.and she said thats her favourite. i like all aus rock , cheesey love songs too, i liked to crack a cold one sit back listen to you.. ha ha..

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