How comedian Will Anderson woke up the world to Michael Waugh’s ‘Heyfield Girls’

Michael Waugh

Until a few days ago, Michael Waugh’s name probably wasn’t that well-known outside Melbourne’s tight folk music scene, but Heyfield-born comedian Will Anderson has drawn attention to Waugh’s new song and encouraged his 50,000 strong audience to check out the music video that celebrates the women of the Gippsland timber mill town where they were both born via his TOFOP podcast series. Together with co-host Charlie Clausen, the pair heap praise and — to some extent — take the piss, as you’d expect on a comedy podcast, while doing their bit to boost Youtube views for song.

As the opening track and lead single of his soon-to-be-released, Shane Nicholson produced album What We Might Be, ‘Heyfield Girl’ sets a beautifully poignant tone with Anderson compelled to describe Waugh as ‘M. Night Shyamalan of country music’. We feel the song is best left to speak for itself, but if ever there was a song that celebrates all that is close and important, setting aside the “grass is always greener” mentality, this is the one.

Michael Waugh, delighted at the sudden influx of attention, took a few minutes to respond on his Facebook page this afternoon with the following:

Yesterday, I started receiving unusual messages from YouTube saying that TOFOP had sent them to watch the ‘Heyfield Girl’ video… Some messages were from Canada and the US, posting lovely comments about the song. Confused about who or what TOFOP was, I did a little more research and discovered that TOFOP is Wil Anderson and Charlie Clausens’ podcast, and they had made reference to the ‘Heyfield Girl’ video in their latest release. Not just a fleeting reference, but a running commentary of the video encouraging listeners to go and see the music clip. Pretty lovely for someone relatively unknown like me – especially considering that they have 50,000 subscribers in 70 countries, and that they were putting it out as a challenge for listeners to increase exposure of the song. I have to say, too, that I’m pretty chuffed to be referred to as the ‘M. Night Shyamalan of country music’… and laughed at the reference to me looking like an older version of Shannon Noll in the clip… The podcast plays the song twice – which is gorgeous.

However, I’m less impressed by some of the derogatory references made by the comedians about the women in the video. The point of the clip is to celebrate the strength and beauty of these people. The video may defy some of the codes and conventions of how women have been traditionally represented in some music clips. I wonder if it’s fair to target aspects of how these women look? One of these women is my mum. And, family loyalty aside, all of these women did me a great honour by agreeing to be Heyfield Girls in our tribute to the underrated beauty of women in rural Australia.
I am a big fan of Wil Anderson – he is an intelligent satirist and has provided some politically well-informed social commentary. I am completely honoured that I would be targeted to have the piss taken out of me. I put myself out there because I love playing and writing music, and I love telling stories (this one about my mum is pretty special to me). And, because I put myself out there, it is completely fair that some may like it, some may hate it, and others may laugh at it. However, the generous country women in that film deserve more respect. As for Charlie’s suggestion that I might get a bit of ‘Heyfield p—y on a Saturday night’, I think that the women I met possibly have better taste than going for a guy who looks like an old version of Shannon Noll (no offence intended, Shannon)… And, that the true worth of these women is measured in more than their sexuality.

It is an unexpected pleasure to be promoted by someone with such a great following as Wil and Charlie – and I really don’t want to seem ungrateful to them for having taken the time to look me up and to encourage others to do the same. There is a moment in their podcast when they say that they wanted to ‘take the piss out of it – but it’s actually quite beautiful’. And they are absolutely right – those people are beautiful. Because of Wil and Charlies’ comments, more people are getting to hear my song and the story about my parents. That means a great deal to me. I just really hope that no one is offended…
‪#‎heyfieldgirls‬

The plug could be just the kickstart a fabulously talented like Michael Waugh needs and as a shrewd promoter once said, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. If Anderson’s shoutout propels this song to a mass audience, we’d be absolutely delighted. So take Wil’s advice and keep sharing this beautiful song.

About Les Thomas 26 Articles
Melbourne singer-songwriter and Unpaved editor Follow @les_thomas on Twitter