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Army September 29, 2011
By Graham McBean
LONG after the prints have
yellowed and the hard drive
has corrupted, Dust of
Uruzgan by Iain 'Fred' Smith
may well be the most poign-
ant chronicle of Australia's
Afghanistan experience for
those who served there.
Smith penned all 12 of
the folk-centred tunes from
his own 18-month experi-
ence in Afghanistan as the
first Australian Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade repre-
sentative to the country.
The title track, written after
the death of Pte Ben Ranaudo in
2009, has already been likened to John
Schumann's iconic I Was Only 19.
Schumann himself said "every now
and then you hear a song and you think 'I
wish I'd written that'. Fred Smith's Dust
of Uruzgan is full of songs like that."
Far from an album of protest songs,
Smith's own intent was to bring the story
of the Australian soldiers in Afghanistan
to their people.
"There are 7-8000 young Australians
who have lived a very particular experi-
ence in Uruzgan province," Smith said.
"My intent is to tell their story so
that the rest of Australia understands that
experience, in all its complexity."
In the true spirit of the storyteller
his songs speak about the experience of
being there with the sympathy and sen-
sitivity of someone who has shared a tent
with his characters.
Like the title track, the album is a
series of snapshots drawing the listener
into the story the way only tales well said
and worth saying are capable of doing.
Dust of Uruzgan tells Pte Ranaudo's
story through the eyes of his mate, Pte
Paul Warren, who was also wounded
when Pte Ranaudo died. Smith wrote the
song after reading the Commission of
Two further tributes, Sapper's Lullaby
for engineers Darren Smith and Jacob
Moerland and August 20 written for Pte
Thomas Dale are on the album.
He is a self-confessed note taker
and ended up with about 20 hard-back
notebooks from his 18-month stint in
Afghanistan, from battle update briefs to
records of meetings with tribal leaders all
interspersed with lyrics and reflections.
He said the melodies and basic ideas
for the songs "busted down the door
when I was trying to sleep or get some
work done". But the lyrics and stories
come differently -- "Sapper's Lullaby fell
straight into my notebooks the afternoon
after Snowy and Smithy's ramp ceremo-
ny. We played it at a concert at Poppy's
BBQ area two nights later."
Smith is no stranger to working with
Australian soldiers and was posted to
Bougainville and Solomon Islands in the
late 90s and early naughties.
Folk vocalist and double bass player
Liz Frencham joins Smith on the Dust of
Uruzgan launch tour and also performed
on the album.
A screen with projected images from
Afghanistan adds to the performance.
Tour information for Fred Smith's Dust of Uruzgan
tour is at www.fredsmith.com.au
The album is on sale now in major Australian
`I lived to tell the story through a simple
twist of fate -- the main charge lay 10 feet
away from the pressure plate.
You see the mine was linked by det cord
to a big charge laid by hand, hidden under
Benny by the dust of Uruzgan.'
Say again, over
If you can think of a clever, witty caption for the above picture,
email firstname.lastname@example.org with "caption com-
petition September 29" in the subject line. Keep entries under 25
words. Entries MUST include sender's name, rank and unit.
September 15 winner
"Without this mask, Mr Baked
Beans is not your friend."
We also liked ...
"Ben and Andrew are going to be
much better prepared for the next
game of 'come pull my finger' with
Capt Doug Arnold
Army has five copies of Dust of Uruzgan to give away. Send your entry to compe-
email@example.com and tell us, in 25 words or less, why you think you
should win one.
By Bob Dikkenberg
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