Australian Report CMN May 2000
Geoff Mack The man who wrote
" Iíve Been Everywhere "
1959 was the year that Australian Country Music
entertainer / comedian / songwriter Geoff Mack wrote
the Country Music Classic " Iíve been everywhere "
Geoff Mack had been working a Holiday resort in
Coolingatta in Queensland for several years, during
that time Geoff had taken to serious song writing .
He received a offer to play a cabaret act in Sydney
so he packed up his panel van and headed south .
Arriving in Sydney in the wee hours of the morning
he parked the van and settled back to listen to the
radio while pondering what songs he would pull
together to form his new Act .
At that time (1959) there were a lot of corny twelve
bar novelty songs to be heard on the radio, songs
like " See you later alligator" and " Witch Doctor"
songs that did not impress the budding songwriter,
so he started to scan the radio dial looking for a
better quality of songs to relax with.
As the dial hit the local ABC station he felt
confident that he would find a better presentation
of songs than what heíd heard from commercial radio.
However no luck , the ABC were offering much the
Thinking that tunes like this must be the
popular trend he thought to himself, well then Iíll
write a song like this, a song with little tune and
nonsensical lyrics .
There were several road maps next to him on the
front seat of the van and as he glanced at them he
saw that many of the names of the towns rhymed.
Two and a half hours later Geoff had put together
sets of three town or city names that matched in
rhyme,names like "Wollongong "Geelong " "Kurrajong ".
The original opening verse to the song that Geoff
had decided he would use as opening song in his new
cabaret went something like this, " Itís Nice to be
back in Sydney and you ask me what
Iíve seen , if you settle back and listen Iíll tell
you exactly where Iíve been " and Geoff titled the
new song " The Swagman Rock "( A Swagman is a Aussie
Well as luck would have it this little, almost
throwaway song that he would open with, would become
one of his most requested numbers in his show.
Many times he would have requests from the audience
to repeat the tune, however as Geoff says it was his
opening song and was not really a finished song with
proper verses, so he declined the many requests .
New Zealand Publisher Johnny Devlon contacted Geoff
and asked if he had some songs that he would
consider placing with his company, so Geoff took
Johnny five of his best. However after listening to
the songs he asked Geoff, " what about that song
with the names of the towns ? "
Geoff replied ...".well nobody would want to record
that song, that's just my personal opener and I
havenít even got proper verses to it " " Well write
one " replied Johnny. So right there in the office
Geoff sat down to finish off the tune while all
along thinking that it was a wasted effort because
the other five songs he offered where far better
than " Swagman Rock " .
In 1961 Geoff presented the his songs to the A&R
manager at Festival Records in Sydney. He told Geoff
that the title of the song would have to be changed
from the " Swagman Rock " to " Iíve Been Everywhere
" because Rock and Roll will be dead in a year. So
that's how and where the title got changed .
The song was first recorded by Australian " Lucky
Star " in January 1962 and the song went straight to
number one on the Australian Music charts and stayed
at the top for fifteen weeks.
With the chart success of the Lucky Starís recording
publisher Johnny Devlon requested that Geoff rewrite
the song with rhyming names of towns and cities in
the United States.
Then Lucky Starís manager requested versions of the
song with New Zealand and United Kingdom rhyming
lyrics, that were to become the basis of a four
track extended play single that would be titled "
Luckyís Been Everywhere " .
The Canadian connection to HANK SNOWíS 1962 version
of the song came about when Devlonís publishing
company had been bought out by Belinda Music, a
sister company of Canadaís Hill and Range Publishing.
Thatís where the request for a Canadian version of
the song took place and as they say the rest is
Geoff first met HANK SNOW in the middle 60ís when
HANK toured Australia as part of Australian Country
Music star " Reg Lindsayís " National tour.
With the royalties to this one song, that had been
written just for fun, with no other intent than
being an opening song for Geoffís cabaret act, itís
been paying the rent for Geoff and his charming wife
all these years .
His other remaining legacy, due to the success of "
Iíve Been Everywhere ", has been to acquire the
nickname of " Tangle Tongue " , for obvious
This interview by Richard E Patterson Country Music
News Magazine Canada at the 2000 Tamworth Country
Music Festival .
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