During the 47 days Douglas Wood was bashed, handcuffed and blindfolded in Iraq, he kept his spirits up by humming Elvis Presley's "I Want To Be Free".
Now the song's writer, Mike Stoller, says it was the "most important use of that song ever", and Mr Wood says he will close his speaking engagements with a rendition.
Mr Wood said the Kris Kristofferson song Me and Bobby McGee, popularised by Janis Joplin, had been his first choice, but did not fit the situation. "When I was in the hell-hole, I hummed it," he said, recounting the song's famous line: freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Speaking from Los Angeles, Mr Wood said he received "much more inspiration" from the Elvis song after considering his predicament. The song, off the 1957 Jailhouse Rock EP, speaks of a man sitting alone in a dark room:
"There's no joy in my heart, only sorrow
And I'm sad as a man can be
And this room is a prison to me
I look at window and what do I see
I see a bird way up in the tree
I want to be free"
On his release, Mr Wood discussed with his cousin Ian Allen how he had used the song to keep his spirits up. His Seaford-based cousin sent a letter to Stoller, expressing appreciation for the motivation and support the song provided during Mr Wood's ordeal — in which he was bashed, robbed, handcuffed, and witnessed other hostages being murdered. Stoller read about Mr Wood's ordeal in newspapers, and said he was "touched and honoured" by the gesture.
Mr Wood will appear at a sold-out event at Shepparton United Football Club, Shepparton, on September 16, and confirmed that he would end his speech with a rendition.