Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tomahawking Fred (The Ladies Man)

Words: Unknown
Tune: Unknown (Fashionable Fred)

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Now some shearing I have done, and some prizes I have won
Through my knuckling down so close on the skin
But I'd rather tomahawk every day and shear a flock
For that's the only way I make some tin

I am just about to cut out for the Darling
To turn a hundred out I know the plan
Give me sufficient cash, and you'll see me make a splash
For I'm Tomahawking Fred, the lady's man

Put me on a shearing floor, and it's there I'm game to bet
That I'd give to any ringer ten sheep start
When on the whipping side far away from them I slide
Just like a bullet or a dart.

Of me you might have read for I'm Tomahawking Fred
My shearing laurels are known both near and far
I'm the don of Riverine, midst the shearers cut a shine
And our tar-boys say I never call for tar

Wire in and go ahead, for I'm Tomahawking Fred
In a shearing shed, my lads, I cut a shine
There is Roberts and Jack Gunn, shearing laurels they have won
But my tally's never under ninety-nine

A variant of a nineteenth century music hall song, Fashionable Fred (noted by Warren Fahey as from the Australian Melodist Songster).

These lyrics from Ron Edwards and Mark Gregory.

The following notes to Gary Shearston's, The Springtime It Brings On The Shearing Volume 2, are by Edgar Waters:

There was a London music-hall song about Fashionable Fred:

Yes, I'm just about the cut for Belgravia,
To keep the proper pace I know the plan.
Wire in and go ahead then, for Fashionable Fred,
I'm Fashionable Fred, the ladies' man.

Some shearer took the tune, and re-wrote the words so that they told about Tomahawking Fred the shearer. He was called Tomahawking Fred because he cut sheep whilst shearing.

Jack Bradshaw, who called himself the Last of the Bushrangers, published the words of this song in one of his books about bushranging, in the 1930s. But it was only recently that collectors from the Folk Lore Society of Victoria found an old bushman, Harvey Games, who remembered the tune as it was used in the bush. He remembered only some of the words, so this version uses his tune and Jack Bradshaw's words.

knuckling down so close upon the skin - shearing the wool off so close to the skin.
tomahawk - shear unskilfully, so as to cut the sheep.
tin - money.
the don of Riverine - recognised as a man of importance in the Riverina, a region of southern New South Wales.

The illustration for this post is from the 1872, “Gazette of Fashion and Cutting-Room Companion”, a tailoring trade journal published during the 19th century in London. [Google Books]

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