Monday, January 31, 2011

One of the Has-Beens

To the tune of "Pretty Polly Perkins of Paddington"

I'm one of the has beens a shearer I mean
I once was a ringer and I used to shear clean
I could make the wool roll off like the soil from the plough
But you may not believe me for I cant do it now

CHORUS: I'm as awkward as a new chum and I'm used to the frown
That the boss often shows me saying keep them blades down

I've shore with Pat Hogan, Bill Bright and Jack Gunn
Tommy Leighton Charlie Fergus and the great roaring Dunn
They brought from the Lachlan the best they could find
But not one among them could leave me behind

It's no use complaining I'll never say die
Though the days of fast shearing for me have gone by
I'll take the world easy shear slowly and clean
And I merely have told you just what I have been

Another one learnt from the Brisbane sessions of the early 80s. Published in Stewart and Keesing "Old Bush Songs". Notes and lyrics for this one from the venerable Mudcat.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Cyprus Brig

by Frank McNamara (Frank the Poet)

Come all you sons of Freedom, a chorus join with me,
I’ll sing a song of heros, and glorious liberty.
Some lads condemn’d from England sail’d to Van Dieman’s Shore,
Their Country, friends and parents, perhaps never to see more.

When landed in this colony to different Masters went,
For trifling offences, t’Hobart Town gaol were sent,
A second sentence being incurr’d we were order’d for to be
Sent to Macquarie Harbour, that place of tyranny.

The hardships we’d to undergo, are matters of record,
But who believes the convict, or who regards his word?
For starv’d and flogg’d and punish’d, deprived of all redress,
The Bush our only refuge, with death to end distress.

Hundreds of us were shot down, for daring to be free,
Numbers caught and banished, to life-long slavery.
Brave Swallow, Watt and Davis, were in our noble band
Determin’d at the first slant, to quit Van Dieman’s Land.

March’d down in chains and guarded, on the CYPRUS BRIG convey’d
The topsails being hoisted, the anchor being weighed.
The wind it blew Sou’Sou’West and on we went straightaway,
Till we found ourselves wind-bound, in gloomy Recherche Bay.

’Twas August eighteen twenty nine, with thirty one on board,
Lieutenant Carew left the Brig, and soon we passed the word
The Doctor too was absent, the soldiers off their guard,
A better opportunity could never have occur’d.

Confin’d within a dismal hole, we soon contriv’d a plan,
To capture now the CYPRUS, or perish every man.
But thirteen turn’d faint-hearted and begg’d to go ashore,
So eighteen boys rush’d daring, and took the Brig and store.

We first address’d the soldiers “for liberty we crave,
Give up your arms this instant, or the sea will be your grave,
By tyranny we’ve been oppress’d, by your Colonial laws,
But we’ll bid adieu to slavery, or die in freedom’s cause.”

We next drove off the Skipper, who came to help his crew,
Then gave three cheers for liberty, ’twas answer’d cheerly too.
We brought the sailors from below, and row’d them to the land
Likewise the wife and children of Carew in command.

Supplies of food and water, we gave the vanquish’d crew,
Returning good for evil, as we’d been taught to do.
We mounted guard with Watch and Ward, then haul’d the boat aboard,
We elected William Swallow, and obey’d our Captain’s word.

The Morn broke bright the Wind was fair, we headed for the sea
With one more cheer for those on shore and glorious liberty.
For Navigating smartly Bill Swallow was the man,
Who laid a course out neatly to take us to Japan.

Then sound your golden trumpets, play on your tuneful notes,
The CYPRUS BRIG is sailing, how proudly now she floats.
May fortune help th’Noble lads, and keep them ever free
From Gags, and Cats, and Chains, and Traps, and Cruel Tyranny

There is an excellent discussion of the history of the events on which this song is based at this site

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Banks of the Condamine

Hark, hark, the dogs are barking, I can no longer stay
The boys have all gone shearing , I heard the publican say
And I must be off in the morning love before the sun do shine
To meet the Roma shearers on the banks of the Condamine

Oh Willie dearest Willie dont leave me here to mourn
Dont make me curse and rue the day that ever I was born
For parting with you Willie is like parting with my life
So stay and be a selector love and I will be your wife

Oh Nancy dearest Nancy you know that I must go
The squatters are expecting me their shearing for to do
And when I'm on the board my love I'll think of you with pride
And my shears they will go freely when I'm on the whipping side

Oh I'll cut off my yellow hair and go along with you
I'll dress myself in men's attire and be a shearer too
I'll cook and count your tally love whilst ringer-o you shine
And I'll wash your greasy moleskins on the banks of the Condamine

Oh Nancy dearest Nancy you know you cannot go
The boss has given his orders no woman may do so
And your delicate constitution isn't equal unto mine
To eat the ramstag mutton on the banks of the Condamine

But when the shearing's over I'll make of you my wife
I'll get a boundary riding job and settle down for life
And when the days' work's done my love and the evening it is fine
I'll tell of them sandy cobblers on the banks of the Condamine

First published as 'The Banks of the Riverine' in the Queenslander in 1894 This version from the singing of A.L.Lloyd. Folklorist Dr Edgar Waters writes (Australian Tradition Oct 1966) : "The Banks of the Condamine seems to have been one of the most widely distributed bush songs. In recent years it has been reported from singers in northern Victoria and the Northern Territory, and a number of different versions have been recorded in New South Wales and in Queensland. Sometimes the man is going off to a horse-breaking camp rather than a shearing shed. In Victoria, and at least in southern New South Wales, it seems to have been known as 'The Banks of the Riverine', and perhaps this was the original form. The words of 'The Banks of the Condamine' were made over from 'The Banks of the Nile', a British Ballad of the beginning of the nineteenth century."

Lyrics and notes from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs site.
There's also a great discussion of the song's origins and recording at Mainly Norfolk.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Conservationists Song

Learnt from the singing of Alan Bannister (Banno) at the New Exchange Hotel sessions in Brisbane in the early 1980s.

The Conservationists Song (Mick Flanagan)

In the year of 64, Morgan found the nickel ore
And the miners headed Westward with a will
Rum Jungle, Broken Hill, Lee Creek and Collinville
The Western plains they soon began to fill

First the Dirkin Shaft went down, and up sprang Cambalda town
With employment for a thousand mining men
Be you Aussie, Scot or Turk
You were well-paid for your work
Whether underground or working in the mill

Next Poseidon made a find, the stock market it went wild
As the trading reached a fever on the floor
Soon the brokers' knees grew weak as Poseidon hit its peak
The like of it they'd never seen before

The shafts are sinking fast and they're heading through the West
And the beasts of nature don't know what to do
Soon the emu and the roo, there will be no room for you
Your extinction seems to be so close at hand

Conservationists they say if we carry on this way
There's no doubt that we are heading for our doom
For the big companies don't mind if the minerals they find
The dollar god, it rules them every day

So stand up while you can think of your fellow man
And the children that will follow after you
For I'm sure they'd like to see all the animals that we
Are killing every day throughout the land.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Moreton Bay

Welcome to An Australian Folk Song A Day

To kick us off, I'm going with an old favourite:

Here is Moreton Bay:

For more info, check out the ever reliable wikipedia

and Warren Fahey's take on the song at this link

There have of course been many opinions expressed about this song and its origins over the years. I hope that this site proves to be a venue for healthy and productive discussion of the different views that have developed over time.

Ultimately, the songs the thing.

See you tomorrow,

John Thompson