Saturday, June 25, 2011

Poor Ned Kelly

Smiling Billy Blinkhorn

Let me tell you all a story of a bad man of fame
A dinky-di Aussie, Ned Kelly was his name
Born down in Victoria on 11-mile creek
His mother and his father, they were both of them Micks

At sixteen years he was one tough guy
The crimes he committed, oh me oh my
He'd steal all the horses for miles around
Then collect all the rewards for them and paint the town

Poor Ned Kelly
A tougher guy you never knew
Poor Ned Kelly
His brothers and his sisters too

He robbed the stations and he robbed the mail
He held up the bank of New South Wales
He had all the colonials on the run
He shot holes in officers just for fun

Ned and his gang ran fast and free
They bailed up the bank at Jerilderie
Captured half the town and locked them away
Spent their time in the pub for the rest of the day

Poor Ned Kelly, liked his beer I see
Poor Ned Kelly, he ain't got nothing on me

Finally they caught him and they threw him in the can
Shot down all his cobbers to the very last man
Tried him and convicted him and wouldn't give him bail
And they hung him to a rafter in the Melbourne Jail

Some years have gone since Ned passed away
There's lots of his cobbers carrying on today
What with income tax and wages tax and car tax and the price of taxi-cabs and the rest coming due
and the beer going up in price and apart from that all the things we gotta buy, well.
Poor Ned Kelly wasn't such a bad guy.

Poor Ned Kelly,
It's easier to do today
Poor Ned Kelly,
They don't even have to run away.

Written and recorded by Smiling Billy Blinkhorn in 1940. Covered by the Bushwackers and included in their song book. Blinkhorn was Canadian and this may explain the country feel and North American idioms (eg "they threw him in the can"!).

A version by the writer can be found here, from an album entitled, Australian Balladeers Remembered.

These notes from a CD re-release of Blinkhorn's recordings:

Billy is a Canadian who immigrated to Australia and had a successful, but short career through the 1940s. All of his 18 songs that have been previously released in 1940 and 1947 with basically guitar, but also 3 with band accompaniment consisting of great fiddle and accordion work in romantic Canadian style. Billy, who passed away in 1977, was not only a great singer. His yodeling was fantastic, too. This CD is of great historical meaning and will please both fans of old Canadian and Australian country music.

NB. The similarities between this melody and that of the later (and arguably more famous) Ballad of Jed Clampett are likely to be coincidental - the latter was written for the Beverly Hillbillies in 1962.

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