Thursday, January 26, 2012

Waltzing Matilda

Words:  Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson
Tune:  A variation on Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea by Robert Barr (1770-1836)

Oh, there once was a swagman camped in the billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he looked at the old billy boiling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

(Chorus:) Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda my darling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Waltzing Matilda and leading a waterbag,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Down came the jumbuck to drink at the water-hole,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he put him away in his tucker-bag,
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.

Up came the Squatter a-riding his thoroughbred,
Up came Policemen - one, two and three,
Whose is that jumbuck you've got in the tucker-bag?
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.

The swagman he up and he jumped in the water-hole,
Drowning himself by the coolibah tree,
And his ghost may be heard as it sings by the billabong,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Australia's best known song has a rich history.  Written in 1895 by Banjo Paterson it has been adopted and adapted many times.  Dennis O'Keeffe's Waltzing Matilda site is a great place to start the journey of research into this fascinating subject.

I've printed the original lyrics above.  Observant listeners will note that the version sung here varies a little from the original.  These variations represent both the folk process and the varying ways in which this song is learnt by school-children around Australia.  (Any timing variations are my responsibility as conductor).  The suggestion at the very end of the recording came from James Rigby.

This recording was made on Friday, 20 January, 2012 at the Celtic Southern Cross Summer School in Victoria and was sung by all the attendees at the school.  I thank them all for their support and their contribution to the blog.  The illustration to this post is a photograph of the group by Phil Green.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Aeroplane Jelly Song

Words and Music:  Albert Francis Lenertz

I've got a song that won't take very long,
Quite a good sort of note if I strike it . . .
It is something we eat, and I think it's quite sweet,

And I know you are going to like it.

I like Aeroplane Jelly

Aeroplane Jelly for me.
I like it for dinner, I like it for tea,

A little each day is a good recipe,

The quality's high as the name will imply,

And it's made from pure fruits, one more good reason why...

I like Aeroplane Jelly

Aeroplane Jelly for me.

It is difficult to describe the significance of this song to those who did not experience it growing up in Australia.

The song was written by Albert Lenertz, the business partner of Bert Apleroth, founder of the company which created Aeroplane Jelly crystals.  Originally performed as a radio jingle in 1930 it has continued in use to the present day.  In the 1940s it was played on radio up to 100 times a day (charming as it is, this is a horrifying thought).  Aeroplane Jelly Crystals are still Australia's best-selling brand.

An indication of this commercial jingle's impact on the Australian psyche can be found by its presence in both the National Library and Australian Film and Sound Archive collections.

While I am a great fan (lime being my favourite flavour) I am in no way sponsored by Aeroplane Jelly.  

NB.  The applause on this track occurs only in my imagination.

This (the last official song on this blog) was recorded using three of my tiredest voices and a bass concertina.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Shall We Do With The Daily Papers

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  Traditional (What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor)

Down in old Melbourne four harlots do dwell
The four daily papers that we know so well,
The Sun and the Herald, the Argus and Age
Just four little birds in the one gilded cage.

Four workers one cribtime sat down in a bunch;
They were reading their papers and eating their lunch,
When the eldest, a fellow called Militant Mick
Says, "The lies that they print, why they fair make me sick"

"Now the front page is full of the wars, hot and cold,
That are helping the millionaires pile up more gold,
And appeals to us workers to please do our bit"
He turns over the page, as the boys all say "S . . t!"

"The second page holds all the editor's thoughts
On how to smash unions by using the courts,
And how to make money by growing more wool"
He turns over the page as the boys yell out "B . . l!"

"Three, four and five are for killers and drunks,
And the Folies Bergeres in their transparent trunks,
The rapes and divorces, the scandal and shock."
He turns over the page, as the boys shout out "C . . k!"

"Six is the page for the Toorak to-do,
Who's getting married, and who is up who,
And the frantic old antics of the socialite sluts."
He turns over the page and the boys all say "N . . ts!"

"The next fifteen pages for the births and the deaths,
Use Chlorophyll toothpaste to sweeten your breaths,
Buy from Foy and Gibson, Myer or Buck."
He turns over the page as the boys mutter "F . . k!"

"The back page says Jan's a good thing for the Cup,
Or maybe Morse Code, if they smarten him up,
Or they might all dead heat, that's if none of them falls."
He turns over the page and they all shout out "B . . ls!"

"Now listen here, comrades, this press isn't free,
It's bought by the bosses for hard L.S.D
This I must tell you, no matter what comes --
It's sole use for us is for wiping our b . ms!"

So they folded their papers and cut them up small,
Put a string through the corner, hung them up on the wall,
And in this way found a use for each page
Of the Herald and Argus, the Sun and the Age.

The following Tuesday a letter they read
From the Acting Director of Sewage, who said,
"Dear Sirs, the papers you've flushed down the drain
Are corrupting my t . . ds, so don't do it again."

Now the moral of this is quite easy to see,
If we want a press that really is free,
That will help all us workers get out of the mess
We must pitch in and fight for the working-class press.

I find myself in Melbourne today and had the misfortune to read a copy of the Herald-Sun in a cafe this morning.  Accordingly, I was delighted to find this ditty among the material I have collected in the process of assembling the blog.  I've added the chorus at beginning and end to round it out.

From John Meredith's notes in the National Library of Australia.  The bowdlerised lyrics are as they appear in the original typed notes.

The illustration to this post is the header from the Melbourne Argus on Melbourne Cup Day (Tuesday, November 4, 1952).  Morse Code (who had placed third in 1950 and fallen in 1951) failed to place.  This likely dates this song to that year.  Morse Code had been a clear favourite for some weeks leading up to the Cup.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Hardest Bloody Job I Ever Had

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  Traditional ('Ard Tack)

I'm a shearer, yes I am, and I've shorn them sheep and lamb
From the Wimmera to the Darling Downs and back,
And I've rung a shed or two when the fleece was tough as glue
But I'll tell you where I struck the hardest tack.

I was down by Yenda way, killin' time from day to day,
Till the big sheds started moving further out;
When I struck a bloke by chance that I summed up in a glance
As a cocky from a vineyard round about.

Now it seems he picked me too, well, it wasn't hard to do,
As I had my tongs a-hanging at the hip,
"I've got a mob", he said, "of about two hundred head,
And I'd give a ten pound note to have the clip."

I says: "Right, I'll take the stand": it meant getting in me hand;
And by nine o'clock we'd rounded up the mob
In a shed sunk in the ground - yeah, with wine casks all around,
And that was where I started on me job.

I goes easy for a bit while me hand was gitting fit,
And by dinner time I'd done some half a score,
With the cocky picking up, and handing me a cup,
Of pinkie after every sheep I shore.

The cocky had to go away about the seventh day,
After showing me the kind of kegs to use:
Then I'd do the pickin' up, and handing me a cup,
Of pinkie after every sheep I shore.

Then I'd stagger to the pen, grab a sheep and start again,
With a noise between a hiccup and a sob,
And sometimes I'd fall asleep with my arms around the sheep,
Worn and weary from me over-arduous job.

And so six weeks went by, until one day with a sigh,
I pushed the poor old cobbler through the door,
Gathered up the cocky's pay, then staggered on me way,
From the hardest bloody shed I ever shore.

Another from Warren Fahey's Australian Folk Songs and Bush Ballads, published with the following note:

Wine grapes have been grown in Australia from the days of early European settlement and they are celebrated here in this wonderful song charged with bush humour and imagery, especially when the shearer falls asleep "with his arms wrapped around the sheep, worn and weary from the over-arduous job."  This version is taken from the singing of Mr Jack Davies, a soldier-settler in the Leeton district, New South Wales, and included in John Lahey's "Great Australian Folk Songs" under the title "Ard Tack", with a note:  "It is a song any shearer would relish, but more so in that part of Murrumbidgee, where vineyards and sheep can so easily go together."

The illustration to this post is a photograph from the National Library of Australia entitled "Shearer shearing a sheep's back with mechanical shears, Australia, ca. 1890"

Come, Sing Australian Songs To Me!

Words:  John O'Brien (Patrick Joseph Hartigan)
Tune:  John Thompson

Come, Little One, and sing to me
  A song our big wide land to bless,
Around whose gentle parent-knee
  We've twined the flowers of kindliness.

Your eyes are clear Australian blue,
  Your voice like soft bush breezes blown;
Her sunshine steeps the heart of you,
  Your tresses are the wattle's own.

What, no Australian song, my child,
  No lay of love, no hymn of praise?
And yet no mother ever smiled
  With our dear country's winsome ways:

You sing the songs of all the earth,
  Of bower and bloom and bird and bee;
And has the land that gave you birth
  No haunting, native melody?

Your poets' eager pens awake
  The world-old themes of love and youth.
The pulse of life, the joy, the ache,
  The pregnant line of earnest truth;

They dress you these in native guise,
  And interweave with loving hand
The freshness of your rain-washed skies,
  The colours of your sunlit land.

What, no Australian song, my dear?
  And yet I've heard the cottage ring
With notes the world would pause to hear,
  When at their work your sisters sing.

They sing the songs of all the earth,
  Of tender sky, and dimpling sea,
But all their strains have not the worth
  Of one Australian song, for me.

I've heard the harp the breezes play
  Among the wilding wilga-trees;
I've swept my world of care away
  When bush birds lift their melodies;

I've seen the paddocks all ablaze
  When spring in golden glory comes,
The purple hills of summer days,
  The autumn ochres through the gums;

I've seen the bright folk riding in
  O'er blooms that deck the clovered plain,
And neath the trees, when moonbeams spin
  Their silver-dappled counterpane.

What, no Australian song, my pet?
  No patriot note on native horn,
To bind the hearts in kindness met,
  And link the leal Australian-born?

Yet every exile, wandering lone
  Our happy careless homes among,
May live the best his heart has known
  Whene'er his country's songs are sung.

You sing the songs of all the earth,
  Of alien flower and alien tree:
But no one, in my grief or mirth,
  Will sing Australian songs to me.

You sing of every land but mine,
  Where life is lifting neath the sun.
Still all its spirit seems ashine
  In you, my little laughing one.

Your eyes are clear Australian blue,
  Your face is towards the future set:
The bounding, gladsome heart of you
  Is hers-and only hers, my pet.

Ah, Little One, what dreams would rise
  If, nestled here upon my knee,
You'd flash those soft Australian eyes,
  And sing your country's songs to me!

From John O'Brien's Around the Boree Log.

The Overlanders set this poem to music on their album, Songs of the Great 
Australian Balladists.  I used the first line of their melody as a starting 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Ticket of Leave Man

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  Traditional (Pretty Polly Perkins)

Once I was honest and worked at my trade
Which was shoemaker and good shoes I made,
Till once a fine fellow came into my place,
And he was the cause of my present disgrace.

He was a Ticket of Leave man, still inclined for to thieve,
Although he was out on a Ticket of Leave

He came to my shop and quickly 'twas,
He ordered some boots and he ordered some shoes,
For a twenty pound note, then, the change he did receive,
I was sold by a Ticket of Leave

A week after this note I did cash,
It was forged and for me was a regular smash,
They made me an example and sent me away,
And gave me seven years at Botany Bay.

But every convict bear this in sight,
May he again receive this freedom, if he acts right,
And the government there my story did believe,
And I had but one year and a Ticket of Leave.

Arrived here on shore, I idleness do shirk,
And tried like a man to look for some work.
But all the folks I saw did the one answer give,
Where's the Police, you're a Ticket of Leave.

I'm scorned by the rich, I'm scorned by the poor.
My ticket drives me mad, from door to door,
And now ere a week or fortnight is pass'd
They make me a thief and dishonest at last.

And this will be the end of the poor
Ticket of Leave Man, who is not inclined to thieve
Although I'm free, with my Ticket of Leave,
And who do you think would employ a Ticket of Leave?

This song from Warren Fahey's Australian Folk Songs and Bush Ballads, although originally collected by Hugh Anderson and Ron Edwards as part of their examination of English broadside ballads.  It was Warren who joined these lyrics to this tune.

The Ticket of Leave was an early form of parole.

The illustration to this post is taken from a review of Tom Taylor's play The Ticket of Leave Man, published in Punch, Vol 104, February 4, 1893.

The Bold Kelly Gang


Oh there's not a dodge worth knowing or showing that's going
But you'll learn (This isn't blowing) from the Bold Kelly Gang.

We've mates where-e'er we go that somehow let us know
The approach of every foe to the Bold Kelly Gang.

There's not a peeler riding Wombat Ranges, hill or siding
But would rather far be hiding, though he'd like to see us hang.

We thin their ranks, we rob their banks and ask no thanks for what we do.
Oh the terror of the camp is the Bold Kelly Gang.

Then if you want a spree, come with me, and you'll see
How grand it is to be in the Bold Kelly Gang.

Published as part of the excellent Bush Music Club publication, Songs From The Kelly Country, (edited by John Meredith) in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the death of Ned Kelly.

The publication notes this song as being also published as Bushwhacker Broadside No.9.

The illustration to this post is the logo of the Bush Music Club, Australia's oldest

The Stolen Horse

Words:  J Smail
Tune:  Traditional (Derry Down)

Pat once on a time lost a puddling horse
Which put him to some inconvenience, iv coorse;
"Be me soul, then," says he, " But the nag shall be found,
For I'll search all the district for fifty miles round."
Derry down, down, down, derry down.

Now he hunted a week, but his search was in vain,
And so he returned to his tent once again;
His mate, with an oath, said to Pat, "I'll be bound
That some thief of a squatter has put him in pound."
Derry down etc.

As Pat was returning from labor one day,
He spied his own horse wid some more in a dray.
He seized him at once, and held on to him fast,
"Be the powers," says he, "but I've got you at last."

Wid the driver and Pat, a dispute then arose,
From high words, be-gorra, they soon came to blows;
The p'lice saw the row, and came down from the camp,
And says Pat, "Take that man, he's a horse-stealing scamp"

Now the case was called on, after several remands
And the magistrate ask'd Pat to tell them the brands,
"There's BO on the shoulder," says he, "and it's plain,
He has three white fore-feet, switch tail and long mane.

Here a terrible scrimmage occurred in the place
For a fellow jumped and stared Pat in the face;
"Why, you blackguard," says he, "that's my horse, you know
For I lost the same baste about two years ago."

The bench then ax'd Pat his receipt to produce,
But Pat swore he wouldn't endure such abuse;
For he'd plenty of witnesses there that were able
To prove that he'd found him one night in a stable.

Poor Paddy tried hard to get out of the scrape,
But they'd got him so fast that he couldn't escape.
Now the poor devil's reaping the fruit that he sow'd
For he's doing his ten years' hard work on the road.

Published in Rod Edwards' Big Book of Australian Folk Songs with the following note:

The Stolen Horse was composed around 1857 by J Smail and published in a Colonial Songster published by Hodgson of Castlemaine, Vic.  A puddling horse was one used to drag around a rake-like apparatus set inside a circular tank.  The tank was filled with gold-bearing clay and water and the rakes reduced this to a slurry, which could then be processed to recover the gold.

The illustration to this post is a copy of Ron Edwards' book cover, available from Ramskull Press.

The Australian Alphabet

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  John Thompson (A variation on Flash Jack From Gundagai)

A is for Australia, the land in which we are;
B is for the bush, my boys, which stretches near and far;
C is for the cattle which we are paid to mind
D is for the dingo, a treacherous brute you'll find.

So, my Australian brothers, I hope that you will see
Signs of the times in our A B C.

E is for the eagle hawk, which plays havoc with our flocks;
F is for that little wretch - I mean the flying fox;
G is for the gray-flyer, a kind of kangaroo;
H is for the horse, my boys, we all have one or two.

I is for the iguana, which we never catch asleep;
J is for the jumbuck, colonial slang for sheep;
K is for the kangaroo, of which we have a host;
L is for the lyre-bird, the pheasant of the coast.

M is for the morepork, a very curious bird;
N is for the native, as curious as absurd;
O is for that little wretch -  I mean the opossum;
P stands for the public0house, where we do get bad rum.

Q is for Quirindi, where lives Mr Hope;
R stands for his rations, and S stands for his soap;
And of the netx letter I'd have you all beware,
For if you drink too much of it you'll spoil your nerves, I fear.

U is for all of you sitting here about;
V is for our voics, with which we raise a shout;
W is for our whips -  Oh! what a crack they make;
X is for the excitement, when a beast begins to break.

Y it is, and how it is, we are so very wise,
Has always been to me a matter of great surprise;
And as I'm not just now prepared to find a rhyme for Z,
I think we'll go into the bar, and have a nip instead.

Another from The Queenslander, via the Hurd Collection, this one ... "Supplied by A.M., Gayndah".

The Hurd Collection of clippings held at the State Library of Queensland includes a selection from the Songs of the Bush series which appeared in the late nineteenth century as part of the Flotsam and Jetsam column.

The clippings include this note:

Some correspondents who have been kind enough to respond to our request for contributions to this column have formed a wrong impression of the scope of the undertaking and have sent in bush poems - good enough in their way, but not what are wanted.  We ask only for bush songs - songs that are sung every day by the camp fire and in the hut but to familiar airs.  We fully appreciate the industry of those who have set themselves to compose songs since the first notice appeared, but we want only old ditties, such as "The Overlander" or "The Drover". ..

The illustration to this post is the cover of an unrelated book published in Melbourne by Valentine and Sons in 1915.

Mustering Day

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  So Early In The Morning

Old master came to the old hut door
And said, as he'd often said before
"Tomorrow is mustering day
So rouse up, boys and get away"

The morning stars began to rise
As we got up and robbed our eyes
Our horses we quickly manned
And started off with whip in hand.

We met a mob not far away,
Started back without delay;
An old white cow ran off the track,
Old master went to fetch her back.

The mare he rode was rather free,
Ran poor master against a tree,
Threw him off upon his head,
Broke his neck and killed him dead.

Next morning I went to catch a horse
To help to bury poor master's horse
And in that most uncertain light
I got a most tremendous fright

For there I saw old master's ghost
Sitting on top of the stockyard post
Smoking the same old clay
That master smoked on mustering day

Where'er I roam, wheree'er I stray
May I never forget that mustering day
For then I saw old master's ghost
Sitting on top of the stockyard post.

From the Hurd Collection (Clippings from The Queenslander  held in the State Library of Queensland).

The illustration to this post is a photograph of Mr and Mrs RS Hurd "taken at Oskeid, 1920"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Wallaby Track


One morning I rolled up the few things I'd got
And I strapped to my saddle my quart and pint pot
And I told the boss, I said I'd soon be back
I was off for a trip on the wallaby track
Oh the morning was fine, though it blew rather cold
And the sun was just topping the mountains with gold
And my favourite old dingo travelling close to the back
And he knew we were off on the wallaby track

With the tooraleye, ooraleye, tooraleye ooral,
With the tidileye-dum dooral eye tooraleye- dum ay
With my tooraleye, ooral, and a whack-fol the tooral
Tidileye-dum dooral eye tiddle-dum all day.

We'd a fair way to go to an old camping place
So we're rattling along at a pretty good pace
Where friends we would meet when provisions were slack
And they all live close by to the wallaby track
Oh well we hadn't gone very far I suppose
When we met with the girl who said, "G'day Joe"
I said, "You're mistaken, my name it is Jack"
"And I'm off for a trip on the wallaby track"

She said, "Get off your horse and rest yourself now"
"Did you see on your travels me old Poland cow?"
"You remember the one that we used to call Black"
"I'm afraid she has gone on the wallaby track".
So I got off my horse and I patted my dog
And we both sat together on the stringybark log
And I made up the fire and I ratted the pack
And we both had a meal on the wallaby track.

So we sat in the shade of the stringy bark tree
As fine a young girl as you ever did see
She asks where I'm going; when will I be back
And why am I off on the wallaby track
So i told her then I was looking for a wife
And would she take on a partner for life
And like a sensible girl, well, she said "It's a whack"
That was the end of my trip on the wallaby track.

From Dave de Hugard's Magpie In The Wattle album.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Saint Peter

Words:  Henry Lawson
Tune:  Traditional (The Wearing of the Green)

Now, I think there is a likeness 'twixt St Peter's life and mine 

For he did a lot of trampin' long ago in Palestine
He was 'union' when the workers first began to organize

And I'm glad that old St Peter keeps the gate of Paradise

When the ancient agitator and his brothers carried swags
I've no doubt he very often tramped with empty tucker-bags

And I'm glad he's Heaven's picket, for I hate explainin' things

And he'll think a union ticket just as good as Whitely King's

When I reach the great head-station which is somewhere 'off the track'
I won't want to talk with angels who have never been out back
They might bother me with offers of a banjo meanin' well

And a pair of wings to fly with, when I only want a spell

I'll just ask for old St Peter, and I think, when he appears
I will only have to tell him that I carried swag for years
'I've been on the track,' I'll tell him, 'an' I done the best I could'

And he'll understand me better than the other angels would

He won't try to get a chorus out of lungs that's worn to rags

Or to graft the wings on shoulders that is stiff with humpin' swags
But I'll rest about the station where the work-bell never rings

Till they blow the final trumpet and the Great Judge sees to things

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Sunshine Disaster


He was driving a Bendigo engine
The train was running all right.
It was going along as usual
Till Sunshine came in sight
He put on his brakes and he whistled
For the signal was against the train
He applied his brakes for emergency
But alas 'twas all in vain.

If those trains had only run
As they should, their proper time
There wouldn't have been a disaster
At a place they call Sunshine
If those brakes had only held
As they did a few hours before
There wouldn't have been a disaster
And a death toll of forty-four

The doctors and nurses arrived there
And the sight it caused them pain
To see all the wounded and dying
In the wreck of that fateful train,
The people of Sunshine ne'er faltered
But assisted with all their power
To help the doctors and nurses
In that awful and painful hour.

From Ron Edwards, published with the following note:

The Sunshine Disaster was collected at Lappa Junction, 21 August 1966 from the singing of Bill Leonard, who had learnt it in the area over thirty years before.  

It is in the broadside tradition of songs such as Les Darcy and Phar Lap and uses the tune "If Those Lips Could Only Speak" (A choice I must say I find a little bizarre - JT)

The following is an extract form the official book, "Victorian Railways to '62".

"On Easter Monday, 20 April 1908 one of the most deplorable catastrophes in Australian railway history occurred at Sunshine, 7 miles from Melbourne.  The 6.50pm "up" Bendigo crashed into the rear o the 7.15pm "up" Ballarat which was standing at Sunshine station platform.  Both trains, crowded with holiday-makers returning to Melbourne, were running late.  Forty-four passengers in the Ballarat train were killed and over 400 on both trains were injured."

Follow this link to the contemporary coverage of the disaster in the Melbourne Argus.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Song Of The Thrush

Words:  Walter Hastings
Music:  George Le Brunn

Years ago out in the wilds of Australia
Out in the minefields there once stood a camp
The miners were made up of all sorts of classes
many a scapegrace and many a scamp.
When into their midst came a young man from England
and with him he brought a small thrush in a cage,
to hear the bird sing they would flock 'round in dozens.
That dear little songster became quite the rage.

There fell a deep hush. As the song of the thrush,
Was heard by that motley throng.
Many a rough fellows eyes grew moist
As the notes rang out clearly and strong.
Eyes lighted up with a bright yearning look
As the bird trilled his beautiful lay
For it brought to their minds dear old England and home
Thousands of miles away.

The miners though rough and fierce looking fellows
were human and idolised, worshipped that bird
in the midst of a quarrel they'd leave off and listen
when the voice of their charmer, their favourite they heard.
That bird from Old England at last got quite famous
To hear it the miners would come from afar
and many declared they preferred the bird's singing
To the card and the dice at the round liquor bar.

It made them all think of the corn fields and meadows
Of many a shady and quiet little lane
And hearts ached and yearned as they thought of some village
And some they had dearly loved, but all in vain.
The bird still sang on and the miners still listend
P'r'aps they got tired of the bird?  no such thing:
As one rough expressed it, "He came like and angel
And make you feel good like to hear that bird sing.

From the National Library of Australia collection:

Recorded unaccompanied by Dave De Hugard on the 1974 Larrikin LP, Man of the Earth.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Billy-Goat Overland

Words: Banjo Paterson Tune: 
Traditional (The Lincolnshire Poacher)

Come all ye lads of the droving days, ye gentlemen unafraid,
I'll tell you all of the greatest trip that ever a drover made,
For we rolled our swags, and we packed our bags, and taking our lives in hand,
We started away with a thousand goats, on the billy-goat overland.

There wasn't a fence that'd hold the mob, or keep 'em from their desires;
They skipped along the top of the posts and cake-walked on the wires.
And where the lanes had been stripped of grass and the paddocks were nice and green,
The goats they travelled outside the lanes and we rode in between.

The squatters started to drive them back, but that was no good at all,
Their horses ran for the lick of their lives from the scent that was like a wall:
And never a dog had pluck or gall in front of the mob to stand
And face the charge of a thousand goats on the billy-goat overland.

We found we were hundreds over strength when we counted out the mob;
And they put us in jail for a crowd of theives that travelled to steal and rob:
For every goat between here and Bourke, when he scented our spicy band,
Had left his home and his work to join in the billy-goat overland.

The illustration to this post is the copy of the 1933 edition of Paterson's collection from which this poem comes, The Animals Noah Forgot.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Adieu To All Judges And Juries


Here's adieu to all judges and juries!
Here's adieu to you bailiffs also!
Seven years you've parted me from my true-love,
Seven years I'm transported, you know.

Oh Polly, I'm going for to leave you,
For seven long years, love, or more;
But the time it won't seem but one moment,
When I think on the girl I adore.

Going to a strange country don't grieve me,
Nor leaving old England behind;
But it's all for the sake of my Polly love,
And a-leaving my comrades behind.

And if ever I return from the ocean,
Stores of riches I will bring you, my dear;
It's all for the sake of my Polly love,
I'll cross the salt seas without fear.

How hard is my place of confinement,
Which keeps me from my heart's delight;
Cold chains and cold irons all around me,
And a plank for my pillow at night.

Oftentimes I have wished that some eagle
Would lend me her wings for to fly;
I would fly to the arms of my Polly love,
Once more in her bosom to lie.

Obviously related to the well-known Botany Bay (which Bob Bolton has referred to as this song's "illegitimate offspring").

Published by Frank Purslow in The Constant Lovers (EFDSS 1972).  Purslow has this to say:

Gardiner Hp.308. George Blake, St. Denys, Southampton, Hants. May, 1906.  "Once extremely popular, but now almost forgotten, it probably had its origins in the early music halls.  Some collected versions do seem to be of an earlier date, but a stage origin still seems likely.  The tune is sometimes sung in the Mixolydian mode.  The composer of Wrap Me Up In My Tarpaulin Jacket  -Whyte Melville-  appears to have been unconsciously aware of the tune when he composed his.  I have slightly rearranged the order of Blake's verses to agree with the usual order."

Sung to a number of tunes, I've adapted this one from Shirley and Dolly Collins version.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Gum Tree With Six Branches

Words: Walter P Keen
Tune:  Traditional (Australia's On The Wallaby)

I roamed the bush one summer's eve, while wattle trees were blooming
And aided by the Myall wood, in a land so sweet perfuming,
At sunset, feeling tired, I slept beneath the bowers,
And as I dreamt a spirit arose, from out of the flowers,
The spirit of Australia, was what it said to me
Oh son of mine I'll show to you your magic native tree.

One branch is called Victoria and one is New South Wales,
Then South and West Australia, each gallantly prevails.
With Queensland and Tasmania, dll rich in mines and ranches,
That's federal Australia, the gumtree with six branches.

The spirit said: 'In that tree, there's untold wealth awaiting,
The labour of her children, so why be hesitating,
The task is not beyond you, each healthy son and daughter,
But chiefly you must always—supply that tree with water.
Then she will freely yield the things that you require,
And to its independence your nation will aspire.'

The spirit said: Then rest not, till your task it is completed,
Tis only curs who tell you in childhood they're defeated,
That tree is only growing but she will bloom tomorrow,
For you can't raise a nation without a little sorrow.
Then may each branch united dispel all jealousy,
Advance as one Australia—upon that magic tree.

An example of a type of patriotic song all-too-rare in these cynical times (although I'm not totally convinced by the thought that we should all band together and advance on a tree).

From Warren Fahey's inestimable Australian Folklore Unit site.  Published with the following note:

This song was sung at the Tivoli Music Hall about 1910 and the words are attributed to Walter P. Keen with music by that old trouper, Joe Salter. The tune has been suggested by Warren Fahey who unearthed the song in 1979. The gumtree now has eight branches with the addition of the Northern Territory and the ACT. A recorded version appears on the 2MBS-FM record Ryder Round Folk, Sydney.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Bush Lullaby

Words:  Thomas (Louis) Esson
Tune:  Chris Kempster

Baby, O baby, fain you are for bed
Magpie to mopoke, busy as the bee
The little red calf's in the snug cow-shed
And the little brown bird's in the tree

Daddy's gone a-shearing down the Castlereagh
So we're all alone now, only you and me
All among the wool-O; keep your wide blades full-O!
Daddy loves his baby, parted tho' they be

Baby, my baby, rest your drowsy head
The one man that works here, tired you must be

The little red calf's in the snug cow-shed
And the little brown bird's in the tree

The illustration to this post is a photograph of Louis Esson.  Follow this link to Chris Kempster's obituary by Keith McKenry.  Below is a photograph of Chris.

The Sparrow and the Emu's Egg

Words:  Unknown (The Perfeser)
Tune:  John Meredith

There was a little sparrow, and he was out of work
So he humped his bluey on his back and he set out for Burke
He walked till he had bunions, then thought he would enquire
And found that he had only got as far as Nevertire.

He was hungry and so weary, he could hardly drag a leg
When suddenly beside the track he spied an emu's egg,
He popped it in his billy can to boil it for his tea,
And by his Waterbury watch, he counted minutes three.

And when the minutes three were up, he thought it time to stop
So he took his little tomahawk and he cut off the top
'Twas a pity that he boiled it, 'twould have been much better fried
For when he stooped to sup it up, he tumbled down inside

And when he fell in to the egg, he to his sorrow found
Three minutes wasn't long enough, and the poor little chap was drowned:
The moral of this story is: if emu eggs you seek
For supper, you should take great care and boil them for a week.

From the Joy Durst Memorial Song Collection, Victorian Folk Music Club, 1980.  Noted as being by The Perfesser, Sydney, about 1920.

The illustration above is a photograph of an emu's egg and a chicken's egg.

The Academy of Mr Paddy West


You have heard of the academy of Mister Paddy West?
For style and popularity, my school it is the best.
For I've only room for forty and I'm boarding seventy-four
And sure, by Jesus, who is that, comes knocking on my door?

O me name is Patrick Dooley and I've dragged me weary way
All the way from dear old Ireland and I wants to go to sea.
"Come in, me friend," says Paddy, "you're as safe as house ashore,
You're an Irishman and a gentleman and a townie of me own."

"Now, observe this hole within the wall, that is a furnace door,
And there is the shovel and stone, me boys, that lay upon the floor.
You take the shovel and the stones and through the furnace go,
And I'll make you a western Ocean fireman with a dungaree jacket, O!"

Oh we know the way to Auckland and the lights on Sydney Head
We've saved our lives and a little beside on a cold and North Sea wreck;
O I've crossed the Western Ocean in the Gulf of Capricorn.
And I've doffed me glass to a Chinese lass in the ricefields of Siam,

And I've said adieu to a wild old life as a sailor on the seas
I've been down South and way up North and odd ports in between.
I've sung me songs and doffed me cap as I rounded of the Horn
And by cripes I've sworn by Paddy West since the day that I was born.

From Warren Fahey's Australian Folk Songs and Bush Ballads.  This song from the History Workshop pamphlet, Shellback: Reminisces of Ben Bright, Mariner, collected by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger.  From Warren's notes:

Paddy West is a mythical figure in maritime folklore known for operating a dodgy school for would-be sailors.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of Hobson's Bay Railway Pier, Sandridge (Now Station Pier, Port Melbourne) about 1878.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Old Man And His Wife


There was an old man who lived in the woods
Way down in Bungaree
Who swore he could do more work in a day
Than his wife could do in three
"If that is so", the old woman said,
"Then this you will allow
Tomorrow you'll stay at home in my stead
And I'll go and drive the plough".

But you must milk Tidy the cow
For fear that she go dry
And you must feed the little pigs
That are within the sty
And you must mind the speckled hen
For fear she lays astray
And you must wind the spool of yarn
That I spun yesterday.

The old woman took a staff in her hand
And went to mind the plough
The old man took a pail in her hand
And went to milk the cow.
But Tidy hinched and Tidy flinched
And Tidy broke his nose
And Tidy gave him such a blow
That the blood ran down to his toes.

"Hi Tidy Hi, Ho Tidy Ho
Tidy stand you still
If ever I milk you Tidy again
It'll be against my will"
He went to feed the little pigs
That were within the sty
He hit his head against the beam
That made the blood to fly.

He went to mind the speckled hen
For fear she'd lay astray
But he forgot the spool of yarn
His wife spun yesterday
So he swore by the sun, the moon and the stars
He'd never more rule his wife
Nor grumble if she ever did
Another day's work in her life.

From Therese Radic's Songs of Australian Working Life, 1989, Greenhouse Publications.  With the following endnote:

A song from my grandmother's and my mother's repertoire.  The song is found in Britain and America but was sung in Australia with the place name of the first verse localised.  My grandmother, JEssie MacIntyre de Mamiel Wise, learnt the song in the Howlong district of the Riverina in the late 1870s.

Ballad of the Schooner "Eclipse"

John Dengate

John Bingle's schooner lay close hauled by river Hunter's shoals,
And on her deck the iron gang wer piling up the coals
Securely chained they yet disdained to live like carrion slaves
"We'll sail her, boys, from bondage to freedom o'er the waves."

The sails unfurled lay on the deck, the guard asleep ashore,
The six bold convicts swore an oath, to liberty they swore.
High water came and they were game as desperate men can be,
They hoist the main peak high my boys, and cast off from the quay.

A good west wind blew down the bay and famously they sped
The captain and the two crewmen trapped below were filled with dread.
But scarce three miles off Knobby's Isle a boat was lowered and though
The convicts owed them nothing, unharmed they let them go.

They toiled and starved in New South Wales, they hewed the Hunter's coals
The cruel cat's nine ugly tails could not subdue their souls
They raised a cry which you and I to emulate must strive
They swapped their chains for freedom in Eighteen Twenty Five.

A third song from the Singabout reprint.  Published with the following note from John Dengate:

In 1825 John Bingle's schooner Eclipse was being loaded at Newcastle with a cargo of coal for Sydney.  Six heavily ironed convicts were engaged in the work.  An armed guard watched from the wharf while the schooner's captain and two crew members were breakfasting below decks.  At a given signal the convicts carried out a daring piece of teamwork.  They moved with great swiftness considering their irons.  One slammed the companion hatch, another cast off the schooner's moorings and the others laboured to get the mainpeak aloft.  A friendly westerly swept them out of the harbour past Knobby's Island and out to sea.  Three miles offshore a boat was lowered and the three sailors rowed back to shore, embarrassed but quite unharmed.  The authorities never heard of the schooner agina, and it is assumed that the daring six made good their escape.  The story reminded me of the ballads of the Catalpa and the Cyprus Brig, both convict escape sagas, so I wrote this song to the air of the Irish rebel song, Who Fears to Speak of '98.

The illustration to this post is a drawing of Nobby's Island off Newcastle.

The Whip And The Spur


"One hundred pounds" the master said,
"To you, me boy I'll pay,
If you will win this race for me
In which you ride today."

I looked him steady in the face,
And touching the cap I wore,
Said I, "I'll do my very best,
And a jockey can do no more"

And with the whip and the spurs,
And a pony to a pin,
If ever a jockey rode in a race,
This day I ride to win.

She whinnied when I patted her,
For well my beauty knew,
As well, or better than myself
The work she had to do.

The first time round the course was run,
In need of a steady strong arm
The mare began to fret and pull
And her blood began to warm.

And in the middle of the ruck
I passed them all but two
And coming the straight me boys
The mare, she fairly flew

Then the whip and the spurs
I applied with all my strength
And as she answered, yes, my boys,
I won it by half a length.

Another from Singabout - Selected Reprints, ed. Bob Bolton, Bush Music Club, Sydney, 1985, published with this note:

Sung to John Meredith by Mrs Violet Skuthorpe Senior of Bankstown, Sydney and learned from her father, Teddy King.

A Pub Without Beer

Words:  Dan Sheehan
Tune:  A variation of Beautiful Dreamer by Stephen Foster

It is lonely away from your kindred and all
In the bushland at night when the warrigals call,
It is sad by the sea where the wild breakers boom,
Or to look on a grave and contemplate doom,
But there's nothing on earth half as lonely and drear
As to stand in the bar of a pub without beer

Madam with her needles sits still by the door,
The boss smokes in silence, he is joking no more,
There's a faraway look on the face of the bum,
While the barmaid looks down at the paint on her thumb,
The cook has gone cranky and the yardman is queer,
Oh, a terrible place is a pub without beer.

Once it stood by the wayside all stately and proud,
'Twas a home to the loafer a joy to the crowd,
Now all silent the rooftree that often times rang
When the navvys were paid and the cane cutters sang,
Some are sleeping their last in a land far from here.
Oh, a terrible place is a pub without beer.

They can hang to their coupons for sugar and tea,
And the shortage of sandshoes does not worry me,
And though benzine and razors be both frozen stiff,
What is wrong with the horse and the old fashioned ziff,
'Mid the worries of war there's but one thing I fear,
'Tis to stand in the bar of a pub without beer.

Oh, you brew of brown barley, what charm is thine,
'Neath thy spell men grow happy and cease to repine,
The cowards become brave and the weak become strong
The dour and the grumpy burst forth into song,
If there's aught to resemble high heaven down here,
'Tis the place of joy where they ladle out beer.

From Singabout - Selected Reprints, ed. Bob Bolton, Bush Music Club, Sydney, 1985.  Published with the following note:

As with the case of Bold Tommy Payne, we feel that there is a need to correct some erroneous statements regarding the origin of A Pub Without Beer, a version of which became very popular a couple of years ago.  The public were led to believe that the popular version was written by a Sydney singer.  If it was, then it will be seen that it owes a lot to this ballad by North Queensland farmer, Dan Sheehan of Ingham.  Note that it first appeared in the North Queensland Register, January 1st 1944, on page 22.  It was part of a feature called On The Track by Bill Bowyang.

(not so much high as mid-level dudgeon).

The illustration to this post is an undated photograph of Dan Sheehan.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Broken-Hearted Shearer


I'm a broken-hearted shearer, I'm ashamed to show my face,
For the way that I've been lambed down 'tis a caution to the snakes.
I took a trip to the Forest, and round the Canobolas then
We went down around the race course and back to town again.

Then I went to get a nobbler at a certain house in town,
Where the barmaid was a caution to lamb a shearer down.
Oh she tossed me up at "Yankee Grab" to keep me on the booze,
And somehow or the other, I was always bound to lose.

Oh me trousers I have two pair, me boots is not all there,
I've a couple of pair of blankets, like meself the worse for wear,
I've a billy can, a pint pot, a bucket and jackshay.
I've a box of Cockle's Pills and a jar of Holloway.

Oh, I have sold my good old horse, and I'll get some work I hope;
I've some tea and some tobacco, and a half a bar of soap.
And that's all my five years gathering since last I left the town,
But it's nothing when you're used to it do a lambing down.

From Singabout, Volume 2, Number 4 (May 1958).  Published with the following note:

Collected by John Meredith from Tom Byrnes of Parramatta, who learned it in the Orange (NSW) district, with some additional verses from Stewart and Keesing's Old Bush Songs.

The Mild Colonial Boy



There was a mild colonial boy, by the name of R.J.Hawke
You'd think that he was Jesus Christ to hear the bastard talk
He is the system's only hope, the bosses pride and joy
The darling of the media is this Mild Colonial Boy

He's never faced election by the workers' rank and file
Yet every night on telly, we're condemned to watch his dial
He'll scowl and raise an eyebrow, 'tis nothing but a ploy
A useless bloody tamecat is the Mild Colonial Boy

He growls and drops expletives in a manner rather fierce
He's just about as radical as good old Eric Pierce.
He claims to be a socialist, he's not the real McCoy
A Labor opportunist is the Mild Colonial Boy

He loves to meet with Fraser, and they have such cosy chats
He's loaded with ambition and he wears too many hats
An action that is militant is certain to annoy
That gruff abrasive cream-puff called the Mild Colonial Boy

And if he gets to parliament, we know he'll never stop
Till he's the biggest windbag in that well-known talking shop
He'll shower them with bull-dust, for he's seldom ever coy
And that's the last we'll hear of him, the Mild Colonial Boy.

From Therese Radic's Songs of Australian Working Life.

Written by an anonymous builder's labourer in the 1970s, this parody of the Wild Colonial Boy showed an incredible lack of prescience.  At the time, Bob Hawke was president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.  He did go on to enter parliament, but rather than disappearing from view, he rose to serve as Prime Minister of Australia for 8 years.

The illustration to this post is a photograph of Bob in his ACTU days.

For more biographical information, visit the National Archives entry.

The Ladie Lagoon


Oh where is the woman, the woman I love
The woman that I do adore
She's lying low where the coolibahs grow
By the shade of the Ladie Lagoon.

I once had a sweetheart, so beautiful and fair
And we'd ride 'neath the light of the moon
But now she is dead and I'm all alone

By the shade of the Ladie Lagoon.

Now my song is o'er I bid you farewell
I'm going to my sweetheart soon,
You can bury me there where the wild flowers grow
By the shade of the Ladie Lagoon.

From Ron Edwards Big Book of Australian Folk Songs.

Collected by Ron and Allan Jenkins at Charters Towers from Jack Parveez  on 12 October, 1966.

John Gilbert

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  Unknown (Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie)

John Gilbert was a bushranger of terrible renown,
For sticking lots of people up and shooting others down.
John Gilbert said unto his pals, “Although they make a bobbery
About our tricks we have never done a tip-top thing in robbery.

“We have all of us a fancy for experiments in pillage,
Yet never have we seized a town, or even sacked a village.”
John Gilbert said unto his mates—“Though partners we have been
In all rascality, yet we no festal day have seen.”

John Gilbert said he thought he saw no obstacle to hinder a
Piratical descent upon the town of Canowindra.
So into Canowindra town rode Gilbert and his men,
And all the Canowindra folk subsided there and then.

The Canowindra populace cried, “Here’s a lot of strangers!!!”
But immediately recovered when they found they were bushrangers.
And Johnny Gilbert said to them, “You need not be afraid.
We are only old companions whom bushrangers you have made.”

And Johnny Gilbert said, said he, “We’ll never hurt a hair
Of men who bravely recognise that we are just all there.”
The New South Welshmen said at once, not making any fuss,
That Johnny Gilbert, after all, was “Just but one of us.”

So Johnny Gilbert took the town (including public houses),
And treated all the “cockatoos” and shouted for their spouses.
And Miss O’Flanagan performed in manner quite gintailly
Upon the grand planner for the bushranger O’Meally.

And every stranger passing by they took, and when they got him
They robbed him of his money and occasionally shot him.
And Johnny’s enigmatic feat admits of this solution,
That bushranging in New South Wales is a favoured institution.

So Johnny Gilbert ne’er allows an anxious thought to fetch him,
For well he knows the Government don’t really want to ketch him.
And if such practices should be to New South Welshmen dear,
With not the least demurring word ought we to interfere.

Another from Paterson's Old Bush Songs.  A strange song with some spectacular rhymes (I apologise for the butchering of "Canowindra" that this song requires).

Strangely this song focusses on the occupation of Canowindra by Ben Hall's gang but places John Gilbert at the centre of the action.

Yuppie Town

Alistair Hulett

People living 'round here they don’t have that much.
They make do with things others wouldn’t even touch.
People living 'round here they work in the factory.
They don’t have to choose they’re ruled by necessity.

And they better watch out
New breed taking over
Driving us out
Givin’ us the old once over
They want to tear the place down
And turn it into Yuppietown.

People who live round here remember how it used to be.
Talking to your neighbour on the street or stop in for a cup of tea.
People who live round here they like to have a beer and all,
But since the old pub changed hands you can’t get in in overalls.

People who live round here they’re gonna have to move out west.
Funny how the powers that be always think they know what’s best.
People who live round here they’ve got the place in such a state.
People who live round here pull down the price of real estate.

Another from the much-missed Alistair Hulett, from his days with Roaring Jack.

Popular in the Townsville sessions in the 1990s and later at the Storey Bridge Hotel sessions which were tragically renovated out of existence.

This link to Alistair's obituary in the Guardian.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Green Ban Fusiliers

Words:  Denis Kevans
Tune:  Traditional (McAlpine's Fusiliers)

Up Broadway to the MBA come the Green Ban Fusiliers.
They stole the street with their marching feet, placards high above their ears.
In Sydney town they would not lie down, they gave Martin's scabs some cheer,
And it's up Broadway to the MBA come the Green Ban Fusiliers.

Half-smart thieves with their Gucci sleeves and car parks on the brain
Told the usual lie: 'The trees've got to die' - the fig trees in Sydney's domain,
And some said, 'Joe, we orta let 'em go. It's only bloody timber to be cleared,
Ah, but listen to the trees as they whisper to the breeze and the Green Ban Fusiliers.

Bulldozer blades made a lightning raid, coming in with a great big rush,
Moving in for the kill up at Hunter's hill, at beautiful Kelly's Bush,
But the local women lay down in the bulldozer's way, to the bucking and the shuddering of the gears,
When their hands were raised the ones they praised were the Green Ban Fusiliers.

Up Broadway to the MBA come the Green Ban Fusiliers.
They stole the street with their marching feet, placards high above their ears.
In Sydney town they would not lie down, they gave Martin's scabs some cheer,
And it's up Broadway to the MBA come the Green Ban Fusiliers.

They made a stand for our sunny land at the Rocks and Woolloomooloo.
On the chimney tops they waltzed with the cops to save a bit of Sydney for you,
And the finance fleas who made refugees of families who had been pioneers
Finished on their arse, and they did their brass with the Green Ban Fusiliers.

Through the years and through my tears I can see 'em marching again,
From the dizzy heights and the concrete sites in sunshine and in rain,
That patch of green's gettin' a lovely old sheen, no matter how many flow the years,
And it's up Broadway to the MBA come the Green Ban Fusiliers.

Up Broadway to the MBA come the Green Ban Fusiliers.
They stole the street with their marching feet, placards high above their ears.
In Sydney town they would not lie down, they gave Martin's scabs some cheer,
And it's up Broadway to the MBA come the Green Ban Fusiliers.

This parody of Dominic Behan's McAlpine's Fusiliers was written by Denis Kevans in 1972 and used as part of the presentation, An Unlikely Alliance at the 2011/2012 Woodford Folk Festival.  

Another of Denis' songs on the topic of the Green Bans industrial movement.

This recording from the last performance at the festival features:

Ann Bermingham:  vocals, shaker
Dale Jacobsen:  vocals
Sandy McCutcheon:  vocals
Nicole Murray:  vocals, fiddle
Helen Rowe:  vocals, fiddle
Peggy Seeger:  vocals, banjo
John Thompson:  vocals, guitar

The illustration to this post is a photograph of Jack Mundey, one of the principal actors in the Green Bans movement, in conversation with police.