Saturday, January 7, 2012

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.

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