Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Our Jack's Come Out Today

Words: Unknown
Tune: WJ Devers

Our Jack's come out today, my boys,
And very glad is he;
He got six months in Brisbane gaol
But now at last he's free
His hair's cut short, he had to work
For which he got no pay,
But all is past, he's out at last
Our Jack's come out today

Our Jack's come out today, my boys,
And it would make you stare
To hear the yarns he spins about
The coves he met in there
Some in for life, which he thought hard
Some screwed up for a day,
But all is past, he's out at last
Our Jack's come out today

Our Jack's come out today, my boys,
And isn't Polly glad
She had to pawn the things he shook
And found out she was had.
The price she got was not enough
To keep her for a day
But all is past, she's right at last
Our Jack's come out today!

One of two parodies of an older English song, Our Jack's Come Home Today. Ron Edwards notes that this version was first published in The Native Companion Songster of 1889.

Song of the Sheet-Metal Worker

Words: John Dengate
Tune: Traditional (Valley of Knockanure)

Oh when I was a boy in Carlingford all sixty years ago,
The eucalypts grew straight and tall and the creeks did sweetly flow,
But times were hard when the old man died and the orchard would not pay
So I left the land for the factory bench and I'm working there still today.

I have earned my bread in the metal shops for forty years and more
My hands are hard and acid-scarred as the boards on the workshop floor.
My soul is sheathed in Kembla steel and my eyelids have turned to brass
And the orchard's gone, and the apple trees where the wind whispered through the grass.

The workbench is my altar where I come to take the host.
Copper, brass and fine sheet steel-father son and holy ghost.
The sacramental wine of work grows sour upon my tongue;
Oh the fruit was sweet on the apple trees when my brothers and I were young.

Another mighty song from a great writer from Sydney.

Winds of Fortune

John Caldwell

Wake up, wake up, my friends, the hour is late
The days go swiftly by, such is our fate
What is the life of man, we live, we die
The deck beneath our feet, above the sky


Blow winds of fortune and speed our boat
Ebb and flow ocean on which we float (repeat)
The waves roll round the world, the sweet rain falls
The breeze goes swiftly by, the sea-bird calls
The winds roll round the world, our sails to fill
Our helmsman holds the oar, blow where they will

And when the winds do fail, as fail they must
We shall unship the oars, our backs to trust
And we will work again with honest toil
If we're to walk again on native soil.

Nicole heard this beautiful song being sung by the writer, John Caldwell at the Guildford Folk Club in Victoria. Keryn Archer taught it to us at the National Folk Festival sessions a little later. This recording from the cloudstreet album, The Fiddleship.

The illustration for this post is an engraving by the French artist, Gustave Doré.