Waltzing Matilda


Waltzing Matilda

"Waltzing Matilda" is Australia's most widely known country folk song, and has been referred to as 'the unofficial national anthem of Australia'. [ [http://www.nla.gov.au/epubs/waltzingmatilda/ The National Library of Australia] retrieved 14 March 2008]

The song narrates the story of an itinerant worker making a drink of tea at a bush camp and stealing a sheep to eat. When the sheep's owner arrives with three police officers to arrest the worker, he drowns himself in a small watering hole and goes on to haunt the site.

The original lyrics were written in 1895 by the poet and nationalist Banjo Paterson. It was first published as sheet music in 1903. Extensive folklore surrounds the song and the process of its creation, to the extent that the song has its own museum, the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, Queensland.

Official status

"Waltzing Matilda" was used at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976, and, as a response to the New Zealand All Blacks haka, it has gained popularity as a sporting anthem for the Australia national rugby union team. It is also performed, along with "Advance Australia Fair", at the annual AFL Grand Final.

The song has never been the officially recognised national anthem in Australia. The song was one of four included in a national plebiscite to choose Australia's national song held on 21 May 1977 by the Fraser Government to determine which song was preferred as Australia's national anthem. "Waltzing Matilda" received 28% of the vote compared with 43% for "Advance Australia Fair", 19% for "God Save the Queen" and 10% for "Song of Australia".cite web | year = 2002 | url = http://www.aph.gov.au/library/elect/referend/pleb.htm| title = Plebiscite results - see 1977 National Song Poll | work = Elections and referendums | publisher = Department of the Parliament (Australian federal government) | accessdate = 2007-11-21]

The lyrics to Waltzing Matilda are hidden on the final pages of Australian passports, such as above and below the words "notice" on some passports. [cite news |title= Passport gets the hop on fraudsters |url=http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/asiapcf/auspac/11/27/australia.passport/]

As of 2007 it has no official status as a national song of Australia, but it continues to be used unofficially (and sometimes in error, for example as the national anthem in the EPYX computer game series Summer Games ) in many contexts.

It is used as the quick march of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. It is the official song of the U.S. 1st Marine Division, commemorating the time the unit spent in Australia during the Second World War. [cite news |title= 1st Marine Division celebrates 65 years |url = http://www.allbusiness.com/government/3528896-1.html |work= |publisher= US Fed News Service, Including US State News |date= February 9, 2006 |accessdate= 2008-02-14 | quote = Major Gen. Richard F. Natonski and Sgt. Maj. Wayne R. Bell cut the ribbon to the "Waltzing Matilda", the 1st Marine Division's official song. ] [cite web | last = Clarke | first = Roger | year = 2003 | url = http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/WM/ | title = Roger Clarke's Waltzing Matilda Home-Page | work = | publisher = Roger Clarke (hosted on ANU computers) | accessdate = 2008-02-14 | quote = I understand that the tune (without the words) is the marching song of the U.S. 1st Marine Division. In 2003, Col Pat Garrett USMC confirmed that it was/is played every morning immediately after The Marines Hymn ('From the Halls of Montezuma . . .') following the raising of the National colo(u)rs at 0800, and at Divisional parades. Further, "The Division was raised at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in early 1941, and became associated with Waltzing Matilda when the Marines came to Melbourne in early 1943 for rest and refit following the successful retaking of Guadalcanal, and before it returned to combat at Cape Gloucester in New Britain in the Northern Solomons in September of that year"]

It is also partly used in the British Royal Tank Regiment's quick march of "My Boy Willie", because an early British tank model was called "Matilda".

Lyrics

There are no "official" lyrics to "Waltzing Matilda", and slight variations can be found in different sources. [For instance, compare the lyrics at http://www.nla.gov.au/epubs/waltzingmatilda/3-versions_of_WaltzingMatilda.doc to http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/WM/WMText.html] This version incorporates the famous "You'll never catch me alive said he" variation introduced by the Billy Tea company. Paterson's original lyrics referred directly to 'drowning', which the tea company felt was too negative.

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".
Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong,
Up got the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".
Down came the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred,
Up came the troopers, one, two, three,
"Who's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?"
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
"Who's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?",
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".
Up got the swagman and jumped into the billabong,
"You'll never catch me alive", said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"

Plot and Details

The song narrates the story of an itinerant worker making a crude cup of tea at a bush camp and stealing a sheep to eat. When the sheep's ostensible owner arrives with three police officers to arrest the worker, he drowns himself in a small lake and goes on to haunt the site. The lyrics contain many distinctively Australian words, some now rarely used in Australian English outside this song. These include:

; swagman : a man who travelled the country looking for work. The swagman's "swag" was a bed roll that bundled his belongings.; waltzing : derived from the German term "auf der Walz", which means to travel while working as a craftsman and learn new techniques from other masters before returning home after three years and one day, a custom which is still in use today among carpenters.cite web | last = Clarke | first = Roger | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2003
url = http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/WM/WMTerms.html | title = Australianisms in 'Waltzing Matilda' | work = | publisher = Roger Clarke | accessdate = 2007-11-24
] ; Matilda : a romantic term for a swagman's bundle. See below, "Waltzing Matilda."; Waltzing Matilda : from the above terms, "to waltz Matilda" is to travel with a swag, that is, with all one's belongings on one's back wrapped in a blanket or cloth. The exact origins of the term "Matilda" are disputed; one fanciful derivation states that when swagmen met each other at their gatherings, there were rarely women to dance with. Nonetheless, they enjoyed a dance, and so they danced with their swags, which was given a woman's name. However, this appears to be influenced by the word "waltz", hence the introduction of dancing. It seems more likely that, as a swagman's only companion, the swag came to be personified as a woman.:Another explanation is that the term also derives from German immigrants. German soldiers commonly referred to their greatcoats as "Matilda", supposedly because the coat kept them as warm as a woman would. Early German immigrants who "went on the waltz" would wrap their belongings in their coat, and took to calling it by the same name their soldiers had used.; billabong : an oxbow lake (a cut-off river bend) found alongside a meandering river.; coolibah tree : a kind of eucalyptus tree which grows near billabongs.; jumbuck : a large difficult to shear sheep, not a tame sheep. Implies that the sheep was not 'owned' by the squatter or regularly shorn, thus not able to be stolen by the swagman.; billy : a can for boiling water in, usually 2-3 pints.; tucker bag : a bag for carrying food ("tucker").; troopers : policemen.; squatter : Australian squatters started as early farmers who raised livestock on land which they did not legally have the right to use; in many cases they later gained legal use of the land even though they did not have full possession, and became wealthy thanks to these large land holdings.

History

Writing of the song

The words to the song were written in 1895 by Banjo Paterson, a famous Australian poet, and the music was written (based on a folk tune) by Christina Macpherson, who wrote herself that she "was no musician, but she would do her best." Paterson wrote the piece while staying at the Dagworth Homestead, a bush station in Queensland. While he was there his hosts played him a traditional Celtic folk tune called "The Craigeelee", and Paterson decided that it would be a good piece to set lyrics to, producing them during the rest of his stay.

The tune is most probably based on the Scottish song "Thou Bonnie Wood Of Craigielea", which Macpherson heard played by a band at the Warrnambool steeplechase. Robert Tannahill wrote the words in 1805 and James Barr composed the music in 1818. In 1893 it was arranged for brass band by Thomas Bulch. The tune again was possibly based on the old melody of "Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself", composed by John Field (1782-1837) sometime before 1812. It is sometimes also called: "When Sick Is It Tea You Want?" (London 1798) or "The Penniless Traveller" (O'Neill's 1850 collection).

There is also speculation about the relationship it bears to "The Bold Fusilier" (a.k.a. "Marching through Rochester"), a song sung to the same tune and dated by some back to the eighteenth century. [The Times (September 15, 2003) "Sporting anthems." Section: Features; Page 17.]

A bold fusilier came marching back through Rochester
Off from the wars in the north country,
And he sang as he marched
Through the crowded streets of Rochester,
Who'll be a soldier for Marlboro and me?

It has been widely accepted that "Waltzing Matilda" is potentially based on the following story:

:In Queensland in 1891 the Great Shearers' Strike brought the colony close to civil war and was broken only after the Premier Samuel Griffith called in the military.

:In September 1894, on a station called Dagworth (north of Winton), some shearers were again on strike. It turned violent with the strikers firing their rifles and pistols in the air and setting fire to the woolshed at the Dagworth Homestead, killing dozens of sheep.

:The owner of Dagworth Homestead and three policemen gave chase to a man named Samuel Hoffmeister - also called Samuel "French(y)" Hoffmeister. Rather than be captured, Hoffmeister shot and killed himself at the Combo Waterhole.

Bob Macpherson (the brother of Christina) and Paterson are said to have taken rides together at Dagworth. Here they may have passed the Combo Waterhole, where Bob may have told this story to Paterson.

The song itself was first performed on 6 April 1895 at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton, Queensland. The occasion was a banquet for the Premier of Queensland. It became an instant success.

In 2008, Australian historian Peter Forrest claimed that the widespread belief that Paterson had penned the ballad as a socialist anthem, inspired by the Great Shearers' Strike, was false and a "misappropriation" by political groups. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7384056.stm Waltzing Matilda 'not socialist'] , BBC News, 5 May 2008] Instead, Forrest asserted that Paterson had in fact written the self-described "" to impress Winton woman Christina Macpherson, whose family he visited in January of 1895 and with whom he flirted despite being engaged to someone else. [http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/05/05/2235263.htm Waltzing Maltida a little ditty, historians say] , ABC News, May 5, 2008] It was to Macpherson's melody that he fitted the words of his song. This theory was not shared by Professor Ross Fitzgerald, who argued that the defeat of the strike only several months before the song's creation would have at least been in Paterson's mind "subconsciously", and thus was likely as an additional inspiration for the song.

Ownership

In 1903 it was picked up by the Billy Tea company for use as an advertising jingle, making it nationally famous. A third variation on the song, with a slightly different chorus, was published in 1907. Paterson sold the rights to "Waltzing Matilda" and "some other pieces" to Angus and Robertson Publishers for five pounds (the then-currency).

The song was falsely copyrighted by an American publisher in 1941 as an original composition. However, no copyright applies in Australia.

Variations

The lyrics of "Waltzing Matilda" have changed significantly since it was written.

A facsimile of the original manuscript, included in "Singer of the bush", a collection of Paterson's works published by Lansdowne Press in 1983, shows the first two verses below. The punctuation is as shown in that manuscript.

: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 waltzin' Matilda my darling,:Who'll come a waltzin' Matilda with me?:Waltzing Matilda and leading a water bag,:Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?

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

:"Chorus":

:You'll come a waltzing Matilda my darling,:You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.:Waltzing Matilda and leading a water bag,:You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

This facsimile only shows the first two verses, but includes some corrections: it originally read (differences in italics):

: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 "roving Australia" with me?

:"Chorus:":Who'll come a "rovin" (rest missing):Who'll come a waltzin' Matilda with me?:Waltzing Matilda and leading a "tucker" bag.:Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?

It has been suggested that these changes were from an even earlier version, and that Paterson was talked out of using this text, but the manuscript does not bear this out. In particular, the first line of the chorus was corrected before it had been finished, so the original version is incomplete.

The first published version, in 1903, differs slightly from this text:

:Oh there once was a swagman camped in the billabongs,: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 water-bag,:Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?

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

:("Chorus")

:Up came the squatter a-riding his thoroughbred,:Up came policemen—one, two, a and three.:"Whose is the jumbuck you've got in the tucker-bag?:You'll come a waltzing Matilda with we."

:("Chorus")

:Up sprang the swagman and jumped in the waterhole,:Drowning himself by the Coolibah tree.:And his voice can be heard as it sings in the billabongs,:Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me."

:("Chorus:")

By contrast with the original, and also with subsequent versions, the chorus of all the verses was the same in this version. This is also apparently the only version that writes "billabongs" instead of "billabong".

Current variations include the third line of the verse saying "And he sang as he sat and waited by the billabong" or "And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled"; and the third line of the chorus remaining unchanged from the first verse, instead of changing to the third line of each preceding verse.

There is also the very popular so-called Queensland version [ [http://www.nla.gov.au/epubs/waltzingmatilda/2-Versions.html Who'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me? ] ] [ [http://www.chinarice.org/waltz.html Waltzing Matilda - Lyrics, midi, history ] ] that has a changed chorus and the new chorus is very similar to that used by Patterson and continues as follows:

:Oh there once was a swagman camped in a billabong:Under the shade of a coolibah tree:And he sang as he looked at his 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 water bag:Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

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

:Down came the squatter a riding on his thoroughbred:Down came the troopers one two three:Whose is that jumbuck you've got in the tucker bag:You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

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

There is also a version released by the American singing group The New Christy Minstrels which offered yet another last verse:

:I'm just a simple swagman who'd be obliged to fare thee well:I'm just a journeying down to the sea:For it's God bless the Queen who gave to you this billabong:And it was God who gave that jumbuck to me

Covers and derivative works

The song is a fixture at many Australian sporting events. It was performed at the Closing Ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney by singer Slim Dusty, as well as at the Opening Ceremony of the subsequent Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games by Australian pop star Kylie Minogue. It was previously sung at the Opening Ceremony of the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane by Rolf Harris. It is sung during the pre-game entertainment of the Australian Football League Grand Final each year.(except 2007)

The song has been recorded by many Australian musicians and singers, including Peter Dawson, The Seekers, Tenor Australis, Thomas Edmonds, Rolf Harris and Lazy Harry. Bands and artists from other nations, including The Irish Rovers, The Swingle Singers, The Pogues (as a cover and not strictly the actual anthem) and the Red Army Choir, have also recorded the song.

Bert Lloyd recorded the 1903 version of the song on 'The Great Australian Legend', Topic Records, LP 12T 203, 1971.

The film "Once a Jolly Swagman" (1949) [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040666/ Once a Jolly Swagman (1949)] ] uses "Waltzing Matilda" throughout its musical score and the song is heard sung as well.

The score of the 1959 film "On the Beach", written by Ernest Gold, is based heavily on motifs from "Waltzing Matilda". The film, about the end of the world via a nuclear holocaust, is set in Australia, and director Stanley Kramer was insistent on the "Waltzing Matilda" motif. The song itself is heard in the last minutes of the movie. At the time of the film Jimmie Rodgers had a chart hit with his version of the song. [www.billboard.com]

God Bless Australia

In 1961 Australian songwriter Jack O'Hagan provided lyrics to the traditional tune of the song to be called "God Bless Australia" that he hoped would become the Australian national anthem. [Cite book | pages = pp 427-428 | last = Bebbington | first = Warren | title = The Oxford Companion to Australian Music | publisher = Oxford University Press| year = 1997]

"Here in this God given land of ours, Australia
This proud possession, our own piece of earth
That was built by our fathers, who pioneered our heritage,
Here is Australia, the land of our birth.
"

REFRAIN

"God bless Australia, Our land Australia,
Home of the Anzac, the strong and the free
It's our homeland, our own land,
To cherish for eternity,
God bless Australia, The land of the free."

"Here in Australia, we treasure love and liberty,
Our way of life, all for one, one for all
We're a peace loving race, but should danger ever threaten us,
Let the world know we will answer the call"

Derivative musical works

During the 1950s a parody of the original entitled "Once A Learned Doctor" gained some currency in university circles. It featured lyrics rewritten with reference to the split in the Australian Labor Party in the period 1954-1957. [cite book|chapterurl=http://books.google.com.au/books?id=kQ_OIaxK7gMC&pg=PA57&lpg=PA57&dq=%22Once+a+learned+doctor%22+labor&source=web&ots=r3LvmEaQGw&sig=A-XLfL-Cv3dReC5zqmFJ111q42g&hl=en#PPA57,M1 |chapter = Chapter 4: Beating the Bolshoi|title = Beautiful Lies: Australia from Menzies to Howard| last = Griffith | first = Tony| year = 2005| publisher = Wakefield Press | location = Australia |id = ISBN 1862545901 |page = pages 57-8]

In 1958, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded a version with new lyrics entitled "Rockin' Matilda," about a beautiful Australian girl named Matilda.

"And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda", written by Eric Bogle in 1972, was performed most popularly by The Pogues on their album "Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash". The song graphically documents the Australian experience at the Battle of Gallipoli and ANZAC Day. It incorporates the melody and a few lines of "Waltzing Matilda"'s lyrics at its conclusion.

American singer-songwriter Tom Waits combined "Waltzing Matilda" with his own material in "Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind In Copenhagen)" on his 1976 album "Small Change".

The lyrics to Lou Reed's song "Street Hassle" from the 1978 album of the same name mentions a "waltzing Matilda"

Jamaican reggae group The Silvertones recorded an upbeat ska version entitled "Skanking Matilda"

A Pitjantjatjara language version of the song, performed by Trevor Adamson, an Australian country/gospel singer, can be found on the 1999 album "Putumayo Presents: World Playground".

The closing theme for the 1982 Australian film "The Man From Snowy River" - itself based on another poem by Banjo Patterson - incorporates a small piece of the tune of "Waltzing Matilda."

In 2003, the Scared Weird Little Guys released "Cleanin' Out My Tuckerbag", a comedic spoof of the song, done in the style of Eminem's songs "Cleanin' Out My Closet" and "Lose Yourself".

Literature

In the story "The Mountain Movers" by Australian science fiction writer A. Bertram Chandler, the song gets new words in the mouth of future Australian space adventurers, with the first stanza running:

:"When the jolly Jumbuk lifted from Port Woomera:Out and away for Altair Three:Glad were we all to kiss the tired old Earth goodbye:Who'll come a-sailing in Jumbuk with me?"

The plot of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel "The Last Continent" is set in an Australia-like locale and includes a parody on the events of "Waltzing Matilda".

Famous Matildas

The Australia women's national soccer team, are nicknamed the Matildas, after this song.

Matilda the Kangaroo was the mascot at the 1982 Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane, Queensland. Matilda was a cartoon kangaroo, who appeared as a 13-metre high (42 feet 8 inches) mechanical kangaroo at the opening ceremony, accompanied by Rolf Harris singing "Waltzing Matilda".

References

External links

* [http://www.nla.gov.au/epubs/waltzingmatilda/ Who’ll come a "Waltzing Matilda" with me?]
* [http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/WM/ Roger Clarke's Waltzing Matilda Home-Page]
* [http://www.nla.gov.au/epubs/waltzingmatilda Who'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me?] online exhibition from the National Library of Australia
* [http://www.matildacentre.com.au/ www.matildacentre.com.au] Official website of the Waltzing Matilda Centre, an exhibit in the Qantilda Museum, which is located in Winton, Outback Queensland, Australia
* [http://nla.gov.au/nla.ms-ms9065 Papers of Christina McPherson relating to the song "Waltzing Matilda"] digitised and held by the National Library of Australia
* [http://www.standingstones.com/waltzing.html Waltzing Matilda] - Standing Stones website
* [http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue283/sound.html "On the Beach" and "Waltzing Matilda"]
* [http://www.musicaustralia.org/apps/MA?function=searchResults&searchInitiated=true&scope=scope&simpleTerm=%22waltzing+matilda%22 "Waltzing Matilda" within MusicAustralia] - includes material in a wide variety of formats from [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Book_sources#Australia Australian libraries] via the Australian National Bibliographic Database
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7384056.stm Waltzing Matilda 'not socialist']


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