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​WALTZING MATILDA WALTZ

This song is by Eric Bogle and appears on the album Endangered Species (2000).

Well, once jolly swagmen went humping their swags
And stuffed jolly jumbucks down in their tucker bags
These days, jolly junkies go on house-breaking jags
And steal to buy the poison they need
While the swaggie, he just wanted a feed

And who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?
Hey Banjo, this country's not what it used to be
We've changed all your words, and re-written your score
And it's "Waltzing Matilda" no more.

Once Henry and Mary, on a warm afternoon
Rowed down Reedy River to the broad bright lagoon
The song of the river is a long vanished tune
Since they built the uranium mine
And what's left is just toxic slime

And who'll come a-walting Matilda with me?
Oh, Henry, this country's not what it used to be
Days pass with a whimper, and not with a roar
And it's "Waltzing Matilda" no more.

Well, we cut down the trees, and the land we reclaimed
We ploughed and we planted, then we ploughed it again
And again and again, and again and again
So that now on a hot windy day
We can watch our topsoil blow away

And who'll come a-walting Matilda with me?
The desert is marching down to the sea
On the day that it stretches
From shore to shining shore
We'll go waltzing Matilda no more

Saturday night outside a King's Cross hotel
There stands our future, and it's halfway to hell
Kids with hard drugs and young bodies to sell
Hey Australia, what progress we've made!
We've come a long way, since Diamond day

And who'll come a-walting Matilda with me?
Hey Anzac, is this what you fought to keep free?
A land fit for heroes, or junkies and whores?
And it's "Waltzing Matilda" no more.

And who'll come a-walting Matilda with me?
This country could still be what we want it to be
Perhaps one day soon, the dream will be restored
And we'll go Waltzing Matilda once more
We'll go Waltzing Matilda once more

NOTESEdit

  • ANZAC: The combined Australia/New Zealand armies that fought in both World Wars
  • "Banjo" Patterson: Author of "The Man From Snowy River" and "Waltzing Matilda"
  • Billabong: A watering hole, specifically the curved meander of a winding stream that has been isolated due to sand bar deposition
  • Swagman: I believe in the US you refer to them as "hobos", though a swaggy is not always someone financially down on their luck or On The Run. Some swagmen are just fed up with city life and want to spend their time exploring the country on foot, living off the land and the charity of passers-by as best they can.
  • Coolibah tree: The Eucalyptus Coolibah is a species of Eucalyptus tree commonly found in inland parts of the Australian continent.
  • Billy: A billy is a tin, often an old used fruit tin or other steel container, used to boil water to make tea. Often they have a piece of wire across their top used as a handle, whereupon after the water is boiling, one holds the wire, places the desired amount of tea leaves in said water, stands up, and swings the whole billy in a circular motion vigorously in order to force the tea leaves to the bottom of the tin. A rather nice touch is to crush a Coolibah leaf into the water too, giving the tea a hint of eucalyptus.
  • Jumbuck: A sheep (usually refers to a ram)
  • Tucker-bag: A knapsack. "Tucker" means "food".
  • Squatter: In Australia in the 19th century, large swathes of outback land were divided up and mostly allocated to "squatters" - often wealthy land-owners from Britain, who could afford the prices the government was asking. There were also freehold selections free for the taking (all you had to do was sign on the dotted line) made available to anyone who would try to exploit the land, but the freehold lots tended to be poorer land where it was a battle to earn to living. Squatters became fairly wealthy from their allocations even taking over freehold selections in the process of expanding their lots, reflected in the fact that this one is riding on his thoroughbred horse.
  • Troopers: The troopers are law enforcement. The squatter would have called them in because the swagman has stolen a sheep from the squatter's property.
  • Matilda: Given the lonely life of a swaggy, they tend to become quite affectionate for things that are fairly important to their immediate existence. In this case, AIUI "Matilda" is the swagman's sleeping gear - typically a bedroll.
  • Cockie: Small time family farmer/rancher in rural Australia, usually on marginal land