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And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

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Maddy McCall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-17-06 03:16 PM
Original message
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda
My class will hear this song Monday, as we talk about the social/cultural/demographic ramifications of WWI:

The Band Played Watzing Matilda
Eric Bogle

Now when I was a young man I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover.
From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback,
Well, I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in 1915, my country said, "Son,
It's time you stop ramblin', there's work to be done."
So they gave me a tin hat, and they gave me a gun,
And they marched me away to the war.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda,"
As the ship pulled away from the quay,
And amidst all the cheers, the flag waving, and tears,
We sailed off for Gallipoli.

And how well I remember that terrible day,
How our blood stained the sand and the water;
And of how in that hell that they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk, he was waitin', he primed himself well;
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shell --
And in five minutes flat, he'd blown us all to hell,
Nearly blew us right back to Australia.

But the band played "Waltzing Matilda,"
When we stopped to bury our slain,
Well, we buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
Then we started all over again.

And those that were left, well, we tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire.
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
Though around me the corpses piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
And when I woke up in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, well, I wished I was dead --
Never knew there was worse things than dying.

For I'll go no more "Waltzing Matilda,"
All around the green bush far and free --
To hump tents and pegs, a man needs both legs,
No more "Waltzing Matilda" for me.

So they gathered the crippled, the wounded, the maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane,
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.
And as our ship sailed into Circular Quay,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me,
To grieve, to mourn and to pity.

But the band played "Waltzing Matilda,"
As they carried us down the gangway,
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away.

And so now every April, I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
Reviving old dreams of past glory,
And the old men march slowly, all bones stiff and sore,
They're tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?"
And I ask meself the same question.

But the band plays "Waltzing Matilda,"
And the old men still answer the call,
But as year follows year, more old men disappear
Someday, no one will march there at all.

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda.
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong,
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?

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mohinoaklawnillinois Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-17-06 03:34 PM
Response to Original message
1. One of the best anti-war song ever written.
Here's another of my faves:

The Green Fields of France. Music and lyrics by Eric Bogle.

Well, how do you do young Willie McBride?
Do you mind if I sit hear down by your graveside,
And rest for a while neath the warm summer sun.
Ive been working all day and Im nearly done.
I can see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
when you joined the great fallen in nineteen sixteen.
Well I hope you died quick, and I hope you died clean,
Oh Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly,
did they sound the death march, as they lowered you down?
Did the bands play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

And did you leave a wife or sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined,
Although you died back in nineteen sixteen
In some faithful heart are you forever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Enclosed now forever behind a glass frame
In an old photograph torn, battered and stained
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame.

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly,
did they sound the death march, as they lowered you down?
Did the bands play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

Now see how the sun shines oer the green fields of France
Theres a warm summer breeze makes the red poppies dance,
And see how the sun shines from under the clouds
Theres no gas or barbed wire, theres no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard its still no-mans land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To mans blind difference to his fellow man
To a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

Did they beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly,
did they sound the death march, as they lowered you down?
Did the bands play the last post and chorus?
Did the pipes play the flowers of the forest?

Now young Willie McBride, I cant help wonder why
Do all those who lie here know why did they die.
And did they believe when they answered the call
Did they really believe that this war would end wars.
Well the sorrow, the suffering, the glory the pain,
The killing, the dying they were all done in vain
For young Willie McBride it all happened again
And again and again and again and again.
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salin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-17-06 08:27 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Always powerful...
am interesting in hearing how the students respond - and whether or not any contemporary references are made.
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-17-06 08:21 PM
Response to Original message
2. Oh.My. God. And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.
There are tears in my eyes, and I'm shivering. A masterpeice.

That last verse just knocked me for six, it means so much to an Aussie
"Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda.
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong,
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?"

My heartfelt applause.

Exquisite.
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Starbucks Anarchist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-17-06 08:27 PM
Response to Original message
4. So that's what Tom Waits was talking about.
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RevolutionaryActs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-17-06 09:10 PM
Response to Original message
5. I love that song, it's so powerful
and beautiful and sad.
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Kailassa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-18-06 12:09 AM
Response to Original message
6. I always knew in my head that war was obscene.
But I only knew it truly in my heart when I watched Australian kids, really still children, leaving to fight in Iraq, and saw the trusting optimism of my own (now fighting age) childrens' faces reflected in theirs.
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KitchenWitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-18-06 12:13 AM
Response to Original message
7. That song is amazing!
Very poignant!
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speedoo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-18-06 01:11 AM
Response to Original message
8. The song is related to two great anti-war films:
Edited on Sat Mar-18-06 01:12 AM by speedoo
"On the Beach" and "Galippoli".

Very different films.

"On the Beach" is from the late 50's and is about the end of the world from nuclear holocaust. Brilliant cast: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astair and more. Takes place mostly in Australia and "Waltzing matilda" is sung almost every night by the Australians, and their American guests.

And "Gallipoli" which I now realize is the inspiration for the song, is perhaps the most heartbreaking anti-war film I have ever seen. It might be Mel Gibson's first prominent role... I don't know if it was before or after "Mad Max". But the background music contributes a great deal to the tragic atmosphere of the film.. it's "Adagio" by Tomaso Albinoni.
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