> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > One of the Has-Beens

One of the Has-Beens

[ Roud - ; AFS 69 ; Ballad Index FaE156 ; Robert Stewart]

A.L. Lloyd sang One of the Has-Beens in 1958 on his Wattle album Across the Western Plains. He commented in the album's sleeve notes:

I first heard this one New Year's Day, in the late 1920's, in hospital in Cowra, N.S.W. The matron was away, and the patients had a party in the ward. A teamster from Grenfell sang the song, and one or two of the old bushwhackers took umbrage, because they thought the stranger was getting at them. I now learn from [Douglas] Stewart and [Nancy] Keesing's Old Bush Songs [Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1957] that One of the Has-Beens is the work of a former horse-breaker, shearer and gold-digger named Robert Stewart, born 1833 in N.S.W. The tune is that of the familiar early nineteenth century stage song, Pretty Polly Perkins [of Paddington Green].

Martyn Wyndham-Read, Phyl Vinnicombe or Peter Dickie sang One of the Has-Beens on their 1967 album ullockies, Bushwackers & Booze. The sleeve notes commented:

This song tells the story of an old bloke who is certainly not shearing as fast as he used to, but is accepting the passing of the years gracefully. The tune will be easily recognised as Pretty Polly Perkins from Paddington Green.

Danny Spooner sang One of the Has-Beens on his 2017 final CD, Home. He noted:

I've sung a version of this I got from Jim Buchanan one night in the Continental Hotel in Melbourne. But Chloe and Jason Roweth found these words were made by Robert Stewart in 1875. A.L. Lloyd heard it in Cowra, NSW, when he was working there in the 1920s (Across the Western Plains record notes). The text in Stewart and Keesing, Old Bush Songs (1957) was contributed by Mrs G.L. Ginns, of Merrylands, NSW, who said it was written be her father, the same Robert Stewart.

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings One of the Has-Beens

I'm one of the has-beens, a shearer I mean.
I once was a ringer and used to shear clean.
I could make the wool roll off like the soil from the plough;
But you may not believe it because I can't do it now.

Chorus (after each verse):
I'm as awkward as a new chum and I'm used to the frown
That the boss often shows me saying, “Keep them blades down.”

I've shore with Pat Hogan, Bill Bright and Jack Gunn,
Charlie Fergus, Tommy Leighton, and the great roaring Dunn
They brought from the Lachlan the best they could find;
But not one among them could leave me behind.

Well, it's no use complaining, I'll never say die.
Though the days of fast-shearing for me have gone by.
I'll take the world easy, shear slowly and clean,
And I merely have told you just what I have been.

Danny Spooner sings One of the Has-Beens

I'm one of the has-beens, a shearer I mean.
I once was a ringer and used to shear clean.
I could make the wool roll off like the soil from the plough;
But you may not believe it because I can't do it now.

Chorus (after each verse):
Cos I'm as awkward as a new chum, quite used to the frown
That the boss often shows me when he says, “Keep your blades down.”

Wel, I've beem at the Yanko, Steam Plain and Bundore,
And in most of the big sheds down there I 'ave shore.
And although you may smile when I talks about speed,
Among sixty-eight shears I have taken the lead.

I've shore with Jack Bright, Bill Boyd and Jack Gunn,
With Big Leighton, Charlie Fergus and the great roarin' Dunn
They brought 'em up from the Lachlan, the best they could find;
But there as not one among 'em could leave me behind.

It's no use complaining, I'll never say die.
Though the days of fast-shearin' for me have gone by.
I'll take the world easy, shear slowly and clean,
And I merely have told you just what I have been.

Acknowledgements

Lyrics copied from Mark Gregory's version on his Australian Folk Songs website and adapted to A.L. Lloyd's actual singing.

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: One of the Has-Beens/Polly Perkins.