> Martyn Wyndham-Read > Songs > Waltzing Matilda
> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Waltzing Matilda
> Trevor Lucas > Songs > Waltzing Matilda
> Louis Killen > Songs > Waltzing Matilda

Waltzing Matilda

[ Roud 9536 ; Henry H566 ; AFS 94 ; Ballad Index PBB119 ; A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson]

Martyn Wyndham-Read, Phyl Vinnicombe and Peter Dickie sang Waltzing Matilda in 1967 on their Australian album Bullockies, Bushwackers & Booze.

A.L. Lloyd sang Waltzing Matilda with Trevor Lucas and Martyn Wyndham-Read joining in chorus on their 1971 album The Great Australian Legend. This track was included in 1982 on the Australian compilation LP Seven Creeks Run: Songs of the Australian Bush and in 1994 on the Australian CD The Old Bush Songs. It was also included as sound sample on the 1997 Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia. A.L. Lloyd wrote on the original album's backside:

Australia's “unofficial” national anthem. Who made it? Banjo Paterson claims the word, written at Dagworth Station, near Winton, Queensland, in 1895. The most-used tune is variously credited to Mrs Marie Cowan, Miss Christina MacPherson (sister of Robert MacPherson, manager of Dagworth Station), and to Josephine Pene (some say a barmaid, some say a piano-teacher, not that the one rules the other out) also of Winton, who seems to have the strongest claim of all. The version here, in words and tune, runs a bit differently from the usual; it has been popularised by the poet and anthologist John Manifold, and it gives new life to an otherwise hackneyed song. By the way, on September 17, 1900, Miss Pene gave birth to a son, named Robert Dagworth McPherson Pene!

and in the accompanying booklet:

By way of overture, raising the curtain on our panorama and portrait, Australia's unofficial anthem, Waltzing Matilda, seems appropriate, with its presentation of the rootless, restless swagman, tramping the continent afoot because he's too poor to own a horse, “leading a water-bag” instead (Australian humour is dry as the countryside), and humping his blanket-roll, his swag, his bluey, his Matilda. Some say the song epitomises the bushman's attitude to authority. Some go further and say that the sheep-stealing swagman is the culture hero of Australian nationalism. Perhaps that's pitching it rather high. Certainly, throughout the twentieth century, Waltzing Matilda seems to have been a powerful song for countryfolk and townsfolk too, and perhaps part of its charm is the curious mirage-like dreamy quality it shares with much of the Australian landscape.

According to Wikipedia, Waltring Matilda's tune, The Craigielee March,

[…] was based on the Scottish Celtic folk tune Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea, written by Robert Tannahill and first published in 1806, with James Barr composing the music in 1818. In the early 1890s it was arranged as The Craigielee march music for brass band by Australian composer Thomas Bulch. This tune, in turn, was possibly based on the old melody of Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself, composed by John Field (1782–1837) sometime before 1812.

Waltzing Matilda was also sung by Trevor Lucas on his second Australian album of 1966, Overlander, but to another tune as the one usually known. This recording was also released as a single with the B-side It's On.

Louis Killen sang Waltzing Matilda on his 1978 album Old Songs, Old Friends. He wrote in his liner notes:

My oldest friends here are Bonny at Morn and Waltzing Matilda, both learned when I was a boy. Waltzing Matilda I probably got from my brothers. I've always found this story, by Banjo Paterson, of an itinerant worker hounded to his death by the big landowner and police, all because of a little poaching, very moving. I could never understand why some people want to belt it out in fast 4/4 time.

Jon Boden sang Waltzing Matilda as the September 28, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented in the blog:

I lived in Australia for a year as a kid but unfortunately didn't pick up any Australian folk songs, although we did all have to learn the national anthem. Can't remember it now so here's the unofficial national anthem.

By the way, ‘waltzing‘ here doesn't mean the waltz dance. The word comes from the old-fashioned German word ‘Walz’ as in “auf der Walz”, i.e. being on the road.

Lyrics

Trevor Lucas sings Waltzing MatildaA.L. Lloyd sings Waltzing Matilda

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled,
“Wou'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?“

There once was a swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched his old billy boiling,
“Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?“

Chorus (after each verse):
Waltzing Matilda, Matilda my darling,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.
Waltzing Matilda, leaning on the water bottle,
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.

Chorus (after each verse):
Waltzing Matilda, Matilda me 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 from the billabong:
Up jumped the swagman and he grabbed him with glee.
And he sang as he stuffed that jumbuck in his tucker-bag,
“Oh, you'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.”

Well, down came a jumbuck to drink at the water hole:
And 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.”

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred;
Down came the troopers, one, two, three:
“Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker-bag?
Oh, you'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!”

Down came the squatter, a-riding on his thoroughbred;
And down came the troopers, one, two, three:
“Whose is that jumbuck you've got in your tucker-bag?
You'd better come a-waltzing Matilda with me!”

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong;
“Oh, 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!”

But the swagman he up and he jumped in the water hole;
“You'll never take me alive!” said he;
And his ghost may be heard a-singing in the billabong,
“Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!”

Acknowledgements

Lyrics copied from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs and adapted to the actual singing of A.L. Lloyd on The Great Australian Legend and Trevor Lucas on Overlander.