> Martyn Wyndham-Read > Songs > Otago

Otago

[Graeme Miles]

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang Graeme Miles' song Otago in 1984 on his Greenwich Village album A Rose from the Bush. He commented in his liner notes:

Another one of Graeme Miles' songs [besides Opal Beds on the same album]. It was written over a period of seven years between 1959 and 1965, and is based on a real character with whom he worked. The song reflects how ordinary people can make an impression in many subtle ways. Otago is a beautiful area in the south part of New Zealand with a range of mountains known as the Remarkables.

Jon Boden sang Otago as the January 8, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He commented in the blog:

A lovely one from Graeme Miles. I love how it’s so sentimental throughout then gets really bleak at the end. No idea why I changed ‘Sam’ to ‘Tom’ for most of the song! Sorry about that.

Another song really located in Otago—and not just dreaming of it as a kind of distant paradise—is Paul Metsers' Farewell to the Gold.

Lyrics

Martyn Wyndham-Read sings OtagoJon Boden sings Otago

I worked with Sam, I knew him well,
He was handy with a shovel;
Never ever known to shirk his work,
Seldom out of trouble.
And when the gaffer called him names
They would nigh on come to blows;
But now old Sam's packed up and gone
Away to Otago.

I worked with Sam, I knew him well,
He was handy with a shovel;
Never ever known to shirk his work,
Seldom out of trouble.
And when the gaffer called him names
They would nigh on come to blows;
Yet old Tom still found a way
To go back to Otago.

He'd laugh away the greyest day,
He found everything quite funny;
He'd give away most of his pay,
Always out of money.
He'd drag his Woodbine and sup his ale
With no thoughts about tomorrow,
But now old Sam's packed up and gone
Away to Otago.

He could laugh away the darkest day,
He found everything quite funny;
He would give away most of his pay,
Always out of money.
He'd drag his Woodbine and sup his ale
With no thoughts about tomorrow,
And yet old Tom still found a way
To go back to Otago.

He told me that he'd been to sea,
Some years ago when younger;
New Zealand was the place for him
When on the shore he'd wander.
And through the islands up and down
He would ramble, he would roam,
Always said that he'd return
Someday to Otago.

He once said to me he'd been to sea,
Some years ago when younger;
New Zealand was the place for him
And when on shore he'd wander.
All through the island up and down
He would ramble, he would roam,
He always said that he'd return
Someday to Otago.

A letter I received from him,
The only one he wrote me,
Said, “The beer out here is no great guns
But the climate really suits me.
I've met a lass of Maori blood,
She'll be good for me, I know;
So I guess I'll wed and settle down
Somewhere in Otago.”

One letter I received from him,
The only one he wrote me;
Saying, “The beer out here is no great guns
But the climate sure to suit me.
I've met a lass of Maori blood,
She'll be good to me, I know;
I guess I'll wed and I'll settle down
Somewhere in Otago.”

Now winter time is setting in
And the wind blows roaring bitter;
And grey as slate the sky above,
Never known such rough weather.
I often think of Sam the lad,
Far from the sleet and snow,
I'll bet he's lying in the sun
Somewhere in Otago.

Well, the winter nights are setting in
And the wind blows cold and bitter;
And grey as slate the sky is above,
Never known such cold weather.
I often think of Sammy now,
Far from the sleet and snow.
I'll guess he's lying in the sun
Somewhere in Otago,
Yes, he's somewhere in Otago.

Now should I live a hundred years
I'll not forget old Sammy;
There never was a kinder man
Nor one half so happy.
I wonder what became of him,
I suppose I'll never know;
But I bet he's still the same old Sam
And he's somewhere in Otago,
Yes, he's somewhere in Otago.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: Otago (Graeme Miles).