Phyl Lobl

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Eric Bogle was able to write a song that encompassed my conflicting feelings about soldiers and war. My father served in both World Wars. I am well aware of the great sacrifice men and women make in serving this country and feel indebted. I don't think that such sacrifice should so often be called for. This song probably influenced me in the writing of 'The Battle of the Somme' found elsewhere on this site under the 'Wanderer' section. I may have unwittingly made some alterations to tune and text as I learnt this aurally and second hand.
GUITAR: Graham Seal; BASS: Eric Gyors; HARMONICA: Geri Lobl

 

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THE BAND PLAYED WALTZING MATILDA

Eric Bogle

When I was a young man I carried a pack
And I lived the free life of a rover.
From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback
I have waltzed my matilda all over.
Then in 1915 the country said son.
Its time you stopped roving there's work to be done.
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war.

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


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

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain.
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again.


Well those who were left, we tried to survive,
In a mad world of blood death and fire,
And for three weary weeks I kept myself alive
As around me the corpses piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
And when I woke up in a hospital bed,
I saw what it had done and 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.
For to hump tent and pegs a man needs both legs.
No more waltzing matilda for me.


They collected the crippled the wounded and maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The legless the armless the blind and insane
The brave, wounded heroes of Suvla.
And when our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be.
Thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me
The grieve, to mourn and to pity.

And the band played waltzing matilda
As they carried us down the gangway.
Nobody cheered they just stood and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away.


So now every April I sit on me porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
I see all me comrades how proudly they march
Reviving old dreams and past glory.
The old men march slowly old bones stiff and sore.
Tired old men from a tired old 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 answer the call.
Year by year more old men disappear,
Some day no-one will march there at all.

 

 

 

 
 
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