Here And There, Now And Then

Song Notes CD-2

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01 The Springtime It Brings On The Shearing
- 2.42 [Trad. Arr. P. Jones]

One of the best known of all Australian folk songs, this was collected in Victoria by Dr. Percy Jones. John Meredith found a rather different version in New South Wales, and most of Dr. Jones' words turn up in some verses called The Wallaby Track, which were published by a bush poet called E.J. Overbury in 1865. Maybe some bush singer read Overbury's words and set some of them to a tune; that was a common habit with bush singers. Maybe Overbury heard a bush song, and took some of the words into one of his own poems; that was a common habit with bush poets.

coves: station managers or owners.

billy quart pot: an indispensable item of the bush nomads' gear; a can, here of quart capacity, in which water could be boiled and food cooked.

new-chums: newly arrived immigrants.

Flash shearers making johnny-cakes round in the bend: a contrast in the lot of the shearer at different seasons of the year is implied; during the shearing season he is fl ash (shows an exaggerated sense of his own importance), because he is earning good wages and respect for his skill; when the shearing season is over, and he is unemployed, he is reduced to camping out in the open by some river bend, and living on a diet consisting mainly of camp-made bread (a johnny cake is, roughly speaking, a kind of small damper).

Track: from the album of the same title, released on the CBS label in 1965. Note: from the original album notes by Edgar Waters, supplemented by Stuart Heather.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Richard Brooks, harmonica; Les Miller, banjo.

 

02 Bluey Brink
- 2.47 [Trad. Arr. G. Shearston]

There are a lot of hard drinkers in frontier folklore, and it is only in folklore that a shearer could drink straight sulphuric acid with never a wink, and come back howling for more. But shearers did in fact get sulphuric acid mixed in with their rum or whisky in outback shanties, where publicans were much given to doctoring the grog they sold with all kinds of poisons. Bluey Brink is one of the few old bush songs which seems to be known to a lot of young singers in the bush. This version comes from A.L. Lloyd, who learnt it from an old singer called 'Dad' Adams of Cowra, in New South Wales. The tune has been a great favourite with folk singers for a long time now. It seems to have been spread far and wide through being used as the tune for a popular English music-hall song called Villikins and his Dinah. Shear his two hundred a day: this would put Bluey Brink in the ranks of the very best shearers.

Track: from the album 'The Springtime It Brings On The Shearing', released on the CBS label in 1965. Note: from the original album notes by Edgar Waters.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Les Miller, banjo.

 

03 Jim Jones
- 3.10 [Trad. Arr. G. Shearston]

It is a popular belief amongst Australians that poachers made up a large proportion of the convicts transported to Australia. In fact, the records show that only a handful of men were transported for poaching. However, the numerous poaching songs of the English countryside &endash; such as the well known 'Lincolnshire Poacher' - show that poachers were often men of great spirit and daring cheerfully defying the law. It is not hard to see how such a man (after being transported to Australia) might remain defi ant, but become bitter, and dream of joining the bushrangers. This song was presumably fi rst sung in the late 1820s, when Jack Donahue's gang was still at large. The words were preserved for us by Charles Macalister, who grew up in the southern highlands of New South Wales in the 1830s and 1840s. He printed the words in a book of reminiscences, 'Old Pioneering Days in the Sunny South', published in 1907, and said that it was a typical song of the convict days. Macalister did not print the melody, but said that it was 'Irish Molly 0'. It happens that, like many folk songs, 'Irish Molly 0' is sung to more than one tune, but when the Scottish singer Ewan MacColl recorded Jim Jones a few years ago, he chose this one. It seems to fi t very well. Gary Shearston learnt the song from the singing of Ewan MacColl.

iron gang: convicts set to working in chains.

Track: from the album 'Bolters, Bushrangers & Duffers', released on the CBS label in 1965. Note: from the original album notes by Edgar Waters.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Richard Brooks, harmonica; Les Miller, guitar.

 

04 The Death of Ben Hall
- 2.43 [Trad. Arr. G. Shearston]

A number of versions of this song have been recorded from bush singers, but their manner is not that of the general run of bush songs. It looks like the work of some amateur poet with misplaced literary ambitions who borrowed from some collection of 'poetic gems' a bombastic and artifi cial style which he mistakenly thought fi tted his subject better than the colloquial idiom of the bush folk song. However, the badly chosen words somehow still manage to convey deep and strong feeling, at least to the sympathetic listener. Jack Bradshaw printed a version of the song in his 'True History of the Australian Bushrangers', and one would not be surprised to fi nd that the song, in its original form, was the work of Bradshaw himself. The version used here sounds a little more natural and colloquial than the one printed by Bradshaw. A Victorian folk song collecter, the late Joy Durst, taught Martyn Wyndham- Read the present version and he passed it on to Gary Shearston. Where Joy Durst learnt the song is not known.

Turpin: Dick Turpin, England's most famous highwayman; hanged at York in 1739.

Duval: Charles Du Vall, a Frenchman who became a notorious highwayman in England; hanged at Tyburn in 1670.

blue-coat imps: police troopers.

Peeler's pimps: police informers.

Track: from the album 'Bolters, Bushrangers & Duffers', released on the CBS label in 1965. Note : from the original album notes by Edgar Waters.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal; Kemp Fowler, concertina.

 

05 The Basic Wage Dream
- 2.48 [Words & Music: Don Henderson]

There are two direct infl uences here - Henry Lawson's 'Shearer's Dream' and a piece of Sydney's industrial folk-lore about wages and judges. The song treats with humour and kindness the workers and machines making pay by day and the dream horses and poker machines devouring it by night. It was commissioned from Don Henderson by the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations as one of its contributions to the humour, music, folk-lore and pay prospects of the 1964 Basic Wage Campaign. Don Henderson has emerged as one of Australia's leading contemporary songwriters and his songs are included in the repertoires of folk-singers in many parts of Australia and the South Pacifi c. Footnote: Don Henderson has written that Gary Shearston's version of the Basic Wage Dream has the distinction of being the fi rst Australian song ever transmitted by satellite, in a program called 'The Union Man', broadcast via the Telstar satellite.

Track: from the album 'Songs Of Our Time', released on the CBS label in 1964. Note : from the original album notes by John Baker.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar.

 

06 We Want Freedom (Aboriginal Charter of Rights)
- 4.25 [Words: Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal); Music: Gary Shearston]

We Want Freedom (the Aboriginal Chater of Rights), as arranged by Gary Shearston, is as new and different as the Yirrkala Aboriginal bark painting petition on reservation rights to the House of Representatives in 1963. The Aboriginal Charter of Rights (retitled 'We Want Freedom'in its song form) was written by Aboriginal poet Kath Walker* and dedicated to the 5th Conference of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders held in Adelaide in 1962. The poem also appears as the dedication piece to Kath Walker's book of verse published in April, 1964, under the title 'We Are Going'. In the music of Gary's arrangement can be seen the modern folk process of weaving together the old and the new as penetrating poetry becomes a moving and powerful song. After writing the chorus, the inspiration for his chant-like cadence in the verses came from the 'Devil Dance' (a song from Yirrkala in Eastern Arnhea Land), collected and recorded by Sandra LeBrun Holmes. The end result of this cross-pollination of poetry and song in the tribal and folk fi elds is an anguished demand for human understanding. [* later known as Oodgeroo Noonuccal]

Track: from the album 'Songs Of Our Time', released on the CBS label in 1964. Note : from the original album notes by John Baker.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar.

 

07 Who Can Say?
- 3.09 [Words & Music: Gary Shearston]

"Who can take another's hand, the colour of coal, the colour of sand?"and "travel to seek the face of a universal human race" are just two of the eight poetic and universal questions Gary Shearston asks in this song. It is left to each listener to seek his or her own personal answers to them all.

Track: from the album 'Songs Of Our Time', released on the CBS label in 1964. Note: from the original album notes by John Baker.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Les Miller, guitar.

 

08 Don't Wave To Me Too Long
- 2.43 [Words & Music: Gary Shearston]

Don't Wave To Me Too Long is a love song of young men in a hurry to change the world for their generation and those to follow to the "time ahead for all that might have been, when swords have turned to ploughshares and all the world is green."

Track: from the album 'Songs Of Our Times', released on the CBS label in 1964. Note: from the original album notes by John Baker.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar.

 

09 It's On
- 2.08 [Words & Music: Don Henderson]

This popular song of Don Henderson's is as Australian as the 'Basic Wage Dream' and might seem to elevate the ideas of "step out the back" and fi ght it out, the Irishism of "if there's a Government here I'll fi ght it" and even gunboats up the Nile. Don's sympathy for the victims pinpoints the men who have stepped out the back so many times that "now they're fi ghting to see what they're fi ghting about". But he shrewdly turns the argument on the defence versus education allocations into proof that, perhaps, "elections should be the best of ten rounds." Without mentioning Canberra, Sydney or "The Bush", 'It's On' is unmistakably Australian folk-lore and, perhaps, folk-song too!

Track: from the album 'Songs Of Our Times', released on the CBS label in 1964. Note: from the original album notes by John Baker.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar.

 

10 Reedy River
- 3.30 [Words: Henry Lawson; Music: Chris Kempster]

A poem by Henry Lawson set to music by Sydney folksinger, the late Chris Kempster. The song has become widely circulated over the past ten years and was used by Dick Diamond as the title of his Australian folk musical produced by the New Theatre.

Track: from the album 'Folk Songs & Ballads of Australia', released on the CBS label in 1964. Note: from the original album notes by Gary Shearston.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Les Miller, guitar.

 

11 The Bush Girl
- 3.55 [Words: Henry Lawson; Music: Con Caston]

Another poem from the poetic genius of Henry Lawson, set to music by Con Caston of Warwick, Queensland. In a tribute. Dame Mary Gilmore once wrote: "Henry Lawson wrote more than just man. There was a woman - mother, sister, wife and sweetheart - behind everything he gave us." In the last verse of the song reference is made to Lawson's visit to London from 1900 to 1902 - a journey which proved to be a mostly unhappy one for him

Track: from the album 'Folk Songs & Ballads of Australia', released on the CBS label in 1964. Note: from the original album notes by Gary Shearston.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Les Miller, guitar.

 


12 Humping Old Bluey
- 0.56 [Trad. Arr. G. Shearston]

"Bluey" and "drum" are two other names for the swag of the swagmen, the great legion of wandering nomads, who - by choice and desperation - spent most of their lives working where they could at an assortment of jobs from one end of Australia to the other. This song was collected by the Sydney Bush Music Club from 70-year-old ex-shearer, Ron Mantan, who learnt the song when he was seven years old.

Track: from the album 'Folk Songs & Ballads of Australia', released on the CBS label in 1964. Note: from the original album notes by Gary Shearston

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal.

 

13 Bonnie Jess
- 2.45 [Words: Thomas Spencer; Music: Gary Shearston]

The words of this song are by Thomas E. Spencer, one of the old bush balladists who won fame with his wonderful yarn of "How McDougal Topped the Score". There was probably once a tune for Spencer's love story of Bonnie Jess and her shearer sweetheart but it is not known and the words are here set to a tune of my own making.

Track: from the album 'Folk Songs & Ballads of Australia', released on the CBS label in 1964. Note: from the original album notes by Gary Shearston.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Les Miller, guitar.

 

14 Sometime' Lovin'
- 2.44 [Words & Music: Gary Shearston]

Gary's most talked-about and recorded song in the early stages of his career. The beautiful lyrics and tune combine to make one of the most outstanding songs ever written by an Australian. It was awarded the 'Best Australian Song of the Year (1965)' by radio 2UE (Sydney). This song establishes Gary Shearston as a songwriter in world class. The song caught the attention of Peter, Paul and Mary who added it to their concert and recorded repertoire, making it well known to their global audience. The song also prompted Noel Paul Stookey to invite Gary to go to the USA. The American trip was long delayed because of Gary's anti-Vietnam war stance and it eventuated only with the supportive intervention of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Track: released as a single on the CBS label in 1965, and subsequently included on the album 'Sings His Songs', released on the CBS label in 1966. Note : from the original album notes by Sven Libaek.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Richard Brooks, harmonica.

 

15 Duke's Song
- 4.11 [Words & Music: Gary Shearston]

Duke's Song is a tribute to one of the last of the old-time bushmen, 'Duke' Tritton, who died in May, 1965. During his seventy-eight years, 'Duke' lived and worked the kind of life Henry Lawson and 'Banjo' Paterson wrote about. In later years, as a member of the Sydney Bush Music Club, where he was a life member, he was recognised as one of Australia's finest traditional bush singers. "A lifetime of years and experiences separated us," says Gary, "yet he gave his friendship with the same sincerity and honesty that he sang his songs. He was one of the fi nest men I've ever known." The tune for this song is adapted from the traditional Australian song, 'The Cockies of Bungaree'.

Track: from the album 'Sings His Songs', released on the CBS label in 1966. Note: from the original album notes by Sven Libaek.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Richard Brooks, harmonica; Les Miller, banjo.

 

16 Stirling - 0
- 4.10 [Trad. Arr. G. Shearston]

One great Scots poet, Robert Burns, collected Scots folk songs, published them (often after considerable rewriting) and wrote songs of his own that were more or less in folk song style. Dozens of lesser poets also wrote songs more or less in the style of Scots folk song, and some of them actually passed into oral tradition. This seems to be such a song. In the 1950s the poet John Manifold gathered around him in Brisbane a group of people who were interested in performing folk music and songs. One of them was a Scots migrant. Nan Shanko. This is a song she carried with her from her native land.

Track: Previously unreleased. (Originally recorded in 1966.) Note: by Edgar Waters

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Richard Brooks, harmonica; Les Miller, banjo.

 

17 The Olde Viceroy
- 4.15 [Trad. Arr. G. Shearston]

The words of this song were written in praise of Lachlan Macquarie, Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of the colony of New South Wales from 1810 to 1815. They were written for an "anniversary dinner", eaten in Sydney in 1826. Presumably the song was sung at the dinner, but it is unlikely that it was sung afterwards, until Geoffrey Ingleton reprinted the text in his 'True patriots all' in the third quarter of the twentieth century. It was then, like other texts in Ingleton's collection, used by one or other of a number of people trying to create "a history of Australia in song." One of them seems to have chosen to set the text to a tune used for a song about a hard-drinking Irish squire, Barry of-Macroom. It fi ts the words well enough.

Track: Previously unreleased. (Originally recorded in 1966.) Note: by Edgar Waters

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Richard Brooks, harmonica; Les Miller, banjo.

 

18 John Mitchell
- 4.34 [Trad. Arr. G. Shearston]

'Repeal' in this song refers to repeal of the act of union between Great Britain and Ireland, passed by the Irish parliament in 1800. There was a mass movement for peaceful repeal of the union in the 1830s and 1840s. Mitchell was one of the leaders of a small movement whose aim was the armed overthrow of British rule in Ireland. Mitchell was sentenced to fourteen years penal transportation, and was on a ship, bound for the hulks in Bermuda, when insurrection broke out in 1848. It had little support, and was easily suppressed. Mitchell was removed from Bermuda to Tasmania, where he was treated rather as a political exile than as a convict. An escape from Tasmania was organised by Irish American admirers. He spent the rest of his life in the United States. Broadside ballad publishers printed many ballads about Mitchell. The words used here differ little from those of a broadside published by the London fi rm of Such. The tune used here can be found in Colm O Lochlainn's 'Irish street ballads', where a song called 'The Maid of the sweet brown knowe' is set to it.

Track: Previously unreleased. (originally recorded in 1966.) Note: by Edgar Waters

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Richard Brooks, harmonica; Les Miller, banjo.

 

19 Twenty Summers
- 2.58 [Words: Mona Brand, Music: Gary Shearston]

Mona Brand's words were written as a comment on the (1960s) decision to conscript young Australians for military service overseas. But they are a protest, not so much against that decision in itself, as against all warfare, the melody is by Gary Shearston.

Track: from the album "Australian Broadside', released on the CBS label in 1965. Note: from the original album notes by Edgar Waters.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Richard Brooks, harmonica; Les Miller, acoustic guitar.

 

20 The Voyager

- 3.18 [Words & Music: Gary Shearston]

Like many of the singers of folk-song revival - and like many in their audience - Gary Shearston is a pacifi st. This song was his response to the sinking of the destroyer 'Voyager' by the aircraft-carrier 'Melbourne' during naval exercises. The song. . ."was written two days after the disaster out of a complete feeling of helplessness and frustration that eighty-two men had lost their lives rehearsing for this thing called war which was supposed to have ended twenty years ago for all time."

Track: from the album 'Australian Broadside', released on the CBS label in 1965. Note: from the original album notes by Edgar Waters.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Richard Brooks, harmonica; Les Miller, acoustic guitar.

 

21 The Land Where The Crow Flies Backwards
- 2.20 [Words & music: Dougie Young]

Dougie Young is an Aboriginal, like Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal), and like her he grew up in Queensland. In almost every other way, the two are unalike. Dougie Young is what anthropologists call a "fringe dweller"; he lives today in the "blackfellows' camp" outside Wilcannia in western New South Wales. He does not want to be assimilated into white Australian society; he just wants white Australians to stop pushing him around, and leave him and his people to live their own lives in their own way. He does not wish to be known to a white audience as a poet; he just makes up songs to amuse his black friends in the hill-billy style which today is the common musical idiom of bush workers, white or black. By a lucky chance, some of his songs have been recorded by an anthropologist friend, Jeremy Beckett. Like this one, they show that Dougie Young can view his position with both dignity and humour. "Where the pelican builds his nest" is a phrase which derives from the belief of nineteenth-century Australians that the centre of the continent was a land of green grass and great inland rivers where the pelicans nested. In fact it is a land which is seldom green but often very dusty; the crow fl ies backwards to keep the dust out of his eyes.

Track: from the album 'Australian Broadside', released on the CBS label in 1965. Note: from the original album notes by Edgar Waters.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Les Miller, acoustic guitar.

 

22 We Are Going To Freedom
- 3.33 [Words & Music: Gary Shearston]

We Are Going to Freedom was offi cially adopted at the Easter, 1966, Conference of the Federal Council for Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders as a "freedom song" for the movement. The tune is based on an Aboriginal song taught to Gary Shearston by Roy Dadynga of Yirrkala in Eastern Arnhem Land. The words of the verses are simple statements of the hopes and aspirations of the original Australians. It is (Gary's) hope that the song will grow steadily as more and more people add verses of their own. It is performed here with a group of Aboriginal singers representing the Federal Council. (Subsequently, We Are Going to Freedom was used as the anthem for the campaign leading up to the 1967 Referendum which achieved voting rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Roy Dadynga gave Gary Shearston a pair of mulga-wood songsticks, which he still possesses, and which he has used on several tracks of his recordings, including 'Aborigine' and 'Baiame, The Greatest Stone On Earth'.)

Track: from the album 'Gary Shearston Sings His Songs', released on the CBS label in 1966. Note: from the original album notes by Sven Libaek (supplemented by Gary Shearston).

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar.

 

23 Sydney Town
- 4.52 [Words: Frank Hardy & Gary Shearston, Music: Gary Shearston]

A friend gave Australian author Frank Hardy a recording by a calypso singer, about the white "aristocrats" who tried to keep him down where he belonged - in the slums of Kingston Town. Hardy wrote a new set of words to the calypso tune, and showed them to Gary Shearston. Shearston liked the song. But he changed the tune a bit here, and a bit more there. He discarded some of Hardy's verses and wrote new ones of his own. Some of the new verses were entirely his own; some were based on ideas suggested by friends; some were adapted from verses in other people's songs. One person walked up to him after a concert and presented him with a whole new verse, already written down (the one about a visit to King's Cross). 'Sydney Town', in its present form, is very much a collective effort, it is full of local and topical Sydney references, too numerous to explain to those who are not Sydneysiders; people who live in other cities can amuse themselves by making up new verses to replace the ones they cannot understand. Richard Brooks deserts his instrument at one point to join in a singing - chanting? - commercial.

Track: from the album 'Australian Broadside', released on the CBS label in 1965. Note: from the original album notes by Edgar Waters.

Musicians: Gary Shearston, vocal & guitar; Richard Brooks, harmonica.

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