THOU BONNIE WOOD O' CRAIGIELEA

Latest update on 02/03/2010

Artist: Thomas Bulch
Author: Robert Tannahill/James Barr
Year: 1893

Sheetmusic in John Greig's Scots Minstrelsie, a popular collection in Australia. Melody based upon Go To The Devil And Shake Yourself (Ga'in To The De'il in Ireland) and upon 18th century song The Bold Fusilier. In fact, listening to Waltzing Matilda reminds more of The Bold Fusilier than of Craigielea.

Covers:

1895:

Hubert Ramsey [in Mick Fahey's Kynuna Hotel (Queensland, Australia) to mark the end of the sheepshearing strike that inspired Waltzing Matilda (see footnote)]

1895:

Christina McPherson [credited for the music of Waltzing Matilda, though she always stressed this music was an existing melody]

1895:

A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson [as Waltzing Matilda; see footnote]

1903:

Marie Cowan [idem as a commercial for Billy Tea]

1903:

Bert Lloyd [idem]

1938:

Peter Dawson [another famous Aussie]

1940:

Lulu Ziegler [Danish version as Dans Nu, Matilda]

1956:

Burl Ives

1956:

Willem Tainth [as Goodbye Olympians during closing ceremony Melbourne Olympics]

1957:

Richard Dyer-Bennett

1958:

Bill Haley [as Rock Matilda]

1959:

Jimmie Rodgers [hit AUS]

1962:

Slim Dusty [also during closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics]

1963:

Harry Belafonte [all as Waltzing Matilda]

1964:

Seekers [more Aussies]

1976:

Tom Waits [in Tom Traubert's Blues]

1982:

Rolf Harris [during opening ceremony Commonwealth Games in Brisbane]

1993:

Rod Stewart [in Tom Traubert's Blues]

1994:

Brodsky Quartet [8 minute version]

2000:

Kylie Minogue [during opening ceremony Sydney Paralympics]

2006:

Angela Little [in film Australia]

Waltzing Matilda's lyrics were composed during a trip through the Australian outback. Sydney lawyer and publicist A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson and his fiancee Sarah Riley stayed at a bush ranch near Winton (Dagworth Station), owned by a friend of Sarah's family. During a picnic along a sheep waterhole, Paterson heard of a tragical drowning on that same spot one year before: There had been a bitter sheepshearer's strike and one die-hard preferred to die instead of giving up, triggering Paterson's imagination. Soon he came up with a poem about a sheep stealing bushfellow, ambushed by the landowner and his vigilantes, preferring to drown himself than to give up his freedom. That was Waltzing Matilda, so crammed with outback lingo only Australians could understand it. A waltzing Matilda is bush slang for a knapsack. The poem's music was soon provided by Paterson's hostess, Christina McPherson on her autoharp. Through trial and error she came up with this Scottish ballad to fit Banjo's words. That took them a while, too long for Sarah Riley who broke her engagement and for one of Christina's brothers who chased Paterson off the station's premises. This explains why the song caused him bitterness and why he sold his damn copyrights for a mere 5£ in 1902. How was he to know of Waltzing Matilda's future success? Some 500 versions later it nearly made it as Australia's new national anthem, outvoted in 1977 in favor of Advance Australia Fair. There's a full blown Waltzing Matilda museum in Kyuna (population: 20) in Queensland, Australia.

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