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Waltzing Matilda
Last updated: 24.01.17
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"Waltzing Matilda" is known the world over as Australia's national anthem, I fact which I find very touching. What other country employs a folk-song for this purpose?
I learned it myself as a school song whilst at my primary school along with other songs such as Cockles and Mussels and Widdecombe Fair. The version I sing today however, was learned out of the pages of, yes you've guessed it, The Bushwackers Australian Song Book. This version, which uses the original tune and which is attributed to A. B. ("Banjo") Paterson, I find much nicer than the one I learned at school. In a footnote, it is stated that the term "Waltzing Matilda" used by a nomad to describe his cylindrical blanket roll has "an obvious affinity with the German Waltz-Bruder meaning rolling brother". This is indeed fascinating stuff isn't it, dear surfer, and no doubt of enormous interest to those Teutons who didn't know it already. Say, "Yes!".
By the way and in more of the same vein, what does "Waltzing Matilda have in common with the other two songs named in this anecdote besides being used as school songs by the crazy British? The answer is that the hero or heroine in each song end up deceased in their respective last verses. In "Cockles and Mussels", Molly Malone becomes a ghost wheeling a barrow in Dublin. In "Widdecombe Fair", Tom Pierce's unfortunate grey mare "appears ghastly white and rattling her bones" whilst the jolly swagman in "Waltzing Matilda" voluntary and prematurely enters celestial regions and "...his ghost may be heard as you pass by the billabong".
A last question. Why is it that it is considered to be good education to frighten the wits out of 4 and 5-year old toddlers in teaching them such songs as these? The answer seems to be, at least in my case, in all these songs I've not forgotten a single word throughout the length and breadth of my life!
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