The Band Played Waltzing Matilda 6:29

Written by Eric Bogle
Published by PLD Music Ltd. administered by Domino
Publishing Company USA (ASCAP) / Domino Double Nine

When I was a young man I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover.
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in 1915 my country said, “Son,
It’s time to stop rambling, there’s work to be done”.
And 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
Amid all the tears, flag wavin’ and cheers
We sailed off for Gallipoli.

Oh, well I remember that terrible day
When our blood stained the sand and the water.
And how in that hell they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk, he was ready, he primed himself well
He rained us with bullets, and he showered us with shells
And in five minutes flat, we were all blown to hell
Nearly blew us back home to Australia.

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

Of those that were living just tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire.
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
Though around me the corpses piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head
And when I awoke in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, I wished I were dead
I never knew there was worse things than dying.

And no more I’ll go, “Waltzing Matilda”,
All around the green bush far and near.
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs both legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me.

They collected the wounded, the crippled, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia,
The armless, the legless, the blind and the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.
And when the ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be
And thank Christ there was no one there waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity.

And the band played, “Waltzing Matilda”,
As they carried us down the gangway.
Nobody cheered; they just stood there and stared
Then they turned all their faces away.

Well, now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Renewing their dreams of past glories.
And I see the old men all tired, stiff and worn,
The weary old heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask, “What are they marching for?”
And I ask myself the same question.

And the band plays, “Waltzing Matilda”,
And the old men still answer the call.
But year after year, their numbers get fewer
Someday, no one will march there at all.

“Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who’ll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?”
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong,
“Who’ll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?”

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Tom Leighton – accordion
Jason Fowler – acoustic guitar

Produced by Paul Mills & Terry Kelly
Recorded, mixed and mastered at The Millstream, Toronto,
by Paul Mills

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