WALTZING MATILDA - chords and comments
Some summer day way back in -67, I sat listening to a FM radio station broadcasting a program especially for sailors abroad. Messages and request for songs. My Phillips 4-track tape recorder was ready, and when the guy announced Harry Belafonte, I pulled the handle down. I was about to pull it up again, when I recognized the song. For quite a long time, an older cousin had annoyed the whole family with that shit; give him two bottles of bred, and he'd go waltzing Mathilda. He could neither sing, nor speak english. But wait ... this was different.
Indeed, it was. A lifetime afterwards, I've learned that this is the Queensland version, and even a rare one. It differs from the Australian non-official national anthem both in lyrics and melody. It burned into my memory, was the first song I really learned to play and the only one I always receive the response "one more time" for. I never found that record anywhere, but a couple of years ago I found it on You Tube (surprise!), which I usually don't link to. This is an exception as rare as the version.
The lyrics were written by Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson (1864-1941) to the tune of "The Craigielee March", and has derived into several versions up through the years. It is also related to "Marching through Rochester", an english tune from the 18th century. A few explanations are required:
• a swagman is a tramp, drifting on foot from job to job or anywhere, usually walking with a stick
• a billabong is a cut-off bend of a meandering river
• a coolibah is an eucalyptus tree
• a billy is a tin can with a handle to keep above a camp fire
• a jumbuck is a young, male sheep
• a tucker bag is a rolled up blanket tied around the chest and shoulders
• a squatter is one holding the rights to a disputed property
• a matilda is the female nick for the tucker bag, as there usually were few women in the bush to dance with
• ... and waltzing is of german origin; means wandering about