Category Archives: Music

An Australian Folk Song A Day

Wow!

I’m a little behind with this month’s folk song… I had decided to do ‘a Eureka song’, but hadn’t actually decided which, so I’m now looking to choose it. There are quite a number:-) Ideally, I want one that mentions key facts (when, where, who and why), that I can find a pleasing recording for, that is engaging, and if I could find sheet music, that would be fabulous!

Along the way, I came across this site>. I think I still have an odd one or two uncertain slots ahead, and there have in the past been one or two months where we struggled to find a recording… So I think I’ll be making use of this site in the future to fill in any remaining gaps!

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Galway Piper

Although I recognise the tune, this is a song I don’t _know_. We’ll have to see how we go:-) Information about it is here, sheet music here, and you can listen to samples wherever you can buy it, and choose a version you like (I’m still deciding:-) Sadly, I’ve yet to find a vocal recording.)

The Galway Piper
Every person in the nation
Or of great or humble station
Holds in highest estimation
Piping Tim of Galway
Loudly he can play or low
He can move you fast or slow
Touch your hearts or stir your toe
Piping Tim of Galway

When the wedding bells are ringing
His the breath to lead the singing
Then in jigs the folks go swinging
What a splendid piper
He will blow from eve to mourn
Counting sleep a thing of scorn
Old is he but not outworn
Know you such a piper?

When he walks the highways pealing
`Round his head the birds come wheeling
Tim has carols worth the stealing
Piping Tim of Galway
Thrush and Linnet, finch and lark
To each other twitter “Hark”
Soon they sing from light to dark
Pipings learnt in Galway

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The Wild Colonial Boy

I grew up singing along to a Rolf Harris recording of this one:-) (There are apparently a large number of different versions of the tune!) You can find a range of recordings easily (Hmm… and it turns out I don’t have a great recording—they never sing the chorus… I highly recommend searching out a copy of Rolf Harris singing it:-) ), and the sheet music here and tabs here.

The Wild Colonial Boy
There was a wild colonial boy, Jack Doolan was his name
Of poor but honest parents he was born in Castlemaine
He was his father’s only hope, his mother’s only joy,
The pride of both his parents was the wild colonial boy.

So come all me hearties, we’ll range the mountainside
Together we will plunder; together we will ride.
We’ll scour along the valleys, and gallop o’re the plains
We scorn to live in slavery bound down with iron chains.

In sixty-one this darling boy commenced his wild career.
With a heart that knew no danger, no foeman did he fear.
He held up the Beechworth mailcoach and he robbed Judge MacEvoy
Who trembled and gave up his gold to the wild colonial boy.

So come all me hearties, we’ll range the mountainside
Together we will plunder; together we will ride.
We’ll scour along the valleys, and gallop o’re the plains
We scorn to live in slavery bound down with iron chains.

One day as he was riding the mountainside along,
A-listening to the little birds their pleasant laughing song
Three mounted troopers came in view, Kelly, Davis and Fitzroy
And thought that they would capture him, the wild colonial boy.

So come all me hearties, we’ll range the mountainside
Together we will plunder; together we will ride.
We’ll scour along the valleys, and gallop o’re the plains
We scorn to live in slavery bound down with iron chains.

‘Surrender now Jack Doolan, you see there’s three to one
Surrender now Jack Doolan, you daring highwayman!’
He drew a pistol from his belt and twirled it like a toy.
‘I’ll fight but I won’t surrender,’ said the wild colonial boy.

So come all me hearties, we’ll range the mountainside
Together we will plunder; together we will ride.
We’ll scour along the valleys, and gallop o’re the plains
We scorn to live in slavery bound down with iron chains.

He fired at Trooper Kelly and brought him to the ground,
And in return from Davis received a mortal wound.
All shattered through the jaws he lay, still firing at Fitzroy.
And that’s the way they captured him, the wild colonial boy.

So come all me hearties, we’ll range the mountainside
Together we will plunder; together we will ride.
We’ll scour along the valleys, and gallop o’re the plains
We scorn to live in slavery bound down with iron chains.

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Girls of Albany

There’s a bit of a story to this one:-)

A number of years ago (pre-kids), I directed the local Gang Show (a variety show put on by the Scouts and Guides). One year, I was looking for a sea shanty, to ‘mirror’ a country and western song we had in the first act. One of the other members of my team suggested this song, which his brother had on tape. ‘The Girls of Albany’, recorded by Fo’c’sle Firkin. It was perfect—not only was it a sea shanty with a similar feel to the song in the first act, it was ‘local’! We sought and received permission to use it, and taught the four boys to sing it. They did a fabulous job (but sadly my video of that show won’t play, so I can’t actually watch it again:-( ), and I’ve continued to love the song:-)

When I was making my list of folksongs, I obviously wanted to include all the Australian folksongs I knew (Ambleside does include some… but there are many more:-) ) and I thought this would be a good opportunity to make sure I actually share this with the kids.

So at the start of the month I realised I hadn’t actually sorted out a copy of the audio. And that’s not good, because there’s no doubt that the songs they learn best are the ones that they hear at least daily and that I sing with them. I had previously searched online, but hadn’t made it in to the local music library where there was apparently a copy of the tape. I had also found that one of the writers had moved on to a new shanty band The Windjammers and they appeared to be singing the song. Their website at least had an email contact… but sadly, my email bounced, so I wasn’t able to buy a copy. In the end, I recorded it myself (somewhat bodgily! I hadn’t sung it in at least 15 years, and I was a bit iffy on a few bits of the tune!) Now that I’ve been singing it regularly though, I’ve re-recorded it a little more reliably.

Having found a temporary solution, I put out a call on facebook to see if any of the cast members had a working copy of the video. As a bit of a joke, I also asked if anyone had a copy of a Fo’c’sle Firkin tape (it was before CDs were common!) I was astounded when a friend said she thought she did… her father had bought a second hand car, and there was a tape in it, which he had enjoyed and passed on to her thinking she might… and she thought it was one of theirs! Sure enough, it was and she dropped it off to me (because she doesn’t actually have a tape player, and so had never been able to listen to it!). It’s called The Port of Albany, it contains 5 songs, the last of which is The Girls of Albany!

So, here are the words, and my recording of the song. As I said, it’s not great, but it should be enough to get a feel for the song. When we eventually find the right cable, I will make a digital copy of the recording I have (which I will happily remove if anyone can point me to somewhere I can direct people to get it legitimately!). I think it’s too important a song to have disappear! Whaling was such an essential ‘local’ industry.

The Girls of Albany (by Fred Carter and Alan Ralph, performed by Fo’c’sle Firkin, and later I believe, by The Windjammers)

There’s no waiting at the dockside
No time to say goodbye.
Just a tearful kiss in the darkness
And he goes and he gives a sigh.
He’s gone to join his shipmates
To find the big sperm whales
And spend his day endangering
The Southern Ocean whales.

Farewell to the girls of Albany
We’re leaving you again.
But we’ll be back at nightfall
Come wind or hail or rain.
The ocean’s always calling
The whale men calling me
I’ll be on again before the dawn
To search for the whales at sea
Bound out from Albany.

You married in November
He disappeared each day
He was out harpooning sperm whales
When the first child came in May.
Home was just a bed at night
A meal and a change of gear
But all for whaling and the ocean men
That he was rarely there.

Farewell to the girls of Albany
We’re leaving you again.
But we’ll be back at nightfall
Come wind or hail or rain.
The ocean’s always calling
The whale men calling me
I’ll be on again before the dawn
To search for the whales at sea
Bound out from Albany.

But they don’t all return to the station
For the whale is a fearsome foe
And the children have no father now
And you’re a new widow.
A service in the churchyard
The crew will drink an ale
He’ll go no more a-sailing on
To find the southern whale.

Farewell to the girls of Albany
We’re leaving you again.
But we’ll be back at nightfall
Come wind or hail or rain.
The ocean’s always calling
The whale men calling me
I’ll be on again before the dawn
To search for the whales at sea
Bound out from Albany.

The house is often empty now
The children all are gone
The search in vain for a whaling ship
To sail into the sound
But the whaling ships have all returned
They’re rusted on the shore
The whaling now has ended and
They go to sea no more.

Farewell to the girls of Albany
We’re leaving you again.
But we’ll be back at nightfall
Come wind or hail or rain.
The ocean’s always calling
The whale men calling me
I’ll be on again before the dawn
To search for the whales at sea
Bound out from Albany.

The Girls of Albany

(I keep saying ‘local’. The song is about Albany, a port on the southern coast of my state. About a four hour drive away… but given how few of the folk songs are Australian… I’m claiming all Western Australian ones as local:-) Later, we’ll be doing The Catalpa, which is much more local:-) )

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7 tips for family music time

Meg at Sew Liberated has a great article on making music in your home. I like to think we do a reasonable job of that in our home, but there are some good suggestions here.

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