Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Afternoon Matinee: Protest - The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Performed by The Pogues

When I was a young man, I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover,
From the Murrays green basin to the dusty outback,
I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in nineteen fifteen my country said Son,
It's time to stop rambling 'cause there's work to be done,
So 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 we sailed away from the quay,
And amidst all the tears,
And the shouts and the cheers,
We sailed off to Gallipoli.

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

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

Now those who were living did their best to survive
In that mad world of guts, blood, and fire,
And for seven long weeks I kept myself alive
While the corpses around me piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit,
And when I woke up in my hospital bed
And saw what it had done, Christ, I wished I was dead,
Never knew there were worse things than dying.

And no more I'll go waltzing Matilda,
To the green bushes so far and near,
For to hang tents and pegs, a man needs two legs,
No more waltzing Matilda for me.

So they collected the cripples, the wounded and maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The legless, the armless, the blind and insane,
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla.
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me,
To grieve and to mourn and to pity.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda,
As they carried us down the gangway,
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared,
And they turned their faces away.

And 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,
Reliving the or dreams of past glory.
I see the old men, all twisted and torn,
The forgotten heroes of a forgotten war,
And the young people ask me, "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,
Some day no one will march there at all.

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
Who'll go a-waltzing Matilda with me?
~ from Lyric Wiki ~

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