And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Peter Williams says this song should be compulsory Anzac Day listening:

There’s a song that should be compulsory listening before ANZAC Day on Saturday.

“And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” was written by Scottish born Adelaide singer-songwriter Eric Bogle in 1971.

That was a time when attendances at ANZAC Day Dawn Parades were sparse.

A time when – because of the Vietnam conflict – young people especially didn’t want to remember wars and those who fought in them.

A time when there was a real possibility that the annual remembrance of Gallipoli would fade away a long, long time before a centenary commemoration.

So in keeping with the times, Bogle wrote lyrics highlighting the horrors of Gallipoli and in the process emerged with some of the most damning and haunting words ever written about war and its after effects. . .

3 Responses to And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

  1. Ray says:

    Saw Eric Bogle live some years ago.
    His other works are often overlooked as the focus is generally only on this song.
    His Bogleography. is well worth a read.
    His poignant song about horses at the end of WW1 can bring a tear to the eye.

    As If He Knows.

    It’s as if he knows
    He’s standing close to me
    His breath warm on my sleeve
    His head hung low
    It’s as if he knows
    What the dawn will bring
    The end of everything
    For my old Banjo
    And all along the picket lines beneath the desert sky
    The Light Horsemen move amongst their mates to say one last goodbye
    And the horses stand so quietly
    Row on silent row
    It’s as if they know

    Time after time
    We rode through shot and shell
    We rode in and out of Hell
    On their strong backs
    Time after time
    They brought us safely through
    By their swift sure hooves
    And their brave hearts
    Tomorrow we will form up ranks and march down to the quay
    And sail back to our loved ones in that dear land across the sea
    While our loyal and true companions
    Who asked so little and gave so much
    Will lie dead in the dust.

    For the orders came
    No horses to return
    We were to abandon them
    To be slaves
    After all we’d shared
    And all that we’d been through
    A Nation’s gratitude
    Was a dusty grave
    For we can’t leave them to the people here, we’d rather see them dead
    So each man will take his best mate’s horse with a bullet through the head
    For the people here are like their land
    Wild and cruel and hard
    So Banjo, here’s your reward.

    It’s as if he knows, he standing close to me,
    His breath warm on my sleeve, his head hung low.
    As he if he knew.

  2. Richard says:

    There is a very good documentary here:
    By actor Sam Neill

  3. Dave Kennedy says:

    I agree with all the sentiments expressed here. ANZAC day is a commemoration of lives lost in tragic circumstances not a celebration of nationalistic pride. Books like All Quiet on the Western Front should be compulsory reading in schools and watching the documentary about Archibald Baxter.

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