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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

My Heroes (34): Eric Bogle
Eric Bogle is a Scottish-born Australian folk-singer and songwriter of extraordinary talents. His greatest works are the  songs about the First World war And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda and No Man's Land (also known as The Green Fields of France). He is really only known in folk-song circles which is a shame because his talents deserve much wider recognition although many fine singers have recorded his songs including Joan Baez. After more than twenty-five years I still can't hear these songs and remain dry-eyed but I am a big softie! Be warned that if you listen all the way through there will be a big emotional tug but I believe that's good for you. 
My two personal favourites of his songs are Glasgow Lullaby, a song about the sad world of the wife of "a drinkin' man" and the remarkable song Now I'm Easy about the life of an Australian farmer:
Now I'm Easy by Eric Bogle
Cockie: Australian small-scale family farmer
'Gin ("Jen"): an Australian aboriginal woman. (The term is nowadays considered to be derogatory)

For nearly sixty years, I've been a Cockie
Of droughts and fires and floods I've lived through plenty
This country's dust and mud have seen my tears and blood
But it's nearly over now, and now I'm easyyrics from: I married a fine girl when I was twenty
But she died in giving birth when she was thirty
No flying doctor then, just a gentle old black 'gin
But it's nearly over now, and now I'm easy

She left me with two sons and a daughter
On a bone-dry farm whose soil cried out for water
So my care was rough and ready, but they grew up fine and steady
But it's nearly over now, and now I'm easy

My daughter married young, and went her own way
My sons lie buried by the Burma Railway
So on this land I've made me home, I've carried on alone
But it's nearly over now, and now I'm easy

City folks these days despise the Cockie
Say with subsidies and dole, we've had it easy
But there's no drought or starving stock on a sewered suburban block
But it's nearly over now, and now I'm easy

For nearly sixty years, I've been a Cockie
Of droughts and fires and floods, I've lived through plenty
This country's dust and mud, have seen my tears and blood
But it's nearly over now, and now I'm easy
And now I'm easy


Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

My favorite type of music is folk. I was brought up on singer/songwriter/storyteller music and it played in my home all the time. My family is Irish decent and the sounds of The Clancy Brothers and The Irish Rovers was as much a part of my younger life as anything could be. It wasn't till I was older that I realized that most of these song's themes were death, drinking, or "the troubles". Much of the music is sad, but I love it all the same.

Yes, Eric Bogle's songs brought tears to my eyes.

bazza said...

I absolutely adore Irish folk music. There are some truly wonderful songs out there and, of course, the music of England, Scotland and Ireland had a major influence on the folk music of America.
Music is best when it produces an emotional reaction; happy or sad is equally effective!

David said...

Dear bazza,
I think that "the Pogues" did a cover of "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" on the album "Rum, Sodomy and the Lash". Up until now I'd thought it was one of Shane McGowan's own songs, so thanks for making me aware that it's actually written by Eric Bogle. It's a great song, too!
Very entertaining, bazza.
Best Wishes,

bazza said...

David: You're correct about the Pogues recording that song. Actually my favourite version is by June Tabor, a previous entry in this series. She also recorded a wonderful version of No Man's Land.

Anonymous said...

The rather tearful Sir Tom Eagerly says:
Now Bazza, you must stop making Sir Tom cry. Real men don't do that. In my case it's only after the second bottle of an excellent Chateauneuf-du-Pape; it's usually 15% alcohol. Do you know it old boy? No, I suppose not, too classy for you.

bazza said...

Sir Tom: You are just so butch. I'm really impressed. Not.
I think you having difficulty connecting with your feminine side!

Kelly said...

I'm listening to that last song you mentioned and linked to and gave the lyrics to. It's a very mellow song with inspirational melodies. I like how it tells a real story, too. I like songs like that.

I like it when you offer up different music that I would listen to, normally. I have been listening more to Celtic Woman and Irish singers on the public broadcast stations more often. I think if you give something a fair chance, you can find the good in it.

bazza said...

Kezza: What's this? A softer, mellow and chilled-out side to your personality? I'm happy to have assisted in that my friend. Also, I'm pleased that you enjoyed the music.

klahanie said...

Hey bazza,
Ah yes, you jogged my memory with your article on Eric Bogle. Okay, my memory more like crawled along the ground, rather than jogged.
I'm into a bit of folk music and his stuff is making me a weepy n' stuff.
Of course, I like folk music like that had in the movie, "A Mighty Wind".
Have a most excellent weekend, my friend....

bazza said...

Gary: 'A Mighty Wind' is to folk-music what 'Spinal Tap' is to rock music. And very funny.
Try not to get too tearful!

Dixie said...

bazza, I can see why he's a hero. Such an incredible voice, in combination with his poetic artistry, and gift of melody.

This was a real blessing to me. Thank you.

bazza said...

Dixie: I am happy that others like this music. Sometimes I wonder if it's just me!
Thank you for your lovely comment.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Bazza: I'm amazed at last to find someone who has heard of Eric Bogle. I think he's terrific and I listened to him quite a bit years ago, even though folk music is not usually my thing. As well as the songs you mention, didn't he have an amusing song called 'Its bloody well Australian through and through'?

bazza said...

Philip: I feel that way when I discover another fan of Eric Bogle. I also really like June Tabor who is wonderful interpreter of his songs. I don't know the song you are referring to but it sure sounds like his kind of title!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Now I remember, the song I mentioned was sung, but not written, by Eric Bogle.

June Tabor is great. The Resident Wise Woman is a particular fan, and first saw her live when she (Tabor) sang in folk clubs and had a day job.

bazza said...

Philip: I think June Tabor was a librarian for most of her career. Scandalous!