"I'll fight but not surrender": Australia's bushranger ballads
September 14, 2018 2:48 PM   Subscribe

You’ve only got to look at the names of the most famous bushrangersJack Donohoe, Ned Kelly, Dan Morgan – to see this Irish lineage show through. It’s also noticeable how many of the bushranger ballads are composed to fit old Irish tunes: and often old Irish rebel tunes at that. Jim Jones, for example, can be sung to the music of Skibbereen.... Both Bold Jack Donohoe and The Wild Colonial Boy are written to fit the music of the Irish nationalist anthem The Wearing of the Green. “I’ll fight but not surrender”: Bushranger ballads, from MeFi's own Paul Slade. Too many stories of the lads? Skip to the appendix for Daughters of the Rum Rebellion, true tales of Australia's colonial women via original songs [Facebook] by Gleny Rae & Ilona Harker. [via mefi projects]
posted by filthy light thief (9 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Bonus links: The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem perform "Wild Colonial Boy" on the Ed Sullivan show, introduced as an Irish ballad.

Roweth Music, the website of Chloë & Jason Roweth, who have been researching and presenting the living tradition of Australian music for over twenty years, and son has uploaded various videos to YouTube.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:52 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

That is bizarre, 20 minutes ago I was asleep and dreaming of Morgan's lookout, which my family used to visit when I was a kid.
posted by deadwax at 3:17 PM on September 14

Moar links! Such is life. Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang, previously, plus 20 minutes of the remnants of The Story of the Kelly Gang, an attempt to turn the extant footage from the 1906 film, which at its time, was the longest narrative film yet seen in the world, with a run-time of over an hour (a reel length of about 1,200 metres, or 4,000 ft).
posted by filthy light thief at 3:36 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]

Relatedly, and not news, certain American musical traditions also incorporate Irish music as a major contributory stream. When I was learning to play the Irish catalog I was amazed to discover how much of it I already knew, and how much of it we have in common with our Strain brethren. Fields of Athenry is I guess sort of the maximal case. Whatever, I love all these songs. My life has been immeasurably enriched by digging into this stuff.
posted by mwhybark at 4:28 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

Ironically, these are the missing words from my prior comment: "an attempt to turn the extant footage into a coherent story, from the 1906 film"
posted by filthy light thief at 4:29 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]

Fields of Athenry is I guess sort of the maximal case.

Fields of Athenry was written in 1979, fyi.
posted by fshgrl at 6:59 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

There is a long-persistent legend that, at the time of his capture, Ned Kelly was carrying the papers announcing the formation of an independent republic in north-western Victoria. This has, of course, never been substantiated (perhaps because it's a romantic myth, or perhaps it was true and the British colonial authorities, as expected, destroyed all evidence that Kelly had been anything other than just another armed robber), but it does turn Kelly from merely a doomed romantic anti-hero into a lodestar for the sizeable Fenian tendency in the Australia's long-simmering republican movement.
posted by acb at 7:35 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Fields of Athenry was written in 1979, fyi.

Oh, I know. It's very much like an American pop-country song in structure. That's why i cited it as a theoretical maximum.
posted by mwhybark at 8:24 AM on September 15

Interesting article, filthy light thief. Thanks for the heads up. I really should check out Projects more often.

My favourite Kelly ballads:
Gary Shearston: My Name is Edward Kelly
Redgum: Poor Ned
posted by valetta at 9:11 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

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