THE BAND PLAYED WALTZING MATILDA
Eric Bogle

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When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of the rover.
From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback,
And I waltzed my Matilda all over.
Then in 1915, the country said, "Son,
It's time to stop ramblin', there's work to be done."
So they gave me a tin hat, they gave me a gun,
And they sent me away to the war.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda,"
As the ship pulled away from the quay,
And amidst all the cheers, flag waving, and tears,
We sailed off for Gallipoli.

And well I remember that terrible day,
How our blood stained the sand and the water;
And how in that hell that they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk, he was waitin', he primed himself well;
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shell --
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,
We buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
Then we started all over again.

Now those that were left, we just tried to survive
In a mad world of blood, death and fire.
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
While around me the corpses piled higher.
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
And when I awoke in my hospital bed
When I saw what it had done, how I wished I was dead --
I never knew there was worse things than dying.

For no more I'll go "Waltzing Matilda,"
All around the green bush far and near --
To hung tent and pegs, sure a man needs both legs,
No more "Waltzing Matilda" for me.

They collected the wounded the crippled, and the maimed,
And they shipped us back home to Australia.
The legless, the armless, the blind, the insane,
Those proud wounded heroes from Suvla.
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay,
I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
And thanked Christ there was noone there waiting for me,
To grieve, or to mourn or to pity.

And the band played "Waltzing Matilda"
As they carried us down the gangway,
Nobody cheered, they just stood and stared,
Then they turned all their faces away.

So now every April, I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me.
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march,
Renewing those dreams of past glory,
And I see the old men all bent stiff and sore,
The tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask "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
Someday, no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda.
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
And their ghosts may be heard as they march by the billabong,
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda with me?