Pick of the Political Pops: The Pogues “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”

‘And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ is a song written by Scottish-born Australian singer-songwriter Eric Bogle in 1971 which has since become a standard in Australian folk circles (William Crighton did an amazing version of it at this year’s Black Deer). The song follows the account of a young Australian serviceman who is maimed during the Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War. The protagonist, who had travelled across rural Australia before the war, is emotionally devastated by the loss of his legs in battle. As the years pass he notes the death of other veterans, while the younger generation becomes apathetic to the veterans and their cause. The Pogues’ version of this anti-war classic still is among the best.

About Mark Whitfield 2006 Articles
Editor of Americana UK website, the UK's leading home for americana news and reviews since 2001 (when life was simpler, at least for the first 253 days)
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Keith Griffiths

Might I recommend another Eric Bogle anti-war song ‘The Green Fields OF France’. Version by ‘The men they couldn’t hang’, released about the same time as the Pogues effort above, is particularly good. As an aside, I first came across both songs in Ireland, where they are routinely sung by Irish ballad singers. Seems they’ve been culturally adopted in Ireland and sit comfortably alongside ‘The Fields of Athenry’, ‘A nation once again’ etc.