"Tenterfield Saddler" as written by and Peter Woolnough Allen....
The late george wallno
Worked on high street and lived on manners
52 years he sat on his verandah, made his saddles
And if you had questions about sheep or flowers or doves
You just asked the saddler, he lived without sin
They're building a library for him

Time is a traveller
Tenterfield saddler
Turn your head
Right again jackaroo, think I see kangaroo up ahead

The son of george wallno went off and got married and had a war baby
But something was wrong and it's easier to drink than go crazy
And if there were questions about why the end was so sad
Well george had no answers about why her son ever has need of a gun

Time is a traveller
Tenterfield saddler
Turn your head
Right again jackaroo, think I see kangaroo up ahead

The grandson of george has been all around the world and lives no special place
Changed his last name and he married a girl with an interesting face
He'd almost forgotten them both because of the life that he leads
There's nowhere for george and his library or the son with his gun to belong
Except in this song

Time is a traveller
Tenterfield saddler
Turn your head
Right again jackaroo, think I see kangaroo up ahead

Time is a meddler
Tenterfield saddler
Make a bet
Fly away cockatoo
Down on the ground
Emu up ahead

Time is a tale teller
Tenterfield saddler
Turn your head
Right again jackaroo, think I see kangaroo up ahead

Time is a tale teller
Tenterfield saddler
Make a bet
Fly away cockatoo
Down on the ground
Emu up ahead


Lyrics submitted by desperatecontention, edited by cafediva, gejopari, Jagman619

"Tenterfield Saddler" as written by Peter Woolnough Allen

Lyrics © CARLIN AMERICA INC, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Tenterfield Saddler song meanings
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  • 0
    General Commentthis is peter allan talking about his family history. his gandfather was the saddler tanterfield
    dawnfireon July 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSome extra info to add to Dawnfire's comment:

    George Woolnough was Peter's grandfather, he really was a saddler and he doesn't quite have a whole library dedicated to him, but there is a wing of the Tenterfield Library called the 'George Woolnough Wing'.

    George's son Dick (Peter's father) served in the second world war and upon returning to Australia became a violent alcoholic. He killed himself when Peter was still young. And, as mentioned in the song, reportedly George never got over losing him.

    Peter has indeed been all around the world during his career. He was born Peter Richard Woolnough, and he "changed his last name" when he started performing with a band called the Allen Brothers. He was at one time married to Liza Minelli, who could certainly be described as having an interesting face.

    As for the references in the chorus: a jackaroo is a very australian term for a male training to be a stockman and kangaroos, cockatoos, and emus are all distinctly Australian animals. I would assume that these refernces are supposed to portray George as a very Australian bloke.
    sunnie31on May 23, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is largely autobiographical of its writer/performer Peter Allen, and has great cultural significance in Australia which it does not seem to have outside of Australia.

    At the obvious level the song is autobiographical. Peter Allen's grandfather was the admired and respected George Woolnough. Peter's own father was a failed man who suicided, "had need of a gun". Peter himself "changed his last name" to Allen, and married "a girl with an interesting face", a not particularly kind reference to his by then estranged wife Liza Minelli.

    At a less individual level, the song, I believe, has great human resonance by its description of time as an unstoppable, inoxerable force that eventually lays the truth out for all to see, pretty or otherwise. "Time is a traveler" is the most frequently repeated chorus line in the song, which for me evokes both the human image of horsemen moving forward, but also the universal hand of time conquering all. Time is also a "tale teller" and a "meddler".

    It is a meddler in that it doesn't always cooperate to help our lives turn out the way we had planned, which Peter would have known applied to his father who killed himself. It is also arguable that time likewise "meddled" in Peter's own life, when he subsequently died prematurely of AIDS after contracting HIV from a homosexual partner.

    Time is also a "tale teller" - it ultimately mocks our fronts, masks and pretences, and eventually lays open the hard truth to judgment. Time has told the tale of George Woolnough's decency and success, just as it has told the tale of the uncontrolled, unreliable and failed life of Peter's father. Peter would have also known that it would tell the tale of his life, and indeed details of his sexuality - and of obviously his premature death - only emerged after the song was written.

    Time has also been a "tale teller" by showing that being the son of a good, stable man is no guarantee that a child ("son with a gun") will not go along the wrong track, and by showing that a life of personal tragedy (Peter's lifestyle and prematurely dying of AIDS) is a very common outcome of being raised in a house with a mentally ill, alcoholic, suicidal father.

    In the end, Peter is write in saying that given the power of time, as humans with our lives all we can do is "make a bet". We can make the wisest possible decision at any point in time to provide ourselves the best chances - but the reality is that we are still only "making a bet" in that even the decision we foresaw as the wisest could nonetheless end in complete disaster when the hand of time moves and reveals the final outcome.
    nashton October 25, 2012   Link

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