"The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" as written by and Eric Bogle....
Now when I was a young man, I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover
From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback
Well, I waltzed my Matilda all over
Then in 1915, my country said "son
It's time you stopped rambling, there's work to be done"
So they gave me a tin hat, and they gave me a gun
And they marched me away to the war

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

And how well I remember that terrible day
How our blood stained the sand and the water
And of how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter
Johnny Turk, he was waiting, he'd 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

But the band played Waltzing Matilda
When we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again

And those that were left, well we tried to survive
In that mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks, I kept myself alive
Though around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head
And when I woke up in me hospital bed
And saw what it had done, well I wished I was dead
Never knew there was worse things than dyin'

For I'll go no more waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and free
To hump tent and pegs, a man needs both legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

So they gathered the crippled, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The legless, the armless, the blind, the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of 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 nobody waiting for me
To grieve, to mourn, and to pity

But the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then they turned all their faces away

And so now every April, I sit on me porch
And I watch the parades pass before me
And I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reviving old dreams of past glories
And the old men march slowly, old bones stiff and sore
They're tired old heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, "what are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question

But the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer the call
But as year follows year, more old men disappear
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 that billabong
Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?


Lyrics submitted by Haysie

"The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" as written by Eric Bogle

Lyrics © MUSIC SALES CORPORATION, DOMINO PUBLISHING COMPANY

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The Band Played Waltzing Matilda song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentWhy are there no comments on this song? Why is this the only Eric Bogle song on here? Bloody hell, this is one of the most powerful war songs ever written!

    "And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay, I looked at the place where me legs used to be,
    And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me,
    to grieve, to mourn, and to pity."

    If this line doesn't strike emotion in it, I don't know what will. The idea that these blokes went through all this and came back to an empty dock. The war took everything away from them, and in return they get nothing more than a parade once a year...
    Agnuon May 01, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIncredible song! I agree mates. The Pogues version is maybe better known and is Ok but somehow I prefer the original and maybe one by Davey Artur too....

    somehow, without being too sentimental, it bites into the experience and scars, the sense of comradeship, isolation from those who didn't share the same experience and how time seems to remove all value of it.

    The poetry is something too....

    not just Aussies though mates, Canadians, Poms, Indians, Paks....USA, not to mention the poor German, Austrian lads, etc..

    the song says it all.
    NWNmoonon December 27, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree whole-heartedly mate! A fantastic song, and really epitomises the Australian fighting spirit and willingness to protect such an amazing land.
    Haysieon May 01, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFrom Reuters (reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/…)

    Australia's Last World War One Soldier Dies, Aged 110
    Wed Jun 3, 2009 4:00am EDT

    CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - The last remaining Australian to serve in World War One has died at the age of 110, Veterans' Affairs Minister Alan Griffin said on Wednesday.

    John "Jack" Ross, who was also Australia's oldest man having turned 110 in March, died in his sleep early Wednesday morning at a nursing home in Bendigo in the state of Victoria.

    jcovarruon June 09, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti saw eric play this when i was about 13 when he was touring australia... i went with my dad and we both could not stop crying, it was so powerful and moving. eric bogle is one of the best folk singers ive ever heard in my life, i wish he were more well known, but i think hes pretty happy how it is now! nice bloke too, met him after the show, very friendly (and short haha)
    huntingbears86on April 08, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"We buried ours,
    And the Turks buried theirs,
    Then we started all over again."

    Says it all, really.
    nitroglycolon November 11, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of the things that sticks out to me the most is the fact that Eric Bogle writes that the speaker loses his legs.
    This tragedy is not a coincidence because the traditional song Waltzing Matilda is the pride of Australia and is about wandering about freely.
    He can no longer waltz his Matilda because of the war.
    Americanmuscleon September 28, 2016   Link

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