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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Alan of Australia Tune Req: Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielee (29) RE: Tune Req: Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielee 13 May 00

G'day again Abby,
Some of the statements in your reference bear comment:-

"It has also been observed that Paterson never wrote anything else of any quality" Most Australians would disagree with this, e.g. "Clancy of the Overflow", "The Man From Snowy River".

"and he knew it, because he several times made gibes at Henry Lawson" Lawson & Paterson carried on a friendly rivalry for many years & it must be observed that it did their circulation no harm.

"He allegedly wrote the story based on an event which took place near his girlfriend's home (though the event has not been confirmed historically)" The state archives show that Samuel "Frenchy" Hoffmeister DID commit suicide by a billabong just 14 weeks before Paterson wrote the ballad. (Research by Richard Magoffin).

"and a local girl (Marie Cowan) gave him this tune" What evidence is there that Marie Cowan was local? Note that she only claimed to have arranged the tune.

"The tune has also been called "Thou Bonnie Woods of Craigie Lee" (the title which Paterson originally put to the tune), sometimes credited to James Barr" I have a songbook brought to Australia in 1893 which has words and tune for "Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea", Words by Tannahill, Melody by James Barr. My copy was printed by 1890.

"but the air usually used for "Craigielea" is emphatically not "The Bold Fusilier" or "Walting Matilda" This tune DOES bear a resemblance to the tune in Christina McPherson's manuscript. She wrote it out twice (that we know of) and these copies were only discovered in fairly recent times.

Here's what I wote in the earlier thread (1998) concerning the fusilier:-

There's a song called The Bold Fusilier which uses the Cowan version of the Matilda tune. It has been suggested that Paterson simply rewrote this song. Here is what Richard Magoffin says about it:-

There is an English song which pretends to come from the time of the Duke of Marlborough, "The Bold (or Gay) Fusilier", but it is really a parody of "Waltzing Matilda" from the Boer war, which was attended by the fusiliers, by Banjo Paterson, and many other Australians who sang our song. (Also, although irrelevant here, by Marlborough's descendant Sir Winston Churchill - A of A).

There is no record anywhere of the existence of this song prior to 1900 by way of any manuscript.

The British Museum wrote in 1968 that they had never found any trace of the song. The British Folk Song and Dance Society had received many requests but, likewise, found no record.

The Mayor of Rochester and the editor of the Fusilier's magazine were challenged some years ago to present pre-Matilda evidence for their song. They were not able to do so, while insisting that hearsay evidence in England was sufficient. English folklore authority, Vaughan Williams, considered that the earlier existence of the song was very doubtful because its language was not appropriate to the early eighteenth century period it pretended to represent.

There are two versions of this in the DT:-
These are attributed to Peter Coe. Both are significantly different from the version on Peter and Chris Coe's "Open The Door And Let Us In" album whose sleeve notes say of "The Gay Fusilier": A recruiting song set at the turn of the 18th century. Peter found the first verse and directions for the tune (said to be originally English) in a magazine, but after searching unsuccessfully for the rest of the song, he wrote the additional verses himself.

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