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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
The Doctor Lyr Req: The Year of the Drum (Wendy Joseph) (23) RE: Lyr Req: The Year of the Drum (Wendy Joseph) 11 Feb 14


This is what Martyn sings, though not necessarily what Wendy Joseph wrote:

Now my name is Jack Gresham, I was brought up in Mannum,
That river-boat town I loved well.
I married Meg Davis, we had us two children,
One day our family bliss turned to hell.
'Twas in 1915 and the year of the drum,
The guns and the government called me to come.
Past melaleuca and tall shining gums
I'm drifting away down the Murray.

Now my name is Meg Davis and I work down at Shearers
With saddles and wagons and hames.
The men are all fighting, the war it is raging,
The women toil here making fuel for the flames.
For it's 1916 and the men have all gone,
They're fighting in Europe so we carry on,
We're keeping the candles lit bright here at home,
To light their way back up the Murray.

Now my name it is Mary and I am an orphan,
My father was killed in the war.
My ma was Meg Davis, an upstanding lady,
She drowned in the Murray the year I turned four.
'Twas in 1918 that the telegram came,
The death of her soldier its news did proclaim.
My ma lost her footing to the tears and the rain,
She slipped on the banks of the Murray.

Now my name it is Billy and I am a soldier,
I just got my orders today.
My wife's name is Mary, she's fair as the sunset,
I hate to be leaving her lonely this way.
But the year's '42 and the year of the drum,
The guns and the government call me to come.
Past melaleuca and tall shining gums
I'm drifting away down the Murray.

But the year doesn't matter, there's always a drum,
The guns and the government call men to come,
The town still grows strong in her tall shining sons,
While her daughters light lamps by the Murray.

Apart from the odd words the main differences are in the years given. In terms of the history of the Great War Martyn's dates do make sense, but they don't match what is quoted by Alessandro on the Anti-War Songs site, and they don't fit so well with Mary being four when her ma died.

Martyn's background history to the song can be found on his website news: Australian Tour 2011.


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