Saturday, 12 April 2014

Robert Holden’s And the Band Played On

This newly released book has gone on to my ever-growing list of ‘must reads’, especially as I have been interested in the role of music in lifting the soldiers’ spirits (and those at home) for many years – since my mother introduced me to Skipper Francis’s stirring song ‘Australia will be there’, one of the most popular songs of World War One. Mum heard it as a young girl in the 1920s and remembered the tune and words. I found the sheet music in a collection of old songs, then began to look around for other songs of the time. I’m still looking and still finding more. I’ve now added poetry to my search, so if anyone reading this has suggestions for either Australian songs or poetry or short stories that I could add to my collection I’d be very interested in hearing from you. 

I’ve also been interested in Australian folk music since I was a teenager and have read widely on Australia’s folklore, the great storytelling tradition and all those stereotypes that we now associate with the Diggers at the front: reckless bravery, taking the mickey out of the bombastic British officer class, irreverent humour and most of all mateship.

This should come as no surprise to those of you who follow this blog, given that I chose the title ‘Fighting the Kaiser’, taken from a popular parody of ‘Waltzing Matilda’.

Fighting the Kaiser, fighting the Kaiser,
Who'll come a-fighting the Kaiser with me?
And we'll drink all his beer, and eat up all his sausages,
Who'll come a-fighting the Kaiser with me!

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