Wherever there are Australians, it seems ‘Waltzing Matilda’ is there. In fact, it seems ‘Waltzing Matilda’ has always been there. It holds a unique place in our culture. Quite simply, it is part of Australia and part of being Australian.
For more than 115 years Australians of all ages and backgrounds have sung ‘Waltzing Matilda’ – around campfires, at sporting events, in schools, in fact anywhere people gather. Regarded as an unofficial national anthem by many, if not most, tit is certainly as well known as the official anthem. Yet, whilst we know that Banjo Paterson is attributed with its writing, and many also know that it is connected to the Shearers’ Strike of the time, few people now its full history.
In Waltzing Matilda: The Secret History of Australia’s Favourite Song, singer/songwriter Dennis O’Keeffe traces the history of the ballad, including both its writing and setting to music, as well as the events in Australian history which led to its creation. Readers are treated into an insight into the life and times of AB ‘Banjo’ Patterson, and into the politics of the workers movement and socio-economic conditions. Whilst the song is uplifting and often regarded as a harmless ditty, it tells the story of a tumultuous piece of Australian history.
Written after years of research, Waltzing Matilda: The Secret History of Australia’s Favourite Song is an enlightening, accessible read.
Waltzing Matilda: The Secret History of Australia’s Favourite Song, by Dennis O’Keeffe
Allen & Unwin, 2012
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