Waltzing Matilda, by Banjo Paterson (featured by Slim Dusty)

If you ask an Australian about a song that they all know, sing, and respect as much as their national anthem, the answer will most probably be Waltzing Matilda.

Far from being an epic story, the lyrics talk about a homeless man that travels around Australia with their belongings in a bag (a bag that he calls Matilda and seems to dance as he walks, thus the title of the song.) He then finds a sheep that he kills and eats, but the owner arrives along with the police to arrest him, and he decides to escape by getting into the water nearby and dies (he commits suicide). Since then, his ghosts haunts the place.

It was written by the journalist and poet Banjo Paterson, who wrote the lyrics in 1895 for a ballad composed by Christina McPherson (based on The Craigielee March, also based on old Scottish folk songs dating from the XVIII century). The song became popular due to its melody and rhythm, and since then it has been recorded in numerous occasions by the most diverse artists.

Waltzing Matilda is not Australian national anthem (in a poll carried in 1977 to chose the official national anthem it came in second place just after Advance Australia Fair), but it is used in sport events and children learn it in school/

For today's post I have chosen the version from Slim Dusty, but instead of the official music video, I chose the version that he sang during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sydney. I find it really amazing to hear over 100,000 people singing this Waltzing Matilda in harmony.

Article published on July 24, 2014.
This article has been modified since its original publication.