We have all heard the song, Waltzing Matilda, the most widely known folk song in Australia. It is regarded by many as the unofficial National Anthem of Australia, but how many know the originally intended meaning of the lyrics?
“Waltzing Matilda” has nothing to do with dancing or a girl named Matilda. The song also has nothing to do with romance.
Did someone forget to inform 'polka master' Dick Sinclair?
Several years ago when we lived in California, we watched a filming of Dick Sinclair’s TV show Polka Parade.
One of the songs on the program was Waltzing Matilda. Did Sinclair know it wasn’t a waltz or did he think no one would notice?
In 1800’s rural Australia:
Waltzing meant to travel while working along the way.
Matilda was a swagman’s swag, consisting of a bedroll that bundled his belongings for easy carrying as he traveled.
A swagman is shown above.
A swagman is a man who traveled the country, usually on foot, looking for new work.
Waltzing matilda meant traveling with a swag.
Andrew "Banjo" Paterson wrote the original lyrics to Waltzing Matilda.
In 1880’s Paterson’s poetry was published in Australia under the pseudonym of "The Banjo". Banjo was the name of a prize horse belonging to his father.
Andrew "Banjo" Paterson was a poet, writer, newspaper reporter, lawyer and farmer during his lifetime.
The music for Waltzing Matilda was adapted from an old Celtic folk song by Christina Macpherson.
Later versions of the song included the word “darling,” however the only romance connected with the original song may have been a special friendship between Paterson and Macpherson when the lyrics were written while Paterson was a guest in the Macpherson home.
This video shows the Australian pop band Bachelor Girl with Tania Doko signing Waltzing Matilda at the 2000 AFL Grand Final (Australian rules) football game.