The Bush Girl


Another of Bellamy’s settings of a poem to music this time from the pen of Australian Henry Lawson and Jon says, “From the fabulous Second Wind album which I am hoping EFDSS will get around to reissuing at some point.” Bellamy’s original notes can be read on Mainly Norfolk and it’s notable that he compares Lawson to Kipling in explaining his rationale for doing this. I’d also say that Lawson’s original has the sense of a song lyric to it with a twice repeated chorus (if you will.) Jon slightly confuses some of the words, but hey! That’s the folk process and as I can’t even remember all of the titles from one day to the next, let alone the lyrics, I think he’s forgiven as this is lovely. Hauntingly sad and definitely one of my favourites so far. The poem was written in 1901 and should you want a quick introduction to its author, then Wiki has an interesting page.

You can buy the September digital album now from all good download stores:


12 Responses to “The Bush Girl”

  1. Sol says:

    Lawson also wrote a poem called “The Outside Track” — — which has been made into a terrific song.

  2. Gordon says:

    I have to agree with “The Bush Girl”. Another lovely song.

    As for forgiving him, personally I owe Jon and Bellowhead a debt of gratitude.

    In the 70’s I was driven away from folk music by bad singers who thought all you had to do was sing with your finger in, or hand over one ear.

    Then I chanced upon Bellowhead on “Later with…”

    Having seen Jon on and off stage I’ve always been amazed at the transformation that takes place when he gets into “Bellowhead Mode” and how he’s happy to almost melt into the background in other lineups.

    Amongst his many talents I also think he may have psychic powers. How else do you explain my wifes favourite song “Fakenham Fair” being “Song for a Day” on her birthday, after my favourite “Across the Line” was released on mine?

    Thanks Jon.

  3. Jane Ramsden says:

    Having said of On Board 98 that songs are not always poetry, this one clearly is, and very poignant. The first verse is a cracker. I had not heard of Henry Lawson before – yet again, this site teaches me something new – but his sketch story and Hemingway/Carver sparsity of language mentioned in the Wiki notes (but not emotion) work wonderfully well. This must surely redress the balance for co-listener Robin, and I think underlines his point about On Board 98 – enjoyable enough, but emotionally lighter. This is another high note of the month, and you hit a few high notes yourself in this one, Jon! Last two lines of the last verse encapsulate that very well, not to mention the main chorus line.

  4. Jane Ramsden says:

    “I’d also say that Lawson’s original has the sense of a song lyric to it with a twice repeated chorus (if you will).”

    Lyric poetry was originally written with the idea, but not the necessity, that it be set to music. This poem seems like lyric poetry to me (wot don’t know a lot about such!) with its verses followed by the same refrain. The lyric was the principal poetic form of 19th century Europe, often seen as synonymous with poetry itself. Romantic lyrics usually consist of first-person accounts of the thoughts and feelings of a specific moment; feelings are extreme, but personal. In the early years of the 20th century (this poem is 1901), rhymed lyric poetry usually expresses the feelings of the poet and was the dominant poetic form in America, Europe and the British colonies. Although the poem appears to be exposing thoughts and feelings of the people written about, they are essentially from the poet himself. Seems to fit the bill! Bet Bellamy and Jon knew this already!

  5. Simon Dewsbury says:

    I could listen to Jon sing this sort of thing all day (and by the end of AFSAD I probably will).

    The wiki link to Henry Lawson is indeed very interesting. One of his most famous stories (it tells me) is ‘The Drover’s wife’, which is similar in subject – you can get to the story itself through the links. Poignant that someone who wrote lyrics which fit so well to music went deaf at the age of 14.

    Gordon, really nice post.

  6. muzza says:

    Poignant song and really illustrates the dilemma one has when making a choice between head and heart………and the effect on other people in your life.

  7. Mark says:

    Lovely poem, it really suits Jon’s style I think. The only other Henry Lawson poem I know of is Past Caring, beautifully set to music by Jackie Oates. I highly recommend checking that one out!

  8. Jane Ramsden says:

    Still beautiful; and thanks, Mark, for the pointer to Jackie Oates ‘Past Caring.’ One to check out.

    Since we are ‘doing Australia’ today, and also one to check out, is Peter Knight’s Gigspanner with his wonderful concept and their delivery of ‘Sharp (as in Cecil, of course!) Goes Walkabout.’ YouTube video here:

    I saw this brilliant cross-genres trio (Peter Knight, violin & vocals; Vincent Salzfaas, djembe & congas; Roger Flack, guitar & vocals) at Square Chapel in Halifax 2 days ago. I’m sure many AFSADDERS will be familiar with them, but for those who aren’t, and like more than just straight unaccompanied finger-in-the-ear folk, book yersen a treat! Autumn 2011 gig dates throughout November are:

    2 Nov, The Forge, Anvil Theatre, Basingstoke
    3 Nov, St. Mary’s Church, Rye, East Sussex
    4 Nov, The Ram Club, Thames Ditton, Surrey
    9 Nov, Red Lion Folk Club, Birmingham
    10 Nov, Reading Arts Centre, South Street
    11 Nov, Saint Edith Hall, Kemsing, Sevenoaks, Kent
    12 Nov, Upstairs at The Palace Theatre, Redditch

    I’m posting these dates because they are so superb, you won’t want to miss out! Visit their website for how to book:

    I was very pleased to be able to sing along with the choruses of some songs which had had an outing on here like ‘The Water Is Wide,’ ‘Bonny Birdy’ and ‘Two Constant Lovers.’ I am making some progress!

  9. Jane Ramsden says:

    Another tune played by Gigspanner and featured on their latest live album, ‘Doors At Eight’ goes by the working name of ‘Dave Roberts’ French Waltz,’ as taught by Dave to guitarist Roger. Sample snatch of it can be heard at Amazon here:

    This is a poser that someone on here might be able to help with! Dave Roberts couldn’t remember if this was a tune he’d composed himself or absorbed by musical osmosis, hence the working title. Does anyone know it and its ‘real’ name?

    I’ve researched a bit ref Dave Roberts being in Banjax and Blowzabella. I think John Spiers has played with them, but also Andy Cutting, who plays melodeon and writes lovely waltzes. Maybe it’s one of his, if he overlapped with Dave Roberts in Blowzabella, which I think he did, but surely that would be known?

    Sadly, Dave Roberts died young in 1996, but I’ve trawled through a few waltzes on YouTube and not found it, nor on any Blowzabella CD where I can listen to the tunes. Last ditch hope might be the book ‘Blowzabella: New Tunes For Dancing,’ or the original book from a few years back called the ‘Encyclopeadia Blowzabellica.’ This is assuming ‘Dave Roberts’ French Waltz’ had any connection, but the new book is £90+ on Amazon, so a bit of a stretch! I’d like to know the definitive answer, but maybe that’s as definitive as I’ll get. Lovely tune though, and now at least I know about the group Blowzabella. (Great word for a blousy belle! I believe it comes from a bawdy drinking song called ‘Blowzabella, My Bouncing Doxie!’)

  10. Rosie says:

    This is so lovely, must learn it . I didnt know Jon could reach notes like that !

  11. Diana says:

    A really lovely song. A tale of Australia – a nice change. Jon does a fine job of singing and accompaning it.

  12. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Wow……..such magical words………
    Getting ahead of the days….feeling very guilty but then then got ’embroiled’ with all the links and poems of Mr Lawson and Bret Harte etc (Bret Harte buried just a mile down the road from me)

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