The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16016 Message #1038668
Posted By: Bob Bolton
20-Oct-03 - 07:53 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Tarpaulin Jacket
Subject: Lyr Add: Cornpicker's Lament (Australian)
I guess I'm just adding this to round out the posting, 5 days above - where, after 4 years of neglect of the request, I posted the lyric of Lady Monroe. This is the song John Meredith wrote, of his brief experience of picking corn (maize) in Queensland during his rambles by pushbike, before settling in Sydney - after WW II. As his notes (below) say, he wrote it to make use of the tune he had collected to a song he definitely could not print back in the 1950s. I notice that the spelling has changed from "Munro" to "Monroe" ... perhaps an unconcious acknowledgement of Marilyn?
I don't remember Merro singing any more than the single verse and chorus , quoted above, of Lady Monroe/Munro - but I'll chase up with friends researching the Meredith Collection at the National Library - to see if he recorded any more. As it stands, I suspect the single bawdy verse and chorus may have survived as a musician's private words to a popular waltz tune at "bush dances". (Merro had noted that a number of bawdy songs were often requested - as tunes only - at dances, while: "the men danced around with silly smirks on their faces ..."!) It is worth noting that the Lady Monroe/Munro tune has a far more demure identity as The Gentle Maiden!
THE CORNPICKER'S LAMENT
"Lady Munro", an unprintable ballad, was recently collected from a shearer. The tune is a variant of the evergreen "Rosin the Beau".
Words: John Meredith. Air: "Lady Munro".
Come all you young city-born slickers,
Who want to try life in the rough,
Stay away from the Atherton corn farms
And the job that I found was too tough.
Then away from the Atherton farmlands
I'm off at the crack of the dawn;
I'll take any job you can offer,
But I'll never more try picking corn.
It's hard to pick corn like a champion
When your husker has blistered your mitts.
And your horse always wants to be moving
Till you just about start throwing fits.
And you can't concentrate on your picking
When your shirt's full of sharp Roger seeds,
And the burrs in your pants are all prickly
And you can't see your cart for the weeds.
When you've got a shirt full of weevils,
Then corn-picking starts to get hard,
And every third cob when you toss it
Just misses the cart by a yard.
But after a while it gets easy,
And you reckon you've got the game licked –
Two ton a day will be easy,
But you're too late – the flaming crop's picked.
Singabout, Vol 1, No. 2, Autumn (March - May) 1956, p. 7
Bush Music Club, Woolloomooloo, Sydney