"The Outside Track" is a poem written by the Australian poet Henry Lawson, and was set to music by Gerry Hallom, an English singer of Australian songs. Garnet Rogers learned it from Gerry. I sing it putting back the first stanza and final chorus that Hallom left out; it's one of my very favorite sad songs:
THE OUTSIDE TRACK by Henry Lawson
There were ten of us there on the moonlit quay,
And one on the forward hatch.
No straighter mate to his mates than he
Ever said, "Old Len's a match!
'Twill be long, old man, ere our glasses clink,
"Twill be long, ere we grip your hand,"
So we dragged him ashore for a final drink
And the whole wide world looked grand
For they marry and go,
And the world rolls back,
They marry, and vanish and die,
But their spirits shall live on the outside track
As long as the years go by.
The port lights glowed in the morning mist
As it rolled on the waters green,
And over the railing we grasped his fist
As the dark tide came between.
We cheered the captain, we cheered the crew
And our mate, times out of mind.
We cheered the land he was going to
And the land he had left behind.
We roared "Lang Syne" in a last farewell
But my heart felt out of joint.
I well remember the hush that fell.
As the steamer passed the point.
We drifted home through the public bars,
We were ten times less by one
Who sailed out under the morning stars
And under the rising sun.
Then one by one, and two by two
They've sailed from the wharf since then.
I've said goodbye to the last I knew,
The last of the careless men.
And I can't but think that the times we had
Were the best times after all,
As I turn aside with my lonely glass
And drink to the barroom wall.
So I'll try my luck
For a check Outback
And a last farewell to the bush
For my heart's away on the Outside Track
At the back of the steerage push.
This is from memory - I'll double check it in my book of Lawson's poems when I get home tonight. I'm surprised it's not in the DT.