The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #21239   Message #228576
Posted By: Bob Bolton
16-May-00 - 12:55 AM
Thread Name: Tune Req: Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielee
Subject: RE: Tune Req: Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielee
G'day Abby Sale,

I did enjoy St Albans. Now I'm back I see that Alan has fairly comprehensively answered the errors in your quoted source. I am not familiar with Bob Waltz and he may be quite secure on his own turf, but this entry contains some frightening misquotes and erroneous assumptions presented as fact. Possibly these errors are in Waltz's sources, but they don't correspond with any of the facts coming from the research.

The place at which Christina's version of Craigielea met Paterson and his poem was the Queensland property of her brother, where she was holidaying from Victoria. Various events in that area could be interpreted as being reflected in the poem - which IS word for word with that written under Christina's manuscript music. It was Marie Cowan's re-arrangement of 10 years later that simplified the words to work as a promotion for Inglis Bros "Billy Tea".

Marie Cowan never claimed to have written her version of the tune, just "arranged" it. Her husband claimed it as her composition after her death ... and thus got continued royalties.

Paterson's handling of the poem, before it became popular during the First World War, suggests some odd distaste for the poem (or circumstances around its composition). It was sold with a bundle of minor poems for 3 pounds (about US$10 - 12 at that time) and that was how Inglis acquired it. Denis O'Keefe suggests some hanky panky with Christina led to Patersons fiance breaking the engagement ... and impressing the lady with a poem, allegedly on the spur of the moment, may have part of this episode.

Interestingly, my father worked (in Scouting) with a former legal colleague of Paterson's. Dad reckons this bloke asked Paterson about the writing of Waltzing Matilda and 'Banjo' said he did not remember doing so ... but the royalties were very pleasant!.

On the side, I would note that John Meredith, raised as a good country boy, has a very strict belief in the honour and veracity of those old performers who gave him songs and music. In this, he is sometimes at variance with more sceptical city slicker folklorists. John's direct approach and deep respect for his sources have driven him to collect a vast body of unique material, at his own expense, in his own time and totally unsupported by any Government body. Only cynics like me question such sources.


Bob Bolton