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Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir (trad. Australia)

In Mudcat MIDIs:
Spider from the Gwydir


Bob Bolton 13 May 01 - 09:46 AM
Charley Noble 13 May 01 - 01:20 PM
bbc 13 May 01 - 03:28 PM
MMario 01 Jul 02 - 12:08 PM
Bob Bolton 01 Jul 02 - 11:37 PM
MMario 02 Jul 02 - 12:05 AM
Bob Bolton 02 Jul 02 - 11:47 PM
Bob Bolton 24 Nov 02 - 04:59 AM
Sandra in Sydney 24 Nov 02 - 07:08 AM
Bob Bolton 24 Nov 02 - 08:19 AM
MMario 24 Nov 02 - 09:50 AM
GUEST 24 May 10 - 08:36 AM
Bob Bolton 06 Jun 10 - 07:30 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE SPIDER FROM THE GWYDIR
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 13 May 01 - 09:46 AM

G'day

bbc wanted Aussie songs or poems about animals.

Here is another of the items I had promised. This was originally a poem, so I have presented it in that form. It has acquired a few tunes over the years, but I don't have any of them down in dots. (I may have to do a bit of transcribing ...).

Regards,

Bob Bolton

THE SPIDER FROM THE GWYDIR

By the sluggish River Gwydir
lived a wicked redbacked spider,
He was just about as vicious as could be;
And the place that he was camped in
was a rusty Jones's jam-tin,
In a paddock by the showground at Moree.

Near him lay a shearer snoozing,
he had been on the grog and boozing
All the night - and all the previous day,
And the 'kooking' of the kookas
and the noise of showground spruikers
Failed to wake him from the trance in which he lay.

Then a crafty looking spieler
with a dainty little sheila,
Came along collecting wood to make a fire;
Said the spieler, "There's a boozer
and he's going to be a loser.
If he isn't, you can christen me a liar!

Wriggle round and keep nit, honey,
while I fan the mug for money,
And we'll have some luxuries for tea."
She answered, "Don't be silly!
You go back and boil the billy:
You can safely leave the mug to little me."

So she circled ever nearer
till she reached the dopey shearer,
With his pocket bulging, fast asleep and snug
But she didn't see the spider
that was ringing just beside her,
For her mind was on the money and the mug.

Now the spider wanted dinner;
he was daily growing thinner.
He'd been fasting and was hollow as an urn;
As she eyed the bulging pocket
he just darted like a rocket
And he bit the spieler's sheila on the stern.

Like a flash she raced off squealing
and her clothes began unpeeling;
To hear her yells would make you feel forlorn.
On the bite, one hand was pressing
while the other was undressing
And she reached the camp the same as she was born!

Then the shearer, pale and haggard
woke, and back to town he staggered;
Where he caught the train and gave the booze a rest,
And he'll never know a spider,
that was camping by the Gwydir,
Had saved him sixty-seven of the best.


Glossary:
Gwydir: The river passing Moree
Redbacked spider: Small venomous spider, latrodectus hasellti. First cousin of the Black Widow Spider, latrodectus maculatus.
(Jam)-tin: Can, previously holding fruit jam (conserve).
Moree: Inland town in New South Wales
Kookas: Australian abbreviation of kookaburras (our national bird, "The Great Kingfisher", "The Laughing Jackass" ... and a lot of other things, when they wake you before dawn with a maniacal cackle of laughter!).
Spieler: A suspicious type – city bloke probably, keep you money out of sight ...
Shiela: Common Australianism for a girl ... not usually to her face.
Spruikers: Showground professional crowd-pullers, describing the delights of various sideshows.
Keep nit: Keep a good look-out.
Billry: the ubiqitous tin can, with a fence-wire handle, used to boil water for tea ... or cook up a stew.
Mug: Anyone a spieler might turn to a profit.
Sixty-seven of the best: 67 pound notes – about $130 in today's currency, but the payment for weeks of backbreaking work when this poem was written.

This is the version originally found by John Meredith in a notebook of the late R J Blumer, now in the possession of his son Eric Blumer, of the Vale of Clwydd. The poem was first published in the Bush Music Club's magazine Singabout, volume 3, number 2, Autumn 1959.
It was printed there in twelve line stanzas and, when published in Meredith & Anderson's Folk Songs of Australia, 1968, it was given in forty eight lines with no spaces - presumably as the poem was written down in the notebook.
I prefer to write it in six line stanzas, which approximates the way I recite the poem.
Bob Bolton


The Moree Spider

By the murky River Gwydir
Lived a savage redbacked spider,
He was cranky, and as savage as could be;
And the place that he was camped in
Was a rusty Jones's jam- tin,
On the bank behind the showground at Moree.

Beside him lay a shearer,
He'd been on the bloody beer or
Plonk all night, and all the previous day;
And the coughing of the cougars
And the shouting of the spruikers
Failed to rouse him from the trance in which he lay.

Through September and October
He'd endeavoured to keep sober;
Thought he'd save his cash and shout himself a trip,
And though he'd fractured this agenda,
On his current little bender,
He still had sixty-seven on the hip.

A flashy showground spieler
With his dainty red-haired sheila,
Walked along to get some sticks to make a fire;
Said the spieler, 'Here's a boozer
And he's going to be a loser.
If he's not, then you can christen me a liar'.

He said, 'Now listen, honey,
We are going to get some money,
And buy a tasty morsel for our tea'.
She said, "Don't you be silly!
You go back and boil the billy,
You can safely leave this shearer mug to me."

So she gradually crept nearer
To the unsuspecting shearer,
Little caring that she might commit a sin;
And to make the silence deeper,
And not disturb the sleeper,
She very gently moved the rusty tin.

Now the spider had grown thinner;
He'd had no bloody dinner,
He was hungry and as empty as an urn;
As she reached the shearer's pocket
He shot out like a rocket
And he bit the dainty sheila, on the stern.

Well, she kicked and screamed and farted
And back to camp she started,
She leapt about and bounded like a fawn.
While one hand her arse was pressing,
The other was undressing,
And she reached the camp the same as she was born.

The shearer woke up pale and haggard,
And back to town he staggered,
Thought he'd catch the train and give the booze a rest,
He little knew that spider,
That was camped beside the Gwydir,
Had saved him sixty-seven of the best.

Extra Glossary:
Cranky: Bad-tempered in Australian parlance, not unbalanced.
Plonk: Wine, especially red wine, despite the word's derivation from the French vin blanc.

This version comes from John Meredith's second volume of Folk Songs of Australia, (NSW University Press,1987), It has one extra six-line stanza and several interesting variations. The source is the late Ernie Sibley of Mudgee, a singer and reciter from whom Meredith had collected a number of songs in the 1950s. When collecting again, in the 1980s, Meredith had enquired after Ernie and found that he had died but he made several cassettes of poems for his family. This is transcribed one one of the cassettes and is in a six-line stanza form, as Ernie recited it.
The reference to Moree is geographically more accurate than the volume 1 version and suggests that this is closer to the original - written by someone who actually knew Moree. It isn't known who did write it but Ernie was a sometime writer as well as reciter. Many of the words and phrases have about them the feeling of poetry that hasn't been passed down - the sort of thing that the author can do well because he wrote it and knows exactly what he means, but will cause another reciter to stumble. It might also be noted that Ernie was known for his recitations of real tongue-twisters like 'The Tree Toad' (Folk Songs of Australia and the men and women who sang them, vol. 2, p169).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: Charley Noble
Date: 13 May 01 - 01:20 PM

Love them intrepid ecckks!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: bbc
Date: 13 May 01 - 03:28 PM

Thanks, Bob; these are great!

bbc


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: MMario
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 12:08 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 01 Jul 02 - 11:37 PM

Er... G'day MMario ...,

I see that you have refreshed this thread. You wouldn't bve dropping subtle hints about the (vaguely) promised tunes, would you ...?

I do have one or two of the tunes in local folklore publications ... but none is quite the tune I first learnt. I will see what I can transcribe (my preference being for the tune I learnt c. 1962) ... and I may give others, if they have merit.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: MMario
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 12:05 AM

Would I do that? *urk* guess I did...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 11:47 PM

G'day again MMario,

I did not think much of the collected tunes I turned up. I really need to dig out the one to which I learnt these words ... just on 40 years ago. I have it running through my brain ... now I have to get it focused on the keyboard and my music-writing program.

I did suggest that I prefer to recite it, these days - like many other pieces, I have to weigh the relative values of singing and reciting - and this one needs to be recited, if for no other reason than the need to explain half the references to a modern, city-bound audience!

Reggards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: Tune Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 24 Nov 02 - 04:59 AM

Errr... G'day again ... ?

MMario: I seem to have forgotten my promise to get down the dots ... until I stumbled across this today!

Here is a MIDItext of the tune I learned about 40 years ago. Nowadays I prefer to recite it ... as I did last night at the Loaded Dog Folk Club - and was looking up the words for someone who wanted them ... and noticed that I had not got around to transcribing the dots.


MIDI file: spiderfg.mid


Timebase: 240


TimeSig: 2/4 24 8

Tempo: 120 (500000 microsec/crotchet)

Start

0240 1 79 080 0096 0 79 064 0024 1 77 080 0096 0 77 064 0024 1 76 080 0144 0 76 064 0036 1 76 080 0048 0 76 064 0012 1 79 080 0144 0 79 064 0036 1 79 080 0048 0 79 064 0012 1 72 080 0144 0 72 064 0036 1 72 080 0048 0 72 064 0012 1 72 080 0144 0 72 064 0036 1 71 080 0048 0 71 064 0012 1 69 080 0144 0 69 064 0036 1 71 080 0048 0 71 064 0012 1 72 080 0144 0 72 064 0036 1 72 080 0048 0 72 064 0012 1 67 080 0144 0 67 064 0036 1 67 080 0048 0 67 064 0012 1 64 080 0144 0 64 064 0036 1 65 080 0048 0 65 064 0012 1 67 080 0144 0 67 064 0036 1 67 080 0048 0 67 064 0012 1 67 080 0144 0 67 064 0036 1 67 080 0048 0 67 064 0012 1 69 080 0144 0 69 064 0036 1 69 080 0048 0 69 064 0012 1 77 080 0144 0 77 064 0036 1 77 080 0048 0 77 064 0012 1 76 080 0672 0 76 064 0048 1 67 080 0144 0 67 064 0036 1 67 080 0048 0 67 064 0012 1 69 080 0144 0 69 064 0036 1 69 080 0048 0 69 064 0012 1 77 080 0144 0 77 064 0036 1 77 080 0048 0 77 064 0012 1 76 080 0144 0 76 064 0036 1 76 080 0048 0 76 064 0012 1 67 080 0144 0 67 064 0036 1 67 080 0048 0 67 064 0012 1 69 080 0144 0 69 064 0036 1 69 080 0048 0 69 064 0012 1 77 080 0144 0 77 064 0036 1 77 080 0048 0 77 064 0012 1 76 080 0144 0 76 064 0036 1 76 080 0048 0 76 064 0012 1 72 080 0144 0 72 064 0036 1 74 080 0048 0 74 064 0012 1 76 080 0144 0 76 064 0036 1 76 080 0048 0 76 064 0012 1 76 080 0144 0 76 064 0036 1 76 080 0048 0 76 064 0012 1 77 080 0144 0 77 064 0036 1 77 080 0048 0 77 064 0012 1 74 080 0144 0 74 064 0036 1 71 080 0048 0 71 064 0012 1 72 080 0672 0 72 064

End


This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the March 10 MIDItext 98 software and get instructions on how to use it click here


ABC format:


X:1

T:

M:2/4

Q:1/4=120

K:C

g6f2|e3eg3g|c3cc3B|A3Bc3c|G3GE3F|G3GG3G|A3Af3f|

e8|-e4G3G|A3Af3f|e3eG3G|A3Af3f|e3ec3d|e3ee3e|

f3fd3B|c8|-c3||



Enjoy!

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 24 Nov 02 - 07:08 AM

Bob's recitation went down a treat with the audience - so too did last month's recitation about the wonder horse.

In fact the whole evening went down well - lots of good singing from the stage & the audience.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 24 Nov 02 - 08:19 AM

G'day again,

Errr... well ... What Sandra means is that I recited the late John Manifold's great spoof of all those interminable tales of incredible horses - Incognito ... a wonderful antidote to a particular school of "Bush poet"!

I'd post the words - but: This is a Music site ... and they are still in copyright.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: MMario
Date: 24 Nov 02 - 09:50 AM

thanks for the tune Bob!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 10 - 08:36 AM

I know the first verse as:
Down by the river Gwydir
There lived a Red back Spider
And he was just as mean as he could be
And the place that he did dwell in
Was an IXL Plum Jam tim
Down by the showgrounds at Moree


The rest apears to be the same...memory foggy...too many years!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Spider from the Gwydir
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 07:30 PM

G'day GUEST of 24 May 19 - 08.36 AM,

As far as I know, most reciters ... or singers of musical settings ... of this poem start from John Meredith's collected words from the notebook of the late R J Blumer of Clydd (a 'suburb' of Lithgow - a coal-mining town just over the Great Dividing Range, west of Sydney).

Quite a number of singers set tunes to it ... and variations in words would often represent 'fitting' the words to a particular singer's tune or just their preference. It may be that the words you remember come from such a musical setting ... or just an individual reciter's memory of the poem ... or they may have come down entirely free of the "folk revival" (~1953 ... onwards)!

I always used the Blumer words, which I got direct from John Meredith ... and I came to prefer the second collected set ... those left behind on a cassette recording of the the late Ernie Sibley, of Mudgee (a town further west and north of Lithgow) as they show a better knowledge of Moree ... and have a few more robust stanzas about the "sheila" - after she is bitten by the red-back spider!

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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