CYRIL DUNCAN


CYRIL DUNCAN

Hawthorne Qld Recorded


COLLECTED MATERIAL

Meeting and recording Cyril Duncan was a real experience in folklore collecting. He had been recorded in the sixties by Stan Arthur and Bob Michell who had recorded about a dozen items. I was curious to find out whether Cyril had additional songs. As a singer I knew he had more and he had a hell of a lot hidden away in his head. It took about a dozen bottles of 4XXXX beer to unlock the gate and the recordings are rather hysterical as the evening proceeded. I continued to correspond with Cyril and this also unearthed further material.

This ballad is an important piece as it is an emotional powerhouse, sung in the first person. Cyril was quite emotional when he sang this for me as the earlier recording had misquoted him singing one of the lines ‘we rob the banks, shoot the police and quickly run away’ when he really sang ‘never run away’. The fact that he had been quoted and made the Kellys look like cowards had soured him to the idea of interviews. It took quite a lot to regain his confidence.

My Name Is Edward Kelly

 

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After singing the ballad Cyril immediately moved to sing this little ditty which he said “I haven’t sung that one for over twenty years; – it had obviously been triggered by his emotional contact with the ballad.

Up The Kellys

Farewell Dan and Edward Kelly
Farewell Byrnes and Steve hart too
Those that blame you are not many
Those that blame you are but few

Thirty policemen did outdo you
In a manner I am told
Dirty policemen did outdo you
For a paltry sum of gold

Only One More Drink

(Composed by Uncle Robert Duncan)
(Parody – The Ship That Never Returned)

Only one more drink said the hearty bushman
As he leaned across the bar
Only one more drink of that good old whiskey
Then away to the camp so far

So he called them in and all were welcome
And his cheque went ’round like rain
And for weeks and weeks,
There’s been boozers watching
For that man’s return again.

At this stage Cyril breaks into ‘The Ship That Never returns….

Pint Pot & Billy
(tune:Horseferry Road)
This is an unusual song and this is the only version collected.
It refers to ‘Morgan’ the bushranger
.

 

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Willy Stone The Jockey

At the graveyard at Toowong,
Where the river rolls along,
There lies Willy Stone, so trusty, true and brave
When the whips they were drawn out,
You could hear the backers shout,
And hurrah! for old Willy Stone again

The Death Of Alec Robertson
I have collected several variants of this song.
Cyril’s version has the race set at Randwick in Sydney.

 

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Ballad of Les Darcy

 

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Indooroopilly

I N D double O R
Double O P I
Drive the strangers silly
They can’t spell Indooroopilly
I N D double O R
Double L I
I’ll spell it with a sigh
I N D double O R
Double O P I
Double L I

Toowoomba

Toowoomba, Toowoomba
I love you

Brisbane

Give me old Brisbane
And give me a girl
Then I’ll be simply all right
Can anyone point to a better old joy?
That Queen Street on Saturday night?
When me and my Marjorie go strolling along
My cobbers they try to be smart
“Get out of the way, Tis Billo they say,
Walking out with his fair dinkum tart.”

Bullocky-O

 

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Cyril, in correspondence, told me that this was composed by his father, John Duncan.

Stuck Up at the Mill

 

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Mussellman

When the whips were all drawn out
You could hear the backers shout
And hurrah for old Musselman again

A Long Time Ago On The Logan

 

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Cyril explained that

  • cobbles = carpet snake
  • Yurragangs = native dog
  • Booribi = native bear
  • Nulla = weapon
  • Churrongs = eels

Out On The Downs

(parody: Only A Button Between Him and Disgrace)
Cyril said he composed this around 1929

Picture a home on the Darling Downs
Picture two bagmen coming round
Picture a cocky so hungry and grey
Offering them only eight bob a day

Charlie Mopps

 

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Banks of The Condamine

Oh Betsy, oh Betsy, Oh that will never do
To cook and keep my tally
And be a shearer too
To cook and keep my tally
And everything so fine
I’ll wash your greasy moleskins
On the banks of the Condamine

Stringybark & Greenhide

Stringybark will light your fire
And Greenhide will never fail you
Stringybark and Greenhide
Are the mainstay of Australia

Hustling Hinkler

Popular song

Smithy

Popular song


I asked Cyril about songs about shipwrecks and he said this was the only one he knew.

The Yongala

And no one knew of the danger
That threatened them on each side
With a crash and a cry it was all over
Sinking the Yongala in the tide
And now they’ve all gone a-searching
For survivors and ones they could find
But at last came the news when returning
The storm had left none behind


Cyril had done a spot of cane-cutting and tells of a time when the cutters all wore women’s bloomers – “because they were big and cool”

The Cane-Cutter’s Lament

The cane was bad
The cutters were mad
The cook he had shit on the liver
And never again, will I cut cane
On the banks of the Tully River

The Whore’s Lament

 

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Collated with Mrs Colley’s version which she called Come Home To your Brothers and Sisters

There’s No Lady

There’s no lady, so some people would say
Because she earns her living
By working every day
There’s no lady, more independent than she
She’s just as much a lady
As a lady ought to be.

The Tramp
(Tune: Fashionable Fred)
(Cyril said he “learnt this from the singing of Bob Dyer)

 

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Timber Cutter’s Ditty

(Composed by Cyril about the lousy payers at Kyogle Mill)

Cut some poles and fall that tree
But never a word of the LSD
Ask for money – what a stink
Brought the cheque book
But forgot the ink
Work real hard and listen to reason
You’ll get paid, perhaps,
Next football season!

Road to Old Binalppo

(As sung by Cyril and Milton Parker)

On the road to old Binalppo
On the woodlands by the way
On the road to old Binalppo
There’s a room for you and I
There’s a possum in a gumtree
And a kookaburra singing high
Come along my bonny lassie
My bonny blue-eyed bride.

The next song was, and probably still is, the most surprising song I have ever recorded. I had been taping Cyril for a couple of hours and he was getting into the swing of recalling old ditties from his memory when he thumped the table saying, “Well, here’s one you would never have heard before!”. Oddly enough, only recently, twenty eight something years later I found the song in an 1870s Melodist Songster in the Mitchell Library. I subsequently learnt the song and enjoy singing it.

The Parson & The Clerk
(Learnt from his father)

 

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Cyril had done a lot of building and when he sang Nails he explained that the strange words were actually building terms for various nails.

Nails
(Bow Wow Wow)

 

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Trafalgar Bay

 

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Cardigan the Brave
Crimea War

 

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The Irish

Oh Irishmen, Irishmen, bow down your heads
There’s pigs in your parlours, there’s fleas in your beds
Come over to Ireland, and there you will see
How dirty and filthy the Irish can be

(spoken…
Play another bar of dat and I’ll wrap this fiddle round yer head!

The Old Bullock Dray

Oh, the shearing is all over and the wool is coming home
And I mean to get a wife, me boys, when I get underway,
Every

If you’ll only take possession of the Billbudgary old bullock dray.
Cyril says that ‘bilbudgary’ is Aboriginal for ‘no bloody good’

I’m Going Back (I’m Leaving Australia Today)
This sentimental song reflects the disappointment many emigrants felt
at the reality of not making their fortunes on the
goldfields of Australia.
It might possibly be a music hall item of the 1880’s

 

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Old Ireland Free

They say we are going to freedom
Though my poor heart it lies low
How the English they deceive us
You’ll never find a better land
Show me the land to compare with us?
Emerald gem of the sea
I’ll cling to my home in old Ireland
Don’t I wish old Ireland was free

Heenan Fights Sayers
‘This ballad refers to the legendary fisticuff fight in 1862.
It was the last such fight before the introduction of Queensbury Rules.
There are several more verses and readers should refer to
the verses collected from Joe Watson.

 

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Carey & Curley
Cyril Duncan inherited a political passion from his Irish father
including several fragments of Irish Rebellion songs like this one.
I have not been able to locate any other information on this song.

 

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Billy Hughes
(Tune: Gallagher and Sheen)

 

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Bull Shit
A poem learnt in Tully when Cyril was cane cutting

The next item is a relative of the Virgin Of Nineteen and similar ‘disastrous courting songs’

After The Ball

 

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I remember my father would sing a horse race song that had the lines
Cyril then went on to sing part of the chorus to the song about Lance Sculthorpe.

The Whip and The Spur

A whip and a spur
A pony to a pin
Whenever a jockey rides a race
He rides toady to win.

The Blackthorne Stick

 

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Fragment of what seems to be a popular style Irish song

Molly Reilly

Oh Molly Reilly I love you
Tell me Molly Reilly does your heart beat true
Marry me me darling, I’ll die if you say no
And me ghost’ll come and haunt you, Molly Reilly Oh.

I’m not sure if this is related to the above fragment or a different song.

Molly Doolin

 

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The next item appears to be a German ‘double Dutch’ nonsense song,

German Song

 

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