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Songs About Sydney


A song about the wickedness of the big city and Sydney in particular. Such songs are usually from the country girls’ perspective but not this one.

Sydney – It’s No Place For Me

Tivoli Songster circa 1899

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This ditty comes from around the Great Depression. James Hogue was the local member. Compare this with the ‘Vote Vote for Billy Mahoney‘ as collected from George Fahey.

Vote Vote

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Lou From Woolloomooloo

Roy Rene song

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The introduction of kerosene lighting caused quite a stir right across Australia. This song, an Adelaide one, discusses the fight at Council level. It is obviously quite parochial in context however it does offer light (no pun intended) on this argument on illumination. My sense of humour was tickled by the suggested tune.

The Kerosene Caper

January 1879.

Published Adelaide.
(Tune: Guy Fawkes)

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This next song is a song in praise of the new Queen Victoria.-Typical ‘brown nosing’ of the era.

A National song

Heads of the People magazine 1842
(Tune: Says The Old Coal)

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There was a time when the fashionable would promenade regularly around ‘The Block’ in Melbourne’s CBD.

It’s Nice To Do The Block

Australian Melodist Songster
By J F Hogan. And sung by Miss Ruth Gray
(Air: Lalla Rookh)

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There’s probably nothing as frightening as biting into a bad meat pie which reminds me of the urban folk joke; “what’s worse that finding a mouse in your pie?” “Finding half a mouse.”

Two Bad Mutton Pies

Australian Melodist Songster

(Air: My Nellie’s Blue Eyes)

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The Sydney Exhibition


Sydney Sept 10th, 1879.

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The Captain Cook Hotel is situated near Sydney’s old Paddy’s Markets in the
Darling Harbour area.

Captain Cook

captioned ‘Bill Whitbum’s Dago Gag’.

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HERE IS A COMIC SONG in music hall style that seems to be
more like a recitation. It deals with the seemingly age-old
comparison between Sydney and Melbourne. Politics also rears
its ugly head with a hearty serve to premiers Bent and Wade.

What the Melbourne Man Told the
Sydney Man


attributed to Chas. Chester with
music by J. Naughton

from an idea and a title suggested by Joe Slater.

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The last verse of the next song must have later raised a laugh since the Governor, Lord Beauchamp, was a notorious homosexual.

Off to Philadelphia

Written by T E leonard, Sydney
(Parody: Off to Philadelphia)

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I suspect this is a song about the street larrikins of Sydney. It also refers to the Haymarket, a popular hang-out for the early larrikins. ‘Act on the square’ was a popular term for being honest and true.

Act On The Square, Boys

Australian Melodist Songster

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Here’s a gold digger’s lament that expresses the frustration of seeking the elusive yellow metal. It was a common story and one that miners related to in song. Who was Barry O’Neil?

The Peripatetic Philosopher

By Marcus Clarke esq

Australian Melodist Songster
Tune: The Night Before Larry Was Stretched

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Obviously this was the origin of the bush skite song that entered the Australia bush tradition. A fascinating song journey from London city swell to boastful Lachlan River shearer. Interesting to see how the words got twisted around and around and back again. Of course, the most important aspect is that this song travelled the bush. I collected a bush version in 1973 from Joe Watson (refer his AFU file).

Fashionable Fred

Australian Melodist Songster Vol 1.
Tune: Tomahawking Fred/Tambaroora Ted etc

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Parody on Seventh Royal Fusilliers

SILVER Songster 1908

Written especially for the Silver Songster by Henry Farrell

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I Love the Rowdy Dowdy Boys

SILVER Songster 1908

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