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Henry Lawson composed the Captain of the Push based on stories about the Sydney larrikins who used the historic Rocks area as their base. Essentially these were street ruffian gangs who dressed in a particular larrikin style and wielded slingshots and menacing language. The Push was the colloquial name for the gangs of this area. There is some thought that the bawdy parody was also written by Lawson and it certainly contains his particular flavour. The bawdy version ends with one of Australia’s classic insults and curses –
May the itching piles torment you, may corns grow on your feet,
May crabs as big as spiders attack your balls a treat.
Then when you’re down and out and a hopeless bloody wreck,

May you slip back through your arsehole and break your bloody neck.’

The Captain of the Push

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The Bastard from the Bush

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He Laid Her on the Table

From James McFarland

ñ mobile text message Xmas 2004

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This song came as a big surprise especially since it was part of the Copper family traditional repertoire. This Sussex family were renowned for their unusual harmonies and although sung in the folk revival in Australia for over 25 years I was delighted to find a version on our home turf. I am not sure what was intended with the last verse where they ‘mate’. I don’t think the Copper Family had them doing that!

Dame Durden

Australian Melodist Songster

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This item was given to me by the late Bob Michell who had collected it off Enos Newett in the 1960s. It has many relatives where the man or women confounds their lover by dismantling their body parts.

A Virgin of Nineteen

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Nine Miles From Gundagai

From On The Road to Sydney by D Martin

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I collected the next item in the 1970s at a party. Always ready to scribble down song words I didn’t quite expect these. It obviously dates back to the sixties when the bodgies and widgies ruled supreme.

The Road to Gundagai

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