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Green Point. NSW
Recorded: 16th April 73

My father was the eldest son of eighteen Irish-Australian children born to John and Mary Fahey of Leichhardt, NSW. As far as I can remember Dad sang in the shower – and I mean just about every time he went in the shower! He had a typical untrained Irish voice and a repertoire that travelled from sentimental popular ballads to bawdy songs. He also had a number of spoken word pieces and proverbs that he would roll out on the appropriate occasion and we never tired of hearing about that ‘wise old owl’ or ‘Annie, lived upstairs behind the clock’ (we didn’t even have an ‘upstairs’ let alone an ‘Annie’). I regret not recording more material from his repertoire, especially his Army songs, but time and illness got on top of us. Many of the older songs come from Dad’s parents, especially the old man who enjoyed more than a drop and a lot of songs – now, I wish I had recorded him!

Our Own Importance (The indispensable man)

Sometimes when you’re feeling important
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom
Just follow this simple instruction
And see how it follows your soul
Take a bucket and fill it with water
Put your hand in it up to the wrist
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining
Is the measure of how you’ll be missed
You may splash all you please as you enter
You can stir up the water galore
But stop and you’ll find in a minute
That it looks just the same as before
The moral in this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can
Be proud of yourself but remember
There is no indispensable man.

Bread & Jam

All soldiers live on bread and jam
They like it better than eggs and ham
Early in the morning, you’ll hear the corporal say:
Stew, stew, stew, stew,
Stew for dinner today

There was an increase in the price of beer in 1908 and this little ditty was circulated:

Beer Ditty

Left, right, we’re still in the thick of the fight
It’s a marvel we’re alive to tell the tale

They’re charging left and right
They’re charging with all their might
They’re charging sixpence a pint for fourpenny ale.

Ragtime Army

We are a ragtime army
The Australian AIC
We cannot shoot
We don’t salute
What bloody use are we?
And when we get to Berlin
The Kaiser he will say
Auch, auch, my Got!
What a bloody rotten lot
are the Australian IAC

Apparently this ditty was circulated in the Balmain, inner Sydney area when Hughes was campaigning. Bill Mahoney was obviously on the wrong side of Dad’s father’s politics.

Billy Hughes
(Tune: Tramp Tramp Tramp)

Vote, vote, vote for Billy Mahoney
Who’s that knocking at the door?
If it’s Hughes and his wife
we’ll chase them with a knife
and they won’t come knocking any more!

Billy Hughes’ Army

Why don’t you join, why don’t you join,
Why don’t you join Billy Hughes’ army?
Six bob a day and nothing to eat,
Great big boots and blisters on your feet.
Why don’t you join, why don’t you join,
Why don’t you join Billy Hiughes’ army?

The Wise Old Owl

The wise old owl sat on an oak
The more he heard the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard
Why can’t we be more like that wise old bird?

I’m Forever Playing Two-Up

I’m forever playing two-up
Tossing pennies in the air
They fly so high
They nearly reach the sky
When they come tails I nearly die
Coppers always hiding
Hiding everywhere
I’m forever playing two-up
Tossing pennies in the air

I never slept with Mary

I never slept with Mary
She never slept with me
A baby was born, one Easter morn
And they blamed it onto me
Lost in my arse was Mary
Sought to my soul divine
Now it is done, and she is gone
The baby belongs to me

Recorded 29th April 1973

I used to love this song and dad and I would always sing it together whenever we saw a red-haired man.

Go Home To Your Mother

Dad always said it was set to an Army March Tune.
I always thought that this is the complete song however, in 1995, I recorded Mrs jean Scott, Hurstville, who sang me three verses that were split up as ‘him’, ‘her’ and ‘both’. Refer transcribed song index.

Go home to your mother,
You red-headed bugger,
You don’t belong to me.
If you know any ladies,
Who want to have babies,
Then send them along to me.
I’ll give them a kiss or two,
Before we start to screw,
And then you’ll see,
Soon they’ll be,
In the family way;
Oh, what a wonderful game to play,
I’d keep on goin’ night and day –
And this is what I’d say:

Go home to your mother,
You red-headed bugger,
You don’t belong to me.

With His Old Grey Noddle


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(This song is also known in the UK as ‘The old man came over the lea’)

I’ll Give You the Keys of Heaven


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This one I learnt when I was about eight or so. My uncle was a bootmaker and I’d go sit in his shop and he’d always put a handful of tacks in his mouth. He’d be hammering away, heeling and putting on soles and he used to sing. I’ll sing you what I remember anyway and he used to look at me and sing:

Harry Clarrie

I’m going to marry Harry, sweetest little Harry Clarrie
On the fifth, the twenty-fifth of janu-anu-ary
All for the cockadoodle and for the little oodle
On the fifth, the twenty fifth of Janu-anu-ary.

Dad would only sing this after he’d had a few (too many) drinks and, as he would say, “Was merry’. Every time he’d get to ‘I gave her an inchy eight’ he would rush the words through so I wouldn’t know what he was saying (of course, I did know).

Whollop It Home


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