I wanted to learn some Australian folk songs while I was here and found a book in the music library where I was volunteering that seemed just the thing: ‘Folk songs of Australia and the men and women who sang them’, written by John Meredith and Hugh Anderson in 1967.
This is from the introduction to the book:
Each piece included, to some degree, fulfills the definition of John Meredith that a folk song is one composed to describe some happening or some aspect of the life of the singer, or of someone near to him, and ‘written purely for the purpose of self-expression or commemoration’. For these reasons the compilers have been at some trouble to surround and enrich the items by extensively quoting reminiscences, by including details of source, and by introducing the necessary background material. In this way it is hoped that the songs will glitter like rough diamonds in a suitably natural setting.
I wanted to choose a couple of songs to record and thought of working out some accompaniment for them on the guitar but, as the authors note in the introduction, “…of the hundreds of items forming the basis of this book not one tune was played upon nor a single song accompanied by a fretted instrument.”
The two songs I’ve recorded are perhaps not the most indicative of the general content of the book, but my main criterion was finding good melodies that I hadn’t heard before and these are the ones that stood out to me.
(There are further short notes and lyrics for each song on my YouTube channel.)