Music

The Great Australian Folk Song That Wasn’t

Aside from “Waltzing Matilda”, “Click Go the Shears” is probably the best-known Aust-ralian folk song. It is time now to reveal the song’s chequered history, one of intrigue and skulduggery amongst a small interconnected community of folk song collectors, performers and publishers. The song is a parody of “Ring the Bell, Watchman”, a Civil War-era song by American composer Henry Clay Work (1832–84). Work’s first verse and chorus— High in the belfry the old sexton stands, Grasping the rope in his thin bony hands Fix’d is his gaze as by some magic spell Till he hears the distant murmur, ring,…

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