Breedloves's Folk Songs


    “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” is a song written by Rolf Harris in 1957 which became
    a hit across the world in the 1960s. Inspired by Harry Belafonte‘s calypsos, it is about an
    Australian stockman on his deathbed. The song is one of the best known and most
    successful Australian songs. This recording of the song peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot
    100 chart in the United States in 1963; the song also spent three weeks atop the adult
    contemporary chart. The distinctive sound of Harris’s original recording was achieved by
    the use of an instrument of his own design called the wobble board“, actually a two by
    three foot piece of Masonite. The lyrics of the song have also been compared to a poem
    by Australian poet Richard H. Kendall whose work includes a poem called “On Preston
    Bar” which features a pet wallaby called “Tymie”. In the poem Tymie seeks to escape
    from his master, Mr Roberts. The fourth verse was removed circa 1960, because of its use
    of the word Abo, a now offensive slang term for Aboriginal Australians, and because of
    its implied racist context. The lyrics of this verse (not found on Rolf Harris’ official
    website) are as follows:
    Let me Abos go loose, Bruce
    Let me Abos go loose
    They’re of no further use, Bruce
    So let me Abos go loose.
    The verse appears to make light of Aboriginal servitude and captivity in that the
    stockman emancipated his captives only at his death, when they were “of no further use”
    to him. In addition, because the rest of the song refers to animals in captivity, some
    listeners might infer a comparison of Indigenous Australians to animals or their
    characterization as subhuman. The offending verse did not feature in later versions of the
    song. In 2006 Harris expressed his regret about the original lyrics.
    There’s an old Australian stockman, lying, dying,
    and he gets himself up on one elbow,
    and he turns to his mates,
    who are gathered ’round him and he says:
    Watch me wallabys feed mate.
    Watch me wallabys feed.
    They’re a dangerous breed mate.
    So watch me wallabys feed.
    Altogether now!
    Tie me kangaroo down sport,
    tie me kangaroo down.
    Tie me kangaroo down sport,
    tie me kangaroo down.
    Keep me cockatoo cool, Curl,
    keep me cockatoo cool.
    Don’t go acting the fool, Curl,
    just keep me cockatoo cool.
    Altogether now!
    Take me koala back, Jack,
    take me koala back.
    He lives somewhere out on the track, Mac,
    so take me koala back.
    Altogether now!
    Let me Abos go loose, Lou, *
    let me Abos go loose.
    They’re of no further use, Lou,
    so let me Abos go loose.
    Altogether now!
    Mind me platypus duck, Bill,
    mind me platypus duck.
    Don’t let him go running amok, Bill,
    mind me platypus duck.
    Altogether now!
    Play your digeridoo, Blue,
    play your digeridoo.
    Keep playing ’til I shoot thro’ Blue,
    play your digerydoo.
    Altogether now!
    Tan me hide when I’m dead, Fred,
    tan me hide when I’m dead.
    So we tanned his hide when he died Clyde,
    (Spoken) And that’s it hanging on the shed.
    Altogether now!


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