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TRADITIONAL FOLKSINGER'S LAMENT

(Eric Bogle)


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Lyrics as performed by Eric Bogle with John Munro, "Pumpe," Kiel, D, 1982;
NDR FM Broadcast, May 25, 1982;
transcribed by Manfred Helfert.


INTRO:
When I was a young struggling folksinger (which is different from now that I'm an OLD struggling folksinger), I used to take my guitar to the folk clubs in Scotland and I'd go up to the organizers, who were all cruel, heartless swine, and I'd say to them, "Could I have a spot in your show tonight? Could I sing a few songs?"

And the organizer would invariably say to me, "What sort of songs do you sing, sonny?" 'cause I was very small. And I'd say, "Well -- traditional songs, Scottish traditional songs." And they'd say, "No, we got many traditional singers here tonight. Can you sing any contemporary songs?"

And I'd say, "For instance by whom?" or "By whom for instance?", I'd say even better...

And they'd say, "Well, can you sing any Bob Dylan songs?"

I used to say, "NO!", because I was a traditional singer, you see? So I wrote a song called "The Traditional Folksinger's Lament For The Passing Of The Three-Chord Traditional Folksong."

At the age of nineteen, I was young, I was keen,
And I had just one burning ambition:
To be a folksinger, a dope-smoking swinger
Sing songs that were steeped in tradition.
So I bought a guitar and I practiced real hard
I wasn't much good, but I was willin',
'Til to my chagrin, my girlfriend came in
And she said: "Can you sing any Dylan?"

I said, "No! No! A thousand times no!
I'd rather see my lifeblood spillin'.
I'll sing anything, even 'God Save The King,'
But I just won't sing any Bob Dylan. "

And with my guitar I traveled real far,
Trying to gain recognition.
I sung "The Wild Rover" from Dundee to Dover,
In pubs, clubs and in seaman's missions.
I traveled the road for seven long years,
My pace, it really was killin'.
And everywhere I went, from Gwhyna [?] to Ghwent [?], They would say, "Can you sing any Dylan? "

I'd say, "No! No! A thousand times no!
I'd rather see my lifeblood spillin'.
I'll sing anything, even 'God Save The King,'
But I just won't sing any Bob Dylan. "

Well, I struggled on, but the magic was gone,
I only had a deep sense of failure.
I thought then I'd go to where all failures go,
So I boarded a ship for Australia.
When I landed at Sydney, the sun it shone down
On a view that was lovely and thrillin',
'Til spotting my case, with a smile on his face,
Customs said: "Can you sing any Dylan,
Mate?"

I said, "No! No! A thousand times no! [HEAVY AUSTRALIAN ACCENT]
I'd rather see my lifeblood spillin'.
I'll sing anything, even 'God Save The King,'
But I just won't sing any Bob Dylan. "

And ever since then, again and again,
I've been asked the same bloody question.
And I usually reply, in me own quiet way,
With a totally indecent suggestion.
But the last straw came one night at a Sydney motel,
Where I had a young girl who was willin'.
As she took off her dress she said, "I'll say yes
If only you sing some Bob Dylan,
Big boy."

I said, "Hang on a second!"

I said, "No! No! A thousand times no!
I'd rather see my lifeblood spillin'.
I'll sing anything, even 'God Save The King,'
But I just won't sing any Bob Dylan. "

But I tell you, my friend, that was the end
Of all my traditional aspirations.
If bein' a folkie was gonna cut off my nookie
There was one way to end my frustration.
The next night I sang at my local folk club,
Where the audience as usual was millin',
'Til I took off my coat and I ruptured my throat
And I sang just like Bob Dylan:

[IMITATES DYLAN:] "Come, gather round, people, wherever you roam...[etc.]
[FIRST VERSE OF "The Times They Are A-Changin'"]

Well, the audience went wild, mens, womens and childs,
And they clapped 'til their raw hands were bleedin'.
And they said, so to speak, that my style was "unique,"
And just what the Australian folk scene was needin.'
So all you young folkies who bash out a chord,
If you want to attain the top billin',
Just murder good prose and sing through your nose
And then you'll sing just like Bob Dylan
[IMITATES DYLAN AGAIN].


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