Sunday, 24 January 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee with Eric Bogle

This week I bring to you another Scot: a man who is a master songwriter, a craftsman.  Eric has written two of the most powerful anti-war songs ever and I  bookend this session with them.  Between them are 5 other songs on various themes but all worth listening too very carefully.

Whatever else you listen to please hear the first and last.

A Scot though he is, born in Peebles in 1944, he took himself off to Australia in 1969 and it is from there that he made his mark.

My first choice is the anti-war classic, “No Man’s Land” although more commonly recorded under the title, “Green Fields of France”. I’ve chosen the Furey’s version.

No Man’s Land

The ability to write with such power is given to only a few.

How can war ever be the same after this? 

Unfortunately, death is irrelevant to those who profit from war!  For the rest of us no death is irrelevant.


We continue with death now but a tribute to a life cut short – Stan Rogers, a Canadian folk-singer - “Safe in the Harbor”.  As Eric says in the introduction, Stan was killed in a ‘plane crash along with 42 others.

Safe in the Harbor

If you watched this in YouTube itself you will have seen the lyrics provided.

A fabulous tribute,thank you Eric. I hadn’t heard this before I was looking for videos.


My memory is playing tricks on me.  I have heard Eric Bogle live but I’m not sure if it is once or twice.  Almost twenty years ago I saw him in the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh and before this I think I heard him at Stirling Folk Club.

Another gentle song, “Glasgow Lullaby” but don’t be fooled: this is a lullaby with a message “Wha would be a drinkin’ man’s wife?”.  That’s enough.  The song tells you much much better.

Glasgow Lullaby

Indeed!  Love, parenting must go on despite ……


“The older I get it seems the more wishin’ takes the place of dreams”  Yes!  Another lovely song, again sung by Eric and again with a deeper meaning.

If Wishes Were Fishes 

Bogle conjures up such great images from apparently simple words: the mark of a master craftsman.


We return to leaving behind: not people this time but the land.  The land that was looked after, that was their life and now they’re too old to keep going and so they are “Leaving the Land”.

Leaving the Land



We stay with the land to hear about the life of a man who worked the land for his whole life and had to raise his children on his own but now he is easy about the end of his life too.

Now I’m Easy

By the way the 8th word you’ll hear is “Cockie” which is slang for a farmer.


Unfortunately I’ve only got one more song and I’ve had to leave out quite a few crackers.  There could, however, be only one song with which to finish up an Eric Bogle set: “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”.  The anti-war of all anti-war songs.

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

I’ve chosen the Dubliner’s version. 

Again I ask, “How can war ever be the same after this?”

If only the warmongering bastards were on the frontline! 


Every time I hear these songs I am in awe of Bogle.

Every time I hear these songs I am moved hugely.

I’m fairly certain that you too will have been moved.

Such is the skill of Eric Bogle!


Well, that’s it for another week.  Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.


  1. Glad you linked to the astounding Waltzing Matilda. I heard that so many years ago and it has never left my head. Relatives on me Mum's side were Aussie and so this song holds a place in my heart.

  2. Hi,TMD

    Apologies. I've been meaning to email you. Let me know how you are.

    Take care.

  3. Are you familiar with the poet Ewen McTeagle, Calum?

  4. I wasn't until I checked youtube although I must have seen "him" at the time.

    I'm wondering what you are alluding to. Perhaps you'll enlighten me.

  5. It is lovely music, someone else I have not come across before.

    I totally agree with you about war!