Graham Reid | | 1 min read
For many years in the late Seventies/early Eighties, when working at Glenfield College in Auckland, I had no idea that the slight, quietly spoken music teacher Neil Colquhoun was the same person who had compiled an important collection of New Zealand folk songs for the book Song of a Young Country, and had subsequently produced a double album of the same name for Kiwi Pacific.
On that album were multi-instrumentalist Robbie Laven (later of Red Hot Peppers and today in Bonjour Swing), Phil Garland (another important folk archivist and writer), Tamburlaine, Bruce Hall, Marilyn Bennett, Dave Calder (later of the Hamilton Country Bluegrass Band), Dave Skinner and others.
A few copies of the original book still float around -- I believe there was a 2010 update but I haven't seen it -- but the album seems harder to come by, and then I found a copy in very good condition for a mere $10 in a local secondhand shop.
It was worth wading past all those Al Martino and Neil Diamond albums to rescue it.
As far as I can tell the words to this Talking Swag piece were by Selwyn "Shirlee" Alison (don't ask me about the "Shirlee") and the music is by Neil who was a well known collector of songs about and by whalers, gumdiggers, gold miners, unionists, bushmen and of course, swagmen.
Hence this song which might mean absolutely nothing to anyone today, but Elsewhere offers it From the Vaults just because we can. And that it might make people wonder about swagmen.
For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.