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Waltzing Matilda - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Waltzing Matilda, probably one of the most famous songs in the English-speaking world, is an Australian bush ballad.  The lyrics are by Banjo Paterson, and the melody is based on the Scottish tune, 'Thou Bonnie Wood of Cragielea", which was first published in 1806.  To explain some of the (to non-Australian ears anyway) odd words and phrases in the song, to 'waltz' means to travel by foot with your belongings ('auf der Walz' in German), a 'matlida' is a bag that you can sling over your shoulder, a 'swagman' is an itinerant worker, a 'Jumbuck' is a sheep, the 'squatter' in the song is a landowner, and a 'billabong' is a small pool of drinking water.  The lyrics may have been based upn an incident that took place during the Great Shearers' Strike of 1891, during which a striking swagman called Samuel Hoffmeister shot and killed himself at the Combo Waterhole rather than be captured by police.  You can find out more about the song's origins here.

Chords

Verse

D                   A               D                    G
Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,

D                                                   A7
Under the shade of a Coolibah tree,


             D                 A                     D                     G
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil,

D                                      A7                  D
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.





Chorus

D                             G
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,

D                     Bm                Em             A7
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me,

             D                 A7                  D                      G                                         
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil

D                                      A7                  D
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

 

This version of 'Waltzing Matilda' is in the key of D. Remember that, whilst using the same chord shapes, you can alter the song's key to suit your voice by using a capo. Putting a capo on the fifth fret, for example, will change the key to G. With a capo at the fifth fret, shapes of D, A, G, Bm and Em, actually produce chords of G, D, C, Em and Am respectively.

Lyrics

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a Coolibah tree,
He sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil,
"You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me."

"Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me."
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil,
"You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me."

Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong;
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me."

"Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me."
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boil,
"You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me."

Up rode the squatter mounted on his thoroughbred;
Up rode the troopers: one, two, three:
"Whose that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me."

"Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.
With that jolly jumbuck that you've got in your tucker bag,
You'll come a Waltzing, you scoundrel, with me."

Up jumped the swagman, sprang into the billabong:
"You'll never take me alive," said he.
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong -
"You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me."

"Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me."
His ghost may be heard as you pass by the billabong -
"You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me."

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