Other Versions of Waltzing Matilda Which is the Official Version of Waltzing Matilda?

There are no definitive lyrics to Waltzing Matilda. A number of variations from the original written by Banjo Patterson now exist. The three that are the most credible versions of the song are discussed below.


Queensland / Banjo Patterson

Banjo Patterson wrote the original lyrics for Waltzing Matilda in 1895. This version of the song is often referred to as the Queensland Version and may actually contain the original words and music to the song and contain a more bush ballad tone to it than any other version. This assertion is supported by the fact that correspondence by Christina Macpherson discovered in 1991 contains these words and music score. This version is rarely sung today.

Harry Nathan

Harry Nathan, a well-known Sydney composer "rewrote" the music for Waltzing Matilda in about 1900. He copyrighted his version in 1903, attributing the words to A. B. Patterson and the music to himself. There is some credence in this because Christiana Macpherson mentions in one of her letters that Banjo had written to her and asked her for the words and music because he wanted to give it to a composer friend of his. Banjo and Harry would probably have known each other are they were both in the 'literati' society of Sydney at the turn of the century. Nathan died of alcoholism in 1906. This version is now lost.

Marie Cowan

Marie Cowan altered some of the lyrics and created a version that was used by Billy Tea Company as an advertising gimmick. They either purchased the rights or licensed it from Allans Music Company which had acquired the work from Angus and Robertson. This version of the song drops some of the bush ballad vernacular of the Queensland version and became very popular. It is the version most likely to be heard today.

 

Related Article: Waltzing Matilda Australia's Favourite Song



 

Original Banjo Paterson Version Mary Cowan Version
 

 

Oh there once was a swagman camped in the billabong

Under the shade of a Coolibah tree

And he sang as he looked at the old billy boiling

Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

Who'll come a Waltzing Matilda my darling

Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

Waltzing Matilda leading a water bag

Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong

Under the shade of a Coolibah tree

And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled

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 til his billy boiled

You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the water hole

Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him in glee

And he said as he put him away in the tucker bag

You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

You'll come a Waltzing Matilda my darling

You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

Waltzing Matilda leading a water bag

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 tuckerbag

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 til his billy boiled

You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me

Down came the squatter a riding on his thoroughbred

Down came policemen one two three

Where is the jumbuck you've got in the tuckerbag

You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

You'll come a Waltzing Matilda my darling

You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

Waltzing Matilda leading a tucker bag

You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

Up rode the squatter mounted on his thoroughbred

Down came troopers one two three

Whose that jumbuck you've got in the tuckerbag?

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 til his billy boiled

You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me

But the swagman he up and he jumped in the waterhole

Drowning himself by the Coolibah tree

And his ghost can be heard as it sings in the billabong

Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

 

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong

You'll never catch me alive said he

And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong

You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.


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