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Music / Eric Bogle

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Eric Bogle is a folk singer-songwriter. He was born in Peebles, Scotland in 1944 and emigrated to Australia in 1969. He currently resides near Adelaide, South Australia.

Bogle's songs cover a wide range of subjects and themes, including comedic songs (e.g. "The Aussie Bar-B-Q"), satires (e.g. "I Hate Wogs"), protest songs and serious songs about the human condition such as "Now I'm Easy". His most famous songs are "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda", written in 1971, which tells of the ANZAC experience fighting in the Battle of Gallipoli, and "No Man's Land", which is also World War I-themed. "No Man's Land" is commonly known as "The Green Fields of France", a title it was first given by The Fureys, and which has subsequently been used in many further cover versions.

Many of Bogle's songs have been covered by other artists; including John Schumann, June Tabor, The Men They Couldn't Hang, The Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners, John McDermott, Liam Clancy, Mike Harding, The Pogues, Robert Lawrence, De Dannan, Dropkick Murphys, The Corries, Billy Bragg, The Bushwackers, Slim Dusty and John Williamson.

Tropes used in Eric Bogle's work include:

  • The Alleged Car: The kombi van in "Eric and the Informers"
  • Anti-Christmas Song: "Santa Bloody Claus"
  • An Arm and a Leg: In "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda", the narrator loses his legs in World War I.
    For I'll go no more waltzing Matilda,
    All around the green bush far and free
    To hump tents and pegs, a man needs both legs
    No more waltzing Matilda for me.
  • Berserk Button: "Do You Sing Any Dylan?"
  • Crapsack Only by Comparison: "Beam Me Up, Scotty" declares "I'm stuck here in a place I do not care for" and "There must be intelligent life out there, I hope so, there's not much down here."
  • Dear Negative Reader: "Bloody Rotten Audience" is presented as an In-Universe one of these by an embittered folk singer who's failed to win over the titular crowd, listing the different ways in which he's brilliant and how stupid the audience must be not to appreciate him. Performed live, this is both a Funny Moment and Awesome Music.
  • Department of Child Disservices: "Daniel Smiling"
  • Embarrassing Nickname: According to "Introduction Song", the members of the band's nicknames are 'Wee Short-Arse' (Eric), 'Garbage Guts' (Brent) and 'Old Dogs Balls' (Andy).
  • Fate Worse than Death: In "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda", the narrator regards losing his leg as this.
    Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over head,
    And when I woke up in my hospital bed,
    And saw what it had done, well I wished I was dead.
    Never knew there was worse things than dyin'.
  • Food Songs Are Funny: "Aussie Bar-B-Q" and "Great Aussie Take-Away"
  • Freudian Slip: "Nobody's Moggie Now" contains the lyric "Decapitating tweety birds, and masticating mice". On one live recording, Eric sings "masturbating" instead of "masticating". It takes more than a minute before the band and the audience are ready for the song to continue.
  • Friendly Address Privileges: Bogle traditionally introduces himself in song at the start of a concert. One of the introduction songs goes:
    My name is Eric, some folk call me Eck,
    Call me Ricky and I'll break your neck,
    If you're feeling formal, Mr Bogle will do,
    But to my friends it's Eric, and I hope that means you.
  • Gratuitous French / Gratuitous German: "Flying Finger Filler"
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Silly Slang Song" complains about how once innocent slang terms changed their meaning:
    Do you remember the day that if you said that you were gay,
    It meant with joy that you could sing and shout,
    A fairy was enchanting and dressing up and camping,
    Was something you did with the scouts.
    That carefree age when an urgent case of aids,
    Was powdered milk we sent to the Sahara,
    A fruit was something nice to eat, a poof was something for your feet,
    And a queen was an old tart in a tiara.
  • Heavy Meta:
    • "Do You Sing Any Dylan?", about the request a singer-songwriter doesn't want to hear.
    • "Plastic Paddy" about mock-Irish folk songs, done in the style of a mock-Irish folk song.
  • Horrible History Metal: Eric's most famous song "...And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is about the Gallipoli campaign in World War I. A number of his other songs are also about specific historic events: most often in one of the World Wars.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Fatally averted in "Little Gomez", in which the randy Chihuahua's St. Bernard paramour got bored (and sat down) just a bit too soon. He did however bag two poodles and a Labrador, and made an attempt on a wombat.
  • Hypocritical Humour: The main joke of "I Hate Wogs", highlighting what a dumb clueless redneck the singer is. He complains that migrants "can't speak proper English"note  and about their cuisine, asking why can't they just eat "Good Australian food", providing examples of "Good healthy stuff like pie and sauce and chips and Chicko rolls". He refuses to eat at the Greek-owned chip shop because he "couldn't touch wog meat", instead preferring to go to the Chinese cafe across the road. He also complains about "lazy migrant bastards" he sees standing in the queue with him while he's waiting to pick up his dole cheque.
  • "I Hate" Song: "I Hate Wogs" is a satirical song about racism. He stopped performing it after it attracted a Misaimed Fandom who thought it really was about hating migrants.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: "Goodbye Lucky Country":
    The beer still tastes like glue
    • "The Aussie Bar-B-Q"
    Where the snagsnote  all taste like fried toothpaste
  • Killer Cop: "Mirrors" is about Brazilian policemen who act as freelance death squads in Rio's slums.
    And the killers wear policeman's badges
    Kill to supplement their wages
    Earn their bloody bounty, with the gun and club and knife
  • Kill the Poor: "Mirrors" is about death squads of policemen being paid by businessmen to kill the street kids of Rio's slums.
  • Least Rhymable Word: After singing "Silly Slang Song", Eric has been known to remark:
    "I don't claim this the greatest song I've ever written, but it is the only one where I attempt to rhyme 'Schwarzenegger'."
  • Mocking Music: In "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda", the narrator, an ANZAC who lost his legs at Gallipoli, finds the use of "Waltzing Matilda" as patriotic music for ANZAC Day to add insult to injury.
  • Mystery Meat: "The Great Aussie Takeaway"
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: "Do You Know Any Dylan?" has him react to the titular question
    And I usually reply
    In my own quiet way
    With a totally indecent suggestion
    • And again in "World Cup Fever":
    We cast doubts on their paternity
    And their mothers' chasity
    Their courage and ability
    And their sexual preference.
  • No Intelligent Life Here: Bogle uses the joke in his song "Beam Me Up Scotty":
    There must be intelligent life out there, I hope so, there’s not much down here
  • Nostalgic Narrator:
    • "Eric and the Informers" is Eric musically reminiscing about his first ever band (and how bad they were).
    • "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is told from the point of view of a World War One veteran looking back on their service.
  • Out with a Bang: "Little Gomez" is about a randy Chihuahua that is crushed to death while attempting to consummate a liaison with a Saint Bernard.
  • Poe's Law: "I Hate Wogs" is an anti-racist satire that portrays the narrator as an idiot and a hypocrite. Nevertheless, Bogle decided to stop performing the song after attracting a Misaimed Fandom who took it seriously.
  • Quarreling Song: "A Reason For It All" with John Munro is two people discussing the death of an old lady, with Eric's character wondering what it all means, and John's replying that bad things just happen.
    Eric: We are not born just so we can die,
    There must be an answer and we've gotta try,
    To make some sense of it, to try to find a reason for it all.
    John: From the moment we're born, we've started to die,
    A man can go crazy if he keeps asking why,
    That's just how it is, don't look for a reason for it all.
  • Questioning Title?: "Do You Sing Any Dylan?" No! No! A thousand times no!
  • The Real Heroes: "Our National Pride" was written after a group of volunteer firefighters were killed battling a bushfire in Victoria. It is all about how these people, and not athletes, deserve to be called heroes.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: "Keeper of the Flame" is a satire of the mindset of this kind of person and their abnormal attachment to their guns.
    I'll keep my guns, oh yes I will
    I love the way they look and feel
    Love to hold them in my hands
    Make me feel like a real big man
    Nothing makes me more ecstatic
    Than a semiautomatic
    The more I have in my collection
    The more enormous my erection
    Love to own 'em, love to shoot 'em
    Love them so much, I wish I could root 'em!
    (Germanic raving)
  • Rock-Star Song: "Eric and the Informers" is a song about how Eric completely failed to become a rock star, many years before becoming a folk star.
  • Roguish Poacher: "Poachers Moon" is about the traditional Scottish pastime of poaching salmon from the laird's stream.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: Eric starts to wonder if he is going insane in "Them Old Song Writin' Blues":
    I think my mind's beginnin' to go
    I just found myself wishin' I was Barry Manilow
  • Shout-Out: At the end of "Little Gomez" the singer goes to the pet shop to try and buy a replacement for Gomez, but the shop owner (who "loved corny puns") told him "Yes, we have no chihuahuas!"
  • Singer Name Drop: Eric introduces himself in song at the start of his concerts. One version goes:
    My name is Eric, some folk call me Eck,
    If you're feeling formal, Mr Bogle will do,
    But to my friends it's Eric, and I hope that means you.
  • Something Blues: "Short White Blues", "Them Old Song Writin' Blues" and "English Arse Kissing Blues".
  • Song of Song Titles:
    • "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda..." obviously refers to "Waltzing Matilda".
    • "Plastic Paddy" name-checks a dozen or so Irish folk songs.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: "Introduction Song"
    Well I wrote all the songs for tonight's extravaganza,
    So there's a touch of class in every line of every stanza.
    When I'm not writing songs, I hang around doing bugger all
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion
    • "Plastic Paddy":
    "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" and "The Mountains of Mourne"
    In his search for Celtic chiché, the man has left no stone unturned
    'Til he embarks upon the harp that once through terraced halls
    Accompanying himself on the Bodhrán, which takes a lot of... courage.
    • "World Cup Fever":
    And when some stupid damn committee gave the match to Melbourne City
    Though it made us all feel quite... annoyed, we didn't cause a fuss.
  • Surrogate Soliloquy: "No Man's Land" is sung to a dead WWI soldier.
  • This Is a Song: "Them Old Song Writin' Blues" is a song about how hard it was to write the song. May also count as a Sanity Slippage Song.
  • Thrifty Scot: Eric often uses this stereotype about himself, usually at the expense of other band members.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: "Leaving Nancy", which is based on Bogle saying goodbye to his mother at the train station as he left to emigrate to Australia.
  • Troubled Abuser: Discussed in "Daniel Smiling".
    "That brutalised children become adults who then brutalise"
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Invoked in "Bloody Rotten Audience":
    And when I sing contemporary, me heart and soul is pure
    I must be bloody brilliant, cause my writing's so obscure
    My hero's Leonard Cohen, I dig him perfectly
    But I must be so much better, because no one here digs me!
  • The Troubles: "My Youngest Son Came Home Today"
  • The Unintelligible: "Do You Sing Any Dylan?"
  • Uranus Is Showing: "Eric and the Informers"
    "She looked like she came from outer space; from Mars, or maybe Uranus"
  • Violent Glaswegian: Eric, who was born in Peebles, does not shy away from his Scottish heritage, and has used this stereotype for songs both comic (e.g. "English Arse Kissing Blues") and serious (e.g. "Glasgow Lullaby").
  • War Is Hell: The theme of "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" and "No Man's Land".
  • Was It Really Worth It?: "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda", "No Man's Land". The latter in particular comes down fairly hard on the side of "no":
    Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
    The killing and dying, it was all done in vain
    Oh Willy McBride it all happened again
    And again, and again, and again, and again
  • World War I: "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda", "No Man's Land", "The Gift of Years", "As If He Knows"