Otago  words and music by Graeme Miles

I always find this one of Graeme Miles’s songs one of his most poignant.

Most of us will have had either a good friend or member of the family head off to live in another country and spend the rest of their days there. Some of the early emigration ballads have the sam atmosphere as this one of Graeme’s. 

Indeed most of Graeme’s songs are based on the traditional ones using the same foundation and as with the earlier songs Graeme’s will last the test of time. When I first heard Graeme sing Otago I was astounded at the coincidence portrayed in the song as when I lived in Melbourne I knew a man who fitted exactly the description of Sam in Otago and his name was also Sam and I have and never will forget him. He is in the song each time I sing it. Martyn

      OTAGO words and music by Graeme Miles

I worked with Sam I knew him well he was handy with a shovel

Never ever known to shirk his work seldom out of trouble 

And when the gaffer called him names they would nigh on come to blows

But now old Sam’s packed up and gone away to Otago.

Once said to me he had been to sea some years ago when younger 

New Zealand was the place for him and when onshore he’d wander 

All through the islands up and down he would ramble he would roam

 Always says that he’d return some day to Otago. 

He’d laugh away the greyest day he found everything quite funny 

He’d give away most of his pay always out of money

He’d drag his woodbine and sup his ale with no thought about tomorrow 

And yet old Sam still found a way to go back to Otago.

A letter I received from him the only one he wrote me 

Said the beer here is no great guns but the climate sure does suit me 

I’ve met a lass of Maori blood she’ll be good for me I know 

I guess I’ll wed and settle down somewhere in Otago. 

Now the winter time is setting in and the wind blows raw and bitter 

And grey as slate’s the sky above never known such cold weather

I often think of Sam the lad far from the sleet and snow 

I’ll bet he’s lying in the sun somewhere in Otago. 

Now when the barman pulls a pint and I see the ale a flowing 

Can’t help but think if Sam was here his face would be all glowing 

It’s ages since I heard from him some seven years or so 

I wonder if he’s found his place somewhere in Otago. 

Now if I live a hundred years I’ll not forget old Sammy 

There never was a kinder man nor one half as happy

I wonder what became of him I suppose I’ll never know 

But I’ll bet he’s still the same old Sam and he’s somewhere in Otago

Yes he’s somewhere in Otago.