The Year Of The Drum by Wendy Joseph

The Year of the Drum is an outstanding song written by Wendy Joseph who in the 1970,s went over to live in Adelaide, South Australia, from New Zealand. She was inspired to write this song exposing the futility and continuation of war and the destruction this caused to families all over. In the 1970s there were folk festival held every two years in South Australia and each year it would be held in a different town and part of the festival was a song writing contest which had to have as the subject the town that the festival was held in.This particular year it was held in the town of Mannum on the river Murray and Wendy Joseph researched Mannum and found that on a percentage basis there were more men killed from Mannum than any other town in Australia. With November 11th and Remembrance Sunday coming up this song is as relevant as it always is.     Martyn

Year of the Drum written by Wendy Joseph

Now my name is Jack Gresham I was brought up in Mannum

That riverboat town I know well

I married Meg Davies we had us two children 

One day our family bliss turned to hell

T’was in 1915 and the year of the drum the guns and the government called men to come 

So passed Malaluka and tall shinning gums

I’m drifting my way down the Murray. 

Now my name is Meg Davies and I work at Shearers 

With saddles and wagons and hames

The men are all fighting the war it is raging 

The women toil here making fuel for the flames 

T’was in 1916 and the men are all gone 

They’re fighting in Europe while we carry on 

We’re keeping the candles lit bright here at home 

To light their way back down the Murray. 

Now my name is Mary and I am an orphan 

My father was killed in the war 

My Mum was Meg Davies an upstanding lady 

She drowned in the Murray the year I turned four

T’was in 1918 when the telegram came 

The death of her soldier it’s news did proclaim 

My Mum lost her footing to the tears and the rain 

She slipped on the banks of the Murray. 

Now my name is Billy and I am a soldier

 I’ve just got my orders today 

My wife’s name is Mary she’s fair as a sunset 

I hate to be leaving her lonely this way

But the year’s 42 and the year of the drum 

The guns and the government call me to come 

So passed Malaluka and tall shining gums 

I’m drifting away down the Murray 

But the year doesn’t matter there’s always the drum 

The guns and the government call men to come 

But the towns they grow strong by the tall shinning gums 

And the daughters light lamps on the Murray.