“Waltzing Matilda,” the ballad of a Bush Ranger who’d rather die by his own hand than surrender to authorities, is the unofficial anthem Down Under, a song that celebrates the origins of white Australia in the convicts shipped over the Old Blighty.
You’ve heard the song, no doubt, opening with the immortal words, “Once a jolly swagman [thief] camped beside a billabong [watering hole]. . .”
But one thing we guarantee you’ve never heard is the song sung in the language of those who had lived in Australia for 40,000 years before those first Brits, Irish, and Scottish prisoners arrived. The language she sings is Kriol, a creole evolved from contact between the Gurindji language of the indigenous people of the New Territories and the English of the settlers.
Well, here it is, for aboriginal vocalist Ali Mills, who performs a robust version which draws smiles aplenty from her studio musician accompanists.
From MGM Distribution:
Ali Mills — Waltjim Bat Matilda
And if you’re confused about the meaning of the words in the English-language version, we’re calling in our official interpreter, the Man in Black himself.
Take it away, Johnny Cash: