Mudcat Café message #3471484 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #149083   Message #3471484
Posted By: Sandra in Sydney
25-Jan-13 - 09:33 PM
Thread Name: Ned Kelly to Have a Funeral
Subject: LYR ADD: Kennedy and Kelly By John Warner
Kennedy and Kelly    By John Warner (5.10.93)

Ned Kelly was an Irishman, Australian by birth
His soul aglow with courage and his eyes alight with mirth
The police oppressed his family, as all the tales relate
So Kelly took up arms against the state

Now Kennedy was Irish too, a Sergeant of Police
And history has cast him as the villain of the piece
But he traced the outlaws to their hide, prepared to stand his ground
When a voice cried out "Bail up!" from the trees around


Don't you ever ask a Kennedy or Kelly to surrender
When he's backed into a corner with a weapon in his hand
For the people or the laws, he's got a gun, he's got a cause
And someone dies when Kennedy or Kelly takes a stand

"Throw down your weapons and surrender" cried bold Ned
But Kennedy had drawn his gun before the words were said
For "surrender" was a concept that neither man would learn
So Kennedy lay dead among the fern

And up there at Glenrowan, Edward Kelly faced his fate
Walking out into the shooting in his suit of boiler plate
The flag of stars might well be raised by folk as brave as Ned
What comfort to the families of the dead?

All down the years of trouble, the story's been the same
The Kennedys die for duty, and the Kellys, they die game
They will fight but not surrender, they were never known to run
And widows will be weeping when they've done.

(flag of stars - the Eureka flag used at the Eureka uprising against the excessive gold mining licence fees imposed by the Government.)


notes from John about the writing of this song.

It originated on a train trip to a folk festival up north where I heard a bloke give a forty minute spiel about Songs of Ned Kelly without actually singing one.

I've got a number of Em to Bm transitions in the tune which are my trademarks. Also I decided to use 'Drowsy Maggie' as the core of the tune.

G'day Sandra,                  

US folks have anti-heroes of the same calibre as Ned, and indeed much of the Australian bushranging style and ethos came to us from the California goldrushes in the first place.

Pretty Boy Floyd, the subject of a significant folksong, certainly dealt with the sheriff's deputy in a similar way to Ned, and the whole Robin Hood model of the criminal is reflected in the folklore of the Kellys, Frank Gardiner and Ben Hall.

There have recently been some revelations about Dick Turpin which reveal that he was of the same stock.

From my observation, most of them stole from the rich and kept the money. The real Irish political rebel in Australia was Peter Lalor who risked his life in the Eureka uprising against abusive authority. He then became basically a conservative member of parliament.

You might remember my song William Conqest Turnland - listen here. After the death of the children, William and Hannah were determined to stay on their property, but the police urged settlers to move into towns as bushrangers were active in the region and making raids on isolated properties. This the Turlands finally did and it was the change in their fortunes.

The active bushrangers at the time, I believe, were Ben Hall and his gang.

I'm no fan of bullying police forces, but what inspired Kennedy and Kelly was the recognition that a police officer who could trace a bushman of Kelly's calibre to his base would have to be at least as good a bushman himself. To knowingly risk his life against such a fearsome giant as Ned, suggests that Kennedy had some strong values and a level of dedication, as well as confidence in his skills. Ned shot him from ambush, so his own deed was not particularly heroic. For me, the picture was of two equally determined characters standing boldly for their beliefs and ultimately dying as a result of them.

It says something about Ned that he expected Kennedy to throw down his weapon because he himself commanded it. What would Ned then have done if Kennedy had complied?

Irishness does no come into the equation, Ireland produced Kelly, Kennedy and Lalor, it also gave us Burke and Hare.

What made Ned Kelly unique was the use of home made armour in his last stand. I find this ridiculous. The weight of the stuff was horrendous, and well beyond the proportions usually evident in medieval armour. He made no provision for his legs,and that was what brought him down. I believe there may have been some greaves devised, but they made the armour too heavy. Bob Bolton would probably confirm that detail.

What was his plan? to get to his horse and ride away? For me the story makes good theatre but suicidal bushranging.

He apparently had a significant network of supporters in the Tatong- Mansfield area at the time, but they never materialised into an army of rebels at Glenrowan.

The suggestion that Edward Kelly was some kind of noble Irish rebel falls flat. His own diaries show him as a writer of mediocre literacy. They contain vast levels of self justification and self admitted bullying. Sorry, folks, There are too many problems in Ned's story for him to be a hero to J.Warner.

Good 'ealth. John