Banjo Bill

My mates all call me Banjo Bill,
And sing this song as we throw and fill,
Our backs are bent but our arms are strong,
And swing in time to our drawling song.

Banjo Bill, Banjo Bill,
Shovelled for years and shovelling still,
Where a railways runs or a building stands,
The hard hills split in his driving hands.

The Japs came south with cast-iron schemes;
They thought we’d stoke their puffed up dreams.
They called for strong and willing slaves,
But we blocked their road and dug their graves.

Banjo Bill, Banjo Bill,
Soldiered for years and shovelling still;
Their armies cracked, but our coast stands,
Where he shovelled them back with work-strong hands.

The bosses bang the drum for war,
They make big dough and plan for more;
We’ll hammer our shovels like a gong,
Call on our mates to sing this song.

Banjo Bill, Banjo Bill,
Changed the world and will change it still.
Our spades will cut through the roots of war,
And peace will blossom from shore to shore.


Ron Edwards writes "Composed c.1945, no author or other details given. Meant to be sung, as it has a chorus, but no tune is indicated. Banjo is a slang term for a shovel and the song is in praise of construction labourers during World War 2. Freedom Songs 13 c.1954".

Perhaps it's a parody of the American song Railroad Bill.

Well, Railroad Bill ol' Railroad Bill
He never worked and he never will
I'm gonna ride ol Railroad Bill

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