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Watch the The Jolly Swagman: 5 online guitar lesson by Tommy Emmanuel from Little by Little

The Jolly Swagman is a phrase that we Australians know about because of the song "Waltzing Matilda." The opening phrase of that song, written by Banjo Patterson, was "once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong". "Jolly" is an English term that means very happy, or happy-go-lucky, and a "swagman" is like a hobo. Once a happy hobo, camped by a water hole, a billabong, a waterhole.

I once had the great pleasure and privilege of playing with a band called "The Bushwackers" and we played traditional Australian dance music as well as Irish songs and Scottish music--traditional music with a kind of rock edge. The logo for the band was guy who looked like a kind of hobo, a swagman. He had a beard and a hat and he had an accordion and he was clicking his heels in the air he was so happy. And I just had to write a song for that guy, that jolly swagman.

As you'll hear when I play this song, at the end of it I go into a slightly Scottish influenced version of Waltzing Matilda. The original melody was actually a Scottish melody with Banjo Patterson's words put over the top of it. So I try to play it in a kind of bagpipe-type fashion. When I wrote the song I was trying to make it sound a bit like a fiddle tune, a bit Irish sounding. So here it is, The Jolly Swagman.

NOTE! Tab & notation is not available for this course - it is currently pending licensing.