Australian Folk Songs

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Poor Ned Kelly

Come along I'll tell you of a bad man of fame
A dinki di Aussie Ned Kelly was his name
Born down in Victoria on the Eleven Mile Creek
His mother and his father they were both dead Micks

At 16 years he was one tough guy
The crimes he committed, oh me, oh my
He'd steal all the horses for miles around
Collect the rewards for them and paint the town.

Poor Ned Kelly
A nicer guy I never knew
Poor Ned Kelly
He ain't got nothing on you

Well he robbed the stations and he robbed the mail
Held up the bank of NSW
Had the colonials on the run
Shot holes in Officers just for fun

Well Ned and his gang ran fast and free
Held up the bank at Jerilderie
Took over the town and locked them away
And stayed in the bar for the rest of the day

Poor Ned Kelly
A nicer guy you’ll never see
Poor Ned Kelly
He ain't got nothing on me

Well they chased him and they caught him and they threw him in the pen
Shot down all his cobbers to the very last man
Tried him and convicted him and wouldn't give him bail
Hung him to a rafter in the Melbourne gaol

Well it's many long years since Ned passed away
And many of his cobbers carry on today;
But with sales tax and income tax and beer going up in price
Poor Ned Kelly wasn’t such a bad guy.


Many thanks to Donna Sellers who sent me this song

Donna wrote:
'I was googling around trying to find any reference to a Ned Kelly song my father, now deceased, sang when we were children. Needless to say, I found nothing about the the song, but did find your website.

I wonder if you might be interested in saving the lyric publicly for posterity. It seems that a great deal of our oral culture is vanishing and we are becoming a rather bland and homogenized community. I can't write music, so I can't give you the tune unless I was to record myself singing, which would be a last resort. ;) We can remember him singing it from about the mid 1950s, but cannot tell how long before that he learned it.

Here it is, as we recall it. There is already a family dispute over one word; as is the nature of oral tradition, I suppose.'

Folklorist Graham Seal wrote:
'Looks like a folklorised version of 'Smiling' Billy Blinkhorn's 'Poor Ned Kelly'(1930s). It was recorded, so no problem with the tune, which looks as though it would still fit these quite substantially re-worked lyrics.'


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory