Australian Folk Songs

songs | books | records | articles | glossary | links | search | responses | home

Eight Bells (1957)

By Merv LilleyİMerv Lilley 1957
Tune: Ring the Bell, Watchman

Down in the engine room
The old greaser stands,
Striking the bell
With a steel in his hands.
Fixed is his gaze
On the fiddley now and then,
At last he sees them coming,
Six firemen.

Ring the bell, greaser,
Ring it on the dot.
While you swing that oil can
The bearing won't run hot.
Feel around the bearings,
See that they are cool.
Every forty minutes is the old greaser's rule.

The firemen are working,
There's fires on the plates.
When the steam is on the blood,
Then every one is mates.
The Trimmer in the bunkers
Is tipping down the slack,
If he doesn't trim his quota
He won't be coming back.

An A.B. is on lookout,
And one is at the wheel.
Every time he slews her,
We feel a sudden keel.
The day workers are chipping
They make a dreadful noise
That interferes with sleeping,
Brings curses from the boys.

The chief cook and the second
Are busy cooking tea.
As soon as they get finished
It's come and drink with me.
The Stewards are all busy
Serving to the mates.
They way they keep them happy,
Is by filling up their plates.

The Skipper is the big boss,
Then next comes the Chief,
So carry out their orders
Or they'll tear up your brief.
Square up the rigging,
Let the shore lines go.
We're heading now for Sydney,
The best place that we know.


From the Bush Music Club Magazine Singabout. Following his experence in the the Army 1941-44, Merve Lilley worked as Woolpresser, Fencer, Timbercutter, Miner in Coal and Lead Mines, Seaman, Canecutter, Poet and Writer and had much of his early work published in Singabout.
See more on the Bush Music Club Blog.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory