Iv been living in Scotland for a few years now and have been diving in deep to the awesome folk music. This song, known as Green Fields Of France or Willie McBride is an amazing piece of music written by Eric Bogle, the man who wrote And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.
Eric gets bonus points because he is an Aussie like me!
(For those who are interested in folk music, if you haven’t already, look into Australian music from the convict era, there is some amazing musical treasures to be found.)
I would be forever indebted to whoever can find or write up a tab of this song.
I play 5 string banjo so a tab of the linked version above would be great or a Clawhammer interpretation would be epic!
I can’t believe people on this site actually use their own time to make a tab that others have requested! That’s dedication to the craft. Let’s face it, everything sounds better on banjo!
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Here are a few other versions of the song for reference:
I don’t think it’d be too hard if you knew the chords to the some. Seems like he’s just playing through them.
Also love all that old bush music as a fellow Aussie. Love redgum as well. They do some great renditions.
Where in Aus are you?
I live in Scotland now but grew up on a farm in Victoria. I know the guitar chords but I’m, I guess you would say, a self taught beginner at banjo. All and any help would be appreciated!
This is indeed a heartbreaking song. I was not aware of it, but I plan to suggest it to a friend who leads a Celtic group. Here's a web site with chords in the key of G. The tune is in 3/4 time. I may have a chance in a day or two to try some clawhammer tab. I think it may work slightly better in double-C tuning than in open G as far as playing the melody is concerned. Do you have a preference?
Edited by - dbrooks on 09/23/2019 06:17:42
Thanks very much for the reply! I bet many people have shed a tear over this song. That first link I posted is an incredible version (even though its missing a verse) and to have it recorded live on TV in front of an audience with that crystal clear audio and reverb is a hell of a thing.
Im currently learning in the key of G but I would be happy to try anything you produce. I have only ever played simple folk songs on the guitar but since getting a taste of clawhammer I've been eating it up.
You may also be interested in a 2nd "version" of this song which Willie McBride makes a reply to Eric Bogle from beyond the grave. Folks have actually researched Willies name, age, the year and other details of the song. Many Willie McBrides died during the war but it has been narrowed down to one young man who I believe is buried somewhere in France.
Here is the reply, sang to the same tune:
"My dear friend Eric, this is Willie McBride,
Today I speak to you across the divide,
Of years and of distance of life and of death,
Please let me speak freely with my silent breath.
You might think me crazy, you might think me daft,
I could have stayed back in Erin, where there wasn't a draft,
But my parents they raised me to tell right from wrong,
So today I shall answer what you asked in your song.
Yes, they beat the drum slowly, they played the pipes lowly,
And the rifles fired o'er me as they lowered me down,
The band played "The Last Post" in chorus,
And the pipes played "The Flowers of the Forest."
Ask the people of Belgium or Alsace-Lorraine,
If my life was wasted, if I died in vain.
I think they will tell you when all's said and done,
They welcomed this boy with his tin hat and gun.
And call it ironic that I was cut down,
While in Dublin my kinfolk were fighting the Crown.
But in Dublin or Flanders the cause was the same:
To resist the oppressor, whatever his name.
Yes, they beat the drum slowly...,,,.
It wasn't for King or for England I died,
It wasn't for glory or the Empire's pride.
The reason I went was both simple and clear:
To stand up for freedom did I volunteer.
It's easy for you to look back and sigh,
And pity the youth of those days long gone by,
For us who were there, we knew why we died,
And I'd do it again, says Willie McBride."
The version of Green Fields of France/No Man's Land/Willie McBride I am most familiar with Is Liam Clancy's.
I had never heard Willie McBride's response. Thanks for posting the lyrics.
Thought I would give this a bump and see if anyone else out there appreciates it.
'Setups' 4 hrs
'St. Anne’s Reel (TOTW)' 5 hrs