Paterson’s Insight into Aussie Shearer Culture
This ballad offers an insider’s view of shearer culture by depicting the backbreaking work and camaraderie of a shearing shed crew during a grueling hot spell.
Paterson reveals the demanding conditions faced by sheep shearers through details like the blistering heat, repetitive strain injuries, and exhaustion taking a toll.
The Old Bush Songs
by Banjo Patterson
But he also shows their irrepressible spirit, powering through the discomfort and finding escape in mateship during breaks playing music or cards once the coveted rain finally comes.
The lyricism and repetition of “fall of rain” creates a growing sense of relief and release as the rain cools the strained men and reinvigorates them to press on.
While romanticizing the resilience of shearers, Paterson also unveils the brutality of their labor. Their skill and stamina in harsh settings for meager wages emerges.
So “Another Fall of Rain” combines a vivid window into shearer hardships with admiration for the bonds and perseverance of the work crew as they endure through harsh conditions together.
ANOTHER FALL OF RAIN
(Air: “Little Low Log Cabin in the Lane.”)
The weather had been sultry for a fortnight’s time or more,
And the shearers had been driving might and main,
For some had got the century who’d ne’er got it before,
And now all hands were wishing for the rain.
For the boss is getting rusty and the ringer’s caving in,
For his bandaged wrist is aching with the pain,
And the second man, I fear, will make it hot for him,
Unless we have another fall of rain.
A few had taken quarters and were coiling in their bunks
When we shore the six-tooth wethers from the plain.
And if the sheep get harder, then a few more men will funk,
Unless we get another fall of rain.
But the sky is clouding over, and the thunder’s muttering
And the clouds are driving eastward o’er the plain,
And I see the lightning flashing from the edge of yon black
And I hear the gentle patter of the rain.
So, lads, put on your stoppers, and let us to the hut,
Where we’ll gather round and have a friendly game,
While some are playing music and some play ante up,
And some are gazing outwards at the rain.
But now the rain is over, let the pressers spin the screw,
Let the teamsters back the waggons in again,
And we’ll block the classer’s table by the way we’ll put them
For everything is merry since the rain.
And the boss he won’t be rusty when his sheep they all are
And the wringer’s wrist won’t ache much with the pain
Of pocketing his cheque for fifty pounds or more,
And the second man will press him hard again.
“Another Fall of Rain” is a song that needs a little
explanation. The strain of shearing is very severe on the
wrists, and the ringer or fastest shearer is very apt to go in
the wrists, especially at the beginning of a season. Hence
the desire of the shearers for a fall of rain after a long stretch
of hot weather.