Films, Audio & Samples
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Barry Crump, who died in 1996, occupies a unique place in New Zealand’s literary history. His fiction captured the essence of the country’s rural life, and he was a best selling author from the time “A Good Keen Man” appeared in 1960. Less well-known is his poetry, especially the ballads which have been favourably compared to those of Australian Banjo Patterson.
In his introduction to the volume Song of a Drifter and other ballads, poet Kevin Ireland writes:
'…Crump’s words belong to an age-long folk tradition of ballads and songs, and his use of these forms is authentic. There is no false note in his lines and rhymes. They mean what they say, and they catch exactly the way he spoke and figured things out, the way he meant his writing to communicate and to be instantly approachable…There’s nothing scrubbed and tidy and ironed out about the way he wrote.'
These three settings follow on from my setting of Song of a Drifter. The subject matter is again uniquely New Zealand with the unself-conscious use of local place names and colloquialisms. The first song is a tale of the experiences of a sheep musterer and the harshness of his life at Bullock Creek. The music is accompanied mostly by simple rolled chords, with the melody suggesting a rhythmic folk-chant. The second song no doubt grew out of Crump’s series of television advertisements for the Toyota car company. In these, he was generally seen driving enthusiastically over (often impossibly) rugged terrain accompanied by a terrified passenger. It is set in a lively style with a hint of the music hall. The final song is a ballad about a stray dog who never quite loses the wild and mean side of his nature, and comes to an ironically inauspicious end.
Crumpy! was written for the recently formed National Male Choir of New Zealand (conductor Pete Rainey). The texts are used by kind permission of Crump’s widow Maggie Crump.
Commissioned by the National Male Choir of New Zealand and conductor Pete Rainey
- Mustering Bullock Creek
- Bad Blue
Text by Barry Crump