Wrap Me Up In My Stockwhip and Blanket by Tex Morton

Title:
Wrap Me Up In My Stockwhip and Blanket by Tex Morton
Category:
NFSA ID:
365991
Year:
1936
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'Wrap Me Up With My Stockwhip and Blanket’ was recorded by Tex Morton in August 1936 for Regal Zonophone at EMI Studios in Sydney. Morton sings and plays guitar on this recording of the song. The song is a reworking of a 19th century folk song, with melody by Jack O’Hagan and Australian-flavoured lyrics adapted from Banjo Paterson’s poem 'The Dying Stockman’ (1905). This clip features the final thirty seconds of the song, including the last verse and yodelled chorus.

Summary by Graham McDonald

Performer:
Tex Morton

In this clip, you can hear Tex Morton singing in the typical country and western style of the period. His accent is as much American as Australian (or New Zealander) and the guitar accompaniment is the pick and strum popularised by Mother Maybelle Carter and other American country guitarists of the time.

The song’s origins actually date back to the early 19th century. Its storyline is well known in both the British and American folk song traditions where it can variously be a soldier, sailor, cowboy or almost anyone else in a dangerous occupation dying a romantic death and asking his comrades to bury him appropriately.

The song has been Australianised with references in the clip’s verse to 'dingoes’ and the 'coolibah’. The juxtaposition of the American-style accent and playing sounds somewhat at odds with the Australian references but it is the Australian touches that make this record a pioneering effort and help account for its popularity with homegrown audiences.

Also notable about this clip is the yodelling. Yodelling remained an essential element in Australian country music right up to the late 1950s, a couple of decades after it became little more than a curiosity in American country music.

 

Wrap Me Up In My Stockwhip and Blanket synopsis

Tex Morton, Australia’s first country music star, recorded this song in 1936 for Regal Zonophone. Recorded simply with voice and guitar accompaniment, it marks the beginnings of a distinctively Australian country music.

 

Curator's notes

When Australian performers started to record country music in the early 1930s, they blithely sang about Texas or Montana, often with American accents. Tex Morton’s first releases were no different until his fourth recording session in August 1936, when he put down 'Wrap Me Up With My Stockwhip and Blanket’, a country and western song with a distinct Australian flavour.

Tex Morton was actually a New Zealander. Born Robert Lane in Nelson in 1916, he arrived in Australia in 1934 to pursue a career as an entertainer and within two years he had a recording contract with Regal Zonophone. Between 1936 and 1943 he recorded 93 songs for that label, many with an Australian feel.

Even though some of these songs involved little more than changing place names and a few expressions to Australianise them, what Tex Morton did was create an awareness that country and western music could be an Australian form as much as it was an American form. Other young country singers and songwriters such as Buddy Williams and Slim Dusty soon followed Morton’s lead and a distinct sub-genre of Australian country music – the bush ballad – emerged.

The bush ballad was first developed in the 1880s and ’90s as part of an Australian romantic nationalism, its best known practitioners being AB 'Banjo’ Paterson and Henry Lawson, who contributed to the weekly newspapers of the day such as The Bulletin. A classic example of a bush ballad is 'The Wild Colonial Boy’. 'Wrap Me Up With My Stockwhip and Blanket’ became better known in Australia as 'The Dying Stockman’ when Banjo Paterson published it in Old Bush Songs in 1905.

'Wrap Me Up With My Stockwhip and Blanket’ is a minimal reworking of a song from this tradition, which Tex Morton made his own and which consequently triggered a whole sub-genre in Australian country and western music.

Notes by Graham McDonald