The term ‘folk song’ carries too much baggage, so I prefer to use the term ‘story song’. Dramatic changes in people’s entertainment patterns has affected the transmission of songs and, to some extent, stories. People now get entertained by electronic media, rather than by each other, and this is reflected in the way newer songs are circulated. In the 1970s through to the 90s songs about offshore gas and oil mining were popularised by circulating leaflets, having singers perform at rallies and having songs published in radical newspapers and songbooks. The Builder’s Labourers Songbook, published in 1975 by the radical Victorian branch of the BLF, was typical of such publishing and reprinted rallying songs like ‘Down With Esso-BHP’ with its first verse and chorus parodying the popular song ‘I Will If You Will, So Will I’:

Oh the tycoons in the boardroom said “Okay.
We will build a pipeline right across the bay,
It’s our modern contribution,
To industrial pollution
With the compliments of Wall Street, USA.”

So it’s down with Esso-BHP,
Oh, it’s down with Esso-BHP,
We’re a wake-up to your capers,
With your dredgers and your scrapers,
So it’s down with Esso-BHP.

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Warren Fahey is a Sydney-based Cultural Historian, author and performer. His Australian Folklore Unit site offers resources on Australian history, music and folklore.