All lyrics © Chris Prowse 2013
Photo – The Shiner and his dog
Ref: The Alexander Turnbull Library 1/2-050133-F

City Of CalicoShiner and Dog
(A letter from a gold seeker during the Otago gold rush tells of a horrid winter trapped in a city of calico tents in Central Otago.)

Left Dunedin in the pouring rain
Headed west just to stake my claim
Pitched my tent in the middle of a row
Right in the city of Calico

Spent the year trying to pan for gold
All I got was a shiver and a cold
Mud and snow everywhere I go
My socks are frozen to my toes

Oh oh  Calico Calico
Oh oh Calico Calico
Got no kerosene to keep me warm
Tents all flapping in a ragging storm
Drink and gamble is all I do
It’s the only thing that gets me thro’

When the winter snow finally thaws
In comes the water and floods my floor
Some hopeful fella came and bought my gear
“Good luck to you mate” – I’m out of here.

Breakfast In Glenavy
(The Shiner was the master of anti sweat and notorious for his tricks to get a free glass of Jamieson’s whisky from Shanty owners.)

Breakfast in Glenavy
Just a cup of billy tea
The snow on the foothills
Meant the land was getting mean

I may be the master
Of the art of anti sweat
I’ll roll up my swag, boys
Cause I’m not done for yet

In some way-side shanty
I played my best trick
On an unsuspecting barman
Just for one more drink

The barman lost his temper
When he saw what I had done
The patrons saw the humour
In this harmless bit of fun

The graveyard’s full of dead men
Who toiled away their days
Then died from their labours
Turning tussock into hay

I may be a loafer
Just a harmless rouseabout
But I will be a swagman
Until my days runs out

Good Old Times  
(The good old days that weren’t so good.)

Romance lies in the back of my mind
Not in this moment of time
Journey back to those arid days
Retold in a different way
Good old times of a different kind
Days we did what we did
Good old days in a magic way
Days we wished that we lived
Romance lives in those distant days
Helped by the times that slip away
Always in search of where horizons lie
As if the land will meet the sky


Starlight Hotel 
 (The first lines are based on a traditional Irish blessing that may have greeted the Shiner. The Grand Hotel may have 5 stars but the starlight hotel under the night sky has too many stars to count.)

May the road rise up to meet you
And the wind be at your back
May the sun shine down upon you
And lighten up your pack
May the trees that line the roadside
Have leaves of golden brown
May the change in the seasons
Turn your luck around

May the moon be your candle
Where ever you may dwell
May your bed be soft and dry
In the starlight hotel

May the cookhouse save some tucker
To feed you extra well
May there be some Irish whisky
For the stories that you tell
May you shoes last forever
May your friends be good and kind
May you travel with no fear
And always speak your mind


May you always get a smile
In the streets of Oamaru
May the Daily make a mention
Whenever you pass through
May the farmer give you shelter
Just to brighten up your day
May there be no questions
Of why you are this way

I’m Your Remittance Man
(The colony was an ideal destination for the black sheep of the English aristocracy. The regular remittances where sent on the condition there was no return.)

Broken down in a distant land
Broken dreams of a troubled man
Remember me – I’m your remittance man
Broken rules I’m a banished one
May be I’m your forgotten son
Remember me – I’m your remittance man

Broken heart with broken strings
Stranded here with broken wings
Remember me – I’m your remittance man

Broken back and broken bones
Feel like that when I’m all alone
Remember me – I’m your remittance man


Broken will, so they say
Gets me drunk on remittance day
Remember me – I’m your remittance man


Coastal Men 
(A song for the seamen of the MV Inaha. My dad was the young engineer.)

I boarded this ship as a young engineer
I’ll keep this ship running wherever she steers
Our logbooks show that as coastal men
We did our job right up to the end
Coastal men, coastal men

Patea is waiting to empty its stores
Of boxes of cheese that will reach other shores
The master he says as looks at his chart
All we need is the strength of our hearts
Coastal men, coastal men

I’ll sail this coastline as long as I can
I don’t need a compass or shelter of land
We’ll cross the bar with a matter of ease
And once at sea we’ll do as we please
Coastal men, coastal men

The river is down and soundings are low
I can tell by the tide that it’s my time to go
Our logbooks show that as coastal men
We did our job right up to the end
Coastal men, coastal men

Feeling My Way
(Many that carried a swag were lost souls escaping from past misfortunes.)

I’ve been a walkin’ down a one-way road
Carryin’ my troubles, such a heavy load
Just feeling my way
Just feeling my way

I’ve been a winner and loser too
Know the meaning, when you get those blues
Just feeling my way
Just feeling my way

I’ve been here and there
And almost everywhere
Where else do I have to go? 
I’ve been hopin’ and prayin’
That no one would know that
I’m just feeling my way

My shoes are worn and my feet are sore
The way I’m going I can’t walk much more
Just feeling my way
Just feeling my way

Got a road map but its upside down
Had me travelin’ the wrong way round
Just feeling my way
Just feeling my way

Sons And Daughters
(John A. Lee says that in the days of the sons and daughters the voices grew contemptuous and they fenced the wanderer. No generation is the same as the last.)

Sons and daughters don’t feel the pain
Of what’s been gained from yesterday
Sons and daughters don’t feel the same
They see it all in a different way

Now that I’ve told you
Do you want to know a little bit more
Now that I’ve shown you
Do you want to know what went before

Sons and daughters live different lives
Different values, different views
Sons and daughters don’t need the past
They’re looking forward to something new

Son and daughters they travel on
Leave their families – they leave their home
Sons and daughters must make the move
Find a new way – on their own