Howard’s Tambourine

Written by John Tomlinson and Penny Harrington.
Inspired by and can be sung to the tune of Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man.

Hey! Mr Johnny Howard, tell a lie to me,
I’m hard-up and there is no place I’m going to.
Hey! Mr Johnny Howard, tell a lie to me,
in the jingle jangle morning I’ll come shadowing you.

Though I know that this week’s wages have crumbled into sand,
vanished from my hand,
Work Choices’ cruel command have left me weeping,
your arrogance amazes me, you’ve brought me to my knees,
the bosses you must please
your promises can’t appease, they’re just deceivin’.

Take me on a trip upon your sleazy curlin’ lip,
my senses have been stripped, my throat can feel the grip,
my eyes too blind to cry, wait only for your jack boots
to come thunderin’.
I’m not going anywhere, I’ll refuse to fade
into your sad parade, cast your empty spell away,
I’ll not go under it.

Though you might hear cryin’, sighin’, from the mouths of those you shun,
it’s not meant for everyone, just keepin’ Blackfellas on the run
‘cause you don’t want to keep the miners waitin’.
You say you’re intervening, that it’s for the children’s sake
John, you really take the cake – you grab control to seize their land
with the waving of a wand – it’s just a chimera we’re seeing
that you’re chasing.

My conscience disappearin’ through the half truths of your lies
turned away from human sighs, like a hanger-on of thieves,
the frightened refugees, that you placed out of reach,
with your sullen twisted speech inflicting sorrow.
Yes, we’ll dance together in our land with one fist waving high,
in a common unity, struggling for humanity,
with a memory of your sin against those of different skin,
we’ll fight today to build a bright tomorrow.

First published Union Songs 26/9/2007 also published same day Al-Moharer