An Introduction to My Favourite Anzac Day Songs

Hello there! In the end, I didn’t get a blog post out yesterday because I ended up being non-stop the whole day. And today I’m just taking a brief break from my character info in order to bring you a list of my absolute favourite Anzac Day songs.

If you’re not Australian, the term “Anzac” or the commemoration of Anzac Day might be unfamiliar to you. Basically, Anzac is a acronym meaning “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”, and it refers to the Aus/NZ soldiers who fought in WW1 and WW2.

The term Anzac is no longer used to refer to current soldiers, but we chose this name, and the date of 25 April, to commemorate the soldiers who have served, and are currently serving, our nations. And also to remember the terrible cost of war, so that we might not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Anyway, enough about that. If you want to know more, a quick google search of “Anzac Day” will give you so more info. Now, onto the actual post, where I’ll be introducing you to fifteen of my favourite Anzac Day songs.

(Content Caution: All of the songs listed below are war songs, and several of the music videos linked contain photos/footage of war. I don’t consider any of them to be graphic, and these are songs my whole family listens to, but proceed with caution if you are easily upset or distressed by this sort of content. Some of them contain swearing, but none are heavy on it. All links lead to YouTube)

  1. I Was Only Nineteen (Redgum): This is possibly among one of Australia’s best known songs. It tells the story of a nineteen year old boy fighting in Vietnam, and it’s considered a classic. It’s a family tradition that we listen to this song every Anzac Day. (Note: This music video is classified as “age-restricted”)

2. The Anzac (Adam Brand): This is a really sweet song about a man who fights in WW1, who fights Australian drought, and is remembered by all those who stand to honour those who “fight for the land they love”.

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3. The Scots of the Riverina (Henry Lawson): This is actually a poem by Henry Lawson, about a young Scottish-Australian boy, who runs away from home in order to join the war. However, it’s been set to music several times. The linked version is my favourite.

4. Oh, Passchendaele (Lee Kernaghan): This song has such a haunting quality to it that it never fails to send chills down my spine. I guess you could almost call this song a lament, because it’s really a lament for the beauty, of both nature and human life,  destroyed by war.

5. The Green Fields of France (Eric Bogle): This is not an Australian song necessarily, as it’s actually about an Irish soldier, but at least one version has been recorded by an Australian singer, who makes the nationality of the young soldier mentioned in the song more ambiguous.

6. The Dust of Uruzgan (Lee Kernaghan; Fred Smith): This one is more modern, dealing with the conflict in Afghanistan. (Note: Not entirely clean, particularly Fred Smith’s original version. The one linked drops most of the swearing)

7. Poster Girl (Beccy Cole): One of my absolute favourite songs. It’s such a gentle, but powerful song. Even if you don’t listen to any of the other songs on this list, listen to this one.

8. Broken Soldiers (Beccy Cole): This is another of Beccy’s really good songs. This one deals with a mother whose son has returned from war broken and no longer himself. It can be rather tearjerking 🙂

9. On Every Anzac Day (John Schumann): This is another of my absolute favourites! It’s about an Aboriginal soldier and it deals quite bluntly with the predicament Aboriginal soldiers found themselves in after the end of war. (Note: a little bit of swearing in this one)

10.Anzac Biscuits (John Schumann): Another poem that’s been set to music. It’s also another sad one 😦

11. Freedom Called (Dave Arden; Paul Kelly): Another song that deals with Aboriginal soldiers, this one being a collaboration between Dave Arden (an Aboriginal man who I believe has Anzac ancestors) and Paul Kelly (a prominent white Australian musician).

12. The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (Eric Bogle): I actually don’t like this one all that much, as it always leaves me feeling very depressed. But it’s worth listening to in order to get a rounded view of Anzac Day. This song is quite anti-Anzac Day, which I don’t agree with, as I believe it’s important to remember and honour these things, but many of the things expressed in this song are also important to remember, in order to respect that war is traumatising and bloody. (contains some swearing)

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13. Teddy Sheean–Forever Eighteen (Lee Kernaghan): This song makes my mother cry, for reasons that I’m sure will be obvious to you if you listen to it. It’s a story of a very brave young man 🙂

14. The Spirit of the Anzacs (Lee Kernaghan): This one is a good allrounder sort of song, it’s an overview of Australia and the Anzacs and our vow to remember them “at the going down of the sun and in the morning”.

15. The Last Post: This piece of music is traditionally used to announce the end of a military day and it is played every Anzac Day just before a minute’s silence is held. (The linked version includes the Last Post, and then the Rouse, which is played after the minute silence)

Lest We Forget

Are you Australian? Did you attend a service today? Do you have any special Anzac Day traditions? If you’re American, what are your favourite war songs? 

6 thoughts on “An Introduction to My Favourite Anzac Day Songs

  1. It’s so neat to see how other countries honor their troops. Sometimes Anzac Day is marked on our calendars and I’ve always wondered what is is. Taps is our equivalent of The Last Post. 😭 I love “Travelin’ Soldier” by the Dixie Chicks, “If You’re Reading This” by Tim McGraw, “Warrior Down” by Buddy Davis, “American Soldier” by Toby Keith, “Letters from Home” by John Michael Montgomery, and “I’m Already There” by Lonestar. (Also the Army Song!! “The Army Goes Rolling Along”)

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  2. Oh…one more. I can’t believe I forgot this one. “Mansions of the Lord.” The West Point cadets sing this one and it is heartbreakingly beautiful. 😢

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  3. It seems really weird that Anzac Day would be marked on an American calendar 😛 I’ll have to listen to Taps some day.
    “If You’re Reading This” is a good song! I listened to it last night 🙂 It reminds me of one of Lee Kernaghan’s songs “I’ll Always Be With You”. They’re both told in that last letter sort of format and are both really sad.

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