Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport

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A song for kids or a darker tale of animal abuse?

Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, is a song written and recorded by Rolf Harris, about the last requests of a (possibly insane) dying man. Rolf, also known as ROFL, was said to have written this song after a wild night at Birdsville pub, in outback Australia. The story goes that there he met a few "lovely ladies" who he spent the night with in the outback. Contrasting reports of Rolf leaving that night with two (rather irritated) kangaroos tied up in the back of his ute have been rumoured, however unconfirmed.

The fact that this song is still popular today as a children's song, having been recently re-recorded with The Wiggles, is both disturbing and also an indictment of the culture of Australia.

Rolf used pieces of a building in the instrumentation of this song. This effect has been lovingly labelled a "wobble board", but it's just a fancy way of describing a piece of Masonite jiggled back and forwards.

Lyrical Analysis[edit | edit source]

The lyrics at first seem innocent enough, and many Australians sing this song rambunctiously, and pay little attention to the words. However deeper analysis of the lyrical content shows this song to be deeply disturbing, insane and outright racist.

There's an old Australian stockman, lying, dying,
and he gets himself up on one elbow,
and he turns to his mates,
who are gathered 'round him and he says:

The first verse opens with a jolly and light-hearted wobble-board sound as percussion, with the first verse spoken in a broad Australian Accent. It morbidly but cheerily introduces us to our primary protagonist, who we discover is actually dying whilst in the company of his friends. (Sounds like a nasty sort of party.)

Watch me wallabies feed mate.
Watch me wallabies feed.
They're a dangerous breed mate.
So watch me wallabies feed.

He begins by asking an unspecified friend to "watch" his Wallabies after he's dead. For this to be a man's final wish on his death-bed may seem a little odd to a non-Australian, however anyone who is aware of the Demographics of Australia would know of the long standing "relations" Australian bushmen have had with Kangaroos, and for such purposes Wallabies are not considered any different. He also warns them of a possibility of their violent nature, a trait of much of the Australian Wildlife.

Chorus[edit | edit source]

Altogether now!
Tie me kangaroo down sport,
tie me kangaroo down.
Tie me kangaroo down sport,
tie me kangaroo down.
Despite his condition he and his friends proceed to get quite excited and they join him (at his request) in the Chorus; an ode about preparing his pet kangaroo for sodomy via what honestly sounds like an act of S&M. After this delightful interlude, in each of the following verses he proceeds to ask individual friends to complete particular tasks for him. Each verse is separated by a repeat of this Ode to the Violation of the Kangaroo.

Keep me cockatoo cool, Curl,
keep me cockatoo cool.
Don't go acting the fool, Curl,
just keep me cockatoo cool.

He asks "Curl" to deep-freeze his Cockatoo, and to stop acting like such a twat. It is likely that "Curl" is an affectionate name for "Curly" - in most parts of the world this would suggest that he had curly hair, but in Australia it would mean that he was bald. This is considered humour in Australian culture.

Take me koala back, Jack,
take me koala back.
He lives somewhere out on the track, Mac,
so take me koala back.

He requests that Jack return his Koala to the wild, but we can suspect that delirium has begun to set in, because he proceeds to give the directions to another friend completely (named Mac). These directions are ambiguous at best.

Let me Abos go loose, Lou,
let me Abos go loose.
They're of no further use, Lou,
so let me Abos go loose.

Lou, he gives the task of letting his *politically incorrect* Aboriginal slaves go free, quite simply because they're useless.

Mind me platypus duck, Bill,
mind me platypus duck.
Don't let him go running amok, Bill,
mind me platypus duck.

Bill receives the honour of looking after his mischievous pet platypus.

Play your digeridoo, Blue,
play your digeridoo.
Keep playing 'til I shoot thro' Blue,
play your digeridoo.

He asks his friend "Blue" to continue the simple act of playing his didgeridoo after he is dead. We can assume "Blue" is a Redhead (again with the Australian "Humour"), and is therefore not Aboriginal (despite the fact that he plays the didgeridoo).

Tan me hide when I'm dead, Fred,
tan me hide when I'm dead.
So we tanned his hide when he died Clyde,
(Spoken) And that's it hanging on the shed.

For his friend Fred, he saves the most horrible request for last: He asks Fred to turn his skin into leather.

Requesting this at the end of his song was probably quite wise because if he'd asked it first, everyone else would have simply left.

This then launches us into what is considered by many to be the MOST disturbing thing about this song. The last half of the final verse informs us that his friends have obliged the singer's request, and they have proceeded to hang the leather made of their friend's skin on the shed. They tell (another?) friend called "Clyde" this fact. Clyde's stance on this disturbing act is unknown.

All parties (except for the recently deceased, of course) join again for a final chorus of the kangaroo S&M again, and the song is done.

Public reception[edit | edit source]

Riots caused by the re-release of Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport in 2000 by The Wiggles

Because of the questionable lyrical content of this song some country's governments have banned performance of it completely. Austria, as of 1992, has a death penalty for anyone caught performing the song in public. In Argentina it is acceptable to play the song, but not recommended, and musicians have been formally advised to wear a hardhat and safety goggles while doing so. Re-release of the song by "The Wiggles" in 2000 caused rioting in China and also caused the song to be banned by the American government, with a sentence of life imprisonment for ownership of a copy of the song still being enforced regularly.

Despite this, Australia and England love the song. The song is played, at the Queen's request, just after supper in Buckingham Palace every Tuesday.

“This is undoubtedly the best song ever. Let's have some tea and listen to it right now!”

~ Queen Elizabeth II on Tie me kangaroo down, Sport

“Tahrme kaingaroo down sport!!! Tahrme kaingaroo down!!!”

~ Average Australian Bogan on being asked to sing "Tie me kangaroo down, Sport"

Effects on world culture and history[edit | edit source]

President Bush's terrifying Anti-kangaroo speech during his attempted invasion of Australia.
The third bride on the "Tie the Kangaroo Down!" game show. A very sexy kangaroo.... not tied up, but sexy nonetheless.

In 1968, during an attempted siege of Australia, George W Bush gave a terrifying speech specifically aimed at the Kangaroos of the outback. Although the exact phrasing of the lyrics of this song were not used, the reference to the song was unmistakable. - ...and if y'all gonna be jumpin' and hoppin' in our way, we'll be tying y'all down, d'ya hear me sport?. The last part was aimed at a rouge kangaroo called Skippy, who had forced his way through the barricades. Shortly after those words were uttered, Skippy managed a powerful blow to the President and the entire army retreated in terror as a herd of Kangaroos bounced out of concealed spaceships and forced the American army back to Asia.

Rolf Harris makes reference to this event in another song, "Six white boomers", an Australian Christmas song, by using the lyrics "Then he heard a far off booming in the sky" - i.e. the kangaroos were coming once again to save the day.

Many think that it is for this reason that Australians still revere the song to this day, and also is the reason they let the kangaroos roam in the streets and cities as they wish. Despite the connotations of the content, the kangaroos themselves seem quite unconcerned. All interviews that have asked about their thoughts on the matter, the kangaroo will usually either give a blank stare, eat some grass, or jump away.

Swedish death metal band, ABBA, made a rare reference to the song during their tour of Antarctica in 1973. The Penguins were most shocked and ABBA have not been able to return there since.

In 1992, six half hour episodes of a Japanese game show were aired, called "Tie the Kangaroo Down!". The opening intro used the song theme, but only the melody was played on a Kazoo. In each episode, a single contestant was lured onto the show under the guise of it being a dating-related show. After a series of embarrassing questions were asked, the unsuspecting contestant met his date - A kangaroo. The man would then be offered $1,000,000 to be married to the Kangaroo, in a wedding ceremony which was conducted on the show. After four happy inter-species marriages and a successful lawsuit from the KPH (Kangaroos for Protection of Humankind), the show went bust and no further episodes were recorded.