»  Peter Dawson sings "When the Sergeant-Major's On Parade"

 

When the Sergeant-Major's On Parade

words and music by Ernest Longstaffe, sung by Peter Dawson

 

•  Background

A great Dawson favorite. The song dates from 1925. It was sung by Ernest Dale in the 1943 British comedy movie Somewhere in Civvies. I don't know when Dawson recorded it; sometime in the 1930s, probably.

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•  Play the song

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•  Lyrics of the song

When the sun is shining bright,
Dispelling all the dews of night,
With Sam Browne belt and buttons bright
Behold the Sergeant-Major!
Batman makes my army bed
And soon my boots a luster shed;
He turns me out from foot to head
A dapper Sergeant-Major!
Then woe to them that meet my eye;
They never do — they turn and fly!

When I'm here on parade in the square
How the folks passing by turn and stare,
For they say "This beats the band;
The way he handles the men is grand!"
When I shout
Birds fly out
Daisies fade;
I've a way that must be obeyed.
NCOs say I bite
While recruits die of fright
When the Sergeant-Major's on parade!

Eyes as keen as sparrow-hawk
Or like a lobster on a stalk,
No nudge or wink or smile or talk
Escapes the Sergeant-Major.
True, I've got a fearful name,
And folk say it's a crying shame;
They'd like to kill or halt or maim
That fiend, the Sergeant-Major.
But that's the proper Army style;
And now and then they see me smile.

When I'm here on parade in the square
How the folk passing by turn and stare,
For they say "This beats the band;
The way he handles the men is grand!"
When I shout
Birds fly out
Daisies fade;
I've a way that must be obeyed.
NCOs say I bite
While recruits die of fright
When the Sergeant-Major's on parade!

Pick 'em up! Pick 'em up, there!
What the, Where the, Who!
Pick 'em up! Pick 'em up, there!
Coal fatigue for you!
Left! Left! Left!
Is that the way we won Waterloo?
Come along, come along, there —
Jump to it, my lad!
If you don't, you'll hear me call
A spade a spade.
Left! Left! Party — 'shun! The Sergeant-Major's on parade!