My Old Man's a Dustman by Lonnie Donegan

This is a brief insight into the background of the song that took the charts by storm in the '60's called "My Old Man's A Dustman" by Lonnie Donegan.

Although it doesn't specifically have anything to do with our skip hire service in Sussex, it's 'rubbish' related, so we thought it was a good opportunity to write a blog post about it.

It's one of those old songs from a bygone era that most of the younger generation won't have heard of but the song still lives on however, on the Terraces of many football stadiums with the adaptation of the original into a football chant (lyrics at the bottom of this page).

The original song was first recorded by the British skiffle singer Lonnie Donegan. It reached number one in the British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand singles charts in 1960.

Lonnie Donegan sung the song and also co-wrote it with Peter Buchanan (Lonnie's manager between 1956 and 1962) and Beverly Thorn.

According to information from Wikipedia, it probably has its origins in "My Father Was a Fireman", a song sung by British World War One troops. The two songs share a lyrical similarity in their reference to "gorblimey trousers". A song beginning with the line "My old man's a dustman", but otherwise sharing no lyrics with Donegan's, is recorded as a playground song in a 1956 novel. This song tells of the exploits of the protagonist at the Battle of Mons. A version concerning a football game and beginning "My old man's a scaffie (dustman or street-sweeper, from the word scavenger). He wears a scaffie's hat" (strikingly similar to the first two lines of Donegan's song) is recorded as a Scottish playground song during the 1950s. A very similar song, beginning "My old man's a baker", is recorded in Chester-le-Street in 1967. All of these songs share the same metric structure.

On 16 March 1960, through Pye Records in the UK, Donegan released a version of the song recorded live at the Gaumont cinema in Doncaster just a few weeks earlier, on 20 February. The B-side was a version of the English folk song "The Golden Vanity". The single reached number one in the UK Singles Chart on 31 March and maintained that position for four weeks. It also reached number one in Australia and New Zealand and on the Canadian CHUM Chart, selling over a million copies in total.

In 1960, a Dutch version was released by Toby Rix. The song was performed by the Bee Gees on the Australian TV show Brian Henderson's Bandstand in 1963. Also in 1963, a parody version, "My Old Man's An All-Black", was released in New Zealand by the Howard Morrison Quartet and, in the US, the Smothers Brothers included a parody based on the song on their LP Think Ethnic. In 1966, The Irish Rovers included a version of the song on their LP The First of the Irish Rovers. A version titled "My Old Man's a Provo" became one of the most popular Irish republican rebel folk songs in the latter part of the twentieth century. 

Some of the information in this article was found on Wikipedia if you'd like to find out more.

My Old Man's a Dustman - Lyrics


Now here's a little story
To tell it is a must
About an unsung hero
That moves away your dust
Some people make a fortune
Other's earn a mint
My old man don't earn much
In fact....he's flippin'.....skint

Oh, my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat
He looks a proper narner
In his great big hob nailed boots
He's got such a job to pull em up
That he calls them daisy roots

Some folks give tips at Christmas
And some of them forget
So when he picks their bins up
He spills some on the steps
Now one old man got nasty
And to the council wrote
Next time my old man went 'round there
He punched him up the throat

Oh, my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat

I say, I say Duncan
I 'er...I found a police dog in my dustbin
(How do you know he's a police dog)
He had a policeman with him

Though my old man's a dustman
He's got a heart of gold
He got married recently
Though he's 86 years old
We said 'Ear! Hang on Dad
you're getting past your prime'
He said 'Well when you get to my age'
'It helps to pass the time'

Oh, my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat

I say, I say, I say
My dustbins full of lillies
(Well throw 'em away then)
I can't Lilly's wearing them

Now one day while in a hurry
He missed a lady's bin
He hadn't gone but a few yards
When she chased after him
'What game do you think you're playing'
She cried right from the heart
'You've missed I too late'
'No... jump up on the cart'

Oh, my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat

I say, I say, I say (What you again)
My dustbin's absolutely full with toadstools
(How do you know it's full)
'Cos there's not much room inside

He found a tiger's head one day
Nailed to a piece of wood
The tiger looked quite miserable
But I suppose it should
Just then from out a window
A voice began to wail
He said (Oi! Where's me tiger head)
Four foot from it's tail

Oh, my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat
Next time you see a dustman
Looking all pale and sad
Don't kick him in the dustbin
It might be my old dad...


My Old Man's a Dustman - Football Lyrics

After doing a bit of research, it seems that there are quite a few variations of this song and one of the more well know alternatives is the version sometimes sung at football matches. As we're a local skip hire company in Sussex, it's probably best that I don't put some of the more X rated versions on this page!

The football chant below is the traditional one and is reasonably family friendly and I think it originated in the 80's but it could be earlier..

O, my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He bought two thousand tickets
To see a football match

Oh, Fatty passed to Skinny
And Skinny passed it back
Fatty took a rotten shot
And knocked the goalie flat, OOH!

Where was the goalie
When the ball went in the net?
Halfway up the goalpost
With his trousers round his neck, singing

Oompah, oompah
Stick it up you jumper
Rule Britannia, marmalde and jam
We threw sausages at our old man

They put him on a stetcher
They put him on a bed
They rubbed his belly
With a five pound jelly
But the poor old soul was dead

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