Borrowed Ground

John Schumann

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John Schumann

John Lewis Schumann (born May 1953) is an Australian singer, songwriter and guitarist from Adelaide. He is best known as the lead singer for the folk group Redgum, with their chart-topping hit "I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green)", a song exploring the psychological and medical side-effects of serving in the Australian forces during the Vietnam War. The song's sales assisted Vietnam Veterans during the 1983 Royal Commission into the effects of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants employed during the war. Schumann was an Australian Democrats candidate in the 1998 Federal election, narrowly failing to unseat Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer for the Division of Mayo. more »


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The wind out here's like a cross-cut saw, the land is red and green
The summer sun's hanging in a pale blue sky, the air is sharp and clean
There's a frozen moment in waving grain, food for a hungry world
But we can't clothe ourselves with the check, we can barely feed ourselves

At night I lie awake and worry and the debts go round and round
Furrows in my night time forehead,
And furrows on borrowed ground

There's and old galv shed with a laughing lean, it's kept the tractor dry
I remember the day when we knocked it up with stringy bark and fencing wire
The earthen floor's been beaten hard, where the rain hasn't cut a path
I'm frightened to look because I'm beaten too and the mice run through the chaff

And I lie on my bed, staring into the red 
And the overdraft won't come down
And it's hard work keeping your family together,
Living on borrowed ground

And I don't blame your brother, son, for moving into town
It's no place here for a bright young man,
Living on borrowed ground.

And I watch all the programs on the ABC, 
After the sun's gone down
Lucy Broad's talking on "Countrywide",
Talking about borrowed ground.

We don't own this place anymore and I don't know how or why.
There's some money-men coming from Sydney who tell me it's only a matter or time.
Well, I hope they can read the seasons and they're not here just to muck around
Cause they've still got to feed a nation, 
They've got to feed them from borrowed ground.

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