An Australian Song Cycle
Scored for Mezzo-Soprano and Piano
Words and Music: Lorraine Milne
Copyright © 1997
The lyrics1. Young woman born in time of peace
It was a time to raise your voice
And shout for all liberation.
Land of the Free,
Floating south of the South China sea.
With aching heart she asked herself,
"What are we fighting for?"
Numbers on a ball,
Women left to cope with the madness of it all.
They sent him home without his legs,
A body so young and so broken.
Marbles in a barrel,
Lottery of lives,
Feel the pain of women - mothers, lovers, wives.
She found it hard to reconcile
The reason for his going.
Time heals they say,
It's a diff'rent day,
But she knows her life will never be as carefree again.
Soloist: Rachael Tidd
Accompanist: Jane Macdermott
Birthday Ballot looks at conscription and the Vietnam war from the point of view of a young woman.
“…the National Service Scheme was introduced by the Menzies Government in November 1964. Popular belief holds that the scheme was conceived specifically for Vietnam. Although untrue, the close timing of its introduction and Australia’s growing commitment to the war made it seem so to many people.
Under the National Service Scheme, twenty-year-old men were required to register with the Department of Labour and National Service (DLNS), they were then subject to a ballot which, if their birth date was drawn, meant the possibility of two years of continuous full-time service in the regular army, followed by three years part-time service in the Army Reserve. As part of their duty, national servicemen on full-time duty were liable for ‘special overseas service’ including combat duties in Vietnam…
The ballot resembled a lottery draw, even to the extent, in the case of the final five ballots, of being fully televised. Numbered marbles representing birthdates were chosen randomly from a barrel…”