SLIM DUSTY
A Pub With No Beer
(Gordon Parsons)
Australia 1957
#1 Sydney #1 Melbourne #10 Brisbane #2 Adelaide [5AD] #12 Perth #3 UK

Original recorded version  

Originally released on 78 rpm record #G 25498 on Columbia's Regal Zonophone label, B-side of Saddle Boy. Recorded April 1957, released September 1957, charted in Australia from January 1958 when it entered the Melbourne charts.

Followed by The Answer To A Pub With No Beer, Sequel To A Pub With No Beer and The Pub Rock.

Slim Dusty (1927-2003): revered country music legend, an enduring and extraordinarily prolific recording and touring artist, born David Gordon Kirkpatrick in Kempsey, NSW. See, for example, biography at Lycos Music.

Lyrics at OzMusic Central.

Essential listening:
SnowieBowie has a playlist of at least a dozen versions of
Pub With No Beer at Multiply.com, including foreign-language versions and the earliest Australian recordings. There's also a label shot of the Regal Zonophone record.

Buy At Sanity.com.au

Other versions:

This is a much-recorded song. Apart from those featured on this page, APRA notes versions by: Anne Kirkpatrick & Slim Dusty, Bluey Francis, Errol Gray, Foster & Allen, Gordon Parsons, The Irish Rovers, Johnny Greenwood, John Williamson, Nokturnl, Richard Clayderman, Rodney Vincent, The Singing Kettles, Stewart Peters and The Ten Tenors. Other sources mention versions by Johnny Ashcroft, The Pogues, Danny O'Flaherty, Patsy Watchorn, The Clancy Brothers, Merv Allen & The Jimmy Johnston Showband and Wilson Cole.

Slim Dusty and Gordon Parsons perform the song in duet on the 2002 album Side By Side: The Dusty Collaborations.

Johnny Cash apparently performed the song, and suggested it to Tom T. Hall (see below).

The official site: SlimDusty.com.au

GORDON PARSONS
A Pub With No Beer
(Gordon Parsons)
Australia 1956
Original version: live performance

Gordon Parsons wrote and performed A Pub With No Beer while on tour with The Slim Dusty Show in 1956.

Gordon Parsons (1926-1990), known as 'The Yodelling Bushman', was an experienced entertainer in his own right who first recorded for EMI in 1946. He was admitted to the Australasian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1982. See Gordon Parsons Tribute at ABC Radio.

Slim recalled Gordon Parsons finishing the song over a late night bottle of whisky with Chad Morgan, the comic country singer he was sharing a caravan with: Gordon was not recording at that time, and because I was going to record again early in the next year and was short of one song, I asked him if I could use it. Gordon didn't mind, it was just another one of his ditties to him.
(Slim Dusty & Joy McKean, Slim Dusty: Another Day, Another Town, Pan Macmillan, 1996, pp114-115.)

The 1996 CD The Slim Dusty Show: Live in Townsville 1956
(available here) includes Gordon Parsons singing A Pub With No Beer, recorded at Townsville's Theatre Royale by a member of the audience.

Listen to the 1956 recording of Gordon Parsons at SnowieBowie's Pub With No Beer playlist at Multiply.com.

Buy At Sanity.com.au
[POEM]
A Pub Without Beer
(Dan Sheahan)
Australia 1943

Original source of lyrics

Poem written by Irish-born sugarcane farmer Dan Sheahan, published in a Queensland newspaper in 1943. See Dan Sheahan's life story at Hinchinbrook Shire Library Service.

A Pub Without Beer was adapted for A Pub With No Beer by Gordon Parsons who apparently believed it was an anonymous work in the public domain. Dan Sheahan's contribution was later acknowledged by Slim Dusty.

See the text of Dan Sheahan's A Pub Without Beer at Queensland Country Style.

[PUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT]
Beautiful Dreamer
(Stephen Foster)
USA 1864

Original melody?

Often cited as the melody of "A Pub With No Beer"

The melodies of Beautiful Dreamer and A Pub With No Beer are more alike than, say, those of He's So Fine and My Sweet Lord. It is unclear whether this was a case of intentional or unconscious borrowing.

Beautiful Dreamer is one of the best-known songs of Stephen Foster (1826-1854), a professional songwriter from Pittsburgh who also wrote such evergreens as Oh, Susannah, Old Folks At Home and Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair.

Beautiful Dreamer was written in 1862 and published posthumously in 1864.

See Stephen Foster biography at the University of Pittsburgh's Centre for American Music.

Later versions:

BOBBEJAAN SCHOEPEN
Cafe Zonder Bier
(Gordon Parsons, trans. Louis Baret)
Belgium 1959
Later version

Dutch translation of A Pub With No Beer. The artist's name here is simply Bobbejaan.

Most Australians would not know that Bobbejaan's Dutch and German versions of A Pub With No Beer made the song hugely popular in Belgium, Austria and Germany, where it is still a well-remembered classic oldie.

This Flemish singer Bobbejaan Schoepen, known as The Belgian John Wayne, was popular in Belgium and neighbouring countries. More at the official site BobbejaanSchoepen.com and at Wikipedia's Bobbejaan entry.

In 1961 he built a fun park, Bobbejaanland, still operating today. The Bobbejaanland website includes an audio file of Café Zonder Bier.

Bobbejaan Schoepen also appeared in the 1962 film Café Zonder Bier (aka De Ordannens etc.) a cult classic that was rereleased in 1999 with an added soundtrack by Belgian band Dead Man Ray. See the Internet Movie DataBase entry for De Ordannens/Café Zonder Bier)

More at the official site BobbejaanSchoepen.com and at Wikipedia's Bobbejaan entry.

Thank you to Tom Schoepen, Bobbejaan's son and biographer, for additional details and links.

BOBBEJAAN SCHOEPEN
Ich steh an der Bar (und habe kein Geld)
(Gordon Parsons - ?)
1960
Later version

German-language version of A Pub With No Beer, a Top 10 hit in Germany (see 1960 monthly German charts at wildsixties.de), and a chart-topper in Austria.

The title means "I stand at the bar without any money".

ROLF HARRIS
A Pub With No Beer
(Gordon Parsons)
UK 1963
Later version

Rolf Harris: ever cheerful Aussie singer, songwriter, artist and TV entertainer, long resident in the UK. His big breakthrough was with Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport (1960), a hit in Australia, Britain and the USA. See also Sun Arise and Two Little Boys.

Produced by George Martin.

 
BENNY BARNES
Bar With No Beer
(Gordon Parsons)
USA 1964
Later version

Single on Houston label Hall-Way #1203, an adaptation by Texan country singer Benny Barnes (1934-1985) whose biggest hit was his co-composition Poor Man's Riches (1956, #2 Country). He also released Bar With No Beer in 1967 on Kapp #859.

This seems to be different from the Bar With No Beer later recorded by Tom T. Hall. There is another country rock singer called Benny Barnes, still active in Sioux City, IO.

Further reading: Benny Barnes bio & discography at Discographie Rock 'N' Country. Notes and partial discography at Rockin' Country Style.
Thanks
to Tom K. White for the version alert.

THE DUBLINERS
A Pub With No Beer
(Gordon Parsons)
Ireland 1967
Later version

Reportedly a hit in Ireland, though so far I haven't found any Irish charts that mention it. Still searching...

Also on the 1967 album More Of The Hard Stuff.

ADGE CUTLER & THE WURZELS
A Pub With No Beer
(Gordon Parsons)
UK 1968
Later version

On live LP Cutler of the West, on Columbia.

The lyrics appear to have been reworked, Wurzels style: In Adge's version it has a happy ending... the pub may not have any beer, but there's plenty of cider! (Wurzelmania!)

TOM T. HALL
A Bar With No Beer
(Gordon Parsons - Nan Frederics)
USA 1985
Later version

On 1985 album Song In A Sea Shell, also released as a single. The song was suggested to to Tom T. Hall by  Johnny Cash who apparently performed the song himself.

The lyrics have been rewritten in an American context, initially credited to Tom T. Hall but rectified on later pressings.

Here, where the wild dingoes call becomes where the buffalo roam. See full lyrics at Lyrics On Demand.

See Dave's Diary at NuCountry TV for a more detailed account.

HAMISH IMLACH
A Pub With No Beer
(Gordon Parsons)
UK 1995
Later version

Scottish folk singer. On the album More And Merrier.
MIDNIGHT OIL
A Pub With No Beer
(Gordon Parsons)
Australia 1998
Later version

Aussie rock band with a social conscience dips the lid to Slim on the 1998 various artists album Not So Dusty: A Tribute To Slim Dusty.

DEAD MAN RAY
Beer
(Gordon Parsons, trans. Louis Baret)
Belgium 2001
Later version

On 2001 album Marginal EP.

Remake of Bobbejaan Schoeper's 1959 Dutch language version, as in Dead Man Ray's 1999 updated soundtrack to the film Caf? Zonder Bier.

Corrections or comments? Contact the writer.