Pop Archives

Slim Dusty - A Pub With No Beer (1957)

(Gordon Parsons)
Australia Australia
#1 Sydney #1 Melbourne #10 Brisbane #2 Adelaide [5AD] #12 Perth #3 UK

Original recorded version  

78 rpm record on Regal Zonophone, 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 YouTube, 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. 

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 performed a variation of the song on stage YouTube, and suggested it to Tom T. Hall (see below).

Further reading: 1. Notes on "Pub With No Beer" by Paul Byrnes at Australian Screen. 2. Dave's Diary: stories about Slim Dusty, including Pub With No Beer. 3. Official site at SlimDusty.com.au

Gordon Parsons - A Pub With No Beer (1956)

(Gordon Parsons)
Australia Australia
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 Australian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1982. 

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 includes Gordon Parsons singing A Pub With No Beer, recorded at Townsville's Theatre Royale by a member of the audience [available at slimdusty.com.au].

Further reading: Gordon Parsons timeline at Australian Country Music Hall of Fame.

[Poem] - A Pub Without Beer (1943)

(Dan Sheahan)
Australia Australia

Original source of lyrics.

Poem written by Irish-born sugarcane farmer Dan Sheahan, published in a Queensland newspaper in 1943. 

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.

Further reading: 1. Text of Dan Sheahan's A Pub Without Beer alongside the lyrics of the song "A Pub With No Beer" at thepubwithnobeer.com.au. 2. Dan Sheehan biography at AustLit (log-in may be required).

[Published manuscript] - Beautiful Dreamer (1864)

(Stephen Foster)
Original melody

Often cited as the melody of A Pub With No Beer. It is unclear whether this was a case of intentional or unconscious borrowing. As Paul Byrnes at Australian Screen notes, No-one noticed until many years later that the tune is almost identical to ‘Beautiful Dreamer’.

Written in 1862 and published posthumously in 1864, Beautiful Dreamer is one of the best-known songs of Stephen Foster (1826-1864), a professional songwriter from Pittsburgh who also wrote such evergreens as Oh, Susannah, Old Folks At Home and Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair.

A version of Beautiful Dreamer by Roy Orbison charted in Australia in the summer of 1963-64 (double-sided hit with the A-side Pretty Paper, #6 Sydney #7 Melbourne #3 Adelaide).

Further readingStephen Foster biography at the University of Pittsburgh's Centre for American Music.

Rolf Harris - A Pub With No Beer (1963)

(Gordon Parsons)
Later version

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

Album track produced by George Martin YouTube.

The Dubliners - A Pub With No Beer (1967)

(Gordon Parsons)
Ireland Ireland
Later version

On the 1967 album More Of The Hard Stuff by popular Irish band YouTube.

45cat.com also shows singles from Belgian & NZ.

Bobbejaan Schoepen - Cafe Zonder Bier (1959)

(Gordon Parsons, trans. Louis Baret)
Belgium Belgium
Later version
#3 Belgium

Single on Sony, a Flemish translation of A Pub With No Beer by Bobbejaan Schoepen (1925-2010), known as The Belgian John Wayne, a popular singer and entertainer in Belgium and neighbouring countries. The artist's name on the single is simply  Bobbejaan.

Bobbejaan's Flemish 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.

Further reading: 1. Official site BobbejaanSchoepen.com 2. Wikipedia's Bobbejaan entry.

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

Bobbejaan Schoepen - Ich steh an der Bar (und habe kein Geld) (1960)

(Gordon Parsons - Joshua Roeckelein)
Later version
#9 Germany

German-language version of A Pub With No Beer YouTube, a Top 10 hit in Germany, also released in Austria.

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

Also released:
• on Ex Libris, Switzerland, by Blacky White & Orchester Benny Greif (1960);
• on Polydor, Germany, by Gus Backus (1960) YouTube.

Benny Barnes - Bar With No Beer (1964)

(Gordon Parsons)
Later version

Single on Houston label Hall-Way 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.

Disambiguation 1: This is not the Bar With No Beer later recorded by Tom T. Hall. Benny's bar is closer to Slim's pub.

Disambiguation 2: There was another country rock singer called Benny Barnes (1945-2015), from Sioux City, Iowa.

Further reading: 1. Benny Barnes bio & discography at Discographie Rock 'N' Country. 2. Notes and partial discography at Rockin' Country Style. 3. Bio at AllMusic.
Thanks to Tom K. White for the version alert.

Adge Cutler & The Wurzels - A Pub With No Beer (1968)

(Gordon Parsons)
Later version

On live LP Cutler of the West, on Columbia.

The lyrics 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 (1985)

(Gordon Parsons - Nan Frederics)
Later version

On 1985 album Song In A Sea Shell, also released as a single on Mercury (1985). The song was suggested to Tom T. Hall by  Johnny Cash who performed a variation of it on stage YouTube.

The lyrics have been rewritten in an American context, initially credited to Hall but rectified on later pressings. Here, where the wild dingoes call becomes where the buffalo roam. See full lyrics at Lyrics On Demand.

Further reading: Pub with no beer wars with Tom T Hall at Dave's Diary at NuCountry TV. The page has many other details about Slim Dusty.

Hamish Imlach - A Pub With No Beer (1995)

(Gordon Parsons)
Later version

On the album More And Merrier by Scottish folk singer (1940-1996).

Midnight Oil - A Pub With No Beer (1998)

(Gordon Parsons)
Australia Australia
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. YouTube

Dead Man Ray - Beer (2001)

(Gordon Parsons, trans. Louis Baret)
Belgium Belgium
Later version

On 2001 album Marginal EP.

Remake of Cafe Zonder BierBobbejaan Schoeper's 1959 Flemish Dutch language version of Pub With No Beer (see above).

This was also heard in Dead Man Ray's 1999 updated soundtrack to the film De ordonnans (1962; Belgian Flemish title Café zonder bier).