Catalog of Minnesota Songs

The table below includes (to the best of my knowledge) every English-language folk song collected in Minnesota and printed in any folk song collection. It also includes many foreign-language songs and some songs collected but never printed.

Each section, marked off by a line with a dark background, indicates a new song. Songs marked ** are in the Heritage Songbook. The next column gives the common title, then the language of the song, then the nature of its attestation in Minnesota, then (for English-language songs) an estimate of its frequency.

Below this, for most songs, is a description of a plot. There follows the collector and source, and the first line of the Minnesota version(s).

Note: Many of the foreign-language songs use diacritical characters or other non-English symbols. Because this database had to be handled with English-language software, these diacriticals have had to be left out.

Title Author Language Collection Status Frequency
** A La Claire Fontaine unknown French Inferred Non-English
French: The singer wanders by a clear fountain. He bathes, and hears a bird’s song in the trees. He tells the nightingale that it has no cares. He, on the other hand, lost his love because he refused to give her the roses he had picked
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 105-107] * Printed songbook, p. 5.
A la claire fontaine, M’en allant promener * Lyrics
Aamulla varhain (In the Morning Early) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer awakens in the morning with heavy heart and asks why his love has forsaken him.
[Edgar: Alma Arminen, Duluth]
Aamulla varhain, kun aurinko nousi
Ah, mika taitaapi olla muu Oskar Merikanto Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer asks what could be more beautiful than the moon and stars.
[Edgar: Ida Sarkipato, Ely]
Ah, mika taitaapi olla muu
Ah! Si Mon Moine Voulait Danser! unknown French Inferred Non-English
The young woman wants a monk (the word also means a spinning top) to dance. She offers him a cap, a gown, etc., then a psalter; he apparently refuses each. She says she would offer him more, but he has taken a vow of poverty
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 136-138]
Ah! si mon moine voulait danser!
Ainoa olen talon tytto (I’m the Only Girl on the Farm) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer rejoices that she is the only girl on the farm. A neighbor boy wants to marry her, but he won’t have any success
[Edgar: Alma Arminen, Duluth; Lydia Ahola, Virginia]
Ainoa olen talon tytto
Ala itke, aitini (Do Not Weep, My Mother) Words: Jaako Juteini Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer urges his mother not to weep even though his father is dead. He tells her not to grieve; he will care for her; eventually he will pay back all the care she has given him
[Edgar: composite from several Iron Range singers]
Ala itke, aitini, ala aite kulta
Anssin Jukka ja Jarman haat (Anssi’s Jukka and the Harma Wedding) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
There is much drinking, and fighing, at the Harma wedding. Anssi’s Jukka is responsible for much of it.
[Edgar: John Sala, Minneapolis]
Harmassa haat oli kauhiat siella juotihin ja tapeltihin
Babies on Our Block Words: Edward Harrigan / Music: David Braham English Collected Very Rare
“If you long for information or in need of merriment, Come over with me socially to Murphy’s tenement.” The singer catalogs all the myriad Irish babies living in the area, who join in singing “Little Sally Waters”
[Dean]
If you long for information or in need of merriment
The Banks of the Bann unknown English Collected Common
Delany recalls how, when he first came to (Ireland), he fell in love with a girl (on the banks of the Bann). Her parents disapproved of his poverty and sent him away, but she promised to prove true. (Now he is returned and promises to do well by her)
[Dean]
When first to this country I came as a stranger
** The Banks of the Little Eau Pleine W. N. “Billy” Allen (writing as “Shan T. Boy”) English Collected Uncommon
The singer meets a schoolmarm who is seeking her lost lover Johnny. He tells her Johnny is drowned and buried far from home. The woman curses Wisconsin and Johnny’s boss, and promises to give up teaching and any home near water
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Rickaby: Ed Springstad, Bemidji] [Dean] * Printed songbook, p. 56
One evening in June as I rambled || One evening last June as I rambled * Lyrics
The Banks of the Nile (Men’s Clothing I’ll Put On) unknown English Collected Common
(William) has been ordered to the banks of the Nile. Molly offers to cut her hair, dress like a man, and go with him. He will not permit her to; (the climate is too harsh or women are simply not permitted). (He promises to return and they are parted)
[Dean]
Hark! Hark! The drums are beating, my love, I must away
Barney Brallaghan unknown English Collected Uncommon
“‘Twas on a frosty night at two o’clock in the morning.” Barney Brallaghan courts sleeping Judy Callaghan from under her window. He recounts her charms and his possessions. He leaves when the rain starts but promises to return until she marries him.
[Dean]
You have heard of Barney Brallaghan, the purty Colleen’s joy
La Belle Francoise unknown French Inferred Non-English
The singer points out pretty Francoise, who wishes to marry. Her love arrives late, and finds her unhappy because she had been told he had gone off to war. But now he is here
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 139-141]
C’est la belle Francoise, lon, gai
La belle Lisette unknown French Inferred Non-English
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 113-114]
La belle Lisette chantait l’autre jour
Bells of Shandon Rev Francis Sylvester Mahony (1804-1866) English Collected Uncommon
“With deep affection and recollection I often think of those Shandon bells.” Those bells are compared to those at the Vatican, Notre Dame, and Moscow, and the bells “in St Sophio the Turkman gets”
[Dean]
With deep affection and recollection
Ben Bolt Words: Thomas Dunn English English Collected Uncommon
“Oh! don’t you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt, Sweet Alice, with hair so brown She wept with delight when you gave her a smile, And trembled with dear at your frown.” But Alice now lies in the churchyard, and the mill where they courted is dried up
[Dean]
Oh, don’t you remember Sweet Alice, Ben Bolt
La Bergere Muette unknown French Inferred Non-English
A “dumb shepherdess” keeps her sheep in the field. The Virgin Mary gives her the power to speak. She tells her parents. They are amazed. She dies three days later, with a letter from God in her hand
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 125-128]
Ecoutez la complainte, Petits et grands
Bernard Riley unknown English Collected Unique
“My name is Owen Riley, I have a son that sets me crazy; He come home every night singing blackguard songs.” The boy goes out and fights, or comes home drunk and hits his sister, or pawns his father’s pants. The father has no solution
[Dean]
My name is Owen Riley, I have a son that sets me crazy
Bessie of Ballingon Brae unknown English Collected Common
Bessie appears to her former lover as he lies sleeping, saying that she is dead and he has led her astray. He goes to her home and learns that she is indeed dead. He admits to the betrayal, says he intended to marry her, and stabs himself to death
[Dean]
Come, all you young folks, I pray lend an ear
** The Bigler’s Crew unknown English Collected Common
The Bigler sets out for Buffalo from Milwaukee. A number of minor incidents are described, and the Bigler’s lack of speed sarcastically remarked upon: “[We] MIGHT have passed the whole fleet there — IF they’d hove to and wait”
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Dean]
Come all my boys and listen, a song I’ll sing to you * Printed songbook, p. 58 * Lyrics & Additional Notes
Bold Daniels (The Roving Lizzie) unknown English Collected Uncommon
Bold Daniels and the “Roving Lizzie” meet a pirate ship which calls for their surrender. Though outnumbered, Daniels and the “Lizzie” fight so effectively that they capture the pirate and take it to (Baltimore) as a prize
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Dean]
On the fourteenth day of January from England we set sail || It was on the fourteenth day of January
The Bounty Jumper unknown English Collected Uncommon
“Friends and jolly citizens, I’ll sing you a song… It’s all about a jumper, Old Donald was his name.” Captured at last, he prefers death to revealing where his money is hidden. The jumper is condemned, executed, and buried.
[Dean]
Soldiers, pay attention, and I’ll sing to you a song
** Brakeman on the Train unknown English Collected Uncommon
(O’)Shaughnessy takes a job as brakeman. He doesn’t know the signal to stop the train. The train is derailed though no one is killed. They tell him to throw a switch; the train goes in the ditch. He gets the blame. And it’s a hard, cold, dirty job.
[Dean] * Printed Songbook, p. 43
Oh me name it is O’Shaughanesey, the truth I now will tell to ye
Bright Phoebe unknown English Collected Uncommon
“Bright Phoebe was my true love’s name, / Her beauty did my heart contain.” The singer and his love agree to marry when he returns from sea. By the time he returns, she is dead. He promises to spend the rest of his life mourning
[Dean]
My true love’s name was Mary Jane, she fairly did my heart inflame
Captain Jinks unknown English Attested/Partial or No Text Uncommon
“I’m Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, I feed my horse on corn and beans And court young ladies in their teens Though a Captain in the army.” Jinks describes his money troubles, his fancy clothes, army training, and perhaps his life with the girls
[Wilder: On the Banks of Plum Creek, p. 338.]
I’m Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines  * More Information
* Caroline of Edinborough Town unknown English Collected Very Common
Caroline’s parents do not approve of her suitor Henry, so the two of them run off to London to be married. It is not long before her husband grows sick of her, abuses her, and goes off to sea. After some wandering, she drowns herself in the sea
[Dean] * Play MP3
Come, all young men and maidens, come listen to my rhyme * Learn more
** The Colorado Trail unknown English Collected
“Eyes like the morning star, Cheeks like a rose, Laura was a pretty girl, God almighty knows. Weep, all ye little rains, Wail, winds, wail, All along, along, along The Colorado trail.”
[Sandburg: unknown, Duluth] * Printed Songbook, p. 77. Play MP3
Eyes like the morning star, cheeks like a rose * Lyrics
Come Back to Erin Charlotte Alington Barnard? English Collected Uncommon
The singer’s sweetheart has left Killarney for England. He seems surprised that “my heart sank when clouds came between us… Oh, may the angels, oh, waking and sleeping Watch o’er my bird in the land far away.” Does she think of me?
[Dean]
Come back to Erin Mavourneen, Mavourneen
The Crimean War unknown English Collected Uncommon
Johnny and his mother together tell of Johnny’s part in the Crimean War. Having fought at Alma, Balaclava, and Sevastopol, he is now safely (and happily) home again
[Dean]
As I rode down through Irishtown one evening last July
* The Croppy Boy unknown English Collected Common
The singer, a young Irish patriot, is arrested. A girl (his sister?) gives evidence against him, and he is sentenced to die. As he is waiting to be hanged, his father denies him, naming him “The Croppy Boy”
[Dean] * Play MP3
It was early, early all in the spring * Learn more
The Crow Wing Drive unknown English Collected Unique
“Says White Pine Tom to Arkansaw, ‘There’s one more drive I’d like to strike.’ Says Arkansaw, ‘What can it be?’ “It’s the Crow Wing River for the old Pine Tree.” The loggers leave Bemidji for Brainerd, where they “make some noise.”
[Rickaby: Ed Springstad, Bemidji]
Says White Pine Tom to Arkansaw
* The Cumberland Crew unknown English Collected Common
The crew of the Cumberland, attacked by the CSS Virginia/Merrimac, fight back as best they can, though their shot bounces off the Confederate’s armored hull. The Cumberland fights until it is rammed and sunk
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean/Virginia] [Dean] Play MP3
Come, shipmates, all gather and list to my ditty * Learn more
** The Daemon Lover (The House Carpenter) unknown English Collected Very Common
A girl who once loved a sailor is greeted by her lost lover (, now rich and powerful). He bids her come with him; she points out that she is married and has a child. He convinces her to come with him. Their ship sinks not far from land
[JAFL 18 (1905): “G.S.C.,” Minneapolis] [Dean] * Play MP3 Play MP3
In Scotland there dwelt three brothers of late || Well met, well met, my own true love * Printed songbook, p. 20 * Lyrics
** Darling Nelly Gray B. R. Hanby English Collected Common
The singer recalls the time he spent with Nelly. But now “the white man has bound her with his chain;” he laments “Oh my darling Nelly Gray, they have taken you away And I’ll never see my darling any more.” He hopes they will be reunited after death
[Dean] * Play MP3
There’s a low green valley on the old Kentucky shore * Printed songbook, p. 30
** The Day That I Played Baseball unknown English Collected Very Rare
“Oh, my name it is O’Houlihan, I’m a man that’s influential.” He normally lives a quiet life, but one day is convinced to play baseball. He strikes out, he hits fouls but runs the bases anyway; he ends up drunk and on a cattle train
[Dean] * Play MP3
Oh, me name it is O’Houlihan, I’m a man that influential (sic.) * Printed songbook, p. 66
Dear Land Sliach Cuilinn (John O’Hara, 1822-1890) English Collected Unique
“When comes the day all hearts to weigh if they be staunch or vile, Shall we forget the sacred debt we owe our mother isle?” The singer recalls the wrongs of Ireland, and his family’s long devotion
[Dean]
When comes the day all hearts to weigh if they be staunch or vile
Dennis McGonagle’s Daughter Mary Ann unknown English Collected Uncommon
“I am a decent Irishman, I’ve a daughter Mary Ann… and you bet she is so fresh, she will never spoil.” The girl is always going to balls and courting young men. At one, she is arrested, but promptly freed when the police learn who she is
[Dean]
I am a dacent Irishman, I’ve a daughter Mary Ann
Donnelly and Cooper unknown English Collected Common
Boxers Donnelly (Irish) and Cooper (English) meet. Odds are on Cooper. First Donnelly is knocked down, then Cooper, then Donnelly again; (referee) Kelly’s pretty daughter exhorts Donnelly to get up and win. He does,and Miss Kelly congratulates him
[Dean]
Come all you true bred Irishmen, I hope you will lend ear
Doran’s Ass unknown English Collected Uncommon
Drunken Pat lies down to rest on his way to Biddy’s. A jackass lies down next to him. In his stupor, Pat caresses the beast — only to be awakened by a horrid braying. He flees to Biddy’s, to be told that it was only Doran’s Ass
[Dean]
One Paddy Doyle lived in Killarney
Down Went McGinty Joseph Flynn English Collected Uncommon
McGinty bet that McCann could not carry him up a wall. McGinty was right, and “Down went McGinty to the bottom of the wall And though he won the five, He was more dead than alive.” McGinty’s adventures lead to more falls, prison, death, etc.
[Peters: Irene McCrady, Bemidji]
On Sunday morning at nine, Dan McGinty dressed so fine
The Dreadnought unknown English Collected Common
A song describing a run on the “Dreadnaught” from Liverpool to New York. Other than a concluding wish for captain and crew, most of the song is a catalog of places the ship visits
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Dean]
We have a flash packet, she’s a packet of fame
Dublin Bay (Roy Neal) unknown English Collected Common
“They sailed away on that gallant ship, Roy Neal and his fair young bride.” Despite this happy situation, Roy spends most of his time kissing his wife’s tears away. Finally the ship strikes a rock, and Roy and his wife are lost in Dublin Bay.
[Dean]
There sailed away in a gallant bark Roy Neal and his fair young bride
The Dying Soldier (Erin Far Away) unknown English Collected Uncommon
A dying soldier asks a comrade to send a lock of his hair from India to his mother in Ireland. He sends his sister and brothers word of his death in the fight against the Sepoys. He dies and is buried.
[Dean]
Oh, the moon looked down from an azure sky
Ei kukkan puhu pulestani (No One Speaks on My Behalf) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer complains that no one stands up for him or respects him in any way. He wishes he were with his former love.
[Edgar: Maria Heino, Virginia]
Ei kukkan puhu puolestain vaan jokahinen kaataa
Eika ne haaven lehdet lakkaa (Never Cease the Aspen Leaves) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
As the aspen leaves quiver in the wind, so the singer remembers his love. They have been parted, but he will weep for her always
[Edgar: Maria Heino, Virginia]
Ellie Rhee (Ella Rhee, Ella Ree) Septimus Winner ? English Collected Common
The singer recalls Ella Rhee, beautiful and kind, with whom he used to live (before the war). (He wonders why he ran away; he is free but is no longer with Ella.) He wishes he were by her (grave). He laments, “Carry me back to Tennessee….”
[Dean]
There is Ella Ree, so dear to me * More Information
En Roulant Ma Boule unknown French Inferred Non-English
“En roulant ma boule roulant….” Typical plot: Three ducks are paddling. A prince comes to hunt. Though he aims for a black duck, he hits the white one with its diamond eyes and its golden feathers. The owner is upset
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 129-133]
En roulant ma boule roulant, en roulant ma boule
En voi sua unhottaa poies (You Can Never Be Forgotten) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer will never forget (her?) love, though she can never have him. She wishes she were worthy and rich
[Edgar: Alma Arminen, Duluth]
En voi sua unhottaa poies, vaikk’ en ikanan’ sua saa
The Exile of Erin probably Thomas Campbell (1777-1844) English Collected Common
“There came to the beach a poor exile of Erin.” He looks across the ocean toward Erin, mourns for his lost country and remembers “friends who can meet me no more.” He thinks of his family. “Erin, an exile, bequeaths thee his blessing”
[Dean]
There came to the beach a poor exile of Erin
Fair Fanny Moore unknown English Collected Common
Fanny marries poor Henry rather than wealthy (Randall). When Henry is away, Randall appears and demands her life (or her love). (When she refuses,) he stabs her. Randall is hanged; Henry wanders distracted until he dies
[Dean]
It is down by yonder cottage all desolate and forlorn
Falling of the Pine unknown English Collected Uncommon
Speaker tells of working in lumber camps: “When daylight is a-breakin’/From our slumbers we awaken/When our breakfast we have taken/Our axes we will grind…And the woods we’ll make to ring/By the falling of the pine”
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Bemidji] [Dean]
Come all young men a-wanting of courage bold undaunted
Farewell Ballymoney (Loving Hannah; Lovely Molly) unknown English Collected Common
“Oh, meeting is a pleasure between my love and I; I’ll go down to yon low valley to meet her by and by….” The young (man) watches his love turn away from him. He laments her infidelity. (He departs from the town and goes to America)
[Dean]
Down in yonder valley there lives my heart’s delight
* The Farmer and the Shanty Boy unknown English Collected Common
Two girls compare their fiancees. The farmer’s sweetheart praises her love because he is always at home. The other girl points out that the shanty boy always comes home with his pay, while bad crops can ruin a farmer. The farmer’s girl concedes the point
[Rickaby: Ed D. Springstad, Bemidji] [Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Dean] * Play MP3
As I walk’d out one evening just as the sun went down || As I walked out one evening just as the sun went down * Learn more
The Farmer’s Curst Wife unknown English Attested/Partial or No Text Very Common
The Devil comes to claim a farmer’s wife. She causes great trouble in Hell, attacking the imps with all the vigor she had once used on her family. For safety’s sake, the Devil is forced to return her to her family (not necessarily to their joy)
Austin Faricy (transmitted by Sam Hinton)
Oh, the Devil he came to the old man’s plow
* The Festive Lumber-jack unknown English Collected Unique
“I’ve been around the world a bit, an’ seen beasts great an’ small… He leaves the woods with his bristles raised… He’s known by men of science as the festive lumberjack.” The lumberjack’s exploits end when his drink money runs out
[Rickaby: Ed Springstad, Bemidji]
I’ve been around the world a bit, an’ seen beasts great an’ small * Learn more
* The Flying Cloud unknown English Collected Very Common
Singer Edward (Hollohan) abandons the cooper’s trade to be a sailor. At length he falls in with Captain Moore, a brutal slaver. Moore later turns pirate. When his ship is finally taken, the remaining sailors are sentenced to death
[JAFL 35 (1922)=Gray: Frank Covell, Beaver Bay] [Dean] * Play MP3
My name is Edward Hallahan || My name is Willie Hollander, as you may understand * Learn more
The Foot of the Mountain Brow (The Maid of the Mountain Brow) unknown English Collected Common
Jimmy woos Polly with a promise to work hard. He offers her crops, horses, and servants. She says he spends too much time and money at the inn. He observes that the money is his and he will do with it as he will. He leaves her; she regrets her words
[Dean]
Come all you lads and lassies, come listen to me now
Frit a l’huile unknown French Inferred Non-English
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 112-113]
Mon pere a fait batir maion
** General Scott and the Veteran Bayard Taylor? English Collected Very Rare
“An old and crippled veteran to the War Department came” to volunteer his services in the Civil War: “I’m not so weak but I can strike, and I’ve got a good old gun….” “We will plant our sacred banner in each rebellious town….”
[Dean] * Play MP3
An old and crippled veteran to the War Department came * Printed songbook, p. 14 * Lyrics
The Girl I Left Behind unknown English Collected Very Common
Two lovers promise to be faithful. He then sets out on a voyage. Before they can be reunited, one or the other proves unfaithful. (In Laws’s “A” texts, the man marries a Scottish girl and his love dies of a broken heart; in “B” texts, the girl is untrue)
[Dean]
My parents reared me tenderly, they had no child but me
The Girl I Left in Sunny Tennessee Harry Braisted and Stanley Carter English Collected Common
The singer is happily returning home to see the girl he left behind. He recalls the joyful times in Tennessee. Finally the train pulls into his hometown, and he sees his relatives but not Mary. His mother tells him that Mary is dead and in her grave
[Dean]
On a morning bright and clear, to my old home I drew near
The Grave of the Section Hand unknown English Collected Unique
“They laid him away on the brow of the hill, Outside of the right-of-way.” The section hand’s many years of service are recalled. His grave will guard the track. The place of the burial is briefly described.
[Dean]
They laid him away on the brow of the hill
Hallin Janne (Halli’e Janne) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
(fragment about Halli’s Janne, his family, and his horse)
[Edgar: source not listed]
Hallin Jannen raudikko ravaa
Harry Bale (Dale, Bail, Bell) Charles Bahel? English Collected Common
The orphan Harry Bahel is at work in a sawmill when he is dragged onto the saw. He dies the next day and is buried as his siblings grieve
[JAFL 35 (1922): Frank Covell, Beaver Bay]
‘Twas in the town of Arcady
** The Harry Hayward Song Words: Joseph Vincent Brookes / Music: “The Fatal Wedding” by Gussie L. Davis English Inferred Very Rare
“Minneapolis was excited, And for many miles around, For a terrible crime committed.” “Kit” goes riding, and is found shot and beaten to death. The rest of the song thunders at the criminal
[Trenerry, Murder in Minnesota/Minneapolis Journal]
Minneapolis was excited, And for many miles around * Printed songbook, p. 69 * Additional Information
The Hat My Father Wore Daniel Macarthy English Collected Common
Paddy Miles comes from Ireland to America. On St Patrick’s day he wears the hat “wore for more than ninety years … From my father’s great ancestors.” He plans to return to Ballymore with “the hat my father wore”
[Dean]
I am Paddy Miles, an Irish boy, from far across the sea
Hautalan Heikki (Hautala’s Heikki) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Hautala’s Heiki is in prison. His girl promises to wait for him, but he dies in prison.
[Edgar: Heikki Koskela, Duluth]
Hautalan Heikki kaunihin kesan siella linnas olla pitaa
Hayseed unknown English Collected Unique
The hayseed finishes his work and decides to go on a spree. He goes to town and takes an expensive (“five dollars a minit”!) room in a hotel. Before going to bed, he blows out the gas — and dies of the fumes
[Sandburg: Mrs. William Pitt Abbott, Duluth]
A Hayseed one day to himself did say
* Heenan and Sayers unknown English Collected Common
Heenan travels from America to fight the British boxers. Sayers draws first blood, but Heenan is ahead after thirty-seven rounds, and the British stop the fight
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Dean]
It was in merry England, the home of Johnny Bull || It was in merry England, the home of Johnnoe Bull * Learn more
The Heights of Alma unknown English Collected Common
The British and French land outside Alma. They attack and rout the Russians (most versions give the primary credit to the British,and especially the Scots), forcing them back to Sevastopol. Both sides suffer heavy casualties
[Dean]
It was in September, the eighteenth day
Henttuni talo (My Girl’s House) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer’s girl lives in a scarlet house by the lake. The door is always open for him. He fell asleep on the way to visiting her
[Edgar: Otto Sakipato, Ely]
Hentunni talo oli jarven rannalla
Home! Sweet Home! Words: John Howard Payne English Collected Uncommon
“‘Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home.” The singer yearns to return to that “lowly thatched cottage” which brings peace of mind
[Dean]
‘Mid pleasures and palaces, though we may roam
Honkain keskella (Suomen salossa) (Far in the Forest) Words: Yrjo Koskinen Finnish Inferred Non-English
The singer’s home stands in a forest near a lake. He sings happily there, as do the birds
[Edgar: No source listed]
Honkain keskella mokkini seisoo
A Horse Named Bill unknown English Collected Very Rare
“I had a horse, his name was Bill And when he ran, he couldn’t stand still. He ran away one day And also I ran with him.” Nonsense verses about the singer, his girlfriend, her cat, birds, balloons, and all else that comes to mind
[Sandburg: Red Lewis, Sauk Center]
Oh, I had a horse and his name was Bill
Huojuvan metsan helmassa (In the Heart of the Wind-Rocked Woodw) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer sits in the woods in the evening, unhappily thinking of his love. He is poor, but does not want property; he just wants a girl
[Edgar: John Sala, Minneapolis]
Huojuvan metsan helmassa mina illoin istuskelin
Huru Huru unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Lullabye. The child should go to church, then to Auntie’s, then to Mattie’s grave
[Edgar: Cecilia Kuitunen, Winton]
Huru, huru, hummalla kirkkoon
I Love My Sailor Boy unknown English Collected Unique
The singer overhears a girl declare, “Let my friends say what they will, I love my sailor boy.” She praises his appearance and virtues. Her mother calls her foolish and bids her wed a “steady farmer’s son.” The girl disdains such a lover
[Dean]
Abroad as I rambled one morning in May
I Told Them That I Saw You George M. Cohen English Collected Unique
The singer and girl of “Just Tell Them That You Saw Me” meet again. He tells her that her family “wants her to come home. Their hearts are breaking for you while far away to roam.” She breaks down as she thinks of her aged mother and her childhood
[Dean]
You all have heard the story of the girl that ran away
I Want to Go to Morrow Lew Sully English Collected Uncommon
Singer sets out for the town of Morrow. He tries to buy a ticket to Morrow “and return tomorrow night.” The agent says he should have gone to Morrow yesterday and back today, for “the train that goes to Morrow is a mile upon its way.”
[Dean]
I started on a journey just about a week ago * Learn more
I Wish They’d Do It Now E. Freeman Dixey? (author cited in the sheet music) English Collected Uncommon
The singer recalls how, when he was a child, the girls would run to kiss him, cuddle him, bathe him, etc. Unfortunately, he is grown and their attentions have ceased; he remarks, “I’ve got itches in my britches and I wish they’d do it now.”
[Dean]
I was born in Killarney when I was very young
I’ll Name the Boy Dennis, Or No Name At All Words: Fred Hatfield / Music: J. Small English Collected Very Rare
“I’m bothered, yes, I’m bothered, completely perplexed, I’m the father of a little boy, I’m not happy but I’m vexed.” Everyone in his immense family wants to give the child a different name. He puts his foot down for the name Dennis.
[Dean]
I’m bothered, yes I’m bothered, completely perplexed
I’ll Return, Mother Darling, to You Words: Casper Nathan / Music: E. Clinton Keithley (1880-1955) English Collected Unique
“A mother was saying good-bye to her boy, Who was ready to start for the war.” She asks if they are parting forever. He promises to return “When the roses of springtime are blooming.” Eventually the boy returns and declares he will never more part fromher
[Dean]
A mother was saying good-bye to her boy
I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen Thomas P. Westendorf English Collected Uncommon
The singer promises to take Kathleen home across the ocean. He says that — even though she has lost her looks and her voice is sad — he still loves her as she loves him. Once home (in Ireland?), they will visit their old haunts
[Dean]
I will take you home again, Kathleen
I’m Sitting on the Stile, Mary (The Irish Emigrant II) Words: Lady Helena Selina Blackwood Dufferin (1807-1867), Music: William R. Dempster (1843?) English Collected Uncommon
“Oh I’m sitting on the stile, Mary, where we sat side by side.” He thinks of their life together and the graveyard where he buried her “with your babe all on your breast.” He promises not to forget her “in that land I’m going to”
[Dean]
I was sitting on the stile, Mary, where we sat side by side
** In Good Old Colony Times unknown English Collected Common
Three rogues (king’s sons? miller, weaver, and tailor?) “fell into mishaps / because they could not sing.” Eventually they turn to robbery. “The miller drowned in his dam / the weaver was hung in his yarn, and the devil clapped his claws on the tailor…”
[Waltz: John Healy, Saint Paul, 2007] [Belden: Mrs. W. J. Whipple, Winona, 1915] * Play MP3
In good old colonial days || The miler he stole corn * Printed songbook, p. 21
In Savannah unknown English Collected Unique
“‘Neath the Southern skies there stands a humble cottage, ‘Neath its roof sits a mother old and gray.” The singer wishes to return to Savannah, embrace his mother, and care for her in her “declining years.”
[Dean]
‘Neath the Southern skies there stands a humble cottage
In the Evening by the Moonlight James A. Bland English Collected Very Rare
“In de ebening by de moonlight when de darkies work was over… Dat’s de only time we had to spare…. Uncle Gabe would take de fiddle down….” “All dem happy times we used to hab, will ne’er return again… In de ebe’ning….”
[Dean]
In the evening by the moonlight when the darkies’ work was over
Ireland Must Be Heaven, For My Mother Came from There Words: Joe McCarthy & Howard Johnson / Music: Fred Fischer English Collected Unique
“I’ve often heard my daddy peak of Ireland’s lakes and dells. The place must be like heaven if it’s half like what he tells.” As proof he offers the fact that his mother was an angel, and she came from Ireland
[Dean]
I’ve often heard my daddy speak of Ireland’s lakes and dells
The Irish Girl unknown English Collected Common
(The singer meets a girl by the river, lamenting her love gone to America). (She describes the pain of love.) (She) wishes she were far away with her love, or were a butterfly or a nightingale or a rose to be with her lover
[Dean]
Oh, Molly Bawn I my love’s name, the same I’ll ne’er deny
The Irish Jaunting Car unknown English Collected Uncommon
“Oh, my name is Larry Doolin, I’m a native of the soil.” The singer offers a day’s diversion in his red-and-green jaunting car. He claims the Queen enjoyed his car, and the Lord Lieutenant recommended it. Others have enjoyed it a well
[Dean]
Oh, my name is Larry Doolin, I’m a native of the sile [soil]
Isani rikast’ (My Father Was for Riches) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer’s father urged him to seek a rich spouse. His mother urged him to seek love. He wanted beauty. He found a woman who have beauty and riches, but both beauty and riches decay; now he wishes he had love
[Edgar: Sarkipato family, Ely]
Isani rikast, aitini rakast
Isontalon Antti ja Rannanjarvi (Andy Big-Farm and Lakeshore) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Andy Big-Farm and Lakeshore agree to kill the sheriff so Andy can marry his widow. They recruit Pukkila’s Jaska to help them. Lakeshore is killed in the attempt
[Edgar: “many singers”]
Isontalon Antti ja Rannanjarvi jutteli kahren kesken
Istuta, tytto (Plant, O Girl) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The girl is advised to plant an aspen (for love) beneath her window — but only one; more than one is dangerous.
[Edgar: Maria Heino, Virginia]
Istuta, tytto, sun ikkunas alle
J’ai cueilli la belle rose unknown French Inferred Non-English
The singer has pulled a rose, pulled it petal by petal, and taken it to father. Only the thrush speaks to her. She will become a servant to earn money
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 118-121]
J’ai cueilli la belle rose
J’ai trop grand’ peur des loups unknown French Inferred Non-English
Coming home from la Vendee, the singer meets three cavaliers. They offer him supper and a place to stay. But those “wolves” frighten him
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 108-110]
M’en revenant de la Vendee
** Jack Haggerty (The Flat River Girl) Dan McGinnis English Collected Common
Jack Haggerty has reformed his behavior to be a fit husband for the blacksmith’s daughter. Following his long absence at work, she jilts him. He blames her mother, but gives up on women in general
[Rickaby: W. H. Underwood, Bayport] [Rickaby: Ed Springstad, Bemidji] * Play MP3
I will tell you my story without much delay || I’m a heart-broken raftsman, from Greenville I came * Printed songbook, p. 73
Jack Rogers unknown English Collected Very Rare
“Come all you tender Christians, I hope you will lend ear… For the murder of Mr. Swanton I am condemned to die.” “My name it is Jack Rogers, my name I’ll never deny.” Drunk, he assaults Swanton in the street, flees, is captured, and is condemned to die
[Dean]
Come, all you tender Christians, I hope you will lend ear
** The Jam on Gerry’s Rock unknown English Collected Very Common
Young Monroe and his crew do not wish to work on Sunday, but when a log jam forms, they turn out. The jam breaks and all are cast into the water, with foreman Monroe being drowned. In some accounts, his sweetheart dies for love and is buried with him
[Rickaby: A.C. Hannah, Bemidji] [Dean] * Play MP3
Come all ye true born shanty boys, whoever that you be || Come all you jolly shanty boys, wherever you may be * Printed songbook, p. 54
* James Whalen unknown English Collected Common
Jim Whalen is told by his foreman to help clear a logjam. When the jam breaks, he is thrown into the rapids and drowned.
[Rickaby: A. C. Hannah, Bemidji] [JAFL 35 (1922): Frank Covell, Beaver Bay] * Play MP3
Come all ye jolly raftsmen, I pray you lend an ear || Come all you tender Christians * Learn more
Jamie Raeburn (Caledonia) unknown English Collected Common
“My name is (Jamie Raeburn), in Glasgow I was born.” Convicted (of a crime he did not commit), he has been sentenced to transportation. He bids farewell to family, sweetheart, and his beloved home in Caledonia. He hopes to return when free
[Dean]
My name is Willie Rayburn, in Glasgow I was born
Jennie, the Flower of Kildare Words: Frank Dumont / Music: James E. Stewart English Collected Very Rare
“I am dreaming of Erin tonight and the little white cot by the sea, Where Jennie, my darling, now dwells….” The singer misses her, and is sure she is waiting for him; he hopes soon to return to Ireland to see her
[Dean]
I am dreaming of Erin tonight and the little white cot by the sea
Jerry, Go and Ile that Car [Laws H30] (credited by Loomis to “Riley the Bum”) English Collected Common
Larry Sullivan has spent forty years maintaining the railroads; he is proud of the state of the tracks and of never having had a wreck. As he lies dying, he asks to be buried by the tracks. His last words are, “Jerry, go and ile that car.”
[Dean]
Comem all you railroad section hands, I hope you will draw near
Jeskella lahtea (In the Middle of the Bay) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The waves are high in the middle of the bay, but it’s calm by the shore. The singer says he will buy his sweetheart a scarf.
[Edgar: Otto Sakipato, Ely]
Keskella lahtea laineet kay
Jim Fisk William J. Scanlon ? English Collected Common
Jim Fisk, though a rich and fine man, still remembers the poor and gives aid to many at the time of the Chicago fire. Fisk is shot by Edward Stokes (his rival for a girl); the singer is afraid that Stokes’s wealth will allow him to win his freedom
[Dean]
If you will listen awhile I will sing you a song
Joe Bowers unknown English Collected Common
Joe Bowers leaves for California to raise money to marry Sally. Returning home, he is irritated to find that she has married another, a red-haired man, and has a red-haired baby
[Dean]
My name it is Joe Bowers and I’ve got a brother Ike
Johanna Shay unknown English Collected Very Rare
“In the Emerald Isle so far from here across the deep blue sea, There live a maid that I love dear….” He praises Johanna’s beauty and fidelity. The birds’ song remind him of her. He hopes she will soon become Mrs. O’Day
[Dean]
In the Emerald Isle so far from here across the deep blue sea
John Henry unknown English Collected Very Common
The boss of a railroad crew has brought in a steam drill. John Henry, the best driver in the gang, vows he will never be outclassed by the machine. In a contest between the two, Henry is victorious (in most versions), but dies of the exertion
Unknown resident of Cobden, MN; collected by Robert W. Gordon 1927
??
John Mitchel unknown English Collected Common
“I am a true-born Irishman, John Mitchell is my name… I laboured hard both day and night to free my native land.” He is taken, claiming he committed no crime except loving Ireland. He is transported to Bermuda, but hopes a free Ireland will remember him
[Dean]
I am a true bred Irishman, John Mitchell is my name
Jos voisin laulaa (If I Could Sing) Words: H. V. Heideman Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer wishes he could sing, fly, build a nest like a bird, so he could care for his girl. But he can do none of these things
[Edgar: multiple sources, Ely]
Jos voisin laulaa kuin lintu voi
Juokse, porosein (Run, Reindeer) Words: Frans Mikael Franzen, Finnish trans. Olli Vuorinen Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer tells the reindeer to run to where the girl is. The moss is very fine, and the wolves are in their misty dens
[Edgar: “various singers,” Ely]
Juokse, porosein, poikki vouret maat
Juoma laulu (Drinking Song) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer admits to being a drinker, and says that if the listener knew how much his hangover hurts, he’d give him another drink
[Edgar: Heikki Hokkanen]
Juomariks’ mua sanotaan ja olen mielellani
Just from Dawson (Deadwood on the Hills) unknown English Collected Uncommon
“A Dawson City miner lay dying in the ice.” The miner tells his comrade to send him back to “Deadwood in the hills” (of South Dakota), where there is as much gold (i.e. not much) and it is warmer. He dies and freezes solid; they send his body home
[Dean]
A Klondike City mining man lay dying in the ice
Just Tell Them That You Saw Me Paul Dresser (1857-1906) English Collected Uncommon
“While strolling down the street one even, alone on pleasure bent,” the singer sees a girl he knew at home. He offers to take a message home. She begs him to merely “tell them that you saw me”; she hopes to improve her pitiful condition before going home
[Dean]
While strolling down the street one eve, alone on pleasure bent
* Käki se kukkuu/Nouskaat jo ylos (The Cuckoo/Get You Up) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Girls are urged to come out; the dawn is breaking, the cuckoo is singing, the young men are working
[Edgar: Maria Heino, Virginia]
Nouskaat jo ylos te tyttoin pojat * Learn more
Kaksi neitoa (The Two Maidens) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Two girls, one happy, one sad, are gathering flowers. The poor girl tells the rich girl that she is sad because she sorrows for the young man they both love (and who prefers the rich girl?)
[Edgar: Maria Heino, 1937)
Kaksi neitoa kaveli ruusulehdossa
Kalliolle, kukkulalle (On a Hilltop, Rocky Hilltop) unknown Finnish Attested/Partial or No Text Non-English
The singer will build his cabin on a hilltop, and asks a girl to share it. If she will not, he will go away to sea.
[Edgar: Source not listed]
Kalliolle, kukkulalle
Kanteleele (To the Kantele) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer asks the katele to sound and free him from grief. He hopes that his dead lover will remember him
[Edgar: Ida Sarkipato, Ely]
Nyt kaui, kateleeni, ja mielein rauhoita
Kataja (The Juniper) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The juniper grows berries without flowering; the berries are bitter. Girls are warned about boys (perhaps because they can also leave bitter feelings?)
[Edgar: Josefina and Elsa Perala, Mountain Iron]
Kataja se marjoja kasvaa
Kataja se matala (The Juniper is Low-Growing) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The juniper is a low plant with deep roots. Love is compared with the juniper and other things
[Edgar: John Huhtala, North Hibbing]
Kataja puu se on matala puu
Kesailta (Summer Evening) unknown Finnish Inferred Non-English
While walking on a fine summer evening, the singer meets a girl playing a kantele
[Edgar: source unknown]
Ol’ kaunis kesailta
Ketolan Jukka (Ketola’s Jukka) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Ketola’s Jukka was a handsome young man. He appears in a dream to Maija and tells her not to grieve. He dies behind Harsila Martti’s barn.
[Edgar: Hiekki Koskela, Duluth]
Siniset silmat ja punaset posket kun Ketolan Jukalla oli
Kitty, the Wicklow Girl unknown English Collected Unique
“God bless you all, I just came out to have a little chat, I am Irish sure, but that’s no sin, I’m a rollicking merry Pat.” The singer claims great success with girls, but wants only Kitty. He describes the happy process of courting her
[Dean]
God bless you all, I just came out to have a little chat
Koiviston polska (The Birch Grove Polka) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
(Primarily a dance tune, with various lyrics: The singer praises her sweetheart, or warns against gossip)
[Edgar: John Sala, Minneapolis]
Oman armaan askel ja sen kaunis katse
Koko yon (All Night Long) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer waits one night, another night, three nights for her love. She declares she will not wait for him a fourth night
[Edgar: Anna Leino, Ely]
Koko yon mina odotin hukkaan
Kukkuu (The Cuckoo’s Call) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer hears the cuckoo calling on the shores of Lake Saima, but no boat can carry her across the waters to her love. She lives a lonely life
[Edgar: Ida Sarkipato and Anna Leino, Ely]
Kukkuu, kukkuu, kaukana kukkuu
The Lady Leroy unknown English Collected Common
A girl and her lover want to escape her father. She disguises herself and buys the Lady Leroy from her father. The father sends a ship to intercept them, but the girl captures her father’s ship and sends it home. She and her lover continue on their way
[Dean]
As I went a-walking one morning in May
Lahtetaan pojat nyt soutelemaan (Boys, Let’s Go Rowing) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
First singer says, Let’s go rowing while the water is calm. The second says, Most boys have fathers-in-law. The third (a father-in-law?) says he buys drink with his wife’s money. And so forth.
[Edgar: Otto Sakipato, Ely, and others]
Lahtetaan pojat nyt soutelemaan
Laksin mina kesayona (I Walked Out on a Summer Night) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer walks out and listens to the bird. He seeds a girl by the waterside grieving (for her lost lover?)
[Edgar: Christine Herranen and Olga Koskela, 1930]
Laksin mina kesayona kaymaan
The Land Where the Shamrocks Grow unknown English Collected Unique
“There is an Island that’s famed in her glory, Sweet poets have sung in her praise.” Some prefer England or Scotland, but the singer gives his love to Ireland. He hopes that she may soon be more friendly to England
[Dean]
There is an Island that’s famed in her story
Lapsuuden ystavalle P. J. Hannikainen Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer recalls playing with a lovely neighbour girl. Now they have been separated, but he remembers
[Edgar: various unnamed sources]
Sa kasvoit, neito kaunoinen, isasi majassa
* The Last Fierce Charge unknown English Collected Common
Two soldiers, boy and man, are about to ride into battle (at Fredericksburg?). Each asks the other to write to his home should he die. Both are killed; no letter is sent to mother or sweetheart
[Dean]
It was just before the last fierce charge * Learn more
** Last Winter Was a Hard One Words: Jim O’Neil / Music: Jack Conroy English Collected Uncommon
Two Irish women lament the hard times. Neither woman’s husband could find a job, and both families suffered. They curse the Italians who have arrived to take Irish jobs. They look forward to better times when their husbands find work
[Dean] * Play MP3
Last winter was a hard one, Mrs. Riley, did you say * Printed songbook, p. 49
Lauantaki-ilta (Saturday Evening) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The girl waited on a Saturday night for her love. She declares that he can take his red scarf and give it to another girl
[Edgar: Anna Leino, Ida Sarkipato, Ely]
Se oli yksi Lauantaki-ilta
Laulu Suomessa (Song of Suomi) Words: Jaako Juteini Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer praises the land of Suomi and the hard workers who farm there. They work hard, do good service, and seek to learn
[Edgar: Anna Leino and Ida Sarkipato, Ely]
Arvon mekin ansaitsemme
Laurilan Aleksin harmoonipeli (Aleksi Laurilan’s Accordion) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Aleksi has an accordion (which he uses to protest Russian rule?). When the (Russian) governor gives an order, the Finns must go into exile
[Edgar: Maria Heino, Virginia]
Laurilan Aleksin harmoonipeli
Leaving Erin unknown English Collected Unique
“Farewell Erin, I now must leave you for to cross the raging main.” The singer is leaving Ireland for America even though his parents have lived in Ireland since Brian Boru. He misses his family’s graves, and hopes the Irish will come home for vengeance
[Dean]
Farewell, Erin, I now must leave you for to cross the raging main
* Let Mr. McGuire Sit Down unknown English Collected Uncommon
When Mick McGuire calls to court Kitty Donahue, her mother makes sure that he, a farm owner, had the seat by the fire. (Once married, Mick spends her father’s legacy, or he proves poorer than expected.) Now her mother won’t have him sit by the fire
[Dean]
Oh me name it is McGuire and I’ll quickly tell to you * Learn more
Lily Dale unknown English Attested/Partial or No Text Uncommon
“Twas a calm still night… When friends mute with grief stood round the deathbed of my poor lost Lily Dale. She bids farewell; rose bushes now surround her grave
[Wilder: On the Banks of Plum Creek, p. 336.]
‘Twas a calm, still nigh, And the moon’s pale light
Limerick is Beautiful (Colleen Bawn) Dion Boucicault (1820-1890) ? English Collected Uncommon
The city of “Limerick is beautiful … The girl I love … lives in Garryowen, And is called the Colleen Bawn.” If I were “Emperor of Russia … Or Julius Caesar, or the Lord Lieutenant” I’d give up everything to have her be my bride.
[Dean]
In the golden fields of Limerick
Listen to the Mockingbird “Alice Hawthorne” (Septimus Winner) and Richard Milburn English Collected Common
The singer recalls his beloved Hallie, who is “Sleeping in the valley, And the mockingbird is singing where she lies.” Now the song of the mockingbird makes him “Feel like one forsaken… Since my Hallie is no longer with me now.”
[Dean]
I’m dreaming now of Hallie, Sweet Hallie, sweet Hallie
A Little Bit of Heaven Words: J. Keirn Brennan / Music: Ernest R. Ball English Collected Unique
“Did you ever hear the story of how Ireland got its name?” A small piece of Heaven broke off and fell to earth; when an angel finds it, he proposes to leave it there because it fits so well. They proceed to make improvements such as adding shamrocks
[Dean]
Did you ever hear the story of how Ireland got its name
The Little Brown Bulls unknown English Collected Common
Bold McCluskey believes his steer can out-pull anything on the river, and backs his belief by betting that they can out-pull Gordon’s little brown bulls. Despite McClusky’s confidence, the bulls are victorious
[Rickaby: W. H. Underwood, Bayport]
Not a thing on the river did McClusky fear
The Little Mohee unknown English Collected Common
A (foreign soldier) is greeted by a pretty Mohee. She offers to take him into her tribe if he will stay with her. He will not stay; he has a sweetheart at home. Returning home, he find his girl has left him, and wishes himself back with the Mohee
[Dean]
As I went a-walking one morning in May
Little Nell of Narragansett Bay George F. Root English Collected Uncommon
“Full well do I remember My boyhood’s happy hours… The bright and sparkling water O’er which we used to sail.” The singer and Nell were never afraid at sea. But one day her body is found by the shore. Ten years later, he still weeps for the girl
[Dean]
I had a dear companion, but she’s not with me now
The Little Old Mud Cabin on the Hill S.Gaffney English Collected Uncommon
The singer recalls how his father sold the livestock to send him across the sea, “For in Paddy’s land but poverty you’ll find.” The singer misses home, mother, the local music; he wishes he were still there
[Dean]
Go sell the pig and cow, Aggrah, to take you far away
Loch Lomond unknown English Collected Uncommon
Singer laments parting from his/her love by Loch Lomond, noting “the broken heart it kens nae second spring.” Chorus: “You’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road And I’ll be in Scotland before ye But me and my true love will never meet again…”
[Dean]
By yon bonnie banks, and by yon bonnie braes
The Lonesome Scenes of Winter unknown English Collected Common
The singer insists that a girl tell him whether she will marry him or not. She will not; she has another lover. He berates her love of wealth and threatens to go away as a soldier/sailor. (In some texts she changes her mind, but the man has a new girl.)
[Dean]
Oh, the lonesome hours of winter provide both frost and snow
Longshoreman’s Strike (The Poor Man’s Family) Words: Edward Harrigan / Music: David Braham English Collected Uncommon
“I am a simple lab’ring man / And I work along the shores / For to keep the hungry wolves away / From the poor longshoreman’s door.” The singer demands fair pay for his work. He complains that foreigners get the jobs while local people starve
[Dean]
I am a dacent laboring man that works along the shore * Learn more
Lord Thomas and Fair Annet unknown English Attested/Partial or No Text Very Common
(Lord Thomas) asks his mother to help him decide between (Fair Annet) and the “Brown Girl.” The mother prefers the wealthy Brown Girl. Thomas consents, inviting Annet to the wedding, where the jealous brown girl stabs her; (Thomas kills her and himself)
Austin Faricy (transmitted by Sam Hinton)
Lord Thomas he was a forester bold, a-hunting the king’s own deer
** Lost on the Lady Elgin Henry Clay Work? English Collected Common
“Up from the poor man’s cottage, forth from the mansion’s door … Cometh a voice of mourning, a sad and solemn wail, Lost on the Lady Elgin… Numbered in that three hundred Who failed to reach the shore.” The many mourners are briefly mentioned
[Dean] [Stanchfield: Elma Snyder McDowell, Saint Cloud]
Up from the poor man’s cottage, forth from the mansion door * Printed songbook, p. 29
Lovana unknown English Collected Very Rare
“I once knew a cot, It was humble as could be” around which birds sang and where Lovana lived. The singer describes her beauty as she bathes in the stream. He wishes he were a fish by her boat, or the wind in her hair, or otherwise near her
[Dean]
I know a little cot as humble as can be
The Lovely Banks of Boyne unknown English Collected Uncommon
The singer is courted by Jimmie, who wins his way into her heart and her bed but then abandons her. She hears that he is married to a rich lady in London. She must remain in Dublin, far from her love and her home by the Boyne
[Dean]
I am a bonnie lassie and I love my laddie well
* The Lumberman’s Alphabet unknown English Collected Common
A song by which lumbermen remember the alphabet and tell of their “merry” lives: “A is for axes as all of you know / And B is for boys who can use them also…. So merry, so merry, so merry are we / No mortals on earth are as happy as we”
[JAFL 35 (1922)=Gray: Frank Covell, Beaver Bay] * Play MP3
A is the axe that cutteth the pine * Learn more
The M. and I. Goo-goo Eyes Ed Springstad English Collected Unique
Recitation about logging life, with musical chorus, “Just because that jack makes goo-goo eyes, They piled them logs clear up into the skies.” The singer discusses what happens when the train comes to collect the logs
[Rickaby: Ed Springstad, Bemidji]
Just because that jack made goo-goo eyes
The Magic Glass unknown English Collected Unique
“I went one night with a high-priced thirst to loaf in a booze bazaar.” The singer, glancing at himself in the mirror, sees a “cringing bum” — then looks again and it’s gone. The bartender says that the “Magic Glass” lets men see what they might become
[Dean]
I went one nigh with a high-priced thirst to loaf in a booze bazaar
The Maid of Dunmore unknown English Collected Uncommon
The singer meets a maid whose sweetheart is fighting the French with Nelson. He asks her to leave Dunmore and live with him in Ireland. She refuses. He “picked up my alls and left for Ireland, And left that fair maid in Dunmore”
[Dean]
As I went a-walking one morning
Maids of Simcoe (Ontario) unknown English Collected Very Rare
he singer urges the girls to remember the loggers while waiting at home with the farmers. He remarks sarcastically on the dangers farmers face. The boys head for (Quebec) to party, then for home. (In some texts a girl at an inn falls in love with him)
[Rickaby: A. C. Hannah, Bemidji]
O ye maidens of Ontario, give ear to what I write
The Maine-ite in Pennsylvania unknown English Collected Very Rare
“I landed safe in Williamsport in a lumberman’s rendezvous, ‘Twas there I hired with Jacob Brown as one of winter’s crew.” The singer serves six months in the wild country, talking of the waters and the great variety of animals
[Rickaby: W. H. Underwood, Bayport]
I landed safe in Williamsport in a lumberman’s rendezvous
** Marching Through Georgia Henry Clay Work English Collected Uncommon
Sundry boasts, mostly too optimistic, about Sherman’s march to the sea: “How the darkeys shouted when they heard the joyful sound…. Yes, and there were Union men who wept with joyful tears… While we were marching through Georgia.”
[Dean] * Play MP3
Bring the good old bugle, boys, we’ll sing another song * Printed songbook, p. 35
* Mary Hamilton unknown English Attested/Partial or No Text Common
Mary Hamilton, servant to the queen, is pregnant (by the queen’s husband). She tries to hide her guilt by casting the boy out to sea, but is seen and convicted. She is condemned to die
Austin Faricy (transmitted by Sam Hinton) * Play MP3 Play MP3
Rise up, rise up, Mary Hamilton, Rise up and tell to me * Learn more
Matalasta torpasta (From a Humble Cabin) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Quatrain ballad. In the first verse, the singer apparently finds that the cabin where his love lived has burned. The other verses seem unrelated
[Edgar: “Mauritzi” Kangasniemi, Ely]
Matala torpan hiiloksella
McCarty’s Widow unknown English Collected Very Rare
“It’s just a year ago today I took to me a wife, And ever since she’s proved to be the burden of my life.” The woman licked McCarty to death, but now that he is married to her, the singer vows she won’t beat him. He hopes to beat her until she behaves
[Dean]
It’s just a year ago today I took to me a wife
McSorley’s Twins unknown English Collected Uncommon
“Mrs. McSorley had fine bouncing twins, Two fat little devils they were.” The parents determine on a grand christening; many come to join the party. As guests get drunk, fights break out; at last “they smothered the two little twins.”
[Dean]
Mrs. McSorley had fine bouncing twins
Michael James unknown English Collected Unique
“I’m as happy as can be, Faith, there is merriment in me,” because the singer, when he came home, found he was the father of a boy. He had waited ten years for his first child. He will name the boy Michael James, and boasts of how he will care for it
[Dean]
I’m as happy as can be, Faith, there is merriment in me
Mina seisoin korkealla vuorella (I Stood on the High Mountainside) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
A ship sails in with three noblemen aboard. The youngest lord makes love to the singer, and leaves her with a ring. She decides that she must tell her mother
[Edgar: from “Many singers”]
Minnehaha, Laughing Water Words: Richard H. Chittenden / Music: Frank Wood English Collected Very Rare
Indians slaughter an innocent family, leaving behind a legend and a grieving father
[Stanchfield: Elma Snyder McDowell, Saint Cloud] [Bring Warm Clothes: Nelson collection]
Minun kultani kaunis on (My Darling Is Beautiful) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer declares that his darling is beautiful, with blue hair and blonde eyes. He promises to wait until her remaining six years of service are complete. Some verses may be bawdy
[Edgar: apparently Ida Sarkipato, Ely]
Minun kultani kaunis on
Missas olia tyo, pojat, illalla? (Where Were You, Boys, in the Evening?) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer asks the boys where they have been. They were fishing at the lake. He asks if they used angleworms
[Edgar: Otto Sarkipato, (Ely)]
Missas olia tyo pojat illalla simai juulia lei?
The Morning After unknown English Collected Unique
“Sometimes, old scout, in the morning, when the dawn looks cold and gray,” the singer ponders life’s troubles and wonders ‘Is it really worth the while?” He lists various problems. Then he gets serious about the day, for “tomorrow you may die.”
[Dean]
Sometimes, old scout, in the morning, when the dawn looks cold and gray
Morrissey and the Russian Sailor unknown English Collected Common
A Russian sailor in Tierra del Fuego challenges Morrissey to a duel. Morrissey takes on the challenge to uphold the honor of Ireland. The fight, for a large stake, takes 38 rounds, and each knocks the other down, before Morrissey is victorious
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Sandburg: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Dean]
Come all you sons of Erin, attention now I crave
Mother Says I Mustn’t G. W. Hunt English Collected Very Rare
[Stanchfield: Elma Snyder McDowell, Saint Cloud]
Mrs. McGrath unknown English Collected Common
A sergeant urges Mrs. McGrath to make her boy a soldier. He sails away in fine style. For seven years she waits for him, hoping for word. At last he returns with both legs gone. (She curses the wars.)
[Dean]
Come, all of you Hibernian sons, I’ll tell you how the war begun
Muiren muijat (Other Folks’ Wives) unknown Finnish Collected
Most women have noses, necks, hands, legs. The singer’s wife has none. He makes body parts for her from wool, shoelaces, etc. (Possibly a child’s song about making a doll?)
[Edgar: John Koskela, Duluth]
Muiren muijalla nenakin oli, mun muijallani ei ollutkaan
Muistatkos, Matti (Do You Remember, Matti?) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer asks if Matti remembers when they ate the viili-punkaa. They blamed it on the cat.
[Edgar: Otto Sarkipatro, Ely]
Muistatkos, Matti, kun viili-punkaa syotiin?
Mulcahy’s Gone Away unknown English Collected Unique
“The hero of my humble song was once a mighty man, A shining light in his neighborhood, the chief of all his clan.” Mulcahey, a politician, loses his office and disappears. His family laments as they seek for him
[Dean]
The hero of my humble song was once a mighty man
Mulcahy’s Home Again unknown English Collected Unique
“I come with news tonight, me boys, just listen for a while.” The singer tells of his amazement that Mulcahy has returned home. The famous Mulcahy has had enough of politics and has decided to return to his roots
[Dean]
I come with news tonight, me boys, just listen for a while
Mulcahy’s Sister Kate unknown English Collected Unique
“You have heard me sing of a hero bold, Mulcahy was his name, And, faith, he had a sister, too, that was noted for her fame.” Kate Mulcahy is tall, red-haired, and apparently unmarried at 28; she cooks at a boarding house
[Dean]
You have heard me sing of a hero bold, Mulcahy was his name
Muldoon, the Solid Man unknown English Collected Uncommon
“I am a man of great influence… I came when small from Donegal, in the Daniel Webster I crossed the sea.” Hard work has brought the singer success. He promises the listeners he will “use you decent… I’m a solid man.” He tells of his social sucess.
[Dean]
I am a man of great influence and educated to a high degree
Mun kultani koti (My Sweetheart’s Home) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
(Even though he is across the ocean), the singer can see his sweetheart’s home. He wishes he could lie with his love, even if only for an hour
[Edgar: Maria Heino, Virginia]
Tuoltapa nakyy mun kultani koti
My Charming Lass from the County Mayo unknown English Collected Unique
“The daughters of Erin are famed the world over, For wit and for beauty and charms of their own,” but the singer loves one girl from Mayo above all others. He praises her beauty extravagantly
[Dean]
The daughters of Erin are famed the world over
My Dad’s Dinner Pail Words: Edward Harrigan (?) / Music: David Braham English Collected Uncommon
“Preserve that old kettle so blackened and worn, It belonged to me Father before I was born.” The singer recalls carrying the pail, and seeing his father; he is sure Father shared with those in need
[Dean]
Preserve that old kettle so blackened and worn
My Old Kentucky Home Stephen C. Foster English Collected Uncommon
“The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home; ‘Tis summer, the darkies are gay….” The song lists the troubles of the poor tired slave (soon to die? far from home?), “Weep no more, my lady… We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home far away…”
[Dean]
The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home
Nain mina metsassa janiksen (I Saw a Rabbit in the Woods) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer meets a rabbit, and complains of the craft of the fox
[Edgar: Elsa & Matti Perala, Mountain Iron]
Nain mina metsassa janiksen
Nellie Was a Lady Stephen C. Foster English Collected Very Rare
“Down on the Mississippi floating, Long time I travel on the way.” The singer mourns his love: “Nellie was a lady,” but “Last night while Nellie was a-sleeping, Death came a-knocking at the door.” He will leave Virginia because he mourns so deeply
[Dean]
Down on the Mississippi floating, Long time I travel on the way
Never Go Back on the Poor unknown English Collected Unique
“In this world of sorrow, of toil and regret, There are scenes I would gladly pass o’er.” A great ship sinks as it carries emigrants forced from home by poverty. Divers go to examine the wreck, but make little effort to recover the steerage passengers
[Dean]
In this world of sorrow, of toil and regret
Niin mina, neitinen, sinulle laulan (Thus, O Girl, I Sing to Thee) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer serenades the girl “as thou you were my own true love.” He sings only to her
[Edgar: Sarkipato family, Ely; John Sala, Minneapolis]
Niin mina, neitinen, sinulle laulan
* No Irish Need Apply unknown English Collected Uncommon
“I’m a decent boy just landed From the town of Ballyfad; I want a situation, yes, And want it very bad.” He applies for various jobs, but is told time and again, “No Irish need apply.” (At last he attacks one of the bosses and gains a job)
[Dean]
I am an Irish laborer, both hearty, stout and strong * Learn more
Nois etions trois capitaines unknown French Inferred Non-English
Three captains, returning from war, stop in a tavern. The call on the hostess for white wine. They pay for the wine. The hostess thanks them and bids them to come again
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 133-135]
Nous etions trois capitaines
Norah McShane Eliza Cook (?) English Collected Uncommon
The singer recalls leaving (Ballymoney), and admits to being “as wretched can be” in the new land. He misses buttermilk, the old mud house, peat fires, and of course Norah McShane. Even with no money, it was a better life than this
[Dean]
I left Balamonoth a long way behind me
Nothing’s Too Good for the Irish J. J. Goodwin/[Monroe H.] Rosenfeld English Collected Very Rare
The singer recalls his grandmother’s last words. She describes, with the full force of prejudice, the roles reserved for each people (e.g. “Negroes to whitewash, Jews for cash”), then turns to her own people, concluding, “Nothing’s too good for the Irish”
[Dean]
I will tell a story that was told to me
Nuku, nuku, nurmilintu (Sleep, sleep, meadow-bird) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Lullbye for a bird, with floating verses. Mixes with “Tupakkarulla”
[Edgar: Not clearly distinguished]
Nuku, nuku, nurmilintu
O’Brien with His High-Water Pants unknown English Collected Unique
“My name is O’Brien from Harlem, I am an Irishman as you may see.” As he travels around New York, people observe him and cry out, “There is O’Brien with his high-water pants.” He does not seem to notice that he is being teased
[Dean]
My name is O’Brien from Harlem
Old Black Joe Stephen C. Foster English Collected Uncommon
“Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay, Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away, Gone from the earth to a better land I know, I hear their gentle voices calling ‘Old Black Joe.'” The singer, having outlived so much, says “I’m coming”
[Dean]
Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay * Learn more
The Old Elm Tree Words: Sarah S. Bolton/Music: Joseph Philbrick Webster English Collected Common
The singer recalls old elm tree by the mill where he courted Laura. They become engaged, he goes to sea. In his absence, others convince her he was untrue. She dies for love and is buried beneath the old elm tree
[Dean]
I am sitting there, I’m dreaming now
Old Folks at Home (Swanee River) Stephen C. Foster English Collected Uncommon
The “darky” remembers the “old folks at home” on “de Swanee ribber.” Now forced to wander, he still longs “for de old plantation.” He recalls growing up on the plantation, playing with his brother, and listening to the banjo. He hopes to go home.
[Dean]
‘Way down upon the Swanee river, Far, far away
** Old Granny Wales (Granny O’Whale, Granua Weal) unknown English Collected Very Rare
“Old Granny she rose in the morning so soon,.. Saying, ‘They’re wronging my children that’s over the sea.” She meets Lord Cornwall, Lord Bute, Lord North, Lord Granville, and complains about the Tea Act. They argue; she wishes her children success
[Stanchfield, California Folklore Quarterly, Vol 4 No 4, 1945: Elma Snyder McDowell, Saint Cloud] * Play MP3
Old Granny she rose in the morning so soon * Printed Songbook, p. 9 * Additional Lyrics
On Board of the Victory unknown English Collected Uncommon
“I am a young girl whose fortune is great.” Her father has her lover, “below my degree,” impressed. After a fight with the press-gang he is shipped aboard the Victory. She dreams of being with him on board and prays for his return.
[Dean]
I am a noble lady, my fortune it is great
** On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away Paul Dresser (1857-1906) English Collected Uncommon
“‘Round my Indiana homestead wave the cornfields… But one thing there is missing from the picture, Without her face it seems so incomplete.” The singer misses his mother and his sweetheart Mary, left in the graveyards of his home on the Wabash
[Dean]
Around my Indiana homestead waves the cornfields * Lyrics
Orange and Green Gerald Griffin (1803-1840) English Collected Very Rare
“The night was falling dreary in merry Bandon town….” To an Orangeman’s door comes a Green, pursued by an angry crowd. The Orangeman shelters him — then learns he has killed his son. He still does not retaliate Years later, they meet in peace
[Dean]
The night was falling dreary in merry Bandon town
Over the Hills to the Poor-House unknown English Collected Uncommon
“Oh, yes, it is true they have driven Their father so helpless and old; Oh, God! may their crime be forgiven For driving him out in the cold.” The father, “helpless and feeble,” recalls his love for wife and children, and sadly sets out for the poorhouse
[Dean]
For what can it be they have driven Their father so helpless and old
Over the Mountain unknown English Collected Uncommon
“I’m always light-hearted and easy, Not a care in this world have I.” The singer is joyful because he is so close to his love, even though she is over the (mountain/ocean). He is preparing for a reunion
[Dean]
I am always light hearted and easy, not a care in the wide world have I
Pat O’Reilly unknown English Collected Very Rare
Pat O’Reilly intends to go to America, make a fortune, and return to Tyrone. Pat promises to marry Ann McCormick when he returns. She has him arrested and lies at the trial. He is condemned to “die on the gallows tree”
[Dean]
My name is Patrick Riley, the truth I will make known
Patrick Sheehan [Laws J11] Charles Joseph Kickham (“Darby Ryan, Junior”) (1828-1882) English Collected Common
Patrick and his family are forced from their home by the landlord. His mother dies in the poorhouse. Patrick has little choice but to join the British army. He is blinded at Sevastopol, and ends as a wandering beggar
[Dean]
My name is Patrick Sheehan, my years are thirty-four
Paul Jones, the Privateer unknown English Collected Common
John Paul Jones’s American ship outruns a British man-of-war. Most of the ballad is devoted to describing the way the ship sails
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia]
It’s of a gallant southern bark that bore the stripes and stars
* The Persian’s Crew probably Patrick Fennell English Collected Uncommon
The Persian sets out [from Chicago] and disappears on Lake Huron. Since nothing is known of the wreck, the singer can only wonder at and lament the fate of the lost crew
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Peters: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Dean]
Sad and dismal is the story that I will tell to you * Learn more
** Pium Paum (Kehto Laulu) unknown (some additional words by Kustaa Killinen) Finnish Collected Non-English
Lullaby. The child rocks in the cradle. The music plays. The child will grow old and die as the circle of life continues.
[Edgar: Laina Haavisto, Ely] * Play MP3 Play MP3
Pium paum, kehto hailahtaa * Printed songbook, p. 71
The Plains of Waterloo unknown English Collected Common
The singer tells of all the places he has fought, ending with his part at Waterloo (from which he is grateful to have emerged alive). He tells of Napoleon’s success on the first two days of the battle and of Wellington’s victory on the final day
[Dean]
Come, all you sons of Britton, and Irish heroes, too
* Polly Put the Kettle On unknown English Attested/Partial or No Text Common
“(Molly/Polly/Kitty) put the kettle on, Sally blow the dinner horn… We’ll all take tea.” Often a fiddle tune with the usual sorts of verses for a fiddle tune
[Wilder: On the Banks of Plum Creek, p. 337.]
Mary put the dishes on, The dishes on, the dishes on * Learn more
Puhemiesten laulu (Song of the Spokesman) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The “spokesman” guides a couple through the ceremony of marriage
[Edgar: unknown, Winton, and others]
Paista kunni puhemiehet
Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet Words: Stanley Murphy / Music: Percy Wenrich English Collected Very Rare
“On the old farmhouse veranda there sat Silas and Miranda, Thinking of days gone by.” They realize they have been married for fifty years. They leap up, forgetting the years, and go to town to celebrate all the happy times
[Dean]
On the old farmhouse veranda there sat Silas and Miranda
Quand j’etais chez mon pere unknown French Inferred Non-English
The girl’s father sends her to the spring. She falls in. Three knights pull her out. She returns home; they ask after her
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 122-125]
Quand j’etais chez mon pere, petite Jeanneton
Rakkauden tahden ma Amerikkan lahden (Because of Love I Am Leaving for America) unknown Danish Collected Non-English
The singer leaves Finland for America, even though his former love is weeping
[Edgar: John Sala, Minneapolis]
Rakkauden tahden ma Amerikkan lahden
Rannalla-istuja neito (The Girl Sitting on the Shore) Words: A Oksanen Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer declares she is lonely. She wishes she could sail across the sea to her love. But such dreams are foolish
[Edgar: Ida Sarkipato, Ely]
Yksin istun ja lauleskelen
** Red Iron Ore unknown English Collected Uncommon
A sailor tells of a trip he took on the E.C. Roberts. They set out from Escanaba with a load of ore, and at last wind up in Cleveland. Life aboard an ore boat was not pleasant, but the sailor is proud of the good time the ship made
[Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Peters: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Dean] * Play MP3
Come all you bold sailors that follow the lakes || Come all ye bold sailors that follow the lakes * Printed songbook, p. 53
* Red River Valley unknown English Collected Common
The singer and his love are parting (either may be singing, and either may be leaving). “Come and sit by my side [ere you leave me]; do not hasten to bid me adieu; just remember the Red River Valley, And the (sweetheart) who loved you so true…”
[Margaret Anderson, from Anne B. Anderson, Bemidji] * Play MP3
From this valley they say you are leaving * Learn more
The Regular Army-O Harrington and Hart? English Collected Very Rare
The volunteer joined the army three years ago, and has been suffering every since under “Sergeant John McCafferty and Corporal Donahue” as well as “forty miles a day on beans and hay.” Captured by Indians, the soldiers at last escape army life
[Dean]
Three years ago this very day we went to Governor’s Isle
Le Retour du Mari Soldat (Brave Marin) unknown French Inferred Non-English
The soldier, in tatters, returns home and visits an inn. His wife hears his song and recalls her missing husband. He notes that she has had more children while he was away. She had heard he was dead, and remarried. He departs
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 145-147]
Voila les voyageurs qu’arrivent
* Revolutionary Tea unknown English Collected Uncommon
Mother Britain is angry that her daughter America will not pay the tea-tax. The mother sends the daughter a great deal of tea and demands she pay the tax (on pain of a beating); the daughter dumps the tea into the ocean
[Peters: James Merrick Drew, Saint Paul]
There was an old lady lived over the sea * Learn more
Rhyme of Old Steamboats unknown English Attested/Partial or No Text Unique
Poem composed of the names of steamboats, rhymed with each other. Sample: “The Fred Wyerhauser and the Frontenac, The F. C. A. Denckmann and the Bella Mac, The Menomenee and the Louisville, The R. J. Wheeler and the Jessie Bill….”
Mr. F. X. Ralphe of Hastings; reprinted in the Burlington Post and in Charles Edward Russell, A-Rafting on the Mississip’, 1928 (republished 2001 by the University of Minnesota Press), pp. 345-346
The Fred Weyerhauser and the Frontenac
* Rosvo, Rosvo (Robber, Robber) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Singing game (circle dance): The singer accuses the robber of stealing his girl, and hopes to find another.
[Edgar: unknown, Ely] * Play MP3
Rosvo, rosvo, olit sa, kun varastit mun kultani * Learn more
Ruusu (The Rose) Words: Kaarle Krohn Finnish Collected Non-English
A poor boy sees a rose in a valley, but dares not pick it because he is poor.
[Edgar: source not listed]
Yksi ruusu on kasvanat laaksossa
Sally Monroe unknown English Collected Common
Blacksmith Jim Dixon sends a letter to Sally by a friend. The friend deceitfully hides the letter, but Dixon and Sally later meet and are married. They sail for Quebec, but the ship strikes a rock. Sally is drowned. Dixon lives; he grieves for her parents
[Dean]
Come, all you lads and lassies, I pray you will attend
Seeing Nellie Home Words: F. Kyle / Music: John Fletcher English Collected Uncommon
“In the sky the bright stars glittered; On the bank the pale moon shone. It was from Aunt Dinah’s quilting party I was seeing Nellie home.” The singer professes his love for Nellie on the way. Evidently they get married, because they are now old together
[Dean]
In the sky the bright stars glittered
Shamus O’Brien Will S. Hays English Collected Uncommon
“Oh Shamus O’Brien, I’m loving you yet, And my heart is still trusting and kind… Oh why did I let you get out of my arms Like a bird that was caged and is free.” The singer promises extreme devotion and asks Shamus to return to her
[Dean]
Oh, sweet is the smile of the beautiful morn
The Shantyman’s Life George W. Stace? English Collected Common
“The shantyman’s life is a wearisome one, Though some say it’s free from care; It’s the ringing of the axe from morning until night in the middle of the forest drear.” The singer lists the hazards of his life; he plans to go home, marry, and settle down
[Rickaby: A. C. Hannah, Bemidji] [Rickaby: M. C. Dean, Virginia] [Rickaby: I. B. Keeler, Bemidji] [Dean]
Oh, a shanty-man’s life is a wearisome one || A shanty man’s life is a wearisome one
She May Have Seen Better Days James Thornton English Collected Unique
“While strolling along ‘midst the city’s vast throng, On a night that was bitterly cold,” the singer sees a crowd teasing a woman in tears. She has clearly fallen on hard times, but someone notes “she might have seen better days.” The crowd is silenced
[Dean]
While strolling along ‘midst the city’s vast throng
The Sheffield Apprentice unknown English Collected Common
The singer abandons his work in London to go to Holland. His new mistress proposes marriage. He refuses her; he is already engaged. His mistress plants evidence on him and has him condemned as a thief. He bids his Polly farewell and is hanged
[Dean]
Near Linster I was born, not of a high degree
The Silvery Moon unknown English Collected Uncommon
The singer sees a girl lamenting in the moonlight. Her lover was true and brave, “but now he is dead, the youth once so gay… And he silently sleeps while I’m left here to weep By the sweet silver light of the moon.”
[Dean]
As I strayed from my cot at the close of the day
Since James Went on the Stage unknown English Collected Unique
“My name is Patrick Hogan, in this city I reside, I raised a son to manhood and he was my joy and pride,” but now “me carpet is tore and me house is in a roar Since James went on the stage.” The singer tells of the troubles caused by his son’s acting
[Dean]
My name is Patrick Hogan, in this city I reside
Since Terrence Joined the Gang Words: W. Scanlon / Music: Wm. Cronin English Collected Unique
“My name is Michael Slattery, and from Ireland I came.” He has a son Terrence, who has “joined the gang” and now wears a “big watch and chain,” talks back to his parents, steals, and has been convicted of theft
[Dean]
My name is Michael Slattery, and from Ireland I came
** Skibbereen unknown English Collected Common
A boy asks his father why he left Skibbereen when he is always speaking of it. The father lists reasons: First came the blight. Then the landlord took the land. Then he joined the 1848 rebellion, and had to flee. The boy promises revenge
[Dean] * Play MP3
Father, dear, I often hear you speak of Erin’s isle * Printed Songbook, p. 44
The Song of All Songs Stephen C. Foster (one song of this type; there are very many others) English Collected Uncommon
Lyrics composed of titles or pieces of other songs, e.g. “There was ‘Abraham’s Daughter’ ‘Going out upon a spree, WIth ‘Old Uncle Snow’ ‘In a Cottage by the Sea.”
[Stanchfield: Elma Snyder McDowell, Saint Cloud]
The Song That Reached My Heart Julian Jordan (1850-1927) English Collected Very Rare
“I sat ‘midst a mighty throng within a palace grand, In a city far beyond the sea, in a distant foreign land,” as a girl sings “Home, Sweet Home.” The memories of home, and the song, affect him deeply
[Dean]
I sat ‘midst a mighty throng within a palace grand
Soutelin, soutelin (I Was Rowing, I Was Rowing) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer and his love are rowing by Ladoga Bay as a bird sings. The singer asks the bird’s name. The bird does not answer but advices that love will endure until death.
[Edgar: Hiekki Koskela, Duluth]
Soutelin, soutelin, kultani kanssa
The State of Arkansas (The Arkansas Traveler II) unknown English Collected Common
A traveler arrives in Arkansas and finds that it fully meets his (lack of) expectations. He “never knowed what misery was till I come to Arkansas.” His boss had promised that the state would make him a different man, and he is: He is now badly starved
[Dean]
Come listen to my story and I’ll tell you in my chant
Suutari ja raatari (The Shoemaker and the Tailor) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The shoemaker and the tailor (make a bet?) over who can get a girl first. The shoemaker insults the tailor — and brings fine silk. But he courts the sort of girl the tailor doesn’t want
[Edgar: Elsa Perala, Mountain Iron]
Suutari ruteli raatarin kanss
Sweet Refrain Gussie L. Davis ? English Collected Very Rare
“A music hall was crowded in a village o’er the sea, And brilliant lights were flashing everywhere.” A minstrel sings, and a “darkey” remembers his mother and the days of his youth; he begs, “Sing again that sweet refrain”
[Dean]
A music hall was crowded in a village o’er the sea
Sweet Rosie O’Grady Maude Nugent English Collected Uncommon
“Just down around the corner of a street where I reside, There lives the sweetest little girl that I have ever spied.” The singer vows never to forget the day they met, and says that the very birds sing her name
[Dean]
Just down around the corner of a street where I reside
Syntymistaan sureva (Sorrow For My Birth) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer regrets being born to live in misery; he has no land, and lives a life of slavery.
[Edgar, Ida Sarkipato and others]
Voi aiti parka ja raukka, kun minut synnytit
Taivas on sininen (Blue Is the Sky) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer sees the beautiful sky but still is sorrowful. The singer declares that only the darkness can understand that grief
[Edgar: Marie Sarkipato, Ida Sarkipato]
Taivas on sininen ja valkoinen ja tahtosia taynna
Terve, kuu (Hail, O Moon) [from the Kalevala] Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer greets the moon, and bids it to go on about its usual business of shining and passing through the sky and being beautiful
[Edgar: “various singers,” Iron Range]
Terve, kuu, kumottamasta
That Tumble Down Shack in Athlone Words: Richard M. Pascoe / Music: “Monte Carlo” and Alma Sanders English Collected Very Rare
“I’m a long way from home and my thoughts ever roam To ould Erin far over the sea.” The singer remembers his home in Ireland, says there are people waiting there for him, and looks forward to returning to Athlone
[Dean]
I’m a long way from home and my thoughts ever roam
There Is a Happy Land words by Andrew Young? English Attested/Partial or No Text Common
“There is a happy land, far far away, Where saints in glory stand, Bright bright as day, Oh how they sweetly sing, Worthy is our savior king, Loud let his praises ring.” The listener is told of the pleasures of heaven and urged not to hesitate
[Wilder: On the Banks of Plum Creek, p. 181.]
There is a happy land, Far far away
There’s a Dear Spot in Ireland unknown English Collected Uncommon
The singer recalls the “dear spot” where his aged mother lived with his brothers and sisters. Poverty has brought him over the sea. Now mother is dead. He hopes his brothers and sisters can join him; they will make a poor but honest home
[Dean]
There is a dear spot in Ireland that I long for to see
There’s A Girl in the Heart of Maryland Words: Ballard MacDonald / Music: Harry Carroll English Collected Unique
“In a quaint, old-fashioned garden in a quaint, old-fashioned town… Where the old Potomac’s llowing, that is where I long to be.” “There’s a girl in the heart of Maryland with a heart that belongs to me.” He asks that the parson be ready when he returns
[Dean]
In a quaint old-fashioned garden in a quaint, old-fashioned town
Tidy Irish Lad unknown English Collected Unique
“I’m a tidy bit of an Irish lad, as you can plainly see, And I like a drop of the creature when I go out upon a spree.” The singer boasts of Irish drink, and notes how the English need the Irish, who won the battles of Waterloo, Inkerman, and Sebastopol
[Dean]
I’m a tidy bit of an Irish lad, as you can plainly see
Titles of Songs (Song of Songs, Song of All Songs, Song of Song Titles) unknown English Collected Uncommon
Lyrics composed of titles or pieces of other songs, e.g. “Mickey O’Flannigan he had a Bull Pup, Down Where the Pansies Grow, Don’t You Leave Your Mother, Tom, For Mary Kelly’s Beau.”
[Dean]
The harp that once through Taras Hall played many a good old tune
Toss the Turk Tom Cannon English Collected Unique
“One evening lately I dressed up nately, With Sunday clothes, plug had and all.” The singer meets a gang which intends to rob him. But he backs up against a wall, and beats them off using tricks he learned at Donegal.
[Dean]
One evening lately I dressed up nately
The Town of Passage Father Prout [Rev Francis Sylvester Mahony (1804-1866)] English Collected Very Rare
“The town of Passage … situated Upon the say, ‘Tis nate and dacent.” Ships at anchor, ferries to Carrigaloe, but also mud cabins, melodious pigs and dead fish abound. Foreign ships deal in whisky-punch. Convicts are bound for Botany Bay.
[Dean]
The Town Passage is large and spacious, and situated upon the say [sea]
The Tramp unknown English Collected Uncommon
“I’m a broken-down man without money or friends… I wisht I had never been born.” The tramp reports that people constantly tell him to get a job, but none will offer a job. He recalls another tramp thrown off a train and killed on the track
[Dean]
I’m a broken down man without courage or cash
* Trinity Cake (Mrs. Fogarty’s Cake) some versions, perhaps all, by Johnny Burke English Collected Common
“As I leaned o’er the rail of the Eagle The letter boy brought unto me A little gilt edged invitation Saying the girls want you over to tea” for “a slice of the Trinity Cake.” Everyone tries the inedible cake and “all of them swore they were poisoned”
[Dean] * Play MP3
As I sat by my window last evening, the letter-man brought unto me * Learn more
True-Born Irish Man (With My Swag All on My Shoulder; The True-Born Native Man) unknown English Collected Common
The singer arrives in (Australia/Philadelphia) from Ireland and sets out to ramble. The girls rejoice at his presence. (A tavern-keeper’s daughter) is scolded by her mother for wanting to follow him. She is determined to do so anyway
[Peters: M. C. Dean, Virginia, 1922] [Dean]
I am a roving Irishman that roves from town to town
Tule, lentaen lintu unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer bids the bird to come, then tells it to fly away; the singer cannot follow.
[Edgar: Lydia Ibbotson & Aina Kohvakko, Eveleth]
Tule, lentaen lintu
Tullaan, tullaan (We’ll Get Along) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer declares that she and her love will make things work despite poverty: He will labor in the woods, she will bake and rock the cradle; a bucket and pail and fiddle will be their furniture
[Edgar: Anna Leino, Ely]
Tullaan, tulaan, kylla
Tuoll’ on mun kultani (Yonder Is My Sweetheart) unknown Finnish Inferred Non-English
The singer’s sweetheart is always far away in the King’s court. He asks why she does not come. He says he will die of loneliness
[Edgar: no source listed]
Tuoll’ on mun kultani, ain’ yha tuolla
Tuomen juurella (At the Root of the Bird Cherry Tree) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer weeps by the tree on a riverbank. His love is in Tuoni (the land of death) and he is left behind
[Edgar: John Huhtala, Hibbing]
Tuomi on virran reunalla
Tuonne taakse metsamaan (To the Woodland Far Away) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The singer’s thoughts turn to his love in the woods. He will follow the long path to where she is
[Edgar: many singers, Ely]
Tuonne taakse metsamaan
Tupakkarulla (Tobacco-roll) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
Fragment, perhaps of a lullabye. Mixes with “Nuku, nuku, nurmilintu.”
[Edgar: Not clearly distinguished]
Tuu, tuu, tupakkarulla
Tuuli se taivutti koivun larvan (The Wind Bends Down the Birch) unknown Finnish Collected Non-English
The wind bends the birches and moves the waves; the singer, unlike the wind, is trapped in prison
[Edgar: Maria Heino, Virginia]
Tuuli se taivutti koivun larvan
Tuuti lasta tuonelahan (Lullaby for a Child in Tuonela) unknown Finnish Inferred Non-English
The mother sings to the child under the ground, who is in Tuonela, the land of the dead.
[Edgar: No source indicated]
Tuuti lasta Tuonelahan
The Twenty Pound Dog unknown English Collected Very Rare
“My name it is (Michael McCarthy) and I live in this town of renown, I made a bet with one Terrence Mahaffey that my bulldog could wallop the town.” But Murphy’s dog kills the singer’s dog. He cries for vengeance
[Dean]
My name is Dennis Mulcahey and I live in this town of renown
Two Irish Laborers unknown English Collected Unique
“We are two Irish laborers, as you can plainly see, From Donegal we came when small unto America.” Railroad work did not pay well, so they have turned to construction. They hope to return to Ireland, and promise a welcome to any who visit them there
[Dean]
We are two Irish laborers, as you can plainly see
Two Little Girls in Blue Charles Graham English Collected Common
A young man finds his uncle gazing at a photograph in tears. When asked why, the uncle explains the photo is of the boy’s mother’s sister, who married the uncle. The uncle and his wife have parted, and now he regrets it
[Dean]
An old man gazed on a photograph that he’d worn in his locket for years
The Two O’Donahues unknown English Collected Unique
“We came from Tipperary a few short weeks ago, With spirits light and airy, two emigrants, you know.” The two O’Donahues intend to get rich, return to Ireland, and become famous
[Dean]
We came from Tipperary a few short weeks ago
The U. S. A. unknown English Collected Unique
“Tell me, daddy, tell me, why the men in yonder crowd, Can you tell me why they are marching…?” The father tells his son that they are marching because they are proud of American freedom; both his grandfathers died fighting for it
[Dean]
Tell me, daddy, tell me, why the men in yonder crowd
** Uncle John is Sick Abed unknown English Attested/Partial or No Text Uncommon
“Uncle John is sick abed, What shall we send him? Three good wishes, three good kisses, And a slice of ginger bread.” “Who shall we send it by?” “[Player’s name], so they say, goes a-couring night and day… And takes Miss [name] for his bride.”
[Wilder: On the Banks of Plum Creek, pp. 159-160] * Play MP3
Uncle John is sick abed, What shall we send him? * Printed songbook, p. 70
Une Perdriole unknown French Inferred Non-English
The singer asks what he shall give his love on the first day of May. He decides on a partridge. He goes on through three or ten or twelve gifts
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 115-117]
Le premier jour de Mai, Je donnerais a m’amie
Van Dieman’s Land (I) unknown English Collected Common
Three poachers are taken and sent to Van Dieman’s Land. Sold to planters, they are used to drive plows and live miserable lives until (Susan Summers), a fellow prisoner now married to a planter, treats them somewhat better
[Dean]
Come all you lads of pleasure and rambling boys beware
Velisurmaaja (The Brother-Murderer) unknown Finnish Collected Very Common
A mother questions her son where he has been. He lies, then admits killing his brother. He prepares to go into exile. They exchange riddles. The song is closely parallel to the English “Edward,” Child #13
[Edgar: from “Many singers”]
Vilho ja Pertta (Vilho and Bertta) unknown Danish Collected
Vilho and Bertta fall in love in school. He goes away to college, becomes a doctor, and forgets her. Her body is found by a waterfall. He realizes that she died for love of him
[Edgar: Matt Simi, Cloquet]
Eras talo, rikas talo Keski-Suomessa
Voice le printemps unknown French Inferred Non-English
When spring arrives, lovers find their feelings stirred. Many seek new companions, but the singer prefers to stay with his previous love
[Nute, The Voyageur, pp. 110-111]
Voice le printems les amours se renouvellent
Wait for the Wagon frequently listed as by R. Bishop Buckley (but there are many parodies and rewrites) English Attested/Partial or No Text Common
The singer invites Phyllis “to yon blue mountain free.” He describes his cabin and the fine lands around it. Another suitor offers wealth, but he offers youth and health. He bids her to “Wait for the wagon (x3) And we’ll all take a ride.”
[Wilder: On the Banks of Plum Creek, p. 181. Short fragment, possibly not this]
Oh, every Sunday morning, My wife is by my side
Way Down in Old Virginia unknown English Collected Unique
“‘Way down in old Virginia Where I was bred and born, On the sunny side of that country I used to hoe the corn.” The singer recalls those happy times: “And I couldn’t stay away.” He recalls his old mistress and master, who were “good and kind”
[Dean]
Away down in old Virginia where I was bred and born
The Wearing of the Green some versions by Dion Boucicault English Collected Common
The singer tells of the dreadful fate of Ireland, the “most distressful country,” where “they are hanging men and women for the wearing of the green.” The singer bids defiance, and notes that the grass on the martyrs’ graves grows green.
[Dean]
Oh Paddy, dear, and did you hear the news that’s going ’round
* Weevily Wheat unknown English Attested/Partial or No Text Very Common
“Charlie, he’s a nice young man, Charlie he’s a dandy.” Stories about Charlie’s attempts at courting and his visits to town. The mention of “Weevily wheat” and lines such as “Over the river to feed my sheep” are common
[Wilder: On the Banks of Plum Creek, p. 336.] * Play MP3
Oh, Charley he’s a fine young man, Oh, Charley he’s a dandy * Learn more
What Do You Think of My Darling? unknown English Collected Very Rare
The singer lives on a small pension. His wife makes him do the nasty jobs around the house and “if I don’t do it right it’s a slap … a kick or a clout” She drinks, gossips, is ugly and dirty. He prays “the devil like lightening might sweep her away”
[Dean]
Kind folks, if you’ll listen a story I’ll tell
When a Man’s in Love Hugh McWilliams English Collected Common
The singer asks his sweetheart to allow him into her room; she convinces him to stay by the fire. He tells her he has courted her long enough despite her parents’ opposition; he will go to America. She agrees to be married (or spend the night together)
[Dean]
The boy of love without no fear like me some time ago
When I Dream of Old Erin unknown English Collected Unique
“When the nightingale’s singing its sweet melodies, And the scent of the flowers perfumes the night breeze,” the singer dreams of Ireland and his love. He describes his old home, repeating, “When I dream of old Erin, I’m dreaming of you.”
[Dean]
When the nightingale’s singing its sweet melodies
When You and I Were Young, Maggie Words: George W. Johnson / Music: J. A. Butterfield English Collected Common
The singer recalls the days when he and Maggie were young — the creek and the mill they wandered by, the meadows they wandered, the birds they heard. Now the mill is still, and the flowers are gone, but she is still just as beautiful in his eyes
[Dean]
I wandered today to the hills, Maggie
Where the River Shannon Flows James I. Russell English Collected Uncommon
“There’s a pretty spot in Ireland, I always claim for my land, Where the fairies and the blarney Will never, never die.” The singer recalls the land and the girl by the Shannon. He will not send a letter; he will sail home himself with news of his return
[Dean]
There’s a pretty spot in Ireland, I always claim for my land
The Wreck of the Julie Plante William Henry Drummond English Collected Uncommon
“On wan dark night on de (Lak St. Clair)… de crew of de wood scow Julie Plante got scar’ an’ run below.” The captain ties Rosie the cook to the mast, then jumps overboard. Both are drowned. The moral: “You can’t get drown… so long you stay on shore”
[Rickaby: A. C. Hannah, Bemidji]
Come all you jolly raf’smen, I tell you von good plan
Yankee Doodle Dandy unknown English Collected Unique
“I have a daughter and you’d think she was a lady…. She has a sweetheart comes to see her nights… And the only tune he whistles right is ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy.'” The young man causes so much trouble that the fathers vows to drive himoff
[Dean]
I have a daughter and you’d think she was a lady
* Young Charlotte (Fair Charlotte) uncertain, but widely attributed to Seba Smith English Collected Very Common
Pretty Charlotte, going to a dance on a cold night, refuses to dress properly; warm clothes would hide her charms. First she complains of the cold, but then says “I’m growing warmer now.” When they arrive at the ball, her escort finds her frozen to death
[Dean] * Play MP3
Young Charlotte lived by the mountain side in a wild and lonely spot * Learn more

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