Clementine (In a Cavern)

TITLE: Clementine (In a Cavern)
AUTHOR: unknown
CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain
KEYWORDS: death, drowning, love
EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: The words were first published in 1863 under the title “Down by the River Lived a Maiden,” credited to H. S. Thompson

The 1863 printing had a melody, but it was not the “standard” melody. The text was also rather different (in minstrel dialect); Norm Cohen gives the first verse as:

Down by the river there lived a maiden
In a cottage built just 7 x 9;
And all around this lubly bower
The beauteous sunflower blossoms twine.
Chorus: Oh my Clema, oh my Clema, Oh my darling Clementine,
Now you are gone and lost forever,
I’m dreadful sorry Clementine. 

My Darling Clementine

In 1884 the piece reappeared, with the famous tune, this time credited to “Percy Montrose,” under the title “Oh My Darling Clementine.” This version of the song, as printed in College Songs in 1887, is identical with the version I learned in my youth; there is no question but that people were copying the “Montrose” version — and learning it from print. Since neither Thompson nor Montrose is known, the authorship of the song probably cannot be settled. It is reported by reliable sources that this song was originally intended to be serious. No doubt a few thousand enterprising parodists would be amazed. – RBW in The Traditional Ballad Index

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • Darling Clementine
  • My Darling Clementine
  • Oh, My Darling Clementine

RECORDINGS: (mp3’s available through Amazon.com)

YOUTUBE VIDEO:

YOUTUBE AUDIO: download
LYRIC & CHORD PRO CHART: download
PPT LYRICS FOR THE CLASSROOM: download
BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO:

Clementine (In a Cavern)

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

Light she was, and like a fairy,
And her shoes were number nine,
Herring boxes without topses,
Sandals were for Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

Walking lightly as a fairy,
Though her shoes were number nine,
Sometimes tripping, lightly skipping,
Lovely girl, my Clementine

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

Drove she ducklings to the water
Ev’ry morning just at nine,
Hit her foot against a splinter,
Fell into the foaming brine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

Ruby lips above the water,
Blowing bubbles soft and fine,
But alas, I was no swimmer,
Neither was my Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

In a churchyard near the canyon,
Where the myrtle doth entwine,
There grow rosies and some posies,
Fertilized by Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

Then, the miner, forty-niner,
Soon began to fret and pine,
Thought he oughter join his daughter,
So he’s now with Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

I’m so lonely, lost without her,
Wish I’d had a fishing line,
Which I might have cast about her,
Might have saved my Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

In my dreams she still doth haunt me,
Robed in garments soaked with brine,
Then she rises from the waters,
And I kiss my Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

Listen fellers, heed the warning
Of this tragic tale of mine,
Artificial respiration
Could have saved my Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

How I missed her, how I missed her,
How I missed my Clementine,
‘Til I kissed her little sister,
And forgot my Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books

SONGBOOKS:

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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