Tag Archives: floatingverses

Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms

TITLE: Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: Public Domain, Traditional KEYWORDS:  humorous, floatingverses, separation EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: 1931 (recording, Buster Carter & Preston Young)  Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms is considered a descendant of the cowboy song “My Lula Gal”, which is also a descendant of a bawdy song “Bang Bang Rosie” read more »

Sailing in the Boat

TITLE: Sailing in the Boat AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: public domain, traditional KEYWORDS: courting, ship, playparty, floatingverses EARLIEST DATE: 1865 In spite of Puritan disapproval, the rural sports of old England gradually came to life again in the colonies, together with new customs that suited the country. The people amused themselves at quilting bees, apple-parings, shooting matches, sugaring-off read more »

Rock Island Line

TITLE: Rock Island Line AUTHOR: unknown (heavily adapted by Huddie Ledbetter) CATEGORY: traditional, public domain KEYWORDS: railroading, train, floatingverses EARLIEST DATE: Cummins Prison Farm (Arkansas) in 1934. Recorded by John & Ruby Lomax [YouTube] “The Rock Island Line” is a tall tale in rhyme, the song’s subject is a train so fast that it arrives at its destination read more »

Bile Them Cabbage Down

 TITLE: Bile Them Cabbage Down AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: traditional, public domain KEYWORDS: fiddle, dancing, nonballad, animal, food, floatingverses EARLIEST DATE: 1924 (recordings, Uncle Dave Macon, Fiddlin’ John Carson) Boil Them Cabbage Down is a classic folk song usually played with a fiddle. “Some historians say that the origins of this song can be traced back to read more »

On Top of Old Smokey

TITLE: On Top of Old Smokey AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: traditional, public domain KEYWORDS: courting, love, rejection, warning, floatingverses EARLIEST DATE: 1911 (Belden) Many people assume On Top of Old Smokey refers specifically to the Smokey Mountains in the Southeastern United States, and it can and has been sung in that context. But On Top of Old Smokey is a read more »


TITLE: Cindy AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: traditional, public domain KEYWORDS: love courting playparty religious floatingverses EARLIEST DATE: 1915 HISTORICAL REFERENCE: In 1904, the book At the Big House, Where Aunt Nancy and Aunt ‘Phrony Held Forth on the Animal Folks, by Anne Virginia Culbertson, published by Bobbs-Merrill, a character, Tim, “sang a plantation song named ‘Cindy Ann.’” Cindy has read more »

Michael Row the Boat Ashore

TITLE: Michael Row the Boat Ashore AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: traditional, public domain KEYWORDS: religious, nonballad, travel, river, ship, work, worksong, floatingverses, shanty EARLIEST DATE: 1867 (Allen, Ware, Garrison) HISTORICAL REFERENCES: Seeger dates this Georgia sea islands worksong from the mid-19th century. Michael, Row the Boat Ashore (is an African-American spiritual and was first published in Slave read more »

We Shall Not Be Moved (Civil Rights Version)

TITLE: We Shall Not Be Moved AUTHOR: Alfred H. Ackley, modified by the civil rights movement in the 1960s. CATEGORY: Public Domain, Debated EARLIEST DATE: 1906 (Ackley, “Hymns for His Praise No. 2”) KEYWORDS: freedom, protest, floatingverses, nonballad HISTORICAL REFERENCE: Civil Rights Movement in the United States 1950s and 1960s. “We Shall Not Be Moved” read more »

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

TITLE: Swing Low Sweet Chariot AUTHOR: unknown CATEGORY: traditional, public domain but perhaps authored by former slave Wallace Wallis KEYWORDS: religious, nonballad, slavery, floatingverses EARLIEST DATE: 1872 (publ. in Theodore B. Seward, “Jubilee Songs, as Sung by the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University”) HISTORICAL REFERENCES: Slavery in the United States The Fisk Jubilee Singers are read more »