Wanderin’

TITLE: Wanderin’
AUTHOR: unknown
CATEGORY: public domain, traditional
KEYWORDS: work, hardtimes, rambling
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (Sandburg)

Carl Sandburg, collected the song from Arthur Sutherland of Rochester, NY, as learned from comrades in the American Relief Expedition to the Near East in the 1920’s. Also a variation from Hubert Canfield of Pittsford, NY.

Vernon Dalhart (vernondalhart.com)
Vernon Dalhart (vernondalhart.com)

The year after Sandburg’s American Songbag was published, Vernon Dalhart made two recording, one on 29 Sept 1928 and the other on 23 October 1928. The version recorded below on YouTube is close to the Sandburg version. But Dalhart added the following verses:

Sometimes I feel so awful blue,
But what in the world am I gonna do?
And it looks like I’m never gonna cease
My wanderin’.

I had a little gal and her name was Betsy Ann,
She left me flat and went back to Alabam’;
And it looks like I’m never gonna cease
My wanderin’.

I like blondes and brunettes, too,
But you never can tell what gals will do;
And it looks like I’m never gonna cease
My wanderin’.

I wanders East and I wanders West
But I don’t know which I like best;
And it looks like I’m never gonna cease
My wanderin’.

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • A-Wanderin’
  • Wanderings

RECORDINGS:

James Taylor, Wandering

The Great American String Band, Wanderin’

Dan Zanes, Wanderin’

Roger McGuinn, Wanderin

Oscar Brand, Wanderin’

Matthew Sabatella, Wanderin’Wanderin’

Chris Isaak, Wanderin’ (LP Version)

Dave Van Ronk, Wanderin

YOUTUBE VIDEO: 

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

Wanderin’

My daddy is an engineer
My brother drives a hack,
My sister takes in washin’
An’ the baby balls the jack,
An’ it looks like
I’m never gonna cease my wanderin’.

I been wanderin’
Early and late
New York City
To the Golden Gate
An’ it looks like
I’m never gonna cease my wanderin’.

Been workin’ in the army,
Been workin’ on a farm,
All I got to show
Is the muscle in my arm,
An’ it looks like
I’m never gonna cease my wanderin’.

Well there’s snakes on the mountain,
And eels in the sea,
‘Twas a red-headed woman
Made a wreck out of me,
An’ it looks like
I’m never gonna cease my wanderin’.

Ashes to ashes
And dust to dust,
If the whiskey don’t get you,
Then the women must,
An’ it looks like
I’m never gonna cease my wanderin’.

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
  • Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore (1952), Volume 3: Folk Ballads from North Carolina. Edited by Henry M Beldin and Arthur Palmer Hudson. Duke University Press.
  • Sandburg, Carl. The American Songbag. 1927 Harcourt, Brace, and Company. [This volume will be indexed on this site in the weeks to come.]—Amazon Books
  • Folk Songs of North America (in the English Language), Alan Lomax, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York 1960—Amazon Books

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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