“Buffalo Gals”

Alternate titles: “Alabama Gals”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: A Christy Minstrels' version was copyright in 1848
Keywords: bawdy playparty dancing
Found in: US(MW,SE,So)

Description

As requested, the Buffalo [Bowery, etc.] girls promise to come out tonight, to dance or otherwise disport themselves by the light of the moon.

Supplemental text

Buffalo Gals
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From Sigmund Spaeth, Weep Some More, My Lady, p. 108. No source
indicated, but he implies Negro or Minstrel origin.

As I was rambling down de street, down de street, down de street,
A beauty gal I chanc'd to meet, Lubly as morning dew.
Buffalo gals, can't you come out tonight?
  can't you come out tonight?
  can't you come out tonight?
Buffalo gals, can't you come out tonight
And dance by de light ob de moon.

Chorus:
Buffalo gals, can't you come out tonight?
  can't you come out tonight?
  can't you come out tonight?
Buffalo gals, can't you come out tonight
And dance by de light ob de moon.

I said, "My angel, will you talk?
And take wid me a little walk,
Wid those sweet feet I view?"
    Buffalo gals, etc.

"And would you like to take a dance?
Quadrille, or Polka, fresh from France,
They're all alike to me."
    Buffalo gals, etc.

"O! I will lub you all my life,
And you shall be my happy wife,
If you will marry me."
    Buffalo gals, etc.

          *** B ***

From Vance Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, Volume III, #535, p. 333.
This is the "B" text (the most complete in Randolph's collection,
though it had no tune), collected in 1931 from John F. Danks of
Little Rock, Arkansas.

As I was walkin' down the street,
Down the street, down the street,
A pretty fair maid I chanced to meet,
Under the silvery moon.

Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight,
Come out tonight, come out tonight?
Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight
An' dance by the light of the moon.

I ask her if she'd stop and talk,
Stop an' talk, stop an' talk,
Her feet covered up the whole sidewalk,
But she was fair to view.

Dance all night till broad daylight,
Broad daylight, broad daylight,
Dance all night till broad daylight,
Go home with the gals in the mornin'.*

I ask her if she'd be my wife,
Be my wife, be my wife,
Then I'd be happy all my life,
If she'd marry me.


* This verse, seemingly from "The Boatman Dance," also occurs
in Randolph's "A" text.

          *** C ***

From Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods,
Chapter 8. Reported to have been sung 1871/1872, though
this part of the book is fiction (the Ingalls family did
not live in Wisconsin at the time).

Oh, you Buffalo gals,
Aren't you coming out tonight,
Aren't you coming out tonight,
Aren't you coming out tonight,
Oh, you Buffalo gals,
Aren't you coming out tonight,
To dance by the light of the moon?

Notes

According to Spaeth (_A History of Popular Music in America_, p. 101), this originated as the Cool White (John Hodges) song "Lubly Fan" (1843). From the present perspective, it's hard to prove whether Hodges actually did write the thing or borrowed an existing piece -- but I rather suspect the latter. - RBW

Cross references

Recordings

References

  1. Randolph 535, "Buffalo Gals" (2 texts plus an excerpt and a fragment, 1 tune)
  2. BrownIII 81, "Buffalo Gals" (2 short texts); also 491, "We'll Have a Little Dance Tonight, Boys" (1 fragment, too short to properly classify but it might go here)
  3. Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 112-114, (no title) and "Buffalo Gals" (2 texts plus a fragment possibly from this, 1 tune)
  4. Randolph-Legman I, pp. 424-425, "Buffalo Gals" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  5. Lomax-FSUSA 33, "Buffalo Gals" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 288-290, "Louisiana Girls" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Fife-Cowboy/West 101, "Buffalo Gals" (3 texts, 1 tune)
  8. Botkin-AmFolklr, p. 841, "(Buffalo Gals)" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. MHenry-Appalachians, p. 233, (fourth of four "Fragments from Maryland") (1 fragment)
  10. Arnett, p. 58, "Buffalo Gals" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Spaeth-WeepMore, pp. 107-108, "Buffalo Gals" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. PSeeger-AFB, p. 34, "Buffalo Gals" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. Silber-FSWB, p. 36, "Buffalo Gals" (1 text)
  14. ST R535 (Full)
  15. Roud #738
  16. BI, R535