“More Pretty Girls Than One”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1909 (JAFL)
Keywords: loneliness rambling nonballad lyric floatingverses love separation travel farewell courting parting family
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So,SW)

Description

Singer is a rambler who likes women; his mother told him to settle down, but he won't. He cries, thinking of pretty girls, and hopes he'll never die; he leaves us this lonesome song: "Every town I ramble around/There's more pretty girls than one."

Notes

This song and "Danville Girl" [one of the various forms of Laws H2 - RBW] are siblings. - PJS

And the whole family is rather a mess. "More Pretty Girls Than One" is reasonably well-known. The Silber text "Goodby, Little Bonnie, Goodbye" has been found with this tune. Since both are largely floating verses, we decided to lump them.

Randolph's text also has a similar tune, and it shares the basic form of the Silber text, as well as some lyrics:

""Goodbye, little bonnie blue eyes (x2), I'll see you again, But God knows when, Goodbye, little...." "I'm going on the railroad train... 'Cause I love you, God knows I do." "I'm goin' on the ocean blue...." "Lay your hand in mine...."

Brown's two substantial texts ("A" and "B") are similar: Most of the same verses, but no chorus. Note the absence of the "more pretty girls" verse, which originally caused us to classify separately.

After some discussion, Paul Stamler and I decided to lump the lot, even though it's against our general policy, simply because none of the variations are really well-attested enough to be regarded as independent songs. But it should be noted that almost anything can be grafted onto this stalk.

The "Goodbye, Little Bonnie Blue Eyes" family, which includes Shellans's "Hush, Little Bonnie," is Roud #762. These texts often end with the singer coming back. - RBW

Same tune

Cross references

Recordings

References

  1. Randolph 734, "Goodbye, Little Bonnie Blue Eyes" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Shellans, p. 10, "Hush, LIttle Bonnie" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. BrownIII 284, "Bonnie Blue Eyes" (2 text plus 1 fragment and 1 excerpt); also 301, "High-Topped Shoes" (2 texts, both mixed; "A" is mostly "Pretty Little Foot" with verses from "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" while "B" is a hash of "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down," ""More Pretty Girls Than One," "In the Pines," and others)
  4. Cambiaire, pp. 23, "More Pretty Girls Than One" (1 text)
  5. MHenry-Appalachians, p. 170, "More Pretty Girls Than One" (1 text)
  6. Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 192, "More Pretty Girls Than One" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Silber-FSWB, p. 142, "Goodbye, Little Bonnie, Goodbye" (1 text)
  8. Roud #11505
  9. BI, CSW192