“Black Is the Color”


"(Black, black,) black is the color of my true love's hair...." The singer describes the beautiful girl he is in love with. (He regretfully concedes that they will never be married)


John Jacob Niles, who is largely responsible for popularizing this song, also claims to have written it. For a recently composed song, however, it exists in unusually diverse and widespread forms. Randolph notes connections with English pieces, and Lomax correctly observes that the tune resembles "Fair and Tender Ladies." - RBW


  • Pete Seeger, "Black is the Color" (on PeteSeeger18)


  1. Lomax-FSUSA 16, "Black Is the Color" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Lomax- FSNA 100, "Black Is the Color" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Ritchie-Southern, p. 88, "Black is the Color" (1 text, 1 tune, with several floating lines including some that appear to be from "Lady Mary Anne" or something related)
  4. SharpAp 85, "Black is the Colour" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Sharp/Karpeles-80E 41, "Black is the Color" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Darling-NAS, pp. 267-268, "Black is the Color" (1 text)
  7. Silber-FSWB, p. 145, "Black Is The Color" (1 text)
  9. Roud #3103
  10. BI, LxU016


Alternate titles: “Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1916 (Cecil Sharp collection)
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So)