“Didn't He Ramble”


"Mother raised three grown sons... Buster was the black sheep of our little family... And didn't he ramble, ramble... He rambled till the butchers cut him down." Buster's rambling ways and debts are described; at last he hits bottom and the song ends


Although an obvious pop rewriting of "The Derby Ram" (Roud lumps them), the actual history of this piece is uncertain. Credit (blame?) has been offered to Will Handy (Bob Cole; note that this is not W. C. Handy), who offered an extravagant seven verse version. (So, e.g., in Silber & Silber, and there is sheet music of this version.; cf. Spaeth, _A History of Popular Music in America_, p. 317.)

Charlie Poole sang a much more sedate three verse version. If anyone knows more, I'd welcome the information. - RBW

Broadside LOCSheet rpbaasm 1155: "words & music by Will Handy ... adaptation by Bob Cole." Poole's tune is closely related to Handy's. - BS

Cross references


  • LOCSheet, rpbaasm 1155, "Oh! Didn't He Ramble," J.W. Stern & Co. (New York), 1902 (tune)


  • Fiddlin' John Carson, "Didn't He Ramble" (OKeh 45569, 1932; rec. 1930)
  • Al Hopkins & his Buckle Busters, "Didn't He Ramble" (Brunswick, unissued, 1928)
  • New Lost City Ramblers, "Didn't He Ramble" (on NLCR02)
  • Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, "He Rambled" (Columbia 15407-D, 1929; on CPoole01, CPoole05, ConstSor1)


  1. Cohen/Seeger/Wood, pp. 174-175, "Didn't He Ramble?" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Rorrer, p. 88, "He Rambled" (1 text)
  3. Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 231-232 (partial text, 1 tune)
  4. Silber-FSWB, p. 203, "Didn't He Ramble" (1 text)
  5. DT 312, DIDRAMBL*
  6. Roud #126
  7. BI, CSW174


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1902 (broadside, LOCSheet rpbaasm 1155)
Found in: US