“Early, Early in the Spring”


The singer is (pressed and) sent to sea. (He writes to his true love, but her father withholds the letters.) When he returns, her father tells him she has wed another. He accuses her of unfaithfulness and swears to spend the rest of his life at sea


Several texts of this song, including Belden's "B" and one found by Lomax, convert the sailor to a cowboy. It is quite likely that this is a deliberate recension, and so perhaps worthy of separate listing. But Laws does not distinguish the versions, so we don't either. But cf. "The Trail to Mexico" [Laws B13]. - RBW

Cross references


  • Robert Cinnamond, "Early, Early, All In the Spring" (on Voice15, IRRCinnamond03)
  • Margaret Dirrane, "'Twas Early, Early in the Spring" (on Aran1)
  • Sam Hazel, "Early, Early in the Spring" (AFS 3095 A2, 3095 B1, 1939)


  1. Laws M1, "Early, Early in the Spring"
  2. Belden, pp. 163-164, "Early, Early in the Spring" (2 texts)
  3. Randolph 81, "Early, Early in the Spring" (4 texts plus an excerpt, 2 tunes)
  4. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 77-80, "Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 81D)
  5. McNeil-SFB1, pp. 144-145, "The Disappointed Lover" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. BrownII 87, "Early, Early in the Spring" (2 texts plus 1 excerpt)
  7. Hudson 41, pp. 155-156, "Early in the Spring" (1 text)
  8. MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 144-146, "Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text)
  9. Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 328-331, "Early, Early in the Spring" (3 texts, the third very short; 2 texts on p. 444)
  10. SharpAp 125, "Early, Early in the Spring" (5 texts, 5 tunes)
  11. Creighton/Senior, pp. 154-155, "Early Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Creighton-Maritime, p. 98, "Early Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. Peacock, pp. 549-550, "The Letters of Love" (1 text, 1 tune)
  14. Karpeles-Newfoundland 63, "Early, Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
  15. Fife-Cowboy/West 66, "The Trail to Mexico" (5 texts, 1 tune, of which only the "C" and "D" texts go here; "A" and "B" are "The Trail to Mexico" and "E" is "Going to Leave Old Texas")
  16. Logan, pp. 28-30, "The Disappointed Sailor" (1 text)
  17. JHCox 111, "Early in the Spring" (3 texts plus mention of 1 more)
  18. JHCoxIIA, #18, pp. 79-80, "'Twas Early in the Spring" (1 text, 1 tune)
  19. Cambiaire, pp. 55-56, "Early, Early in the Spring (The Girl I Left Behind)" (1 text)
  20. BBI, ZN2863, "When I went early in the Spring"; cf. ZN1423, "In e'ery street I hear 'em sing"
  21. DT 429, EARLYSPR*
  22. Roud #152
  23. BI, LM01


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1869 (Logan; broadside version appears to date to the seventeenth century)
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So) Britain(England) Canada (Mar,Newf) Ireland