“Greenback Dollar”


Categorized by a lost love theme ("Don't forget me, little darling") and the line(s) "I don't want your greenback dollar; I don't want your watch and chain." Many versions say that the couple cannot marry because of parental opposition


Most versions of this appear to be pastiches of floating verses -- or at least floating themes. The mention of the "greenback dollar" is so characteristic, however, that I decided to classify this as a separate song. - RBW

This should not be confused with the fiddle tune of the same name, nor the folk-revival song with the chorus "I don't give a damn about a greenback dollar/Spend it as fast as

I can"; the former is a popular fiddle tune, while the latter was composed by Hoyt Axton. Neither is any relation to this song. - PJS

We might note that the line "I don't want your greenback dollar" might have originated in a context not related to a rejected lover: The first "greenbacks" -- i.e. paper money unbacked by gold -- were issued during the Civil War, and they did depreciate significantly, with an average exchange rate of about three greenbacks for two gold dollars, but it sometimes fell to about two to one when Union forces seemed to be in particular trouble.

George Lineberry, the husband of the grand-niece of "Uncle Dick" Weems and "Uncle Frank" Weems, offers what is probably the final word on the matter:

"The Weems String Band (Perry County, TN) traveled to Memphis, TN in 1928 where Columbia was recording groups for the potential '1928 version American Idol.' (NOT).

"[Their] musical numbers were instrumental -- not vocal arrangements. However, Columbia wanted lyrics, i.e. no lyrics -- no record. So the Weems String Band went back to the hotel, created some lyrics (kind of) for their two songs: 'Greenback Dollar' and 'Davy' (sometimes referred to as 'Davy, Davy'). The lyrics met the minimum requirement, but both songs remained basically instrumentals.

The next day they returned to Columbia's 'studio' and recorded both songs, resulting in their only record."

In the case of "Greenback Dollar," it appears that other hillbilly musicians (presumably operating under the same "get some words or get lost" imperative) proceeded to supply their own lyric grafts to produce the confusion of words found in the recording list. - RBW

Same tune

  • Dixon Brothers, "Greenback Dollar - Part 2" (Bluebird B-6462, 1936)
  • J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers, "Answer to 'Greenback Dollar'" (Bluebird B-7151/Montgomery Ward M-7301, 1937)
  • Wiley, Zeke & Homer, "Greenback Dollar - Part 3" (Bluebird B-7426, 1938)

Cross references


  • Callahan Bros., "Greenback Dollar" (Conqueror 8682, 1936)
  • [Clarence] Ashley & [Gwen] Foster, "Greenback Dollar" (Vocalion 02554, c. 1933)
  • J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers, "Greenback Dollar" (Bluebird B-6090 [as Daddy John Love?], 1935)
  • Weems String Band, "Greenback Dollar" (Columbia 15300-D, 1928) [see notes]


  1. Randolph 733, "Don't Forget Me, Little Darling" (4 texts, 2 tunes, but only "A" and "B" are this song; "D" is "Don't Forget Me, Little Darling"; "C" is probably composite)
  2. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 504-505, "Don't Forget Me, Little Darling" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 733A)
  4. Roud #3420
  5. BI, R733


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1928 (recording, Weems String Band)
Found in: US(So)