“Listen to the Mockingbird”


The singer recalls his beloved Hallie, who is "Sleeping in the valley, And the mockingbird is singing where she lies." Now the song of the mockingbird makes him "Feel like one forsaken... Since my Hallie is no longer with me now."

Supplemental text

Listen to the Mockingbird
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From sheet music published 1855 by Winner & Shuster.
Title page inscribed
Respectfully Dedicated to
  Aaron R. Dutcher, Esq.
     Mocking Bird.
 Written and arranged by
      Alice Hawthorn

1. I'm dreaming now of Hally, sweet Hally, sweet Hally;
   I'm dreaming now of Hally,
   For the thought of her is one that never dies:
   She's sleeping in the valley, the valley, the valley;
   She's sleeping ing (sic.) the valley,
   And the mocking bird is singing where she lies.

Listen to the mocking bird,
Listen to the mocking bird,
The mocking bird still singing o'er her grave;
Listen to the mocking bird,
Listen to the mocking bird,
Still singing where the weeping willows wave.

2. Ah! well I yet remember, remember, remember,
   Ah! well I yet remember
   When we gather'd in the cotton side by side.
   'Twas in the mild September, September, September,
   'Twas in the mild September,
   And the mocking bird was singing far and wide.

3. When the charms of spring awaken, awaken, awaken:
   When the charms of spring awaken,
   And the mocking bird is singing on the bough.
   I feel like one forsaken, forsaken, forsaken.
   I feel like one forsaken,
   Since my Hally is no longer with me now.


Although now often used as an opportunity for fiddle players or other performers to produce strange sounds from their instruments, this piece was originally done "straight." After a few years of obscurity, the composer sold the copyright for a mere $5, only to see the song sell over a million copies.

Alice Hawthorne was a leading pseudonym of Septimus Winner; he also listed her as the author of "Whispering Hope." (The name was a tribute to his mother.) For some reason, Winner published such trivia as "Oh Where Oh Where Is My Little Dog Gone" under his own name.

The first edition of this piece gave a melodic credit to Richard Milbourne; this was dropped on later printings. It seems likely, however, that Milbourne did supply the tune; he was a young Negro errand-boy and beggar known as "Whistling Dick." Early in his career, Winner was willing to give credit to others; as he became more successful, he apparently wanted the praise for himself.

The song is reported to have been dedicated to Harriet Lane, the niece of president James Buchanan who was the White House hostess during that bachelor's presidency. (Buchanan was not yet President when the song was written, but Lane had already done duty as his social helper, so this is possible.) It is ironic to observe that Lane was almost an old maid, not getting married until 1866, when she was well into her thirties. - RBW


  • Theron Hale & Daughters, "Listen To The Mocking Bird" (Victor V-40019, 1929)
  • Fiddlin' Red Herron, "Listen To The Mockingbird" (King 629, 1947)
  • Bela Lam and His Green County Singers, "Listen tothe Mocking Bird" (OKeh, unissued, 1927)
  • W. MacBeth & Tom Collins, "Listen to the Mockingbird" (Vocalion 5282, c. 1929)
  • Morgan & Stanley, "Listen to the Mockingbird" (Columbia 1833, 1904) (Victor Monarch 4080, 1904)
  • Gordon Tanner, Smokey Joe Miller & the Jr. Skillet Lickers, "Listen to the Mocking Bird" (on DownYonder)


  1. Dean, pp. 78-79,"Listen to the Mocking Bird" (1 text)
  2. MHenry-Appalachians, p. 159, "Sweet Hally" (1 text)
  3. RJackson-19CPop, pp. 110-114, "Listen to the Mocking Bird" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 61-61, "Listen to the Mocking Bird" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Silber-FSWB, p. 249, "Listen To The Mockingbird" (1 text)
  6. Fuld-WFM, p. 333, "Listen to the Mocking Bird"
  8. ST RJ19110 (Full)
  9. Roud #8079
  10. BI, RJ19110


Author: "Alice Hawthorne" (Septimus Winner) and Richard Milburn
Earliest date: 1854
Found in: US(MW)