“The Dying Hobo”


An old hobo lies dying as winter approaches. He speaks of the "better land... where handouts grow on bushes" that he is destined for, sends a message to his girlfriend, and dies. His partner "swiped his (coat and hat) and caught an eastbound train"


Several sources list this as a parody of "Bingen on the Rhine." Laws, however, does not mention the connection; perhaps he knew versions with different tunes? - RBW

Cross references


  • [Richard] Burnett & [Leonard] Rutherford, "Little Stream of Whiskey" (Columbia 15133-D, 1927; rec. 1926; on BurnRuth01, on KMM)
  • Travis B. Hale & E. J. Derry, Jr., "The Dying Hobo" (Victor 20796, 1927)
  • Kelly Harrell, "The Dying Hobo" (Victor 20527, 1926; on KHarrell01 -- a rather strange version combining the first verse of "The Dying Hobo" with a story, taken from "George Collins," of a girl mourning her dead lover)
  • Dick Justice, "One Cold December Day" (Brunswick 367, 1929 -- like the Harrell recording, this starts with a "Dying Hobo" verse, then parallels "George Collins")
  • George Lay, "The Dying Hobo" (AFS 12,050 A19, 1959; on LC61)
  • McMichen's Melody Makers, "The Dying Hobo" (Columbia 15464-D, 1929; rec. 1928)


  1. Laws H3, "The Dying Hobo"
  2. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 367-372, "The Dying Hobo" (1 text plus a large collection of alternate verses, 1 tune)
  3. Randolph 837, "The Dying Hobo" (1 text)
  4. BrownIII 360, "The Dying Hobo" (2 texts plus mention of 1 more)
  5. Hudson 112, pp. 251-252, "The Dying Hobo"; 113, p. 252, "The Hobo's Death" (2 texts)
  6. Lomax-FSNA 219, "Around a Western Water Tank" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Spaeth-WeepMore, p. 131, "The Dying Hobo" (1 text)
  8. JHCox 56, "The Dying Hobo" (1 text)
  9. cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 478, "The Dying Hobo" (source notes only)
  11. Roud #1937
  12. BI, LH03


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1915 (Cox)
Found in: US(Ap,MW,NE,SE,So,SW)