“Willie Moore”


Handsome young Willie Moore has courted and won the heart of fair Annie. Her parents do not approve of him. When Annie realizes her parents will not relent, she runs away and dies (kills herself?). Willie takes to wandering (and dies of a broken heart?)

Supplemental text

Willie Moore
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

As recorded by Burnett & Rutherford, Columbia 15314-D,
November 3, 1927. Some words are unclear; possible
alternatives are noted.

Willie Moore was a king, his age twenty-one;
He courted a damsel fair.
O, her eyes were as bright as the diamonds of the night
And wavy black was her hair.

He courted her both night and day,
Till to marry[1] they did agree;
But when he came to get her parents' consent,
They said it could never be.

She threw herself in Willie Moore's arms,
As oftime had done before,
But little did he think when they parted that night,
Sweet Anna[2] he would see no more.

It was about the tenth of May,
The time I remember well;
That very same night her body disappeared
In a way no tongue could tell.

Sweet Anna[3] was loved both far and near,
Had friends most all around,
And in a little brook before the cottage door
The body of sweet Anna was found.

She was taken by her weeping friends
And carried to her parents' room,
And there she was dressed in a gown of[4] snowy white,
And laid in a lonely tomb.

Her parents now were left all alone,
One mourn and the other one weeps;
And in a grassy mound before the cottage door
The body of sweet Anna still sleeps.

This song was composed in the flowery West
By a man you may never have seen;
Oh, I tell you his name, but it is not in full,
His initials are J. R. G.[5]

[1] to marry: recording appears to have "on marry" ("on marriage"?)
[2] Anna: In this instance, sounds like "Ellen"
[3] Anna: In this instance, sounds like "Sally"
[4] a gown of: or "the snowy"
[5] J. R. G.: Or "J. R. D."


Randolph's informant, Paul Wilson, reported meeting a Rev. William Moore in 1936 who claimed this song was about him. This is one of those instances where one would prefer documentation. - RBW


  • [Richard] Burnett & [Leonard] Rutherford, "Willie Moore" (Columbia 15314-D, 1927; on AAFM1, BurnRuth01, ConstSor1, KMM)
  • Doc Watson & Gaither Carlton, "Willie Moore" (on WatsonAshley01)
  • Doc Watson, "Willie Moore" (on RitchieWatson1, RitchieWatsonCD1)


  1. Randolph 795, "Willie Moore" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 90-92, "Willie Moore" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 795)
  3. Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 36, "Willie Moore" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 140, "Willie Moore" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. ST R796 (Full)
  7. Roud #4816
  8. BI, R796


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 (recording, Burnett & Rutherford)
Found in: US(So)