“You Cain't Lose-A Me, Cholly”


Mild nonsense. The singer visits Willie Winston's to court. He reports "rowin' and my gal went through" and they break the bottom of the boat. He cannot afford the girl, "She use up a bale of money ev'y week." Ends with a hog and sheep talking


This is one of those pieces that can drive a folklorist crazy. The chorus is distinctive enough (despite the variant of Charlie/Cholly) as to be characteristic, but it's less clear what the song is about. The description is from Lomax, who of course could have fiddled with the piece -- or Lead Belly could have done so. The version in Shellans is different, about a man who goes to town and can't rid himself of a "yaller gal," but the Shellans text is from John Daniel Vass, who was happy to fiddle with texts. The song probably needs a detailed study to determine its actual origins and original content. - RBW


  1. Lomax-FSNA 264, "You Cain't Lose-A Me, Cholly" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 214, (no title) (1 fragment, ending "You can't lose me, Charlie")
  3. Shellans, pp. 50-51, "Charlie You Can't Lose-a Me" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Roud #11658
  5. BI, LoF264


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1936
Found in: US(So)