Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye
DESCRIPTION: A riverman, departing for New Orleans, bids his sweetheart farewell: "I'm going away to New Orleans, Goodbye, my lover, goodbye...." "She's on her way to New Orleans... She's bound to pass the Robert E. Lee...." "I'll make this trip and make no more...."
AUTHOR: T. H. Allen?
EARLIEST DATE: 1882 (copyright, according to College Songs)
KEYWORDS: river farewell work separation floatingverses
FOUND IN: US(MW,SE,So)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
BrownIII 274, "Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye" (1 text plus a fragment)
Walton/Grimm/Murdock, pp. 46-47, "Good-bye, My Lover, Good-Bye" (1 text, 1 tune)
Jackson-DeadMan, pp. 97-99, "Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye" (1 text, 1 tune)
MHenry-Appalachians, p. 160, "Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye" (1 text)
Botkin-MRFolklr, p. 591, "Let Her Go By" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 152, "Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Henry Randall Waite, _College Songs: A Collection of New and Popular Songs of the American Colleges_, new and enlarged edition, Oliver Ditson & Co., 1887, pp. 54-55, "Good-bye, My Lover, Good-Bye!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Emry Arthur, "Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye" (Vocalion 5209, 1928)
Kanawha Singers, "Goodbye My Lover Goodbye" (Brunswick 242, 1928)
Bill Mooney & his Cactus Twisters, "Goodbye, My Lover, Goodbye" (Imperial 1150, n.d.)
cf. "Goodbye, My Love, Goodbye" (chorus form)
NOTES: The description above is based on the most coherent version I could find -- although neither the Robert E. Lee nor New Orleans are mentioned in the College Songs texts. Brown's texts, however, have nothing of either plot; both have a verse "See the train go 'round the bend... Loaded down with (railroad/Chapel Hill) men," with the other stanzas floating. Jackson's version is similar: The train comes round the bend filled with CONVICT men. It appears that the simple tune was used for all sorts of floating verse songs.
The Walton/Grimm/Murdock version seems to have been particularized for Great Lakes sailors; it begins "A farmer boy stands on the deck" and complains about all the things he doesn't know (e.g. he can't tell various types of sail apart). This may have been influenced by "Goodbye, My Love, Goodbye," which is also a sailor song, but that is a separation song, and the Walton version is a taunt, so I don't think they are the same.
This has been attributed to T. H. Allen (so College Songs, and cf. Brown), but I don't know the reliability of the citation.
This song was apparently popular enough in the late 1800s to have played a minor but odd role in politics. The chief issue in the presidential campaign of 1896 was the issue of free silver. The larger part of the Republican party was in favor of the gold standard, but a substantial minority was pro-silver. This became a major issue at the presidential nominating convention, when the Silver Republicans tried to put their position into the platform.
According to Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel, and William P. Hansen, editors, History of American Presidential Elections, Volume II (1848-1896), Chelsea House, 1971, p. 1803, when the gold standard plank was introduced as an amendment to the Republican platform, the Silver Republicans made it clear that they would leave the party if their position was adopted. This threat was greeted with jeers, including "Go to Chicago!" (site of the Democratic convention), "Put him out," and "Goodbye, my lover, goodbye." - RBW
There is a parody version ["See the Steamer Go 'round the Bend"]: "See the steamer go 'round the bend, goodbye, my lover, goodbye/They're taking old Sammy away to the pen...And why are they taking old Sam to the pen?...He hit a policeman and hit him again/goodbye, my lover, goodbye." Sam Hinton credits this to his father, who liked to improvise. - PJS
Last updated in version 3.6
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.