DESCRIPTION: "Down in the cane brake close by the mill" lives pretty Nancy Till. The singer goes to serenade her, asking her to come along; "I'll row the boat while the boat rows me." When they part, he bids her to be ready the next time he arrives in the boat
EARLIEST DATE: 1851 (LOCSheet sm1851 491730)
KEYWORDS: love courting ship river
FOUND IN: US(MA,SE)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Thompson-Pioneer 68, "Nancy Till" (1 text)
BrownIII 409, "Nancy Till" (1 text plus a fragment and mention of 1 more)
BrownSchinhanV 409, "Nancy Till" (1 tune plus a text excerpt)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1540, p. 105, "Nancy Till" (3 references)
Eleazar Tillet, "Come Love Come" (on USWarnerColl01) [a true mess; the first verse is "Nancy Till", the chorus is "Come, Love, Come, the Boat Lies Low," and it uses part of "De Boatman Dance" as a bridge.)
LOCSheet, sm1851 491730, "Nancy Till," Firth, Pond and Co (New York), 1851 (1 text, 1 tune)
LOCSinging, sb30423b, "Nancy Till," H. De Marsan (New York), 1864-1878; also as110140, "Old Dog Tray"
NOTES: Broadside LOCSinging sb30423b: H. De Marsan dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
According to Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 185-186, this was made famous by a minstrel troupe called White's Serenaders, after their leader Charles T. White (1821-1891). Finson says that White is sometimes credited with writing it, but proof is lacking.
There is a parody of this, "Uncle Bill," beginning "Way up near the top of the hill"; I don't know if it uses the same tune. For broadsides, see WolfAmericanSongSheets, p. 160. - RBW
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