Didn't He Ramble

DESCRIPTION: "Mother raised three grown sons... Buster was the black sheep of our little family... And didn't he ramble, ramble... He rambled till the butchers cut him down." Buster's rambling ways and debts are described; at last he hits bottom and the song ends
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1902 (broadside, LOCSheet rpbaasm 1155)
KEYWORDS: rambling hardtimes gambling family
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, pp. 174-175, "Didn't He Ramble?" (1 text, 1 tune)
Rorrer, p. 88, "He Rambled" (1 text)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 231-232 (partial text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 203, "Didn't He Ramble" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Frank J. Gillis, "The Metamorphosis of a Derbyshire Ballad into a New World Jazz Tune,'" article published 1978 in _Disourse in Ethnomusicology: Essays in Honor of George List_; republished on pp. 207-248 of Norm Cohen, editor, _All This for a Song_, Southern Folklife Collection, 2009

Roud #126
Fiddlin' John Carson, "Didn't He Ramble" (OKeh 45569, 1932; rec. 1930)
Al Hopkins & his Buckle Busters, "Didn't He Ramble" (Brunswick, unissued, 1928)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Didn't He Ramble" (on NLCR02)
Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, "He Rambled" (Columbia 15407-D, 1929; on CPoole01, CPoole05, ConstSor1)

LOCSheet, rpbaasm 1155, "Oh! Didn't He Ramble," J.W. Stern & Co. (New York), 1902 (tune)
cf. "The Darby Ram" (lyrics)
cf. "Traveling Man (Traveling Coon)" (lyrics)
cf. "Cotton's Patch (II)" (lyrics, form, probably tune)
NOTES [123 words]: Although an obvious pop rewriting of "The Derby Ram" (Roud lumps them), the actual history of this piece is uncertain. Credit (blame?) has been offered to Will Handy (a pseudonym for Bob Cole, sometimes working with John Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson; note that this is not W. C. Handy), who offered an extravagant seven verse version. (So, e.g., in Silber & Silber, and there is sheet music of this version.; cf. Spaeth, A History of Popular Music in America, p. 317.)
Charlie Poole sang a much more sedate three verse version. If anyone knows more, I'd welcome the information. - RBW
Broadside LOCSheet rpbaasm 1155: "words & music by Will Handy ... adaptation by Bob Cole." Poole's tune is closely related to Handy's. - BS
Last updated in version 4.3
File: CSW174

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 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.