More Pretty Girls Than One

DESCRIPTION: Singer is a rambler who likes women; his mother told him to settle down, but he won't. He cries, thinking of pretty girls, and hopes he'll never die; he leaves us this lonesome song: "Every town I ramble around/There's more pretty girls than one."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1909 (JAFL)
KEYWORDS: loneliness rambling nonballad lyric floatingverses love separation travel farewell courting parting family
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,So,SW)
REFERENCES (13 citations):
Randolph 734, "Goodbye, Little Bonnie Blue Eyes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Shellans, p. 10, "Hush, LIttle Bonnie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Rosenbaum, p. 96, "Goodbye, Little Bonnie, Blue Eyes" (1 text, 1 tune)
BrownIII 284, "Bonnie Blue Eyes" (2 text plus 1 fragment and 1 excerpt); also 301, "High-Topped Shoes" (2 texts, both mixed; "A" is mostly "Pretty Little Foot" with verses from "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" while "B" is a hash of "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down," ""More Pretty Girls Than One," "In the Pines," and others)
BrownSchinhanV 301, "High-Topped Shoes" (2 tunes plus text excerpts, of which "B" has verses of this song)
BrownSchinhanV 284, "Bonnie Blue Eyes" (3 tunes plus text excerpts)
Cambiaire, pp. 23, "More Pretty Girls Than One" (1 text)
MHenry-Appalachians, p. 170, "More Pretty Girls Than One" (1 text)
Owens-1ed, pp. 193-195, "Goodbye Little Bonnie Blue Eyes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-2ed, pp. 99-100, "Goodbye Little Bonnie Blue Eyes" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-Singing, p. 148, "Little Bonny" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 192, "More Pretty Girls Than One" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 142, "Goodbye, Little Bonnie, Goodbye" (1 text)

Roud #11505 and 762?
RECORDINGS:
[Richard] Burnett & [Leonard] Rutherford, "There's More Pretty Girls Than One" (Challenge 423 [as Crockett & Cannon], 1929)
Carolina Tar Heels, "Goodbye My Bonnie, Goodbye" (Victor 21193, 1928, rec. 1927)
The Carter Family, "Bonnie Blue Eyes" (Decca 5304, 1936)
Cranford & Thompson, "Goodbye Little Bonnie" (Supertone 2594, c. 1932)
Woody Guthrie, "More Pretty Gals" (Folk Tunes 150, n.d., prob. mid-1940s)
Ken Marvin, "More Pretty Girls" (Mercury 6366, 1951)
Ozarkers, "There's More Pretty Girls Than One" (OKeh 45573, 1932)
Prairie Ramblers, "There's More Pretty Girls Than One" ((Perfect 6-10-58/Melotone 6-10-58/Conqueror 8713, 1936)
Riley Puckett, "There's More Pretty Girls Than One - Parts 1 & 2" (Decca 5439, 1937)
Ridgel's Fountain Citians, "Little Bonnie" (Vocalion 5389, 1930)
Rutherford & Foster, "There's More Pretty Girls Than One" (prob. Brunswick, 1930; on KMM)
Arthur Smith Trio, "There's More Pretty Girls Than One" Montgomery Ward M-4822/Bluebird B-6322, 1936)
Gordon Tanner, Smokey Joe Miller & Uncle John Patterson, "Goodbye, Little Bonnie, Blue Eyes" (on DownYonder)
Fields Ward and the Grayson County Railsplitters, "Good Bye Little Bonnie" (Gennett, unissued, 1929)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home (A Wild and Reckless Hobo; The Railroad Bum) [Laws H2]" (words, tune)
cf. "The Lass of Roch Royal" [Child 76] and its various offshoots (tune)
cf. "Lonesome Road" (words)
cf. "The Wagoner's Lad" (theme)
SAME TUNE:
Dixon Brothers, "Bonnie Blue Eyes - Part 2" (Bluebird B-6691, 1936)
Arthur Smith Trio, "There's More Pretty Girls Than One - Part 2" (Bluebird B-6889/Montgomery Ward M-7155, 1937)
Arthur Smith Trio, "Answer to More Pretty Girls Than One" (Bluebird B-7437/Montgomery Ward M7476, 1938)
Howard Dixon & Frank Gerald (The Rambling Duet), "More Pretty Girls Than One - Part 3" (Bluebird B-7484/Montgomery Ward M-7464, 1938)
NOTES: This song and "Danville Girl" [one of the various forms of Laws H2 - RBW] are siblings. - PJS
And the whole family is rather a mess. "More Pretty Girls Than One" is reasonably well-known. The Silber text "Goodby, Little Bonnie, Goodbye" has been found with this tune. Since both are largely floating verses, we decided to lump them.
Randolph's text also has a similar tune, and it shares the basic form of the Silber text, as well as some lyrics:
""Goodbye, little bonnie blue eyes (x2), I'll see you again, But God knows when, Goodbye, little...." "I'm going on the railroad train... 'Cause I love you, God knows I do." "I'm goin' on the ocean blue...." "Lay your hand in mine...."
Brown's two substantial texts ("A" and "B") are similar: Most of the same verses, but no chorus. Note the absence of the "more pretty girls" verse, which originally caused us to classify separately.
After some discussion, Paul Stamler and I decided to lump the lot, even though it's against our general policy, simply because none of the variations are really well-attested enough to be regarded as independent songs. But it should be noted that almost anything can be grafted onto this stalk.
The "Goodbye, Little Bonnie Blue Eyes" family, which includes Shellans's "Hush, Little Bonnie" and Rosenbaum's "Goodbye, Little Bonnie, Blue Eyes," is Roud #762. These texts often end with the singer coming back. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: CSW192

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