My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean

DESCRIPTION: The singer laments that his bonnie is across the waves, and implores that someone "bring back my bonnie to me." He asks the winds specifically to carry her. (He dreams she is dead.) (He rejoices that the winds have blown his bonnie to him.)
AUTHOR: unknown (see NOTES)
EARLIEST DATE: 1881 (Hills's "Student Songs")
KEYWORDS: love separation sea reunion
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Heart-Songs, p. 179, "Bonnie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Jolly-Miller-Songster-5thEd, #142, "My Bonnie" (1 text)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 143, "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean" (1 text)
Fuld-BookOfWorldFamousMusic, p. 381, "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean"
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, pp. 251, 393, 518, "My Bonnie" (notes only)
Rodeheaver-SociabilitySongs, p. 34, "My Bonnie" (1 text, 1 tune)
BoyScoutSongbook1997, p. 21, "My Bonnie" (1 text); also pp. 122-123, "Campfire Medley" (1 text, a combination of "Our Boys Will Shine Tonight," "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," "Sailing, Sailing," and "Goodnight Ladies")
JournalOfAmericanFolklore, Jay Mechling, "Magic of the Boy Scout Campfire," Volume 93, Number 367 (Jan-Mar 1980), p. 40, "My Bonnie" (1 text, with the first verse and chorus being the original song and the rest being various "gross-out" parodies about Bonnie's infirmities, including the "My Bonnie Has Tuberculosis" verse cited under SAME TUNE)
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, p. 6, "Bring Back My Bonnie to Me" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #1422
Cliff Bruner, "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" (Decca 5638, 1939; rec. 1938)
Ella Fitzgerald, "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" (Decca 28375, 1952)
Haydn Quartet, "Bring Back My Bonnie to Me" (Victor A-123, 1900)
Leake County Revelers, "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" (Columbia 15227-D, 1928)
Ella Logan, "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" (Brunswick 8196, 1938; Columbia 36313, 1941)
Mobile Strugglers, "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" (on AmSkBa)

cf. "My God, How the Money Rolls In" (tune)
cf. "The Cowboy's Dream" (tune)
cf. "Tom Twist" (tune)
cf. "The Prisoner's Song (I)" (tune)
cf. "Shine Your Buttons With Brasso" (tune)
cf. "Shaving Cream" (tune)
cf. "My Children Are Seven in Number " (tune)
cf. "Bring Back My Johnny to Me"
cf. "Young Jean Lies Over the Ocean" (presumed tune)
Tom Twist (File: FlBr171)
My Children Are Seven in Number (File: CAFS1282)
We Want None of Thee (FIle: Wels074)
They Say There Is Gold on the Maggie (File: Garl273)
Swim Back You Bastard to Me (File: Tawn009)
Jenny Wren Bride (File: Tawn056)
Bring Back My Neighbors to Me (Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, p. 119)
Yuck! Cats (Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, p. 67)
Come Up, Dear Dinner, Come Up (Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, p. 121)
My Body Has Tuberculosis (Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, p. 131)/My Bonnie Has Tuberculosis (cf. Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, p. 251)
Zekey Looked into the Gas Tank (Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, p. 133)
My Barney Lies Over the Ocean (RECORDINGS, Nora Bayes, Columbia A-2678, 1918; Louis Winsch, Pathe 22061, 1919; Ada Jones, OKeh 1218, 1919; Billy Murray, Victor 18530, 1919)
Saigon Lullaby (RECORDING, Bull Durham, Saul Broudy, Tom Price, Robin Thomas & chorus, on InCountry)
My Bonnie Parodies (Harbin-Parodology, #46, p. 18)
Stand Up, Stand Up ("Stand up, stand up, stand up, ???, stand up, stand up!") (Harbin-Parodology, #180, p. 49)
Mr. --- Is a Very Fine Fellow (Harbin-Parodology, #411, p. 101)
My Mother's an Applie Pie Maker (possibly a variant of "My God, How the Money Rolls In") (cf. Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, p. 251)
Shiny Noses/Why Do Bunnies Have Shiny Noses/Wrong End (various girl scout songbooks)
My Bonnie
Bring Back My Bonnie to Me
NOTES [355 words]: Fuld notes an 1882 printing of this song allegedly written by H. J. Fulmer (Charles E. Pratt). This text, however, disagrees with the 1881 printing, and Fuld suspects that Pratt is responsible only for the adaption. In College Songs (1887) it is listed as copyring 1885 by Oliver Ditson & Co., but with no authorship details.
Larry J. Purcell of Minneapolis has sent me a photograph of sheet music that credits it to H. J. FULLER (not Fulmer), and reports that Howard Jones Fuller was his great-great-grandfather. This would presumably explain the "Fulmer" attribution, but unfortunately the music has no date. The text is very similar to the common version.
Purcell gives this capsule biography of Fuller: Howard Jones Fuller was born 15 April 1853 in Vershire, Orange County, Vermont to Stephen Fuller and Luvia Carpenter, He married first my great great grandmother , Ida Elizabeth Pickett, 08 March 1874 in Albert Lea, Freeborn, Minnesota, then divorced. He married secondly to Bertha Chloe Smith 04 Jan 1904 in Mississippi. He died 05 Aug 1907 in Gloster, Amiite, Mississippi. He is buried at Silver Creek Cemetery in Pike County, Mississippi.
The song obviously has spawned a number of parodies and borrowings. It itself, however, seems relatively constant, and the parodies are all recent. It thus seems likely that the song is fairly recent, and that most known versions derive from the 1881 printing.
It has been theorized that this is a derivative of the song we index as "Bring Back My Johnny to Me." The tunes aren't the same, but there are similarities, and a few lyrics also cross, as well as the theme. But there is no evidence of an intermediate form; it seems nearly certain that there was a deliberate rewrite somewhere along the line.
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, p. 518, mentions a camp where they played a game where people were supposed to change from a sitting position to standing, or from standing to sitting, every time the song used the phoneme "B." I seem to recall playing that game once, and I never went to camp or played singing games in an organized setting, which hints that it was common. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.3
File: DTmybonn

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 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.