Soldier Boy for Me (A Railroader for Me)

DESCRIPTION: "I would not marry a doctor; He's always killing the sick." "I would not marry a blacksmith...." The girl praises the soldier/railroader: "O soldier boy, o soldier boy, O soldier boy for me; If ever I get married, A soldier's wife I'll be"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1907 (published by C. B. Ball)
KEYWORDS: soldier marriage courting railroading technology humorous rejection
REFERENCES (16 citations):
Cohen-LongSteelRail, pp. 461-465, "A Railroader for Me" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sackett/Koch-KansasFolklore, p. 154, "The Railroad Man" (1 text)
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 374-377, "The Guerrilla Boy" (4 texts, 1 tune; the second of two texts filed as "C" is this song)
Randolph 493, "The Railroader" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen-OzarkFolksongs-Abridged, pp. 373-375, "The Railroader" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 493)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 5, "Miss, Will You Have a Farmer's Son" (1 text, probably edited so the girl wants a California Boy and then again so she wants a Southerner, but too similar in style to file separately); 17, "I Wouldn't Marry" (7 text (some short) plus 6 excerpts, 1 fragment, and mention of 5 more, of which ""F" and the fragments "G" and "I" belong here)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 272, "Soldier Boy for Me" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Sharp/Karpeles-EightyEnglishFolkSongs 68, "Soldier Boy for Me" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 215, "A Railroader for Me" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin/Harlow-TreasuryOfRailroadFolklore, p. 465, "A Railroader for Me" (1 text, 1 tune)
Logsdon-WhorehouseBellsWereRinging 21, pp. 136-139, "The Buckskin Shirt" (1 text, 1 tune, a strange composite starting with "The Roving Gambler (The Gambling Man) [Laws H4]), breaks into a cowboy version of "Soldier Boy for Me (A Railroader for Me)," and concludes with a stanza describing the happy marriage between the two)
Montgomerie/Montgomerie-ScottishNurseryRhymes 170, "(I wouldna have a baker, ava, va, va)" (1 short text, of this type but perhaps not this song)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 343, "Daughters Will You Marry" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: James P. Leary, Compiler and Annotator, _Wisconsin Folklore_ University of Wisconsin Press, 2009, article "Kentucky Folksong in Northern Wisconsin" by Asher E. Treat, p. 234, "I WIll Not Marry a Farmer" (1 text, 1 tune, sung by Maud Jacobs and Pearl Jacobs Borusky)
cf. Kinloch-TheBalladBook IV, pp. 14-15 (no title) (1 text, beginning, "Awa wi' your slavery hireman," probably not this song but based on the same idea; Roud #8152)
cf. _Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 42, #1 (1997), p, 72-73, "Maedli, Witt Do Heiere? (Young Girl, Will You Marry?)" (1 text, 1 tune, a Pennsylvania Dutch analog to the "Daughter Will You Marry?" type of song)

ST R493 (Full)
Roud #1302
Logan English, "A Railroader for Me" (on LEnglish01)
May Kennedy McCord, "The Railroader" (AFS 5301 A2, 1941; on LC61)
Pete Seeger, "Daughter Will You Marry" (on PeteSeeger11)

cf. "The Farmer and the Shanty Boy" (theme: professional comparison)
cf. "The Husbandman and the Servingman" (theme: professional comparison)
cf. "The Plooman Laddie (I)" (theme: professional comparison)
cf. "The Bonnie Mason Laddie" (lyrics; theme: professional comparison)
cf. "Yon Bonnie Lad" (theme: professional comparison)
cf. "I'll Never, Never Marry the Blacksmith Lad" (theme: professional comparison)
cf. "The Tailor He's Been Seekin' Me" (theme: professional comparison)
cf. "Oh But I'm Weary" (theme: professional comparison)
cf. "Dialogue entre Deux Metis: Le Cultivateur et la Chasseur (The Hunter and the Farmer)" (theme: professional comparison)
cf. "Jinny Go Round and Around" (plot)
cf. "Fond of Chewing Gum" (floating verses)
cf. "A Farmer's Life for Me" (theme)
NOTES [424 words]: It will be observed that the preferred occupation in this song can be almost anything -- and the rejected occupations can truly be anything at all. Cohen, p. 464, compares eight texts. All of them list farmer as one of the occupations, and six list blacksmith, but there are 11 other occupations mentioned in one or another text. - RBW
C. B. Ball published this piece in 1907, but it's hard to believe he actually wrote it (at least in that year); the diverse collections by Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety (collected 1910!) , Randolph and Sharp clearly imply that it is older. - (PJS), RBW
Cohen notes that the Ball text is the first to mention railroads; it may be that Ball adapted an older song to the railroads. There is, however, one interesting side note: Laura Ingalls Wilder, By the Shores of Silver Lake, chapter 6, quotes a "railroad man" version. If Laura actually heard the song then, we could date the "railroad" versions to 1879. But, of course, Laura was writing not-quite-autobiography, and writing it more than fifty years later. So that's not a very good indication of date.
Some elements of this sort of song are very ancient indeed. British Library MS. Additional 38666 contains a marginal poem, probably written between 1450 and 1500, which Rossell Hope Robbins calls "The Clerk and the Husbandman." As it stands, it is a discussion of love, not occupations, and Robbins believes much of it derived from a Latin piece. But it also has elements of this sort of piece. The text as printed in Rossell Hope Robbins, Secular Lyrics of the XIVth and XVth Century, Oxford University Press, 1952, #181, pp. 180-181, opens,
As I cowth walke be-cause of recreacion
Be a grene wode syde as I kame,
I herde a meuose comynycacion
Be-twene a clerke and a husbandman.
There is also a poem by T. L. (T. Lanfiere?), supposed to have been written in the period 1650-1675, with the refrain "of all sorts of tradesmen a seaman for me"; a text is found in Stone-SeaSongsAndBallads (item LXXVI, pp. 149-151).
There is also an item in Francis Beaumont's 1607(?) play "The Knight of the Burning Pestle":
I would not be a serving-man
To carry a cloak-bag still,
Nor would I be a falconer
The greedy hawks to fill....
(Wine, Act IV, scene iv, lines 12-15 on p. 366; KnightOfBurningPestle/Hattaway, which does not mark scenes, makes it Act IV, lines 332-336 on p. 97; on p. 141 of KnightOfBurningPestle/Zitner, it is lines 336--339. For more on "The Knight of the Burning Pestle," see the notes to "Three Merry Men.") (- RBW
Bibliography Last updated in version 6.2
File: R493

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