Greenback Dollar

DESCRIPTION: Categorized by a lost love theme ("Don't forget me, little darling") and the line(s) "I don't want your greenback dollar; I don't want your watch and chain." Many versions say that the couple cannot marry because of parental opposition
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1928 (recording, Weems String Band)
KEYWORDS: love separation family floatingverses
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Randolph 733, "Don't Forget Me, Little Darling" (4 texts, 2 tunes, but only "A" and "B" are this song; "D" is "Don't Forget Me, Little Darling"; "C" is probably composite)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 504-505, "Don't Forget Me, Little Darling" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 733A)
DT, GBDOLLAR*

Roud #3420
RECORDINGS:
Callahan Bros., "Greenback Dollar" (Conqueror 8682, 1936)
[Clarence] Ashley & [Gwen] Foster, "Greenback Dollar" (OKeh 02554/Vocalion 02554/Conqueror 9112, 1933)
J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers, "Greenback Dollar" (Bluebird B-6090 [as Daddy John Love?], 1935)
Weems String Band, "Greenback Dollar" (Columbia 15300-D, 1928) [see notes]

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Drowsy Sleeper" [Laws M4] (plot)
cf. "The Silver Dagger (I)" [Laws G21] (plot)
cf. "Rye Whiskey"
cf. "I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister" (tune)
cf. "Don't Forget Me, Little Darling (I)" (plot, floating lyrics)
SAME TUNE:
Roy Acuff, "New Greenback Dollar" (Vocalion 03235/OKeh 03235, 1936; Conqueror 9122/ARC 8-03-59, 1938; Conqueror 9781, 1941; Columbia 37614, 1947; Columbia 20213. 1948. Rec. 1936)
Dixon Brothers, "Greenback Dollar - Part 2" (Bluebird B-6462, 1936)
J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers, "Answer to 'Greenback Dollar'" (Bluebird B-7151/Montgomery Ward M-7301, 1937)
Wiley, Zeke & Homer, "Greenback Dollar - Part 3" (Bluebird B-7426, 1938)
NOTES: Most versions of this appear to be pastiches of floating verses -- or at least floating themes. The mention of the "greenback dollar" is so characteristic, however, that I decided to classify this as a separate song. - RBW
This should not be confused with the fiddle tune of the same name, nor the folk-revival song with the chorus "I don't give a damn about a greenback dollar/Spend it as fast as I can"; the former is a popular fiddle tune, while the latter was composed by Hoyt Axton. Neither is any relation to this song. - PJS
We might note that the line "I don't want your greenback dollar" might have originated in a context not related to a rejected lover: The first "greenbacks" -- i.e. paper money unbacked by gold -- were issued during the Civil War, and they did depreciate significantly, with an average exchange rate of about three greenbacks for two gold dollars, but it sometimes fell to about two to one when Union forces seemed to be in particular trouble.
George Lineberry, the husband of the grand-niece of "Uncle Dick" Weems and "Uncle Frank" Weems, offers what is probably the final word on the matter:
"The Weems String Band (Perry County, TN) traveled to Memphis, TN in 1928 where Columbia was recording groups for the potential '1928 version American Idol.' (NOT).
"[Their] musical numbers were instrumental -- not vocal arrangements. However, Columbia wanted lyrics, i.e. no lyrics -- no record. So the Weems String Band went back to the hotel, created some lyrics (kind of) for their two songs: 'Greenback Dollar' and 'Davy' (sometimes referred to as 'Davy, Davy'). The lyrics met the minimum requirement, but both songs remained basically instrumentals.
The next day they returned to Columbia's 'studio' and recorded both songs, resulting in their only record."
In the case of "Greenback Dollar," it appears that other hillbilly musicians (presumably operating under the same "get some words or get lost" imperative) proceeded to supply their own lyric grafts to produce the confusion of words found in the recording list. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.6
File: R733

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 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.