Down in the Valley

DESCRIPTION: "Down in the valley, valley so low, Hang your head over, hear the wind blow." The singer tells of his deep, unrequited love for (his/her) sweetheart. (He) bids farewell: "If you don't love me, love whom you please." (He says to write to Birmingham Jail.)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1909 (Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety)
KEYWORDS: love courting separation prison lyric
REFERENCES (30 citations):
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, p. 488, "Down in the Valley"; pp. 488-489, "Bird in a Cage" (2 texts)
Randolph 772, "Down in the Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 281, "Down in the Valley (Birmingham Jail)" (1 text plus a fragment); also probably 282, "I Sent My Love a Letter" (3 texts, of which "A" is likely to be this piece and "C" is a mess with some "Down in the Valley" verses and others about Lulu, though it's not clear which Lulu; "B" is "Green Grows the Laurel (Green Grow the Lilacs)")
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 281, "Down in the Valley (Birmingham Jail)" (1 tune plus a text excerpt)
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #31, "Birmingham Jail" 2 texts, 1 tune)
Fuson-BalladsOfTheKentuckyHighlands, p. 142, "Bird in the Cage" (1 text)
Sulzer-TwentyFiveKentuckyFolkBallads, pp. 6-7, "Down in the Valley" (1 text plus some additional verses, 3 tunes)
Henry-SongsSungInTheSouthernAppalachians, p. 179, "Down in the Valley" (1 text)
Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag, p. 148, "Down in the Valley"; 213, "Bird in a Cage" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Lomax/Lomax-FolkSongUSA 19, "Down in the Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax/Lomax-AmericanBalladsAndFolkSongs, pp. 147-149, "Down in the Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 150, "Down in the Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax/Lomax-OurSingingCountry, pp. 310-311, "Little Willie's My Darling" (1 text, 1 tune, with a plot of "Twenty-One Years" [Laws E16] but which has swallowed "Down in the Valley" almost entire)
Cohen-AmericanFolkSongsARegionalEncyclopedia1, p. 332, "Birmingham Jail" (1 text)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-1ed, pp. 149-151, "The Birmingham Jail" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-2ed, pp. 92-93, "The Birmingham Jail" (1 text, 1 tune)
Abernethy-SinginTexas, p. 85, "Birmingham Jail" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fife/Fife-CowboyAndWesternSongs 58, "Down in the Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-TreasuryOfAmericanFolklore, pp. 902-903, "Down in the Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Seeger-AmericanFavoriteBallads, p. 33, "Down In The Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, p. 290, "Down in the Valley" (1 text)
Fireside-Book-of-Folk-Songs, p. 99, "Down in the Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 150, "Down In The Valley" (1 text)
Fuld-BookOfWorldFamousMusic, pp. 201-202, "Down in the Valley"
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, pp. 27, 54, 58, 114, 230, 311, "Down in the Valley" (notes only)
Zander/Klusmann-CampSongsNThings, p. 104, "Down in the Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Zander/Klusmann-CampSongsPopularEdition, p. 17, "Down in the Valley" (1 text)
BoyScoutSongbook1997, p. 99, "Down in the Valley" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), p. 212, (no title) (1 fragment)

Roud #943
[Tom] Darby & [Jimmie] Tarlton, "Birmingham Jail" (Columbia 15212-D, 1927)
Ezra Hill & Henry Johnson, "Birmingham Jail" (Challenge 15750, 1929)
Frank Proffitt, "Down in the Valley" (on Proffitt03)
Riley Puckett, "Down in the Valley" (Regal Zonophone [Australia] G22464, n.d.)
Pete Seeger, "Down in the Valley" (on LonesomeValley) (on PeteSeeger17)
Unidentified group of singers, "Down in the Valley" (on JThomas01)

cf. "Charlotte the Harlot (III)" (tune)
cf. "Bull Connor's Jail" (tune)
cf. "The Stolen Bride" (tune)
cf. "Billy My Darling" (lyrics)
Hang Your Head Over (Suck Your Big Toe) (Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, p. 110)
Tom Darby & Jimmie Tarlton, "Birmingham Jail - No. 2" (Columbia 15375-D, 1929; rec. 1928); "New Birmingham Jail" (Columbia 15629-D, 1930 -- note that two different takes were issued under this record number)
NOTES [99 words]: "Birmingham Jail" (sometimes credited to E.V. Body) is considered by some a separate song, but it can hardly be distinguished from "Down in the Valley." The same can be said of Sandburg-TheAmericanSongbag's and Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety's "Bird in a Cage" texts; it lacks the "Down in the Valley" stanza, but the other verses are common. - RBW
This song is often called "Birmingham Jail," particularly on early recordings; there is also, however, another song called "Birmingham Jail", which is part of the "Sweet Thing/Crawdad Hole" family, and no relation to this. - PJS
Last updated in version 6.3
File: R772

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