Darling Nelly Gray

DESCRIPTION: The singer recalls the time he spent with Nelly. But now "the white man has bound her with his chain;" he laments "Oh my darling Nelly Gray, they have taken you away And I'll never see my darling any more." He hopes they will be reunited after death
AUTHOR: B. R. Hanby
EARLIEST DATE: 1856 (broadside, LOCSheet sm1856 600230; sheet music published by Oliver Ditson of Boston)
KEYWORDS: love separation slave
REFERENCES (12 citations):
Dean-FlyingCloud, p. 73, "Darling Nelly Gray" (1 text)
Huntington-TheGam-MoreSongsWhalemenSang, pp. 303-304, "Darling Nellie Gray"(1 text, 1 tune)
Jackson-PopularSongsOfNineteenthCenturyAmerica, pp. 53-56, "Darling Nelly Gray" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #434, p. 29, "Darling Nelly Gray" (2 references)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 251, "Darling Nelly Gray" (1 text)
Salt-BuckeyeHeritage-OhiosHistory, pp. 83-84, "Darling Nelly Gray" (1 text, 1 tune)
Heart-Songs, pp. 116-117, "Darling Nelly Gray" (1 text, 1 tune, without the slavery references)
Jolly-Miller-Songster-5thEd, #127, "Darling Nelly Gray" (1 text, without the slavery references)
Brumley-LamplitinTimeInTheValley 37, "Darling Nelly Gray" (1 text, 1 tune, without the slavery references)
Harbin-Parodology, #308, p. 74, "Darling Nelly Gray" (1 short text, without the slavery references)
Rodeheaver-SociabilitySongs, p. 21, "Darling Nellie Gray" (1 text, 1 tune, without the slavery references)

ST RJ19053 (Full)
Roud #4883
American Quartet, "Darling Nellie Gray" (CYL: Lambert Indesctructible 630, 1902; on Protobilly)
Louis Armstrong & the Mills Brothers, "Darling Nelly Gray" (Decca 1245, 1937; on Protobilly)
The Carver Boys, "Darling Nellie Gray" (Paramount 3198, 1930/Broadway 8246 [as Carson Boys], n.d.; rec. 1929)
Roland Cauley & Lake Howard, "Medley: Darling Nellie Gray & Little Brown Jug" (ARC, 6-04-54, 1936, rec. 1934; on Protobilly)
Carroll Clark, "Darling Nellie Gray" (Columbia A-770, 1909)
Al Hopkins & his Buckle Busters, "Darling Nellie Gray" (Brunswick 185/Vocalion 5186 [as the Hill Billies], 1927)
W. W. MacBeth, "Darling Nellie Gray" (Brunswick 571, 1931; rec. 1929)
[Asa] Martin & [James] Roberts, "Darling Nellie Gray" (Perfect 12762/Banner 32306 [as by Asa Martin], 1931; Conqueror 7935, 1932)
McMichen's Melody Men, "Darling Nellie Gray" (Banner 32306, 1931; Conqueror 7965, 1932)
Metropolitan Quartet, "Darling Nellie Gray" (CYL: Edison [BA] 1860, n.d.)
Chubby Parker, "Darling Nellie Gray" (Supertone 9187, 1928)
Peerless Quartet, "Darling Nellie Gray" (Gennett 4532, 1919)
Roba Stanley [or Stanley Trio], "Nellie Gray" (OKeh 40271, 1925)
Henry Whitter's Virginia Breakdowners, "Nellie Gray" (OKeh 40211, 1924)

LOCSheet, sm1856 600230, "Darling Nelly Gray," Oliver Ditson (Boston), 1856 (tune) [attributed to B. R. Hanby]
LOCSinging, as102660, "Darling Nelly Gray," Charles H. Anderson (Washington), 19C; also cw103950, "Nelly Gray"

cf. "The Eumerella Shore" (tune)
cf. "Memphis Flu" (tune)
Dear Prairie Home (File: CAFS491A)
The Escaped Prisoner (by Charles Thatcher) (File: BaRo037)
Our Union Flag ("There's a starry banner floating o'er the home of liberty," by Walter Washington Warren) (Wolf-AmericanSongSheets p. 122)
NOTES [167 words]: This was the first popular success of Benjamin Russell Hanby (1833-1867), who eventually wrote some eighty songs. It is reported to be based on an actual event; a runaway slave named Joseph Shelby died at the Ohio home of Hanby's father. Shelby was hoping to raise money to win the freedom of another slave named Nelly Gray.
In one of the odd turns of history, Wharton's War Songs and Poems of the Southern Confederacy , following one Mrs. A. T. Smythe, suggests Stephen Foster as the author; even if the sheet music did not disprove this, the anti-Slavery sentiment would surely do so. But, of course, many versions suppressed the clear reference to slavery.
In an even odder turn, Fitzhugh Lee, Robert E. Lee's nephew who was such an ardent Southerner that he refused to surrender with his uncle at Appomattox, gave his favorite horse the name "Nelly Gray"; see Jeffry D. Wert, From Winchester to Cedar Creek: The Shenandoah Campaign of 1864, 1987 (I use the 1989 Touchstone paperback), p. 79. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.3
File: RJ19053

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