DESCRIPTION: The singer reports on the death of his beloved Clementine, the daughter of a (Forty-Niner). One day, leading her ducklings to water, she trips and falls in. The singer, "no swimmer," helplessly watches her drown
EARLIEST DATE: 1863 (sheet music for "Down by the River Lived a Maiden")
KEYWORDS: death drowning love
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (14 citations):
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 148-151, "Oh My Darling Clementine" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fife-Cowboy/West 34, "Clementine" (1 text, 1 tune)
Meredith/Covell/Brown, p. 68, "Mazurka: Clementine" (1 tune)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, p. 85, "Clementine" (1 text, 1 tune)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 27, "Clementine" (1 text, 1 tune)
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 272, "Clementine" (1 text)
Cohen-AFS2, p. 657, "Clementine" (1 text plus some excerpts)
Shay-Barroom, pp. 23-24, "Clementine" (1 text, 1 tune)
Emerson, pp. 140-141, "Down by the River Lived a Maiden"; p. 142, "Oh My Darling Clementine" (2 texts)
Fireside, p. 82 "Clementine" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 241, "Clementine" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 174-175, "Clementine"
DT, CLEMENTI* (CLEMENT3*) (CLEMENT4)
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, pp. 16-17, "Oh My Darling Clementine" (1 text, 1 tune)
ST RJ19148 (Full)
Logan English, "Clementine" (on LEnglish02)
Bradley Kincaid, "Darlin' Clementine" (Decca W4271, 1934)
Pete Seeger, "Clementine" (on PeteSeeger24)
cf. "Silver Jack" [Laws C24] (tune)
Found a Peanut (Pankake-PHCFSB, pp. 28-29)
Oh My Monster, Frankenstein (Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 219)
The Atoms In Their Glory ("There the atoms in their glory, Ionize and recombine. Oh my darlings, oh my darlings, Oh my darlings, Ions mine"; said to have been sung by Ernest Rutherford himself; see Edward O. Wilson, _The Diversity of Life_, p. 46)
NOTES: In some of the modern versions, the song ends when the singer kisses Clementine's younger sister and forgets Clementine. - (PJS)
The words to this piece were first published in 1863 under the title "Down by the River Lived a Maiden," credited to H. S. Thompson. This printing had a melody, but it was not the "standard" melody. According to Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 92, it was marked as a mazurka. The text was also rather different (in minstrel dialect); Norm Cohen gives the first verse as
Down by the river there lived a maiden
In a cottage built just 7 x 9;
And all around this lubly bower
The beauteous sunflower blossoms twine.
Chorus: Oh my Clema, oh my Clema, Oh my darling Clementine,
Now you are gone and lost forever,
I'm dreadful sorry Clementine.
(For the full text, see Emerson.)
In 1864 the text appeared in "Billy Morris' Songs" in which Clementine appears as little short of a legendary monster; she is even reported to have grown wool.
In 1884 the piece reappeared, with the famous tune, this time credited to "Percy Montrose," under the title "Oh My Darling Clementine." This version of the song, as printed in College Songs in 1887, is identical with the version I learned in my youth; there is no question but that people were copying the "Montrose" version -- and learning it from print.
Since Thompson (H. S. Thompson, the author of the well-known "Annie Lisle") certainly did not produce the common tune, and Montrose is otherwise unknown, the authorship of the song probably cannot be settled.
It is reported by reliable sources that this song was originally intended to be serious. No doubt a few thousand enterprising parodists would be amazed. - RBW
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