Four Nights Drunk [Child 274]

DESCRIPTION: Our goodman comes home drunk for several nights. Each night he observes an oddity -- another man's horse, boots, sword, etc. Each time his wife says it is something else. Finally he sees a man's head; she explains that, too -- but the head has a beard
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1776 [Herd]
KEYWORDS: humorous trick adultery drink bawdy dialog disguise husband wife
FOUND IN: Australia Canada(Ont,Mar) Britain(England(Lond,South,West),Scotland(Aber,Bord)) Ireland US(All) West Indies(Bahamas)
REFERENCES (78 citations):
Child 274, "Our Goodman" (3 texts)
Bronson 274, "Our Goodman" (58 versions)
Bronson-SingingTraditionOfChildsPopularBallads 274, "Our Goodman" (6 versions: #3, #14, #20, #35, #41, #54)
Whitelaw-BookOfScottishSong, pp. 46-47, "Our Gudeman Cam' Hame" (1 text)
Greig/Duncan7 1460, "Our Gudeman" (5 texts, 2 tunes) {A=Bronson's #3, B=#20)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 193, "Hame Came Our Gudeman" (1 text)
Dixon-AncientPoemsBalladsSongsOfThePeasantryOfEngland, Song #25, pp. 211-214, "Old Wichet and his Wife" (1 text)
Bell-Combined-EarlyBallads-CustomsBalladsSongsPeasantryEngland, pp. 426-428, "Old Wichet and His Wife" (1 text)
Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames, pp. 188-190, "The Old Farmer and His Young Wife" (1 text) (also Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 461)
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 324, "Milking Pail" (1 text)
Palmer-EnglishCountrySongbook, #103, "Coming Home Late" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud/Bishop-NewPenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs #85, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Barry/Eckstorm/Smyth-BritishBalladsFromMaine pp. 315-317, "Our Goodman" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #5}
Linscott-FolkSongsOfOldNewEngland, pp. 259-262, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders-AncientBalladsTraditionallySungInNewEngland4, pp. 63-71, "Our Goodman" (5 texts plus 2 fragments)
Belden-BalladsSongsCollectedByMissourFolkloreSociety, pp. 89-91, "Our Goodman" (2 texts)
Randolph 33, "I Went Home One Night" (2 texts, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #19, #46}
Randolph/Cohen-OzarkFolksongs-Abridged, pp. 60-63, "i Went Home One Night" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 33B) {Bronson's #46}
Randolph/Legman-RollMeInYourArms I, pp. 53-57, "Four Nights Drunk" (5 texts, 1 tune)
Eddy-BalladsAndSongsFromOhio 25, "Our Goodman" (1 text)
Grimes-StoriesFromTheAnneGrimesCollection, p. 74, "Our Goodman" (1 short text, from Bob Gibson rather than tradition)
Brewster-BalladsAndSongsOfIndiana 22, "Our Goodman" (1 fragment)
List-SingingAboutIt-FolkSongsInSouthernIndiana, pp. 202-207, "John Came Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Stout-FolkloreFromIowa 7, pp. 13-14, "Our Goodman" (1 fragment)
Peters-FolkSongsOutOfWisconsin, p. 168, "The Old Man Came Home Again" (1 text, 1 tune)
Davis-TraditionalBalladsOfVirginia 43, "Our Goodman" (6 text, one of which is in an appendix because of dialect; 5 tunes entitled "Hobble and Bobble," "The Old Man," "Home Comes the Old Man," "Down Came the Old Man") {Bronson's #8, #39, #6, #7, #56}
Davis-MoreTraditionalBalladsOfVirginia 38, pp. 299-304, "Our Goodman" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 42, "Our Goodman" (2 texts plus mention of 2 more)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore4 42, "Our Goodman" (10 excerpts, 10 tunes)
Chappell-FolkSongsOfRoanokeAndTheAlbermarle 19, "Our Goodman" (1 text)
Smith-SouthCarolinaBallads, #XIV, pp. 159-161, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #45}
Joyner-FolkSongInSouthCarolina, p. 50, "An Old Man Came Tumbling Home" (1 short text)
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #170, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #28}
Henry-SongsSungInTheSouthernAppalachians, pp. 14-16, "Four Nights (Our Goodman)" (1 text)
Burton/Manning-EastTennesseeStateCollectionVol2, pp. 11-12, "This Old Man" (1 text, 1 tune); pp. 65-66, "Six Nights Drunk" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi 22, pp. 122-123, "Our Goodman" (1 short text)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 50, "The Drunken Fool" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-1ed, pp. 65-66, "The Drunkard's Song" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #17}
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-2ed, pp. 33-34, "The Drunkard's Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #15, "Our Goodman" (3 texts plus a mention of one with "unprintable" lyrics, 1 tune) {Bronson's #24}
Bronner/Eskin-FolksongAlivePart2 69, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Rosenbaum-FolkVisionsAndVoices, p. 98, "Three Nights' Experience" (1 text, 1 tune, mislabelled "Child 247")
Scarborough-ASongCatcherInSouthernMountains, pp. 231-236, "Our Goodman" (4 texts, with local titles "Three Nights of Experience," Three Nights of Experience," "I Called To My Loving Wife," "Parson Jones"; 3 tunes on pp. 417-418) {Bronson's #29, #54, #50}
Carey-MarylandFolkLegendsAndFolkSongs, p. 109, "Our Goodman" (1 text)
Lomax/Lomax-OurSingingCountry, pp. 300-301, "Three Nights Drunk" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton/Senior-TraditionalSongsOfNovaScotia, pp. 91-92, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #44}
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 653-657, "Our Goodman" (1 text)
Leach-HeritageBookOfBallads, pp. 28-32, "Our Goodman" (1 text)
McNeil-SouthernFolkBalladsVol2, pp. 35-39, "Four Night Drunk or The Cabbage Head Song" ; "Ole Lady" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Friedman-Viking/PenguinBookOfFolkBallads, p. 445, "Our Goodman" (2 texts)
Cray-EroticMuse, pp. 11-23, "Four Nights Drunk" (4 texts, 3 tunes)
Niles-BalladBookOfJohnJacobNiles 57, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves/Sharp-TheIdiomOfThePeople 72, "Our Goodman" (1 text)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 38, "Our Goodman" (4 texts plus 1 fragment, 5 tunes) {Bronson's #55, #53, #15, #58, #30}
Sharp/Karpeles-EightyEnglishFolkSongs 26, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune -- a composite version) {Bronson's #30}
Hamer-GarnersGay, p. 24, "As I Came Home So Late Last Night" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roberts-SangBranchSettlers, #7, Drunkard Blues" (1 text. 1 tune)
Chase-AmericanFolkTalesAndSongs, pp. 118-119, "Home Came the Old Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
Buchan-ABookOfScottishBallads 61, "Our Goodman" (1 text)
Cox-FolkSongsSouth 28, "Our Goodman" (3 texts)
Bush-FSofCentralWestVirginiaVol4, pp. 91-96, "Four Nights Drunk" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Gainer-FolkSongsFromTheWestVirginiaHills, pp. 86-87, "The Drunk Husband" (1 text, 1 tune)
Boette-SingaHipsyDoodle, p. 14, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Huntington-TheGam-MoreSongsWhalemenSang, pp. 195-197, "The Drunken Fool (Our Goodman)" (1 text, 2 tunes)
Henry/Huntingdon/Herrmann-SamHenrysSongsOfThePeople H21ab, p. 508, "The Blin' Auld Man/The Covered Cavalier" (1 text, 1 tune)
OCroinin/Cronin-TheSongsOfElizabethCronin 115, "Our Good Man" (1 text)
Paterson/Fahey/Seal-OldBushSongs-CentenaryEdition, pp. 255-258, "Shickered As he Could Be" (1 text, told in the third person ("This bloke I know") rather than first person)
Finger-FrontierBallads, pp. 161-162, "Our Goodman" (1 text)
Whiting-TraditionalBritishBallads 38, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Abrahams/Foss-AngloAmericanFolksongStyle, pp. 108-110, "Our Goodman" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #36}
Shay-BarroomBallads/PiousFriendsDrunkenCompanions, pp. 124-127, "Our Gude-Man"; p. 178, "The Sailor's Return" (2 texts)
Morgan/Green-RugbySongs, pp. 18-21, "The Traveller" (1 text)
Darling-NewAmericanSongster, pp. 78-80, "Three Nights Drunk"; "Our Goodman" (2 texts)
Seeger-AmericanFavoriteBallads, p. 22, "Four Nights Drunk" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 233, "Four Nights Drunk" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Elsie Clews Parsons, Folk-Tales of Andros Island Bahamas (Lancaster: American Folk-Lore Society, 1918 ("Digitized by Internet Archive")), #113, pp. 162-163, "Man of Travel" (2 texts, 1 tune) [the second text is all narrative]
Harold Nestler, "Songs from the Hudson Valley" (article in _New York Folklore Quarterly_, Volume V, #2, Summer 1949), pp. 102,103 "(no title)" (1 text, the garbled remains of this song, no longer a song but rather the fragments of a tale, but still with some recognizable lyrics)

Roud #114
Jo Jo Adams, "Cabbage Head, Parts 1 & 2" (Aristocrat 803, rec. 1948)
Anonymous singer, "The Merry Cuckold" (on Unexp1)
Thomas C[larence] Ashley, "Four Night's Experience" (Gennett 6404, 1928; Challenge 405 [as Tom Hutchinson], c. 1928)
Emmett Bankston & Red Henderson, "Six Nights Drunk, pt. 1/pt. 2" (OKeh 45292, 1929; rec. 1928) {Bronson's #32}
Blue Ridge Buddies w. E. C. & Orna Ball, "Three Nights Drunk (Our Goodman)" (on CloseHomeMS)
Harry Cox, Mary Connors, Colin Keane [composite] "The Cuckold's Song (Our Goodman)" (on FSB5, FSBBAL2)
Jack Elliott, "The Blind Fool" (on Elliotts01)
John B. Evans, "Three Nights Experience" (Brunswick 237, 1928)
Blind Lemon Jefferson, "Laboring Man Away from Home" (Paramount, unissued, rec. 1927)
Earl Johnson & his Dixie Entertainers, "Three Nights Experience" (OKeh 45092, 1927)
Coley Jones, "Drunkard's Special" (Columbia 14489, 1929; on AAFM1, BefBlues3) {Bronson's #33}
Colon Keel, "The Three Nights Experience" (AFS 2709 B1, 1939)
Lena & Sylvester Kimbrough, "Cabbage Head Blues" (Meritt 2201, 1926)
A. L. Lloyd, "Shickered As He Could Be" (on Lloyd2)
J. E. Mainer & Band, "Three Nights Drunk" (on LomaxCD1701) {Bronson's #38}
Wade Mainer, "Three Nights in a Barroom" (Blue Ridge 109, n.d.)
Mustard and Gravy, "Five Nights' Experience" (Bluebird B-7905, 1938)
Chris Powell & the Five Blue Flames, "Last Saturday Night" (Columbia 30162, 1949)
Orrin Rice, "Our Goodman" (AFS; on LC12) {Bronson's #31}
Pete Seeger, "My Good Man" (on PeteSeeger24)
George Spicer, "Coming Home Late" (on Voice13)
Will Starks, "Our Good Man" (AFS 6652 A1, 1942)
Gid Tanner & his Skillet Lickers, "Three Nights Drunk" (Bluebird B-5748, 1934)
Gordon Tanner & Smokey Joe Miller, "Four Nights' Experience" (on DownYonder)
Tony Wales, "Our Goodman" (on TWales1)
Sonny Boy Williamson [pseud. for Rice Miller] "Wake Up Baby" (Checker 894, 1958)

cf. "Eleven More Months and Ten More Day" (lyrics)
Mrs Mitchell (by Kate Skates) (Les Cleveland, The Great New Zealand Songbook, p. 79)
Five Nights Drunk
Seven Nights Drunk
Home (Hame) Drunk Came I
The Jealous Hearted Husband
The Old Man Came Home One Night
When I Came Home Last Saturday Night
The Good Old Man
Arrow Goodman
Kind Wife
Parson Jones
NOTES [380 words]: According to Joseph Hickerson, archivist at the Archive of American Folk Culture, Library of Congress, who has studied the ballad, this is the most commonly recovered Child ballad, surpassing even "Barbara Allen" (Child 84). - EC
I have to note that alcohol consumption inhibits sexual performance (even while making men think they are capable of more than they are). Maybe, if Our Goodman came home sober more often, he wouldn't have to worry so much about what his wife was doing while he was in his cups. - RBW
Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames is very close to Dixon-AncientPoemsBalladsSongsOfThePeasantryOfEngland. The farmer finds three horses in the stable, three hats, coats, and whips hanging in the kitchen, three pair of boots beneath the table, and three strange men in bed with his wife, these last being "three dairymaids my granny sent to me" [of course, "dairymaids with beards on! the like was never seen"]. - BS
There are at least a few versions, including but not limited to the Australian versions, in which the man comes home not "drunk as I could be" but "shickered as I could be" -- a fascinating reading, because "shiker or "shikker"" is the Hebrew word for a drunk (see Gene Bluestein, Anglish/Yinglish, Yiddish in American Life and Literature, second edition, University of Nebraska Press, 1989, 1998, p. 88) so "shikkered" is an English verb from a Yiddish noun. According to Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (combined fifth edition with dictionary and supplement), Macmillan, 1961, p. 765, the word probably came into the use in the late 1890s, and is most common in Australia, but isn't considered particularly respectable even there. One wonders how it got into the song. - RBW
As Child notes (V, 89), "Our Goodman" was translated into German and distributed on broadsheets throughout German speaking regions around 1790; from there (or directly from the English) the translated song spread across Europe. That translation did not include the motif of being drunk, but some German versions, at least, added the motif of the husband beating his wife, although "such loving kisses" (as he had put it) she never saw before. Was this shift because his sobriety made her deception less convincing to the audience? - DGE
Last updated in version 6.3
File: C274

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