DESCRIPTION: "Lavender's blue, dilly, dilly..." Singer tells his lady that she must love him because he loves her. He tells of a vale where young man and maid have lain together, and suggests that they might do the same, and that she might love him (and also his dog)
EARLIEST DATE: before 1685 (broadside)
KEYWORDS: courting sex love dog colors
FOUND IN: Britain US(NE)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Linscott-FolkSongsOfOldNewEngland, pp. 229-230, "Lavender's Blue" (1 text, 1 tune)
Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes 299, "Lavender's blue, diddle, diddle" (3 texts plus a plate facing page 266 showing the "Diddle Diddle" broadside of c. 1680)
Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #137, p. 113, "(Lavender blue and rosemary green)"
Dolby-OrangesAndLemons, p. 129, "Lavender's Blue" (1 text plus a long text of "Diddle, Diddle")
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 158, "Lavender Blue" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Reginald Nettel, _Seven Centuries of Popular Song_, Phoenix House, 1956, pp. 112-113, "(no title)" (1 text)
Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #140, "Lavender's Blue" (1 text)
Bodleian, Douce Ballads 1(56a), "Diddle, diddle" or "The Kind Country Lovers ("Lavenders green, didle, didle"), F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clark (London), 1674-1679
cf. "My Dog and I" (some verses)
Diddle, Diddle (Or The Kind Country Lovers)
NOTES [240 words]: When I was four years old, I thought this song was stupid. Forty-five years later, I see no reason to change my mind. - PJS
Hard to argue that point based on the versions that I've heard, but the broadside version in the Digital Tradition hints that there is at least a little more going on behind the scenes. Linscott-FolkSongsOfOldNewEngland explains that the song, "of English origin, is connected with the amusements of Twelfth Night and refers to the choosing of the king and queen of the festivities." Dolby-OrangesAndLemons says that the broadside version, "Diddle, Diddle, Or the Kind Country Lovers," is from the period 1672-1685, and is about a girl named Nell keeping the singer's bed warm.
Nettel, p. 112, also suggests that the song was originally political, although he doesn't state the political context.
The real problem may be that the version most people know comes from a Disney film. According to David A. Jasen, Tin Pan Alley: The Composers, the Songs, the Performers and their Times: The Golden Age of American Popular Music from 1886 to 1956, Primus, 1988, p. 254, the movie "SO DEAR TO MY HEART (1948) included the gem 'Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly),' composed by Eliot Daniel, who took the melody from a seventeeth-century English folk song, with lyrics by Larry Morey. It was sung twice in the film, first by Dinah Shore and later by Burl Ives, and was a hit record for Sammy Turner on Big Top Records in 1959." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
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 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.