Twenty-One Years [Laws E16]

DESCRIPTION: A convict is sentenced to twenty-one years in prison. He begs his sweetheart, for whom he endured a dirty jail, to ask the governor for clemency. As nothing seems to come of this, he warns young men not to trust women
AUTHOR: Bob Miller?
EARLIEST DATE: 1930 (recording, Lester McFarland & Robert Gardner)
KEYWORDS: prison rejection
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,So) Britain(England)
REFERENCES (12 citations):
Laws E16, "Twenty-One Years"
Randolph 168, "Twenty-One Years" (4 texts plus an excerpt, 1 tune, with the last three texts being diverse sequels to the first text and excerpt; see "Answer to Twenty-One Years")
Randolph/Cohen-OzarkFolksongs-Abridged, pp. 156-158, "Twenty-One Years" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 168A)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 352, "Twenty-One Years" (1 text)
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #30, "TwentyOne Years" (1 text, 1 tune, plus the "Answer")
Henry-SongsSungInTheSouthernAppalachians, pp. 69-70, "Twenty-One Years" (1 text)
MacColl/Seeger-TravellersSongsFromEnglandAndScotland 100, "Twenty-One Years" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
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)
Johnson-BawdyBalladsAndLustyLyrics, pp. 41-43, "Twenty-One Years" (1 text)
DT 354, (YRS21*)
ADDITIONAL: Old Favourites Reprinted from The Family Herald and Weekly Star 1898 (Montreal: The Family Herald Publishing Co., 1898 ("Digitized by Internet Archive")), pp. 144-145, "Twenty Years Ago" ("I've wandered to the village Tom, I've sat beneath the tree") (1 text)
Wehman's Song Book [of 148 Songs] No. 59 (New York, September 1, 1898 ("Digitized by Internet Archive")), p. 17, "Twenty Years Ago" ("I have wandered by the village, Tom; I've sat beneath the tree") (1 text)

Roud #2248
Edward L. Crain, "Twenty-One Years" (Crown 3238 [as Edward L. Crain (The Texas Cowboy)], 1932; Homestead 22990, c. 1932; rec. 1931)
Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, "Twenty-One Years" (RCA Victor 20-5011, 1952)
Frank Luther, "Twenty-One Years" (Polk 9087, n.d.)
Lester McFarland & Robert Gardner, "Twenty-One Years" (Brunswick 483, 1930)
Bob Miller, "Twenty-One Years" (Supertone S-2764, c. 1931)
[Bob] Miller & [Barney] Burnett, "Twenty One Years" (Champion 15985, 1930) (OKeh 45442/OKeh 45541, 1930) (Montgomery Ward M-4964, 1936)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Twenty-One Years" (on NLCR13)
Riley Puckett, "Twenty-One Years" (Columbia 15719-D, 1932; rec. 1931)
Red River Dave, "Twenty-One Years" (Musicraft 287, 1944)
Renfro Valley Boys [Karl Davis & Harty Taylor], "Twenty One Years" (Paramount 3311/Broadway 8318, rec. 1932)
Dick Robertson, "Twenty-One Years" (Victor 23616, 1932; Montgomery Ward M-3311, n.d.; rec. 1931)
Carson Robison's Trio, "Twenty-One Years" (Banner 32305/Oriole 8100, 1931
Kate Smith, "Twenty-One Years" (Columbia 2605-D, 1932)
Uncle Bud & his Plow Boys, "Twenty-One Years" (Clarion 5418-C, 1931)
Marc Williams, "Twenty-One Years" (Decca 5010, 1934)

Answer to Twenty-One Years (File: Morr030B)
Frank Luther Trio "New Twenty-One Years" (Vocalion 5491, c. 1932; Melotone 12602/Banner 32679 [both as Buddy Spencer's Trio]/Perfect 12884 [as Buddy Spencer]/Conqueror 8100, 1933; rec. 1932)
Lester McFarland, "Twenty-One Years, No. 2" (Brunswick 596, 1932)
Bob Miller, "New Twenty-One Years" (Columbia 15739-D [as Bob Ferguson], 1932) (Electradisk 1907 [as Palmer Trio], 1933) (Victor 23693, 1932; Bluebird B-5013 [as Bill Palmer Trio]/Montgomery Ward M-4233, 1933)
Dan Parker, "New 21 Years" (Crown 3266, 1932) [I strongly suspect this is a pseudonym, but since I don'e know whether it's Frank Luther or Bob Miller I give it its own listing for now]
Dick Robertson, "New Twenty-One Years" (Victor 23647, 1932/Montgomery Ward M-4821, 1935)
NOTES [146 words]: The copyright and collection information on this song reveal something or other. The notes in Randolph's second edition list it as copyright 1931 by Bob Miller. But Randolph's informant, Lillian Short, thought she learned it in 1931, and not from Miller. Henry's version is from 1932; Brown's dates from around 1936. Plus the three sequels, which Laws considers distinct, were collected 1935, 1934, and 1941.
Johnson's book, printed in 1935, shows no knowledge of an author; neither does Laws, nor Brown, though Norm Cohen accepts the attribution to Miller.
Draw your own conclusions. - RBW
Well, the McFarland-Gardner record was made in June 1930 and probably issued later that year, so Ms. Short could well have learned it from there. In the discographical notes to that record, though, the author credit is given to Miller. The Robison recording also dates from that year. - PJS
Last updated in version 4.3
File: LE16

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