Pretty Saro

DESCRIPTION: The singer loves Pretty Saro, but she shows no interest in him: "She wants a freeholder and I have no land." Nor can he write her a letter "in a fine hand" as he would wish to. In despair he vows to "wander by the river" (or kill himself?)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1911 (Lomax, North Carolina Booklet, according to Randolph)
KEYWORDS: love poverty river
REFERENCES (20 citations):
Randolph 744, "Pretty Saro" (1 text plus a fragment, 1 tune); cf. 745, "In Eighteen-Forty-Nine" (2 texts, 2 tune) and the Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi text cited below
High-OldOldFolkSongs, p. 11, "A Corting Miss Sarrow" (1 fragment, perhaps this although several lines could be from other songs)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 252, "Pretty Saro" (2 texts)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 252, "Pretty Saro" (6 tunes plus text excerpts)
Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi 48, pp. 164-165, "Pretty Saro" (1 text, beginning with stanzas from "In Eighteen-Forty-Nine" and ending with "Pretty Saro," plus mention of 1 more text)
Browne-AlabamaFolkLyric 9, "Pretty Saro" (2 fragments, 2 tunes; the first text is solely this; the second begins with the first verse of "In Eighteen-Forty-Nine" and continues with a verse of "Pretty Saro")
Scarborough-ASongCatcherInSouthernMountains, pp. 327-328, "Pretty Saro" (2 texts, with local titles "Pretty Saro," "Pretty Sarah"; 2 tunes on p. 443)
Brewster-BalladsAndSongsOfIndiana 99, "Pretty Sairey" (1 text)
List-SingingAboutIt-FolkSongsInSouthernIndiana, pp. 168-170, "Pretty Sarry" (1 text, 1 tune)
Stout-FolkloreFromIowa 85, pp. 106-107, "Pretty Sarah" (1 text)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 76, "Pretty Saro" (4 texts, 4 tunes)
Sharp/Karpeles-EightyEnglishFolkSongs 39, "Pretty Saro" (1 text, 1 tune, with one stanza omitted)
Ritchie-FolkSongsOfTheSouthernAppalachians, p. 68, "Pretty Saro" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fuson-BalladsOfTheKentuckyHighlands, p. 115, "Lone Valley" (1 text)
Burton/Manning-EastTennesseeStateCollectionVol1, p. 35, "The Foot of Yonders Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune
Chase-AmericanFolkTalesAndSongs, pp. 152-153, "At the Foot of Yonder Mountain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 148, "Pretty Saro" (1 text)
NorthCarolinaFolkloreJournal, Rebecca Cushman, "Two Mountain Portraits," Vol. IV, No. 1 (Jul 1956), pp. 4-5, "Pretty Saro" (1 text)
SongsOfAllTime, p. 2, "Pretty Saro" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #417
Horton Barker, "At the Foot of Yonder's Mountain" (on Barker01)
Glen Neaves, "1809" (on Persis1)
Ritchie Family, "Pretty Saro" (on Ritchie03)
Jean Ritchie, "Pretty Saro" (on RitchieWatsonCD1)
Pete Seeger, "Pretty Saro" (on PeteSeeger40)
Cas Wallin, "Pretty Saro" (on OldLove, DarkHoll)

cf. "In Eighteen-Forty-Nine" (floating lyrics, tune)
cf. "If I Were a Fisher" (floating verses)
cf. "Go Away From Me, Willie" (floating verses)
Pretty Sarah
NOTES [68 words]: This piece seems to break up into two families, "Pretty Saro" (which appears to be more popular) and "At the Foot of Yonder Mountain." In the latter, the woman is "Mary," not "Saro." Broadwood and Gilchrist argued that all this is based on an ancient hymn to the Virgin Mary. If so, that would argue that the "Yonder Mountain" form is older. But we all know how active some folklorists' imaginations are. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.3
File: R744

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 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.