The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #55420   Message #2732219
Posted By: Artful Codger
26-Sep-09 - 11:40 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: The Old Bachelor
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'The Old Bachelor'
The Old Bachelor
    A.L. Stokesberry
    Tune: Pure Cold Water

1. I am a stern old bachelor; / My age is forty-four.
I do declare I'll never live / With women any more.

Oh, little sod shanty, / Sod shanty give to me,
For I'm a stern old bachelor, / From matrimony free.

2. I live upon a homestead claim; / From women I am hid;
I do not have to dress a wife, / Or take care of a kid.

3. I cook my little dirty bite / Three times or less a day;
I lick my plates to keep them clean, / And just shove things away.

4. I have a stove that's worth ten cents, / A table worth fifteen;
I cook my grub in oyster cans, / And always have things clean.

5. On Sunday morn I go to church / Without a wife to storm;
My latest paper is not rolled up / To beautify her form.

6. I go to bed whene'er I please, / And get up just the same;
I change my socks three times a year, / With no one to complain.

7. And when I die and go to heaven / As all old bachelors do,
I will not have to grieve for fear / My wife won't get there too.

From the Dighton Republican (Dighton, Kansas), 6 July 1887.
Source: Songs of the American West, p.449, ed. Lingenfelter, Dwyer and Cohen, 1968. The tune they provide was transcribed from "Stern Old Bachelor" as sung by the Carter Family (recorded 6 June 1938). I suspect the chorus was imported from the singing of the Carters. The Lomaxes have "Little sod shanty dear to me" in the second line, and the chorus pattern for "Pure Cold Water" is rather different (see below).

The version which BUTTERFLY posted above is once again available at ("Old Bachelor") with score but sans MIDI. It is from John Lomax and Alan Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs, 1934. You can also view it at Google Books. The entry has a footnote: "A song of the Middle West, from the collection of Professor E.F. Piper, University of Iowa."

Another text version, from a private collection dating to 1928 and "scribed by Frances Jackson of Wingham, Ontario, Canada", has been posted by her granddaughter Jacklin Falconer here. Chubby Parker's first recording of this song appeared in 1927; a transcription, with some commentary, can be found at The Celestial Monochord. Being unsure of the copyright status of these texts, I haven't reproduced them here.

Joan O'Bryant recorded another version of "Stern Old Bachelor" on her Folkways record "American Ballads and Folksongs" (SA 2338, 1958). She learned her version from Arlene Sherman of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Liner notes may be freely downloaded, and include lyrics as well as two other citations (Folksongs of Florida, by A.C. Morris, 1959; and Ozark Folksongs, Volume III, by Vance Randolph, 1949) which are repeated in Lingenfelter &a.

"Pure Cold Water" would be the temperance song of that name which appears in various hymnals and books of temperance songs; the earliest printing I found referenced was in The Sunday School Banner (#99), 1865. A four-verse text and four-part vocal score can be found at Google Books in Worship in the Family and School-room (1868). The text begins:

O look not on the tempting cup,
   Where the wine is gleaming;
There's danger in the fatal draught,
   Poison in its beaming.

From the merry laughing rill,
As it glides along the hill,
We will drink and rejoice at its sparkling glow,
And our merry song shall be,
O, the cooling stream for me,
O, the bright cooling stream for me.

There are three more verses. The metrical pattern of the verses is close to that of Stokesberry's, but not a perfect match.

There is another temperance song "To Pure Cold Water They Come" which dates back to at least 1842, but it bears no resemblance to "Old Bachelor" or "Pure Cold Water" in either meter or text.