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Lyr Req: The Old Bachelor

07 Jan 03 - 02:51 PM (#860881)
Subject: Lyr Req: 'The Old Bachelor'
From: GUEST,Newfiegirl

Can anybody please help me with the lyrics to this song?"
here are the only words I know...

    "The Old Bachelor"
Look at me now the life I live
T'would grieve an angel sore
To work all day and return at night
To a dark and dismal home
They say I keep things tidy.......
I'll have a wife before this fall
Or I'll leave this cursed place

Thank you & god bless.... Newfiegirl.

13 Jan 03 - 07:05 AM (#865809)

Dear All,

Although not the song you are hunting for, I think "Stern Old Bachelor" is a great tune with enjoyable, if tongue in cheek, and sometimes rather twee, lyrics. Another good one is "I've No Use for the Women".

The lyrics and Midi Files of both (which I have shown below) used to appear in (in the "Folk Revival songbook" and "Cowboy songbook" respectively) but were taken off due to bandwidth restrictions. However both are available, along with many hundreds of others, on a CD available via the above website, which I can highly recommend, costing only about £15 Sterling. A fantastic source of lyrics and tunes, often with a little bit of history, and plenty of links also. (I have no connection with the firm except as a a very satisfied customer).


The singer describes his life in the "little sod shanty dear to me." He is proud that "I'm a stern old bachelor, from matrimony free." He rejoices that he can live in squalor, snore all he wants, stay out late and never have to explain where he has been

I am a stern old bachelor,
My age is forty-four-
I do declare I'II never live
With women any more.
I have a stove that's worth ten cents,
A table worth fifteen,
I cook my gruel in oyster cans
And keep my things so clean.

cho: O little sod shanty
Little sod shanty dear to me,
I am a stern old bachelor
From matrimony free.

When I come home at night
I smile and walk right in
I never hear a voice call out, or say,
"Where have you been?"
On a cold and stormy night
In my cozy little shack,
I sing my songs and think my thoughts
With no one to talk back.
I go to bed when e'er I please
And wake up just the same,
I wash my socks three times a year
With no none to complain.
At night when I'm in peaceful sleep
My snores can do no harm,
I never have to walk the floor
With a baby on my arm.

I am a stern old bachelor,
My age is forty-four-
I do declare I'II never live
With women any more.
And when I die and go to heaven
As all good bachelors do,
I'll never ever have to fear
My wife will get there too.


Now, I've got no use for the women
A true one can seldom be found,
They use a man for his money,
When it's gone, they'll turn him down.
They're all alike at the bottom,
Selfish and grasping for all.
They'll stay by a man when he's winning
And laugh in his face at a fall.

My pal was an honest young puncher;
Honest and upright and true.
But he turned to a hard-shooting gunman,
On account of a girl named Lou.
He fell in with evil companions,
The kind that are better off dead;
When a gambler insulted her picture,
He filled him full of lead.

All through the long night they trailed him,
Through mesquite and thick chaparral.
And I couldn't help think of that woman
As I saw him pitch and fall;
If she'd been the pal that she should have,
He might have been raising a son,
Instead of out there on the prairie,
To die by the ranger's gun.

Death's sharp sting did not trouble,
His chances for life were too slim,
But where they were putting the body
Was all that worried him.
He lifted his head on his elbow;
The blood from his wounds flowed red.
He gazed at his pals grouped around him,
As he whispered to them and said:

"Oh bury me out on the prairie,
Where the coyotes may howl o'er my grave.
Bury me out on the prairie,
But from them my bones please save.
Wrap me up in my blankets,
And bury me deep in the ground.
Cover me over with boulders
Of granite gray and round."

So we buried him out on the prairie,
Where the coyotes can howl o'er his grave,
And his soul is now a-resting,
from the unkind cut she gave;
And many another young puncher
As he rides past that pile of stone,
Recalls some similar woman
And thinks of his moldering bones.

26 Sep 09 - 11:40 PM (#2732219)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'The Old Bachelor'
From: Artful Codger

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.

27 Sep 09 - 08:24 PM (#2732802)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'The Old Bachelor'
From: Ron Davies

Dighton Republican 1887--

"I do not have to dress a wife/ Or take care of a kid"

So "kid" as slang for child must go back a ways.

28 Sep 09 - 05:10 AM (#2732968)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'The Old Bachelor'
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)

kid for child has been in use since late 17C (OED gives 1690); originally low moving into standard use by 19/20C.


28 Sep 09 - 02:15 PM (#2733368)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'The Old Bachelor'
From: bill\sables

I recall an old man way back in the 50s used to recite a monologue with the words;

I am an old bachelor
They call me poor old bachelor
But really I am rich in what this world considers wealth
I'm hale and very hearty too,
Play polka to while away the hours at home
My only home, the club

This is all I can remember but if anyone has the whole version I would be grateful. I have searched monologue web sites but found nothing.
Cheers bill

29 Sep 09 - 08:28 PM (#2734631)
Subject: Lyr Add: AN OLD BACHELOR (Albert Chevalier)
From: Jim Dixon

From Before I Forget: The Autobiography of a Chevalier d'Industrie by Albert Chevalier (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1902), page 176:


By permission of Messrs. Reynolds & Co., 13, Berners Street W.

They call me an old bachelor
I'm known as poor old bachelor,
Although I'm really rich in what this world considers wealth,
But money can't buy everything,
No! money is not everything,
It cannot bring you happiness, it cannot purchase health.
I'm hale and very hearty too,
Play poker and écarté too,
To pass the time away at home—my only home—the Club!
The boys all know my Christian name—
They call me by my Christian name,
And if they're running short of cash and want a modest sub:

They know I've more than I can spend,
I may say that I will not lend,
But still they get it in the end
From a poor old bachelor.

They say I save my money up—
I scrape, and hoard my money up,
Why don't I have a trifle on a gee-gee now and then?
A modest little flutter—
Yes, it's called, I think, a "flutter"
By some of my acquaintances, who pose as sporting men.
"You're old," they say, and "out of date,
A trifle slow at any rate!"
I tell them they're so go-ahead, and p'raps I've lived too long;
I only back the winners—
And I do pick out the winners,
Although before the race they always tell me that I'm wrong.

They envy me my luck, they say,
And I? Well, I can only pray
That know my luck they never may!
A poor old bachelor!

I've been advised to settle down,
To choose a wife and settle down,
To find some homely body who is sensible and good,
A tempting combination!
An unusual combination!
I only smile and say, "I would not marry if I could."
They little guess, when chaffingly
They question me, and laughingly
I answer; how each thoughtless word recalls a dream of youth,
A dream from which I cannot wake!
Of life lived for remembrance sake
They call me woman hater!—if they only knew the truth!

That somewhere, where the flowers are seen,
A white cross marks the spot I mean,
Who keeps a little grave so green?
A poor old bachelor.

30 Sep 09 - 03:42 AM (#2734764)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: 'The Old Bachelor'
From: bill\sables

Thanks Jim, that's the one, I remember it recited by old Tommy Scott in Consett Co. Durham when I was about 12. I've been looking for it ever since.

24 Feb 10 - 02:33 PM (#2848999)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Bachelor
From: Artful Codger

As I posted above, "The [Stern] Old Bachelor", as quoted from Lingenfelter &o., was set to the tune "Pure Cold Water". I believe this may have been the temperance song "Cold Water" written by the famous (at the time) Hutchinson Family. The complete lyrics can be found in Asa Hutchinson's Book of Words of the Hutchinson Family (1851; see Google Books or Internet Archive). But, sadly, the tune is not given. I know it's a long shot, but does anyone have any book which provides a score for this song?

28 Apr 11 - 12:09 AM (#3143803)
Subject: Lyr Add: O I'm a Jolly Bachelor
From: Artful Codger

Here is a song closely related to "Stern Old Bachelor" and mentioned in the notes on the Carter Family song sources.

PDF file:

O I'm a Jolly Bachelor
   Written by Chas. H. Super. Composed by Fred B. Holmes.

1. O I'm a jolly bachelor,
My life is gay and free;
I have no wife, or children dear,
Nor cares to worry me;
My life is spent in gayety,
With boon companions three
And none of us are bound for life
To any horrid she.

O I'm a jolly bachelor,
With heart and fancy free;
And evermore my song shall be,
A single life for me.

2. When we get home from work at night,   No squalling babe lies there,
To rack our brains, and make us find   Some genteel way to swear;
No wife comes in with "My dear John!   I want a bonnet new.
My last silk dress is out of date,   I want one trimmed with blue."

3. And then, if late at night we stay,   At suppers, or on sprees,
No candle lecture waits at home   To rob us of our ease;
But right to bed we put ourselves   Determined to sleep sound,
And never wink an eyelid more   Till break of day comes round.

4. And if at home I wish to have   A quiet game and smoke,
My chums are not afraid to come,   And shades of wine invoke;
For wife's not there to nixe our sport, Or inuendoes dart,
'Bout noisy fellows, drunken louts,   Who never will depart.

5. Now all ye gay young bachelors,   Example take by me:
Keep shy of all the female sex,   Or you will married be;
And then forever you're undone,   No more can you breathe free--
Your wife the chains of love will wind   Around your liberty.

Transcribed from sheet music published ca. 1860.
Publisher: Firth, Son & Co., 3631 Broadway, New York.
Verse numbers indicated by "I. VER:", "II. VER:" etc.

T:O I'm a Jolly Bachelor
C:Written by Chas. H. Super. Composed by Fred B. Holmes.
S:Transcribed from sheet music published by Firth, Son & Co. (New York) in 1860.
Z:Artful Codger
%   Intro.
"^Intro" F | Fdd>d | cBAG | F=EG>F | D2 z F |
Fddf | feA>G | GFd>c | B2 z ||
%   Verses.
"^Verses" F | F d d> d | c B A G | F =E G> F | D2 z F |
w: O, I'm a jol-ly bach-e-lor, My life is gay and free; I
F d d> d | c B A G | =E F d> c | B2 z F |
w: have no wife, or chil-dren dear, Nor cares to wor-ry me; My
G e e> f | e d d> e | d c c c | c2 z F |
w: life is spent in gay-e-ty, With boon com-pan-ions three And
F d d f | f e A> G | G F d> c | B2 z ||
w: none of us are bound for life To any hor-rid she.
%   Chorus.
"^Chorus" F | d>c B _A | G B e g | g f c d | e2 z B |
w: O I'm a jol-ly bach-e-lor, With heart and fancy free; And
e> d e g | f> d HB Hz/ F/ | G e d> c | B2 z |]
w: ev-er-more my song shall be, A sin-gle life for me.

Click to play

12 Jan 12 - 06:28 PM (#3289593)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE OLD BACHELOR
From: Jim Dixon

As sung by A. L. Lloyd (accompanied by Dave Swarbrick & Alf Edwards) on the various-artists album "The Bird in the Bush: Traditional Songs of Love and Lust" (1996)

1. I am an old bachelor, sixty-and-three,
And nary young girl has ever lain with me.
I know little of women, very little indeed.
Folks say they're good for me and just what I need.

REFRAIN: Derry, down, down—down, derry, down.

2. It's all o' last winter for frost and for cold
Not a grain of kind warmth could I ever get at all.
Me legs they was tremblin' and so was me feet,
And I couldn't use hot bricks for burnin' the sheet.

3. Me old uncle Georgie's as crafty as hell.
He advised me to marry and I would do well,
And the first that I fancied was young Jenny Green,
A nice little creature just goin' on sixteen.

4. We sent for the parson, got married with speed,
Gave no thought of hot bricks or burnin' the sheet,
For all kinds of liquor had gone to our head,
And how we was longin' to get to our bed!

5. For two hours and better she lay at me back,
And then she begun for to mumble and crack.
"Aha! you old devil, rouse up if you can.
You've somethin' to do yet to show you're a man."

6. I lay there and thought she was havin' a dream,
But she jabbed in me ribs and said she could scream.
Then she jumped out the bed and back home she run in,
And I tell you, I missed the kind warmth of her skin.

7. Well, early next mornin' her old mother come in.
She raged and she scolded; I said, "What do you mean?"
"Aha! you old devil, you're both joined together,
Yet you never once tried for to make her a mother."

8. With the old wife's advice we both went off to bed,
And with her instructions we fell to the trade,
And when nine full month and a half-day had run,
Damn me if she don't bring a fine strappin' son!

12 Jan 12 - 11:39 PM (#3289730)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Bachelor
From: Reinhard

On "An Evening with A.L. Lloyd" he ends the song with a little twist showing that the poor old bachelor had been taken for a ride:

8. On the old wife's advice we both went back to bed,
And under her instructions we fell to the trade
And before five months and a half day was going down
Well, she did bring down a fine strappin' son!

20 Jul 13 - 12:08 PM (#3539752)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Bachelor
From: GUEST,Thad

This thread came up in my search for a Jolly Old Bachelor chorus my grandfather used to sing and play on piano. No verses were used, but his chorus seems to fit the meter if not the sentiments of Newfiegirl's original post.

Jolly old bachelor, happy and free
Rolling along life's way
I care for no one
And no one for me
And the girl's I leave them alone.