Say Darling Say

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X:1 T:Say Darling Say S:The Sweet Brothers (1928) M:4/4 L:1/8 D:Gennett GE 6733-A (78 RPM), Justin Winfield (Stoneman & the Sweet Bros.), 1928. F:https://www.slippery-hill.com/recording/say-darling-say Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:C (d2|e2) ef edcA|c2c2A3G|ABc4c2-|cAGF E3D| G2G2 AGAB|c2c4:||:(ef|g2) gf edcd|edcB A3G| AB c4{A}(c2|c)AGF E3E|G2G2 AGAB|c2c4f:|]



SAY, DARLING SAY. American, Song Air & Instrumental (whole time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. An instrumental and song recorded in Richmond, Indiana, in 1928 for the Gennett Record company in a session with Ernest V. Stoneman (guitar and harmonica), Willie Stoneman (guitar and vocal, and the Sweet Brothers--Earl (vocal and banjo) and Herbert (vocal and fiddle), although not all of the personnel were on every cut that day [1]. Due to contractual reasons (Ernest Stoneman had been signed by Ralph Peer at Columbia) several pseudonyms were used by Gennett when they issued the recordings from the session, including those on their subsidiary labels. The name of the group on Gennett GE 6733-A ("Say, Darling Say") is to 'Justin Winfield', a collective name for Ernest Stoneman and the Sweet Brothers. Stoneman (1893-1968), of Galax, Virginia, is said to have learned the song/tune from older cousins. The song is a variant of the 'lullaby' (although not given a lullaby treatment by Stoneman, in whose hands it is a breakdown with words) that goes by the name "Hush Little Baby (don't Say a Word)," and other titles. The words are nonsense words, partly derived from "Hush Little Baby" with the addition of more 'adult' verses about drunkenness and gender exploitation:

Oh, little darling, if you was mine,
You wouldn't do nothing but starch and iron,
Say, darling, say.

Starch and iron'd be your trade,
And I'd get drunk and lay in the shade,
Say, darling, say.

Hush up, darling, don't say a word,
I'm going to buy you a mockingbird,
Say, darling, say.

Mockingbird, if it don't sing,
I'm going to buy you a diamond ring,
Say, darling, say.

Diamond ring, if it turns to brass,
I'm going to buy you a looking glass,
Say, darling, say.

Looking glass, if it gets broke,
I'm going to buy you a billy goat,
Say, darling, say.

The Sweet Brothers were dance musicians from near Damascus, Washington County, Virginia, and had made the acquaintance of Ernest Stoneman around 1926 at a fiddlers' convention in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Stoneman was looking for musicians as his band had broken up, and persuaded the brothers to travel with him to Richmond, Indiana, for the session. They recorded some 12 issued sides on July 5th, 1928, and it was to be their only recorded output. After moving to Grayson County for many years, the brothers finally ended up in Pennsylvania [2].

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : -

Recorded sources: - Gennett GE 6733-A (78 RPM), Justin Winfield (Stoneman & The Sweet Bros.), 1928. Marimac 9023, Bruce Molsky & Bob Carlin - "Take Me as I Am" (1989). Rounder 0444, Dirk Powell - "Hand Me Down" (1999).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]



Back to Say Darling Say

  1. Ivan M. Tribe, The Stonemans: An Appalachian Family and the Music that Shaped their Lives, 1993, p. 307.
  2. Marty McGee, Traditional Musicians of the Central Blue Ridge, 2000, p. 167.