Yellow Rose of Texas

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YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS. AKA - "Red Rose of Texas." Old Time, Song and Breakdown. USA, southwestern Va., western North Carolina. D Major. Standard or ADae (Tommy Jarrell) tunings (fiddle). One part (Sweet): AABB (Phillips). The song "The Yellow Rose of Texas" originally was a minstrel composition by a composer known only as "J.K." It became popular during the Civil War and passed into Southern fiddling tradition. "Folk-processing" of the song sometimes resulted in the woman referred to as the 'yellow rose' in the lyrics being called a 'red rose', but clearly a female person-of-color was meant for the minstrel version (which also refers to the woman as 'this darkey'). Some sources name the ‘yellow rose’ as one Emily Morgan, a slave girl who hailed from North Carolina, as the woman who seduced the Mexican General Santa Anna just before the battle of San Jacinto, making Sam Houston's victory possible while Santa Anna was thus distracted.

The 1858 sheet music by "J.K."

There's a yellow rose in Texas that I am going to see,
No other fellow knows her, no other one but me.
She cried so when I left her that it like to broke my heart,
And if I ever find her, we never more will part.
Now I'm going to find her for my heart is full of woe,
We'll sing the songs together we sung so long ago,
When I get back to Austin how happy I will be,
With the yellow rose of Texas a sitting on my knee. .... (NLCR)

Recorded as a song, Gene Autry’s version became one of the Depression era’s best-selling records.

It has been claimed (tongue-in-cheek) that much of Emily Dickinson’s poetry can be sung to the song “Yellow Rose of Texas.”

Source for notated version: Danny Gardella [Phillips].

Printed sources: Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 262. Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965/1981; p. 14.

Recorded sources: Mountain 310, Tommy Jarrell "Joke on the Puppy" (1976. Learned from his father, fiddler Ben Jarrell). County 524, "Da Costa Woltz's Southern Broadcasters: 1927 Recordings." Fiddle and Dance Records #102, Jay Ungar & Molly Mason - "Civil War Classics: Live at Gettysburg College." Flying Cloud FC-023, Kirk Sutphin - "Fiddlin' Around." Flying Fish FF 009, The Red Clay Ramblers "Stolen Love" (1975). Folkways FA 2492, New Lost City Ramblers "String Band Instrumentals" (1964). Gennett 6143 (78 RPM), Da Costa Woltz's Southern Broadcasters (1927. Ben Jarrell on fiddle). Okeh 451744 (78 RPM), North Carolina Cooper Boys (as "Red Rose of Texas"). Merriweather Records, Pat Kingery – “I Kind of Believe it’s a Gift” (an unusual version).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Muisc Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
See Austin Roger's transcription of W.Va. fiddler Melvin Wine's version [2]




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