Sunday, February 7, 2010
Connie Francis and Jonny Hills
In a cavern, in a canyon,
Excavating for a mine,
Dwelt a miner, forty-niner
And his daughter Clementine.
Oh my darling, oh my darling
Oh my darling, Clementine
Thou art lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.
Light she was and like a fairy,
And her shoes were number nine,
Herring boxes without topses
Sandals were for Clementine
Drove she ducklings to the water
Every morning just at nine,
Hit her foot against a splinter
Fell into the foaming brine.
Ruby lips above the water,
Blowing bubbles soft and fine,
But alas, I was no swimmer,
So I lost my Clementine.
Then the miner, forty-niner
Soon began to peak and pine,
Thought he oughter jine he daughter,
Now he's with his Clementine.
In my dreams she still doth haunt me,
Robed in garments soaked in brine;
Though in life I used to hug her,
Now she's dead, I draw the line.
Oh My Darling, Clementine is an American western folk ballad usually credited to Percy Montrose (1884), even though it's sometimes referred to Barker Bradford. The song is believed to have been based on another song called Down by the River Liv'd a Maiden by H. S. Thompson (1863).
The words are those of a bereaved lover singing about his darling, the daughter of a miner in the 1849 California Gold Rush. He loses her in a drowning accident, though he consoles himself towards the end of the song with Clementine's "little sister".
The verse about the little sister was often left out of folk song books intended for children, presumably because it seemed morally questionable.
Another theory is that the song is from the view of Clementine's father, and not a lover.
Gerald Brenan attributes the melody to originally being an old Spanish ballad in his book South from Granada. It was made popular by Mexican miners during the Gold Rush. It was also given various English texts. No particular source is cited to verify that the song he used to hear in the 1920s in a remote Spanish village was not an old text with new music, but Brenan states in his preface that all facts mentioned in the book have been checked reasonably well.