WHEN HE IS GONE: An American Folk Song

Some say this Appalachian folk song dates from the Civil War, and identify it as the lament of a girl for her beau that’s gone to war and her promise to remain faithful until he returns. The theme, however, seems to be Scottish, as it bears some distinct semblance to Lass of the Roch Royal (also known as Child #76), I believe it may date from the late 18th century,as the phrase “10,000 miles” is meaningless in terms of the Civil War but does make sense for the British Empire.

This song is also referred to by its first line: “He’s Gone Away”. You can listen to a brilliant version of it by Temple University Women’s Choir here. This is the way I learned it many, many moons ago.

WHEN HE IS GONE

He’s gone away
For to stay a little while,
But he’s coming back
If he goes 10,000 miles.

Oh who will tie my shoe,
And who will glove my hand?
And who will kiss
My ruby lips when he is gone?
Look away,
Look away over yondro.

He’s gone away for to stay
A little while,
But he’s coming back
If he goes 10,000 miles.

And it’s papa will tie my shoe,
And it’s mama will glove my hand,
And none will kiss my ruby lips
When he is gone.
Look away,
Look away over yondro.

I look away down the street
Where he has gone,
And I wonder how I will live
All thru the day, oh.

Will he ever come?
Oh will he ever come?
I always feel I’ll see him come
From far away.
Far away,
Far away, over yondro.

One thought on “WHEN HE IS GONE: An American Folk Song

  1. (Americana. . . My take on its movement and music)

    CRISS CROSS

    COMING AND GOING
    ACROSS THE US

    What happened on the way to San Jose
    Did that banjo ever leave Louisiana.
    Took the Natchez Trace
    to the Cumberland Gap
    through the Donner Pass to
    the Eire Canal.
    From the Navaho, Santa Fe, Chisholm
    to the Oregon Trail
    and the Dixie Highway.

    Paso Del Norte
    I’m Coming Home
    if I go ten thousand miles.
    Oh West Virginia Mama
    Open up your Golden Gate.

    But who will kiss
    Your ruby lips
    When I am gone
    away down yonder
    on the midnight train to Georgia
    across the wide Missouri.

    joeteisan@gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

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