“The Girl I Left Behind Me (II)”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 (recording, Lloyd & Howard Massey)
Keywords: virtue love marriage promise army battle Civilwar war farewell parting return reunion separation lover wife soldier
Found in: US(SE)

Description

Singer bids farewell to his beloved and departs for the war. He shares "the glory of that fight." He swears that if he does not return, "Dishonor's breath shall never stain/The name I leave behind me." The girl may tell how she will miss him if he dies

Long description

Singer bids farewell to his beloved -- "I breathed the vows that bind me" -- and departs for the war. He shares "the glory of that fight." He looks forward to the day of victory and to being reunited with his love, but swears that if he does not return, "Dishonor's breath shall never stain/The name I leave behind me." In one version the voice then shifts to the girl: "He don't come it'll break my heart/And a-almost run me crazy"

Notes

The Digital Tradition entry assigns a keyword of "Irish" to this, but they also state that it's from "Songs of the Seventh Cavalry" (published by the Bismarck Tribune); it certainly has the ring of an American Civil War piece to my ears. As the DT entry is undated, I use the Masseys' recording for Earliest Date. - PJS

There are of course two other famous girls left behind: the lyric based on the tune "Brighton Camp," and the Laws P1, which he confusingly gives this title ("I've Always Been a Rambler" might have been a better title). The simple presence of this key line seems to cause some interchange of lyrics; best to check them all if you're looking for all instances. - RBW

Recordings

References

  1. DT, GIRLLFT7
  2. BI, DtGLFT7