Liza Jane

Posted by | February 26, 2010

When I go a-courtin’,
I’ll go on the train.
When I go to marry,
I’ll marry Liza Jane.

O Law’, Liza, po’ gal,
O Law’, Liza Jane,
O Law’, Liza, po’ gal,
She died on the train.

The hardest work I ever did
Was a-brakin’on a train;
The easiest work I ever did
Was a-huggin’ Liza Jane.

When I went to see her,
She met me at the door;
Her shoes and stockings in her hand,
And her feet all over the floor.

When I went to see her,
She wrung her hands and cried;
She swore I was the ugliest thing
That ever lived or died.

I ask little Liza to marry me-
What do you reckon she said?
Said she would not marry me,
If everybody else was dead.

Goin’ up the mountain
To raise a patch of cane,
To make a barrel of sorghum
To sweeten up Liza Jane.

Whisky by the barrel,
Sugar by the pound,
A great big bowl to put it in,
And a spoon to stir it round.

I wish I had a needle and a thread
As fine as I could sew,
I would sew all the girls to my coat-tail,
And down the mountain I’d go.
Old corn likker’s done made,
Still’s tore out an’gone.
What will pore little Liza do,
When I’m took off an’ gone?

Don’t you weep, my darling,
Don’t you weep nor cry;
I’ll be back to see you
In the long old by-and-by.

You can climb the cherry tree,
And I will climb the rose;
How I love that pretty little gal,
God’lmighty knows.

From American Ballads and Folk Songs, Alan Lomax, Macmillan Company, New York, 1934

The Hill-Billies bluegrass band, ad posterTwo influential recordings were made of the ‘Liza Jane’ tune in the 1920’s which helped spread its popularity among early country musicians, says music historian Charles Wolfe (1991). The first was by the east Tennessee string band The Hill Billies, who released it under the title “Mountaineer’s Love Song,” and the second was by another band from the same area, the Tenneva Ramblers, as “Miss Liza, Poor Gal.” Bob Wills (Texas), the father of western swing, said this was the first tune he learned (as “Goodbye, Miss Liza Jane”) to fiddle.

Here is a list of early recordings:

Old Liza Jane- Uncle Am Stuart 1924
Liza Jane – Riley Puckett 1924
Liza Jane – Henry Whitter 1925
Goodbye Liza Jane – Fiddlin’ John Carson 1926
Mountaineer’s Love Song – The Hillbillies 1926
Miss Liza Poor Gal – Tenneva Ramblers 1928
Liza Jane – Carter Brothers and Son 1928
Old Eliza Jane – Doc Roberts and Asa Martin 1928
Liza Up the Simmon Tree – Bradley Kincaid 1928
Poor Mary Jane – Charlie Craver 1928
Liza Up the ‘Simmon Tree – Bradley Kincaid 1929
Liza Jane – Kessinger Brothers 1931

bluegrass+lyrics The+Hill+Billies Tenneva+Ramblers appalachia appalachian+mountains+history appalachian+history

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