Breedloves's Folk Songs


    “Listen to the Mocking Bird’ was written by Septimus Winner, the man who also gave us
    “Whispering Hope,” “Ten Little Indians,” the words to “Where Oh Where Has My Little
    Dog Gone,” and a score of other songs. He was twenty-seven years old at the time, a
    music teacher and the owner of a music store in Philadelphia. Winner was acquainted
    with a young Negro boy, Dick Milburn (called Whistling Dick), a beggar who collected
    coins for his whistling and guitar playing on the streets. His whistling often turned to a
    beautiful imitation of a mocking bird, and this attracted Winner’s attention and thought. It
    gave him an idea for a song and he promptly went to work on it. He finished “Listen to
    the Mocking Bird,” gave Whistling Dick a job in his store, and published the composition
    in April, 1855, using the pseudonym Alice Hawthorne. Pseudonyms were common
    practice in those days, for example Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) and Artemus Ward
    (Charles Browne). Winner chose Hawthorne after his mother’s maiden name. He never
    explained the “Alice” part of it.
    Within months this song hit all parts of our nation and people everywhere went wild over
    it, especially in the South where the mocking bird is a common sight. For years
    afterwards Southern mothers named their baby girls Hally (or Hallie) after this song.
    President Abraham Lincoln said of this song “It is as sincere as the laughter of a little girl
    at play,” and King Edward VII of England remarked, “I whistled ‘Listen To the Mocking
    Bird’ when I was a little boy.”
    The song became popular all over Europe and it is estimated that by 1905 total sheet
    copies sold ran approximately twenty million. This song’s immense popularity has struck
    solidly for over a century. It is truly one of our old-time, all-time song hits.
    I’m dreaming now of Hally, sweet Hally, sweet Hally;
    I’m dreaming now of Hally,
    For the thought of her is one that never dies:
    She’s sleeping in the valley, the valley, the valley;
    She’s sleeping in the valley,
    And the mocking bird singing where she lies.
    Listen to the mocking bird, listen to the mocking bird,
    The mocking bird still singing o’er her grave;
    Listen to the mocking bird, listen to the mocking bird,
    Still singing where the weeping willows wave.
    Additional Verses:
    Ah! well I yet remember, remember, remember,
    Ah! well I yet remember,
    When we gather’d in the cotton side by side;
    ’Twas in the mild September, September, September,
  • ’Twas in the mild September,
    And the mocking bird was singing far and wide.
    When the charms of spring awaken, awaken, awaken:
    When the charms of spring awaken,
    And the mocking bird is singing on the bough.
    I feel like one forsaken, forsaken, forsaken.
    I feel like one so forsaken,
    Since my Hally is no longer with me now.


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