8. Fare Thee Well

A traditional song that has received renewed attention thanks to being featured in a recent movie about a folk singer (Inside Llewyn Davis). The oldest recording of this song, sung by a woman called Dink, was made in 1909 by ethnomusicologist John Lomax. It tells the story of a girl who takes charge of her own fate after getting pregnant. The lyrics are very different in each rendition, so we thought it was instructive to include our own on this website.

Lyrics:
If I had wings like Noah’s dove
I’d fly up the river to the one I love

Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well

I had a man, he was long and tall
He moved his body like a cannonball

Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well

Once I wore my apron low
Trying to keep you from my door

Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well

Then I wore my apron high
Scarcely saw you passing by

Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well

Now my apron is up to my chin
You pass my door but you won’t come in

Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well

The river Jordan is muddy and wild
You don’t give a bloody for your unborn child

Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well

One of these mornings and it won’t be long
You pass my door and I’ll be gone

Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well
Fare thee well, my honey, fare thee well




***These lyrics are traditional***