Lyrics as performed on OSCAR BRAND'S "FOLK SONG FESTIVAL", WNYC, NYC, Oct 29, 1961.
I learned it from a farmer in South Dakota, and he played the autoharp. His name is Wilbur. Met him outside of Sioux Falls when I was there visiting... people an' him... and heard him do it...
I was looking through a book one time, I saw the same song and I remembered the way he did it. So this is the song.
A variant, Clarence Ashley's "Maggie Walker Blues" is a likely tune/lyrics source for Dylan's "Long Time Gone"
Transcribed by Manfred Helfert.
There was a wealthy old farmer
That lived in a county nearby.
He had a lovin' daughter,
On her my [sic] cast my eye.
She was pretty fair an' handsome
And did so very fine.
There wasn't a girl in the county
With her that could compare.
I asked her if she'd be willing
To let me cross over the plains.
She said it would be alright with her
Just so I'd return again.
She said that she'd be true to me
Till death would be unkind.
We kissed, shook hands, and parted.
I left my girl behind.
Out in a western city, boys,
A town you all know well,
Where everyone was friendly,
They'd show me all around.
The work an' money was plentyful,
And the girls to me were kind.
But the only girl I thought about
Was the girl I'd left behind.
One day when I was ramblin' 'round
Down by the public square,
The mail coach it came in,
And I met the mail bearer [PRONOUNCED 'bar'] there.
He handed me a letter, gave me to understand
That the girl I left in old Texas
She married another man.
I turned myself all around and around
Not knowing what else to do.
I rid down a little pace further,
Just to see if these words were true.
It's drinkin' I throw over,
Card playin' I'll resign,
For the only girl I ever did love
Was the girl I left behind.
Come around, you ramblin' gamblin' men,
And listen while I tell.
If it does to you no good, kind friends,
I'm a-sure it will do you no harm.
If you ever find you a fair young maid,
Just marry her while you can.
For if you ever cross over the plain,
she'll marry another man.