"Darlin' Cory" (or "Darling Corey") (Roud 5723) is a well-known American folk song about love, loss, and moonshine. It is similar in theme to "Little Maggie" and "The Gambling Man" but is not considered the same as those songs.
Early printed versions
The earliest published version of "Darlin' Corey" occurs as verses within the song "The Gambling Man", collected from oral tradition by folklorist Cecil Sharp, as sung by Mrs. Clercy Deeton, at Mine Fork, Burnsville, N.C., on Sept. 19, 1918.[A] The text (without tune) was also published as "Little Cora" in Harvey H. Fuson's Ballads of the Kentucky Highlands (London, 1931). A version from the singing of Aunt Molly Jackson appears in the book Our Singing Country (1941) by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax. It is also included in Folk Song, U.S.A. by John A. and Alan Lomax, Charles Seeger and Ruth Crawford Seeger (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1947), pp. 310–311.
The first known commercial audio recording was made by Clarence Gill as "Little Corey" on January 6, 1927, but was rejected by the record company and never released. A few months later, folk singer Buell Kazee recorded it as "Darling Cora" on April 20, 1927 (Brunswick 154). Later the same year, on July 29, 1927, at the famous Bristol Sessions an influential version was recorded by B. F. Shelton as "Darlin' Cora" (Victor 35838). Other early recordings are "Little Lulie" by Dick Justice (1929) and "Darling Corey", released as a single by the Monroe Brothers in 1936.
In 1941, The Monroe Brothers' version was included in a landmark 5-disc compilation, Smoky Mountain Ballads, produced and annotated by noted folklorist John A. Lomax (Victor Records). Whereas the earlier, "hillybilly" records had been marketed regionally, "Smoky Mountain Ballads" was intended for broad, urban audiences. It comprised reissues of ten comparatively recent commercially issued hillbilly recordings from the 1930s, including, in addition to the performance of "Darlin' Cory" by the Monroe Brothers, songs by the Carter Family, Uncle Dave Macon, Mainer's Mountaineers, and other Southeastern performers. Smoky Mountain Ballads became a staple in the repertoires of 1940s and early '50s folk music revival singers such as Pete Seeger, who was meticulous in crediting his sources and urged that people copy them and not him. That same year on May 28, 1941, Burl Ives also recorded "Darlin' Cory" it in his debut album Okeh Presents the Wayfaring Stranger (issued August 1941 with liner notes by Alan Lomax).
Wake up, wake up darlin cory
Tell me what makes you sleep so sound
The revenue officers are comin
Gonna tear your still house down
Dig a hole, dig a hole in the meadow
Dig a hole in the cold, cold ground
Dig a hole, dig a hole in the meadow
Gonna lay darlin cory down
Oh the first time I saw darlin cory
She was standin in the door
She had her shoes and her stockings in her hand
And her little bare feet on the floor
Oh the next time I saw darlin cory
She was standin by the banks of the sea
she had a 44 strapped around her body
And a banjo on her knee
Oh the last time I saw darlin cory
She had a wine glass in her hand
She was drinkin that sweet liquor
With a low down gamblin man.
Numerous artists have recorded versions "Darlin' Cory", including:
- Flatt and Scruggs (as "Dig A Hole In The Meadow"). on Flatt and Scruggs at Carnegie Hall, 1962
- Mike Seeger
- Roscoe Holcomb
- John Hartford (as "Dig a Hole"), on Steam Powered Aereo-Takes, 1971
- Doc Watson
- Bruce Hornsby
- The Weavers
- Crooked Still
- Bill Monroe
- Harry Belafonte (as "Darlin' Cora," attributed to Fred Brooks),
- Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs (as "Cora")
- Lonnie Donegan
- Buddy Greene
- Eileen Ivers
- Crooked Still
- Pete Seeger
- Old Crow Medicine Show
- The Kingston Trio, on At Large, 1959
- Tao Rodríguez-Seeger (grandson of Pete Seeger)
- Bill Clifton
- The Seldom Scene
- Chris Jones
- Chuck Ragan and Austin Lucas, on Bristle Ridge, 2008
- Red Molly
- Dan Levenson
- Bryn Haworth, on Sunny Side of the Street, 1975
- Maddox Brothers and Rose (as "Dig a Hole")
- Bob Weir, as "Lay My Lily Down", on his 2016 Blue Mountain
- It occurs only in version B of this song (i.e., "The Gambling Man"), published as No. 152 (with tune) in English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians (1936).
- Maud Karpeles, editor, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians' collected by Cecil J. Sharp; comprising two hundred and seventy-four songs and ballads with nine hundred and sixty-eight tunes, including thirty-nine tunes contributed by Olive Dame Campbell, two volumes (Oxford University Press, 1932).
- John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax; Ruth Crawford Seeger, Music Editor, Our Singing Country (New York: Macmillan, 1941), p. 302. The song headnote states: "No. 828. Aunt Molly Jackson, New York City. See Victor record No. 35838, for banjo accompaniment."
- Tony Russell, Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 369
- Wayne Erbsen, Log Cabin Pioneers: Stories, Songs & Sayings (2001), p. 78.
- Tony Russell, Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 826. See also the entry on "B. F. Shelton's Darlin Cora" on the Mudcat Café website.
- Grateful Dead Family Discography: Darling Corey
- Neil V. Rosenberg notes that folklorists had been aware since the 1930s that folk songs were being issued commercially on hillbilly records. He states that "hillbilly reissues were learned and performed by revival performers such as Pete Seeger, who credited his sources and suggested that people should copy them, not him." See Neil V. Rosenberg, Bluegrass: A History (University of Illinois Press, 2005) p. 172.
- Naxos: link.
- iTunes: Music Store
- Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, RCA Victor LSO-6006, 1959.
- Traditional Ballad Index at California State University, Fresno
- The Deadlists Project
- Juneberry78s — B.F. Shelton — contains mp3 of Shelton's 1927 version
- Berea College Sound Archives – Darling Corrie — version of the song by banjoist Lily May Ledford, recorded live on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in 1951