Dink's Song

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Dink's Song"

"Dink's Song" (sometimes known as "Fare Thee Well") is an American folk song played by many folk revival musicians such as Pete Seeger, Fred Neil, Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Cisco Houston as well as more recent musicians like Jeff Buckley. The song tells the story of a woman deserted by her lover when she needs him the most.

The first historical record of the song was by ethnomusicologist John Lomax in 1909, who recorded it as sung by an African American woman called Dink, as she washed her husband's clothes in a tent camp of migratory levee-builders on the bank of the Greater Calhoun Bayou River, a few miles from Houston, Texas and the University of Houston.

The first publication of the music was in American Ballads and Folk Songs, edited by Lomax and his son, Alan Lomax, and published by Macmillan in 1934.

Josh White recorded the song, as "Fare Thee Well," in 1945. It appeared on his first album, entitled "Songs by Josh White," for Asch Records (A 348). (Asch Records was the predecessor of Folkways Records). Like the rest of the songs on the album, it was performed solo, with guitar. White re-recorded the song at least once later in his career, as "Dink's Blues". It appears on the 1957 Mercury album, "Josh White's Blues" (MG 20203).

In the 1946 film Cloak and Dagger, the character played by Lilli Palmer sings a verse of the song to Gary Cooper's character, explaining she learned it from an American airman from "New Arizona" and adding she didn't have the chance to learn the rest of it.

Gloria Lynne recorded the song for a concept album created and produced by Harry Belafonte titled Long Road to Freedom: An Anthology of Black Music.[1] In Lynne's version the song is called "Honey." The song was also recorded by Burl Ives (circa 1965).

Dave Van Ronk recorded the song in 1967 for his album Dave Van Ronk and the Hudson Dusters, where it was credited to John Lomax and his daughter Bess Lomax. In the liner notes to the album, Van Ronk writes that he considers the tune "probably the best piece of singing as such I've ever done on record."[2] He goes on to explain, "I had a nasty flu when we cut this one, and my voice had gone pre-laryngitic. This had the effect of opening up an octave valve I didn't even know I had. The next day I couldn't talk, let alone sing."[2]

A different arrangement of the song was written and performed by Frank Black on his 2006 album Fast Man Raider Man. Puerto Rican singer Gabriel Ríos included the song on the limited edition 2-disc release of his album Angelhead.

Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford's performance of "Dink's Song" is featured in the Coen Brothers's film Inside Llewyn Davis, as well as a solo acoustic version by Isaac. Both versions are featured on the original soundtrack album.

The song was also performed by Chuck/God (Rob Benedict) on the television show Supernatural, at the end of the episode "Don't Call Me Shurley."

The song was performed by Mary "Mississippi" Brown (Peggy Castle) on the television show Cheyenne, in the episode "Fury at Rio Hondo", which aired April 17, 1956.


As with many traditional songs, there are numerous versions of the lyrics. The version first published in American Ballads and Folk Songs is rendered in an approximation of African American vernacular English.[3]

If I had wings like Noah's dove,
I'd fly up da river to the man I love.
Fare thee well, O Honey, fare thee well.

Ise got a man, an' he's long and tall,
Moves his body like a cannonball.
Fare thee well, O Honey, fare thee well.

One o' dese days, an' it won't be long,
Call my name an' I'll be gone.
Fare thee well, O Honey, fare thee well.

'Member one night, a-drizzlin' rain,
Roun' my heart I felt a pain.
Fare thee well, O Honey, fare thee well.

When I wo' my ap'ons low,
Couldn't keep you from my do'.
Fare thee well, O Honey, fare thee well.

Now I wears my ap'ons high,
Sca'cely ever see you passin' by.
Fare thee well, O Honey, fare thee well.

Now my ap'ons up to my chin,
You pass my do' an' you won' come in,
Fare thee well, O Honey, fare thee well.

Ef I had listened to whut my mama said,
I'd be at home in my mama's bed.
Fare thee well, O Honey, fare thee well.[4]


  1. ^ Long Road to Freedom: An Anthology of Black Music
  2. ^ a b Chrestomathy liner notes
  3. ^ Lomax, John A.; Lomax, Alan (1934). American Ballads and Folk Songs. New York: The Macmillan Company. p. xxxiii. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  4. ^ Lomax, John A.; Lomax, Alan (1934). American Ballads and Folk Songs. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 195–6. Retrieved 18 April 2015.


  • Heylin, Clinton (2003). Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades Revisited. Perennial Currents. ISBN 0-06-052569-X
  • Lomax, John A (1971) [1947]. Adventures of a Ballad Hunter. Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-848480-0
  • Lomax, John A., Alan Lomax, and John William Thompson, eds (1934). American Ballads and Folk Songs. Macmillan. (Dover rpt., 1994) ISBN 0-486-28276-7