The Prisoner's Song

The Prisoner's Song

There is no regional association in the content of this song, but it was wondrously popular on the plains. Older (older than what?) folks recognize the melody instantly, and as I sing it, I notice people mouthing the words along with me. It came into popularity via radio; Vernon Dalhart's great recording set it off, I'm sure, but the song became a standard for other radio singers across the country, and also found its way into ballad books on the plains. (I'll link here to my Ballad Book site, under construction.) My mother in western Kansas, when we kids were growing up, only knew two songs to sing as lullabyes, and they were "The Strawberry Roan" and "The Prisoner's Song."

The Prisoner's Song
Oh, I wish I had someone to love me,
Someone to call me her own.
Oh, I wish I had someone to live with,
Cause I'm tired of living alone.

Oh please, meet me tonight in the moonlight,
Meet me tonight all alone,
For I have a sad story to tell you--
It's a story that's never been told.

I'll be carried to a new jail tomorrow,
Leaving my poor darling alone,
With the cold prison bars all around me
And my head on a pillow of stone.

Now I have a grand ship on the ocean,
All mounted with silver and gold,
And before my poor darling would suffer,
That ship would be anchored and sold.

Now if I had the wings of an angel,
Over these prison walls I would fly,
I'd fly to the arms of my poor darling,
And there I'd be willing to die.