MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Be Home Early Tonight
Mrs. Stamp NFLD 2 Tape 11A Track 3
St. Vincent's Audio:
Ballad

[Background conversation here]

LEACH: Just sing away
MRS. STAMP: (sings)

I travelled through life and saw many's the sight
Which deprived me of sunshine and fun
I work wit’ a spade and l work wit’ a plough
From sunset to sunrise next morn

When the day's work is over to town l do go
Always for pleasure and joy
In going away my poor mother would say
Be home early tonight my dear boy

Chorus:
Be home early tonight my dear boy
Be home early tonight my dear boy
In going away my poor mother would say
Be home early tonight my dear boy

One night leaving home my poor mother bein' ill
With fever torture and pain
She said my dear boy take this lesson I’ll give
For you’ll never see mother again

Chorus:
Be home early tonight my dear boy
Be home early tonight my dear boy
In going away my poor mother would say
Be home early tonight my dear boy

One night turning home from my night's fun and joy
And found that my mother was dead
‘Twas then a cold chill through my body did drill
When l thought on the last words she said

Come all ye young men take a word from a friend
To your mothers and fathers attend
For a good mother's love will ne'er be forgot
When you lose her you'll lose your best friend

Chorus:
Be home early tonight my dear boy
Be home early tonight my dear boy
In going away my poor mother would say
Be home early tonight my dear boy


Notes


Sources: Roud 7451; Randolph 851, (Be Home Early Tonight, My Dear Boy);
Randolph/Cohen, 534-536, (Be Home Early Tonight, My Dear Boy); BrownIII 27, (Be Home Early); Spaeth-WeepMore, 174-175, (Be Home Early Tonight, My Dear Boy)

History: According to the Traditional Ballad Index (http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladSearch.html) the author is possibly John Gibbons who could have published the song in1882. However, the earliest confirmed publication is as the third song in Wehman’s 1914 Brothers' Good Old Time Songs.

Text: A young man’s warning to cherish one’s mother. He missed his last moments with his own mother when he did not listen to her advice to “be home early tonight.”

Tune: The form alternates verse and chorus although the start begins with two verses. The melody is A B A B as it differs between verse and chorus. Overall, the meter is 6/8 though the second and fourth lines of a verse are sometimes shortened slightly. The tune is Mixolydian mode starting on A-flat characterized by a flattened seventh tone. There is a range of an octave.

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