This aroused my curiosity about the origins of a familiar tune, The Yellow Rose of Texas. Little did i realize that the original was an African American folk song with these lines for the chorus:
There’s a yellow rose in Texas, that I am going to see,
No other darky [sic] knows her, no darky only me
She cryed [sic] so when I left her it like to broke my heart,
And if I ever find her, we nevermore will part.
These were the verses:
She’s the sweetest rose of color this darky ever knew,
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew;
You may talk about your Dearest May, and sing of Rosa Lee,
But the Yellow Rose of Texas beats the belles of Tennessee.
When the Rio Grande is flowing, the starry skies are bright,
She walks along the river in the quite [sic] summer night:
She thinks if I remember, when we parted long ago,
I promised to come back again, and not to leave her so. [Chorus]
Oh now I’m going to find her, for my heart is full of woe,
And we’ll sing the songs togeather [sic], that we sung so long ago
We’ll play the banjo gaily, and we’ll sing the songs of yore,
And the Yellow Rose of Texas shall be mine forevermore. [Chorus]
It was more than 25 years later that the lyrics were changed. “Soldier” replaced “darky.” And the first line of the chorus was also changed to read, “She’s the sweetest little flower....”
In 1864 General Hood and the Texas Brigade, fighting in Tennessee, were defeated. His men retreated in such confusion they thought the war was over. Many headed home, and a fourth stanza was added:
And now I’m going southward, for my heart is full of woe,
I’m going back to Georgia, to see my Uncle Joe.
You may talk about your Beauregard, and sing of Bobbie Lee,
But the gallant Hood of Texas played hell in Tennessee.
Some versions have the third line changed to read, “...and sing of General Lee,” — an obvious reference to the Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
From the 1955 Mitch Miller rendition, the song now reads:
There’s a yellow rose in Texas, That I am going to see,
Nobody else could miss her, Not half as much as me.
She cried so when I left her It like to broke my heart,
And if I ever find her, We nevermore will part.