Roving Gambler, The (The Gambling Man) [Laws H4]
This American folk song, known under many different names including "The Gambler", "Roaming Gambler", "Gambling Man", and "Roving Soldier", probably originated with an English broadside known as such as "The Journeyman" or "The Roving Journeyman", which appears in English broadsides from the 19th Century (Roud #360 in the Bodleian Library).
The one below is dated between 1818 and 1838:
The Roving Journeyman / The Rambling Irishman (Roud 360; G/D 7:1397)
American antecedents are easier to trace. "The Gamboling Man" appears in "Delaney's Song Book No. 23" around 1900 and was republished, with repeated lines eliminated, by Carl Sandburg in his "American Song Bag" (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1927). Sandburg assumes it was disseminated by the minstrel shows through the south and west, and stresses that the gambling motif is an American introduction: "while gamblers may gambol and gambolers may gamble, the English version carries no deck of cards."
"The Roving Gambler" was also included in John A. and Alan Lomax's "American Ballads and Folk Songs" (New York: Macmillan, 1935)
American ballads & Folk Songs - Page 0250
The Roving Gambler (Roud Folksong Index S220285)
John Lomax acquired this song from one of his star informants, Slim Critchlow, who sang with the Utah Buckaroos, a cowboy band, on Salt Lake City radio stations KDYL and KSL. Critchlow's version is similar to those collected in many other parts of the United States and closely resembles a variant called the "Guerilla Man".
In 1917 Cecil Sharp had collected a version in Pineville, Kentucky from Mrs Townsley and Mrs Wilson
The Roving Gambler (Cecil Sharp Manuscript Collection (at Clare College, Cambridge) CJS2/10/3796)
The song is also included in Henry Marvin Belden's "Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society" (1940).
A ROVING SOLDIER
I am a roving soldier,
I rove from town to town,
And when I see a table
So willingly I sit down.
I eat when I'm hungry,
I drink when I get dry,
And if the Rebels don't kill me
I'll live until I die.
'Oh, daughter! oh, daughter!
What makes you treat me so?
To leave your native country
With a roving soldier boy?'
'Oh, mother, oh, mother!
You know I love you well,
But the love that I have for that Union man
No mortal tongue can tell.
'His pockets lined with greenbacks,
His musket in his hand,
The men at his command.
'And when they hear him coming
They'll wring their hands with joy,
And one will say to the other,
"'There comes the soldier boy.'"
Collected 1912- "learned it about ten years before from an old man..."
H. M. Belden, Ballads and Songs, collected by the Missouri Folklore Society, 1940(1973), "The Guerrilla Boy," B, with music.
A Roving Soldier (Roud Folksong Index S220302)
THE GUERRILLA BOY
I am a roving guerrilla,
I rove from town to town,
And whenever I spy a pretty little girl
So willingly I get down
So willingly I get down.
I rode on my journey
Till I came to Bloomfield* town,
And there I spied a pretty little girl
And willingly I got down (2x).
I had not been in Bloomfield
More days than two or three
Till I fell in love with a pretty little girl
And she fell in love with me (2x).
She asked me in her parlor,
She cooled me with her fan;
She whispered in her mother's ear,
'I love the guerrilla man.'
'Oh, daughter, dearest daughter,
How can you serve me so,
To leave your kind old mother
And with the guerrilla go?'
'Oh, mother, dearest mother,
I know I love you well;
But the love I have for the guerrilla man
No human tongue can tell.
'I'll bundle up my clothing
With my true love by my side,
And I'll rove this wide world over
And be a guerrilla's bride.
'And when I see him coming
I'll clap my hands for joy
And say to my old mother,
"'There come's my guerrilla boy!"
'With his pockets lined with silver,
A **navy in each hand,
A long and full success
To the roving guerrilla man!'
And now this war is over,
I'll lay my **navy down.
To be a roving guerrilla
I wear the starry crown.***
*Bloomfield is in southeast Missouri. **Navy- the navy revolver, favored as a sidearm in the Civil War era. ***starry crown- meaning?
The song derives from "The Roving Journeyman," which appears in English broadsides. Belden says "probably of Irish origin." Also see "The Gambling Man."
H. M. Belden, "Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society," 1940, 1973, p. 374, The Guerrilla Boy A.
A Civil War song.
The Guerilla Boy (Roud Folksong Index S207391)
It is # 498 in the Roud Folk Music Index.
English Folk Dance and Song Society: The National Organisation for the Development of the Folk Arts
AND HERE ARE THE RECORDINGS:
Although instrumental, Samantha Bumgarner's "Gamblin' Man" has the musical framework for all the later "Rovin' Gambler"/"Gamblin' Man" versions
(o) Samantha Bumgarner (1924) (as "Gamblin' Man")
Recorded April 23, 1924 in New York
Released on Columbia 191-D
Samantha Bumgarner And Eva Davis / Samantha Bumgarner - I Am My Mamma's Darling Child / The Gamblin' Man (Shellac) at Discogs
(c) Kelly Harrell (1925) (as "Rovin' Gambler")
Recorded January 7, 1925 in New York
Released on Victor 19596
Kelly Harrell - New River Train / Rovin' Gambler (Shellac) at Discogs
More than 1 year later Harrell recorded another version for the Victor label
That version was recorded on June 8, 1926 on Victor 20171.
78 RPM - Kelly Harrell - Rovin' Gambler / New River Train - Victor - USA - 20171
Kelly Harrell - Rovin' Gambler (Shellac) at Discogs
(c) Land Norris (1925) (as "Gambling Man")
Recorded April 1925 in Atlanta, GA.
Released on Okeh 40404
OKeh matrix 9084. Gambling man / Land Norris - Discography of American Historical Recordings
(c) Al Craver (=Vernon Dalhart) (1925) (as "The Rovin' Gambler")
Recorded June 6, 1925 in New York
Released on Columbia 15034-D
Al Craver - The Rovin' Gambler / The Wreck Of The 1256 (On The Main Line Of The C. & O.) (Shellac) at Discogs
Or here: The Rovin%27 Gambler - Al Craver.mp3
(c) Welby Toomey (1926) (as "Roving Gambler")
Recorded October 1926 in Richmond, IN
Released on Gennett 6005
Welby Toomey - The Death Of John Henry / Roving Gambler (Shellac) at Discogs
(c) Gid Tanner and his Skillet-Lickers (1929) (as "Roving Gambler")
Recorded 8 April 8, 1929 in Atlanta, GA.
Released on Columbia 15447-D
Columbia matrix W148211. The rovin' gambler / Skillet Lickers ; Gid Tanner - Discography of American Historical Recordings
Gid Tanner And His Skillet-Lickers* With Riley Puckett And Clayton McMichen - It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo' / The Rovin' Gambler (Shellac) at Discogs
In 1944 Woody Guthrie adapted the song a bit and made a recording for Moses Asch
(c) Woody Guthrie (as "Gambling Man")
Recorded April 19, 1944
Matrix MA 51
Woody Guthrie discography - Wikipedia
Mastered from Smithsonian Acetate 086 10" shellac disc, in 1997 it was finally released on "Muleskinner Blues The Asch Recordings. vol.2"
Woody Guthrie - Muleskinner Blues: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 2 (CD) at Discogs
(c) Terry Gilkyson (1950) (as "Rovin' Gambler")
Praguefrank's Country Discography 2: Terry Gilkyson / Easy Riders
Terry Gilkyson - Folk Songs By The Solitary Singer (Vinyl) at Discogs
In 1957 Lonne Donegan copied the Woody Guthrie-adaptation and took it to the #1 spot in the UK chart.
(c) Lonnie Donegan (1957) (as "Gambling Man")
Recorded on May 9, 1957 live at the London Palladium and released as a double A side along with "Puttin' On the Style". It reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart in June and July 1957, where it spent two weeks in this position.
78 RPM - Lonnie Donegan - Putting On The Style / Gamblin' Man - Pye Nixa - UK - N.15093
Lonnie Donegan And His Skiffle Group* - Putting On The Style / Gamblin' Man (Vinyl) at Discogs
(c) New Lost City Ramblers (1958) (as "Roving Gambler")
New Lost City Ramblers - Smithsonian Folkways
(c) Everly Brothers (1958) (as "Roving Gambler")
The Everly Brothers* - Songs Our Daddy Taught Us (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
(c) The Easy Riders (1959) (as "Rovin' Gambler")
(c) The Brothers Four (1960) (as "I Am a Roving Gambler")
Vinyl Album - The Brothers Four - B.M.O.C. - Columbia - USA
The Brothers Four - B.M.O.C. (Best Music On/Off Campus) (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
(c) Slim Dusty (1961) (as "Rovin' Gambler")
Slim Dusty Discography
Slim Dusty And His Bushlanders - Songs For Rolling Stones (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
(c) Frankie Laine (1961) (as "The Roving Gambler")
Recorded July 5, 1961 in Hollywood.
Frankie Laine - Deuces Wild (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
(c) Jim Reeves (1964) (as "Roving Gambler")
Recorded March/April 1963 Johannesburg, RSA
Jim Reeves - Kimberley Jim (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
Jim also sang it in the movie "Kimberley Jim".
(c) Hedy West (1965) (as "Gambling Man")
Hedy West - Old Times & Hard Times (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
(c) Simon & Garfunkel (1970) (as "Roving Gambler")
Recorded in 1970 as a demo, finally released in 2001
Simon & Garfunkel - The Columbia Studio Recordings 1964-1970 (CD, Album) at Discogs
Sounds Of Silence | The Official Simon & Garfunkel Site
(c) Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie (1975) (as "Roving Gambler")
Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie - Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie Together In Concert (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
Vinyl Album - Pete Seeger / Arlo Guthrie - Together In Concert - Warner Bros. - USA
(c) Bob Dylan (1998)
Recorded live on December 17, 1997 in El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles
Released on maxi-CD "Love Sick"
Bob Dylan - Love Sick (CD) at Discogs
But Bob had already taped the song in May 1960 in the apartment of Karen Wallace in St. Paul, Minnesota
I Was So Much Younger Then - BobsBoots - Bootleg CD-
St. Paul Tape 5/60
Here's a live version from April 1997.
(c) John Cohen & The Down Hill Strugglers (2013) [in film Inside Llewyn Davis]
Various - Inside Llewyn Davis - Original Soundtrack Recording (CD, Album) at Discogs
(c) Billie Joe Armstong and Norah Jones (2013)
Billie Joe* + Norah* - Foreverly (CD, Album) at Discogs
The Originals © by Arnold Rypens - ROVING GAMBLER, THE
Cover versions of The Roving Gambler written by [Traditional] | SecondHandSongs
Folk Music Index - Rou to Rum
Songs with the same melody:
The Little Black Train [Me III-C 41] Folk Music Index - Lit to Little K
The Gambler's Dying Words [Laws H22/Sh 152A/Me I-B102] Folk Music Index - G to Ged
Harkreader And Moore - Way Down In Jail On My Knees / The Gambler's Dying Words (Shellac) at Discogs
Roving Moonshiner [Me I-B 95b] - Martin, Asa/Traditional Folk Music Index - Rou to Rum
PERFECT 78rpm numerical listing discography (12500 - 13000)