Song Lyrics

Fare Thee Well (Dink's Song)

Traditional

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If I had wings like Noah's dove
I'd fly that river to the one I love
Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well

I've got a man, and he's long and tall
Moves his body like a cannon ball
Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well

They gave me a new man to share my bed
Sometimes I wish that I was dead
Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well

One of these mornings I know he's gonna set me free
There'll be no more auction block for me
Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well

Yes one of these mornings and it won't be long
Them white bosses gonna find me gone
Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well
Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well

Footnotes to Fare Thee Well (Dink's Song)

This is an American folk song played by many folk revival musicians such as Pete Seeger, Fred Neil, Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Cisco Houston as well as more recent musicians like Jeff Buckley. The song traditionally tells the story of a woman deserted by her lover when she needs him the most - but Joni's version is largely about a slave longing for freedom. It's uncertain where Joni heard this version of the song.

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.

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