May I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight
(MacEdward Leach) video
#1840: YouTube video by lewdite
©2011 ~ Used with permission ~

One night it was dark and was stormy,
Along came a tramp in the rain;
He was making his way to some station,
To catch a long distance train.

"May I sleep in your barn tonight, mister?
It is cold and I'm out on the ground;
And the cold north winds they are whistling,
And I have no place to lie down.

"I have no tobacco or matches,
And I fear I won't do you no harm;
I will tell you my story, kind mister,
For it runs through my heart like a song.

"It was just a year ago last summer,
I shall never forget that sad day,
When a stranger came out from the city,
And he said that he wanted to stay.

"Oh, this stranger was fair, tall and handsome,
And he looked like a man who had wealth;
And he said that he came to this country,
Said he was staying here for his health.

"One night as I came from my workshop,
I was whistling and singing with joy;
I was expecting a kind-hearted welcome,
From my own darling wife and my boy.

"But what did I find but a letter,
It was placed in the room on the stand;
And the moment my eyes fell upon it,
I took it right up in my hands.

"Oh, this note said my wife and the stranger,
They are gone and have taken my son;
And I wonder if God up in heaven,
Only knows what the stranger has done."

####.... Samuel M Mitchell and Charles E Pratt [1841-1902] ....####
Variant of Can I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight, Mister? popularized by Charlie Poole [1892-1931] and the North Carolina Ramblers (CO 15038-D, 1925). Sung by Catherine Powers [b.1938] of Pouch Cove, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

The video above features a variant performed by Lew Dite of Montreal, QC, who discovered the song on a tape of Clarence (Tom) Ashely which he purchased from the Smithsonian Institute a few years ago. Lew Dite also found the following note from the Smithsonian: "This tune is a member of the Bright Sherman Valley-Red River Valley family and the text is certainly the work of some 19th-century song-smith. Earlier texts cited by Randolph, seemingly closer to the unknown author's hand, carry excess baggage in the form of a more elaborate narrative and hand-wringing moral, but in the manner of folk song, Ashley's version has been pared down to the essentials. Randolph cites an early hillbilly songbook that credits E V Body."


Index Page
GEST Songs Of
Newfoundland And Labrador


~ Copyright Info ~

~ Privacy Policy ~

Confirm Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Here