Buffalo Gals (public domain)





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Published on Jan 28, 2013

There is considerable discussion about the origins of 'Buffalo Gals.' No matter what way you cut it, the song is clearly in the public domain. We know from the Frank C Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore that "Lubly Fan" was a direct antecedant of "Buffalo Gals". The former was copyrighted in 1844 by Cool White, one of the most popular black-faced minstrels of the day whose real name was John Hodges. The 'Buffalo Gals' version was copyrighted in 1848 with no composer or author listed. Allen and John Lomax believe it was a traditional tune, known before Cool White published the music. It is quite possible that it was fashioned after similar tunes originating in the UK, like the 'Bell Tune".

The song was widely popular throughout the United States, performed by travelling 'black-faced minstrel variety shows'. Because of its popularity, minstrels altered the lyrics to suit the local audience, so it might be performed as "New York Gals" in New York City or "Boston Gals" in Boston. The best-known version is named after Buffalo, New York. The song became popular again in the early 1940's as a fiddle tune. It appears listed in the early 20th century repertories of such geographically disparate fiddlers as Arizona fiddler Kenner C. Kartchner and Union County, Pa., fiddler Harry Daddario. Musicologist/Folklorist Vance Randolph recorded the tune from Ozark Mountain fiddler for the Library of Congress in the early 1940's.

In 1944, 'Dance With Dolly' set to the same tune became a hit in the USA, and a 1960 hit by Ray Smith called, 'Rockin' Little Angel' was set to the same tune.

Lyrics/ Chords/ TAB:

E --3-------------------------------------­------------------------------

A ------3---------------------------------­------------------------------

D ----------0---2----3---------------2----­----3----0------------2---

G ---------------------------2----0-------­-0--------------2---0------

B ----------------------------------------­-------------------------------

E ----------------------------------------­-------------------------------


E --3-------------------------------------­-------------------------

A ----------------------------------------­-------------------------

D ---------------------------------2------­-3----0------------2--

G ---------------2---0---2---0------0-----­---------2---0-------

B -------1---0----------------------------­-------------------------

E ----------------------------------------­---------------------------


Lyrics and Chords:
Chorus: (C) Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
(G7) Come out tonight, (C) come out tonight. (I say)
Buffalo Gals, won't you come out tonight,
And (G7) dance by the light of the (C) moon.

As I was walking down the street, (G7) Down the street, (C) down the street,
A pretty little gal I chanced to meet, Oh, (G7) she was fair to (C) see
I stopped her and we had a talk, Had a talk, had a talk,
Her feet took up the whole sidewalk And left no room for me

I asked her if she'd have a dance, Have a dance, have a dance,
I thought that I might have a chance To shake a foot with her

I danced with a gal with a hole in her stockin',
And her heel kept a-knockin', and her toes kept a-rockin'

I danced with a gal with a hole in her stockin'
And we danced by the light of the moon.

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