My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean

Album: various (1881)
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  • My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
    My Bonnie lies over the sea,
    My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
    Oh bring back my Bonnie to me,

    Bring back, bring back,
    Oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me,
    Bring back, bring back,
    Oh bring back my Bonnie to me!

    Last night as I lay on my pillow,
    Last night as I lay on my bed,
    Last night as I lay on my pillow,
    I dreamt that my Bonnie was dead.

    Bring back, bring back,
    Oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me,
    Bring back, bring back,
    Oh bring back my Bonnie to me! Lyrics from a song in Public Domain

Comments: 4

  • Holly from British ColumbiaThis song, without the lyrics is used for the Huggies diaper commercials. Just wondered if anyone is getting royalties.
  • James Day from Cape Cod MassachusettsThis is a great site, we were talking last night about ring around the Posey and we were able to actually look it up and see what the song was about
  • Andrew Wigglesworth from Coventry, England.Sorry, but the Jacobite connexion is pure romancing, as is a Scottish one.

    Look up the song “Bring back my Barney to me”, published in c. 1860 by the great music hall performer and song writer Harry Clifton.

    ———-
    Send back my Barney to me.

    He is gone and I’m now sad and lonely,
    He has left me to cross the wide sea,
    But I know that he thinks of me only,
    And will soon be returning to me.

    His eyes they were fill’d with devotion
    As my husband he said he’d soon be
    Then blow gently ye winds of the ocean
    And send back my Barney to me.

    If at night as I rest on my pillow,
    The wind heaves a moan and a sigh,
    I think of each angry billow,
    And watch ev’ry cloud o’er the sky.

    My bosom it fills with emotion,
    As I pray for one over the sea,
    Then blow gently ye winds of the ocean
    And send back my Barney to me.

    He has left me his fortune to better,
    I know that he went for my sake,
    Soon I’ll be receiving a letter,
    If not sure my poor heart will break.

    To say that he’ll soon be returning,
    To his dear native Ireland and me,
    The blow gently ye winds of the ocean
    And send back my Barney to me.

    https://bit.ly/38JOPoY
    ——-

    The song has had many parodies and adaptions with choruses etc. It became popular in US student “Glee Clubs” which produced various parodies/adaptations of the song.

    What you have here is a very distilled version, possibly from people half-remembering the song or just wanting this part of the parodied song.

    “What I am writing here is not my personal revelation, but open to anyone who delves into the origins of this song. It is well summarised by Malcolm Douglas on a Mudcat Cafe discussion thread:

    ——
    ” c.1860: ‘Send Back My Barney to Me’ written and published by Harry Clifton.

    “The song is quickly taken up by other performers in Britain and America. In the USA in particular it is ‘favoured by Irish comedians’ and is printed on broadsides and in songsters, frequently uncredited to Clifton and instead assumed to be, or claimed as, Irish.

    “By 1881 an adaptation or parody, with the tune a bit changed, begins to appear in print as ‘My Bonnie’. It seems to have started out as a student song, most likely in America; a song-sheet issued in 1882 by Harms of New York as ‘Bring Back My Bonnie to Me’ credits it to H J Fulmer (Charles E Pratt) and J T Woods, but the text is reputedly rather different and no conclusions can be drawn without seeing both words and music. Evidently ‘Barney’ and ‘Bonnie’ continue alongside each other for a time, with other songs being written that appear to have been inspired by them; or at any rate by the former.

    “By the early C20, ‘My Bonnie’ has eclipsed its parent, which is largely forgotten. The song’s enormous popularity leads to further parodies and to the tune being adopted for other songs in the same metre like ‘My father was hung for sheep-stealing’. This leads even some scholars to assume that the tune is Scottish.

    “The general public don’t need to ‘deduce’, of course; to them it is not only patently obvious that any song with the word ‘bonnie’ in it must be Scottish, but also that, if the sea is mentioned as well, it must be about ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. The more inventive may go for a less hackneyed option like ‘Bonnie George Campbell’, but with an equal lack of backup.”

    ———–
    This is the Mudcat thread, though you have to dig deep into it to start finding the answers posed.

    https://bit.ly/3BJaJ8e

    All in all, as I wrote at the beginning, the Jacobite (and Scottish) attributions are modern assumptions, back-formations and romancing.
  • G Mantel from Los AngelesThis makes no sense, whatsoever. The song is clearly about Ann Boney, the infamous Irish pirate in the Caribbean. "My Bonny lies over the ocean..."
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