Mole in the Ground

Traditional | Roud 4957, Ballad Index BAF900

Lyrics:

I wish I was a mole in the ground
Wish I was a mole in the ground
If I’s a mole in the ground
I would tear that mountain down
I wish I was a mole in the ground

Tippy wants a nine dollar shawl
Tippy wants a nine dollar shawl
When I come o’er the hill
With that forty dollar bill
Darling, where’ve you been so long?

Darling, where’ve you been so long?
Darling, where’ve you been so long?
I’ve been ’round the bend
With some rough and rowdy men
Oh, darling, where’ve you been so long?

I don’t like them railroad men
I don’t like them railroad men
Those railroad men
They will kill you when they can
And drink up your blood like wine

I wish I was a lizard in the spring
Wish I was a lizard in the spring
If I’s a lizard in the spring
I would hear my true love sing
I wish I was a lizard in the spring

Oh darlin’, let your hair roll down
Darlin’, let your hair roll down
Let your hair roll down
And your bangs curl around
Oh darlin’, let your hair roll down

I wish I was a mole in the ground
Wish I was a mole in the ground
If I’s a mole in the ground
I would tear that mountain down
I wish I was a mole in the ground

Additional Verses
I sure love my darling, God knows
I sure love my darling, God knows
Come down the stairs, comb back your yellow hair
I sure love my darling, God knows
Lyrics Published in The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, Vol. 3

From the performance of Frank Moody in Jonathan’s Creek, Haywood Co, NC in 1921

I wish I was a mole in the ground
I wish I was a mole in the ground
If I’s a mole in the ground I’d root that mountain down;
I wish I was a mole in the ground.

I don’t like a railroad man;
I don’t like a railroad man;
A railroad man will kill you when he can
And drink up your blood like wine.

Oh, Tempy wants a nine-dollar shawl;
Oh, Tempy wants a nine-dollar shawl;
When I come o’er the hill with a forty-dollar bill
Oh, it’s ‘Baby, where you been so long?’

And it’s ‘Where have you been so long?’

And it’s ‘Where have you been so long?’
‘I’ve been in the bend with rough and rowdy men.’
‘Tis ‘Where have you been so long?’

I wish I was a lizard in the spring;

I wish I was a lizard in the spring;
If I’s a lizard in the spring I’d hear my darlin’ sing;
I wish I was a lizard in the spring.

Variant - My Doney, Where You Been So Long?

From the performance of Ola Belle Reed off her 1977 album, Ola Belle Reed & Family (Rounder 0077)

My doney, where you been so long?
Doney, where you been so long?
Been in the bed, covered up my head
Darling, that’s where I’ve been so long

Little birdie, won’t you fly away home
Birdie, won’t you fly away
Fly away, come back another day
Birdie, won’t you fly away home

Why does a tall pines pine
Why does a tall pines pine
Pining for her own true love
Just like I pine for mine

Oh, which way does a red river run
Where does a red river run
It runs straight to my back door
Down towards the rising sun

My doney, where you been so long?
Doney, where you been so long?
Been in the bed, covered up my head
Darling, that’s where I’ve been so long

Variant - Sammie, Where You Been So Long?

From the 1927 performance of Dock Boggs for Brunswick (Cat. No. 131-B).

Sammie, where you been so long?
Sammie, where you been so long?
I been to the West, and I’m going back, I guess.
Oh, honey, let me beg you, please don’t go

Oh, honey, let me beg you, please don’t go.
Oh, honey, let me beg you, please don’t go.
You see me coming in with my twenty dollar bill
And it’s honey, let me beg you, please don’t go

And my last gold dollar done and gone
And my last gold dollar done and gone
For my whiskey bill is due, and my board bill is too
And my last gold dollar done and gone

Featured On:
Old Time American Music

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About the Song:

“I Wish I Was A Mole in the Ground”, or simpy “Mole in the Ground”, is an Anglo-American floating verse non-ballad first collected in 1921 by Frank C. Brown from a performance by Frank Moody in Jonathan’s Creek, Haywood Co, NC. It wasn’t published until 1952 in The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore: Folk Songs from North Carolina, Vol. Three (song no. 173). In this book, Brown says that the melody most likely came from either river rustabouts or a lost minstrel song. Although published after Brown’s initial collection of the tune, Bascom Lamar Lunsford and Lamar Edwin Stringfield’s 30 and 1 Folk Songs from the Southern Mountains included this song under the name “I Wish I Wuz A Mole in the Ground” in 1929.

Other titles include: “I Wish I Was/Were A Mole in the Ground”, “Tempie, Roll Down Your Bangs”

Related songs and variants: “New River Train”, “Alberta Let Yo’ Hair Hang Low”, “Hard Rocking Chair”