‘I’ve Been All Around This World’ + Clawhammer Banjo Tab

By Wayne Erbsen

Of all the many kinds of songs there are to sing, by far my favorites are what I call “real songs.” These were not written in an air conditioned office on the fourteenth floor by fancy pants professional songwriters. Instead, they were written about events that really happened, by real people who were there to witness it.

Judge Parker “I’ve Been All Around This World” could not be any more real if it tried. The outlaw captured in this song was reportedly hanged for murder in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the 1870s. If this is true, the chances are good that he was sentenced to die by the famous hanging judge himself, The Honorable Issac Charles Parker. From 1875 to 1896 Judge Parker had jurisdiction over Oklahoma and all of the Indian Territory. Over those twenty-one years, he tried over 13,500 cases and sentenced 106 men to death. Of that number, seventy-nine were hanged during his term of office. During the first fourteen years he was on the bench, the convicted could seek no appeal, save from heaven.

Parker’s chief executioner was George Maledon, who took great pride in his “scientific” hangings. Of the seventy-nine men sentenced to death by the Hanging Judge, Maledon personally hanged sixty. When he finally retired, he went on the lecture circuit, proudly displaying several of his favorite hanging ropes.

I’ve Been All Around This World has been collected under such titles as The GamblerMy Father Was a Gambler, The New Railroad, The Hobo’s Lament, and The Hobo’s Blues.

In 1930, George Milburn published a book entitled The Hobo’s Hornbook that included a version of I’ve Been All Round this World that included this great verse:1930_the_hobos_hornbook__george_milburn_01_thumb

Bring to me my supper boys, I’ll eat ‘er done or raw
Bring to me my supper boys, I’ll eat ‘er done or raw
For I haven’t had a square meal since I left Arkansas
I’ve been all around this world

The following tabbed arrangement is written out for clawhammer banjo in what’s commonly known as double C tuning (gCGCD). If you don’t happen to play clawhammer style banjo, you can take the same melody and add your favorite banjo rolls.

I've Been All Around This World

Working on the new railroad with mud up to my knees,
Working on the new railroad with mud up to my knees,
Working for big John Henry and he’s so hard to please,
I’ve been all around this world.

Hang me, oh hang me and I’ll be dead and gone,
Hang me oh hang me, and I’ll be dead and gone,
It’s not the hanging that I mind it’s layin’ in the jail so long,
I’ve been all around this world.

Up on the Blue Ridge Mountains it’s there I’ll take my stand,
Up on the Blue Ridge Mountains it’s there I’ll take my stand,
With a rifle on my shoulder, six shooter in my hand,
I’ve been all around this world.

Lulu, oh lulu come and open up the door,
Lulu, oh lulu come and open up the door
Before I have to open it with my old .44,
I’ve been all around this world.

When you go a fishing, take a hook and line,
When you go a fishing, take a hook and line,
When you go a courting don’t never look behind,
I’ve been all around this world.

If you see a rich girl, just pass her down the line,
If you see a rich girl, just pass her down the line,
And when you see a poor girl, just ask her to be mine,
I’ve been all around this world.

3 thoughts on “‘I’ve Been All Around This World’ + Clawhammer Banjo Tab

  1. Hello, Native Ground: I just thought that I’d let you know that I quoted a verse from this website (and the url) on the Steve Hoffman Music Forums. It was in the context of favorite Grateful Dead songs. I was thrilled to find your webpage here on I’ve Been All Around This World. Grateful Dead performed this traditional song in 1970 and in 1980.

    I gave you full credit and I hope the verse I posted constitutes fair use (in consideration of me noting your business address below). If you feel otherwise, please let me know and I will have the moderators remove any reference that you object to. My email is below. I realize that this sort of thing happens all the time (with no correspondence to the source), but I respect what you are doing (I’m a guitarist and bass player of some 40 years), and I always like to do the right thing.

    Best,
    John Martin
    Medford, MA

    1. Thanks for quoting us, and thanks for letting us know!

  2. Mamma and Pappa, little sister makes three.
    Mamma and Pappa, little sister makes three.
    They’re coming in the morning, that’s the last you’ll see of me
    I’ve been all around this world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.