“I’ve Been All Around This World” ~History, Lyrics & Banjo Tab

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 Gambler, ” “My 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,”
with 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.

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“I’ve Been All Around This World” can be found in Wayne’s book, Outlaw Ballads, Legends & Lore.  You can download our free catalog of songbooks, music instruction books & old-timey cookbooks HERE.  If you want to learn to play the banjo, check out Wayne’s beginning banjo instruction books Clawhammer Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus! and Bluegrass Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus!

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