Folk Song – Monticello, Virginia

Rise up, Rise up darling Billie

What makes you sleep so sound

The revenue officers are coming

They’re gonna tear your still house down

Well the first time I seen darling Billie

She was sitting on the banks of the sea

Had a forty-four around her body

And a banjo on her knee

Go away go away darling Billie

Quit hanging around my bed.

Your liquor has ruined my body

Pretty women gone to my head

Leah learned heard this song as a child growing up in the town of Monticello, Virginia.  She believes that she learned it from her father, but thinks it could have also been sung to her by her older brother Jack Brown.  The above lyrics are not the entire song, but it is all that Leah remembers and she does not know the name of the song as well.  “I believe that the song is referring to a promiscuous girl, named Billie, who sleeps around.  I feel that the message in the song is to keep young girls from acting promiscuous or else there will be rash punishments.”  Her cousins who lived in South Carolina also knew the song as well, but because it was passed along through the family.

I agree with Leah in the sense that this song is meant to prevent young girls from acting promiscuous.  This is supported by the fact that either her father or brother sang her this song, both being protective masculine figures who are warning their daughter or sister.  I also feel that the song infers male promiscuity and irresponsibility as well.  Specifically by telling Billie to “quit hanging around in my bed” and claiming that the “liquor has ruined my body”.  By looking at historic geographic along with the words used in the folk song, it seems to have originated in the south or southeast, near some body of water.  Also, the terminology in the song appears old fashioned and could mean the song originated in the late 19th century to early 20th century.