Origin of 'Hush Little Baby'?
October 26, 2005 1:37 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for the origin of the lyrics to the lullaby generally known as "Hush Little Baby".

My research shows the original lyrics as appearing in William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker". Does any one have an earlier source or was Gibson in fact the author of this 'folk song'?

Also, I am trying to come up with a list of all poets/songs/artists who have their own recorded versions of this song/poem, your contributions would be welcome.
posted by page404 to Society & Culture (11 answers total)
I know that Nina Simone did a version of it in the early sixties. She combined it with another children's song, if I'm remembering it right. I remember loving it when I was a kid, but not much detail. Still, I'm certain that it's a lot older than the Gibson work. (er... assuming we're talking about the one that goes "don't say a word....mockingbird...don't sing...diamond ring... etc etc")
posted by bunglin jones at 2:22 AM on October 26, 2005

There's a little bit of info here, too.
posted by bunglin jones at 2:26 AM on October 26, 2005

Off the top of my head, I know it's been performed by Joan Baez, Nina Simone, Yo-Yo Ma & Bobby McFerrin and Barney the Purple Dinosaur. (okay, perhaps the last one doesn't count as an artist.)
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:43 AM on October 26, 2005

Another version: The Horseflies
posted by Zeedog at 4:36 AM on October 26, 2005

Bo Diddley's "Bo Diddley" has wildly different lyrics but is another version. The allmusic.com review states that it was based on a well-known nursery rhyme.
posted by kimota at 5:29 AM on October 26, 2005

Sorry, bunglin jones, I overlooked your link. Eminem's "Mockingbird" is yet another wildly different version.
posted by kimota at 5:37 AM on October 26, 2005

The original author of the Mockingbird Song is unknown and listed as Traditional.

Aretha Franklin recorded it, as did The Weavers. Taj Mahal did a great version with Etta James on his "Blues With a Feeling" album.
posted by naomi at 6:38 AM on October 26, 2005

The Horseflies version is haunting.
posted by lrivers at 8:49 AM on October 26, 2005

There's a version we sing to our daughter that comes from the book "Hush Little Alien" by Daniel Kirk -- though we replaced "Alien" with "Baby", so she doesn't think one day that she sprang fully formed from the belly of John Hurt.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 11:03 AM on October 26, 2005

Best answer: Here's an extensive list of recordings. There's a version from the 1939 Lomax recordings, and the Lomaxes held the 1941 sheet music copyright.
posted by dhartung at 9:16 PM on October 26, 2005

Response by poster: dhartung, thats a good list for folk song versions. Doesn't include Mamas and Papas or Led Zepplin or, as Kimota notes, Eminem.

Kimota and lrivers, Is Horseflies the celtic band that's been around for ages? I had some of their imports in the seventies, I hadn't realized they also recorded it.
posted by page404 at 2:31 PM on October 27, 2005

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