Thursday, October 3, 2013

Arthur Fields - "Water, Water, Wildflower" (with lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part post about the singing game "Water Water Wallflower" (also known as "Water Water Wildflower" and other similar titles). This post showcases a 1926 sound file of Arthur Fields' record "Water Water Wildflower". My transcription of that record is also included in this post.

Click for Part I of this series.

Part I provides information & comments about that singing game. Text examples of that singing game are also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, recreational, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Pancocojams focuses on music from African Americans and other Black people throughout the world. By showcasing this record by Arthur Field I am not suggesting that he was of any Black descent.

I'm highlighting this sound file because
1. It was the only one that I've found about this song
2. The song "Water, Water, Wildflower" has at least one African American version [the 1944 singing game "Water Flower" that was collected by Altona Trent Johns and included in her book Playsongs of the Deep South].

Furthermore, Arthur Fields' version of Water, Water, Wildflower" includes a verse of the singing game "Go In & Out The Window" that I grew up playing [in the 1950s, Atlantic City, New Jersey] - and I'm African American.

Besides, "music from African Americans and other Black people" doesn't have to mean "music that was "solely" created by Black people" - if you will forgive the pun. If that were the case, that would rule out a number of Rhythm & Blues songs & a number of songs from other "Black" music genres.

Also, specifically in regards to Arthur Fields (August 6, 1888 – March 29, 1953), I learned from reading his Wikipedia page that "His 1919 recordings with bandleader Ford Dabney may be the very first recordings of a white singer backed by a black band." So by that criteria alone, Arthur Field well deserves to be featured on this blog.


Arthur Fields "Water, Water, Wildflower" Youngster 78

Ryan Barna, Published on Aug 22, 2013

Arthur Fields (mislabeled as "Arthur Hall") sings "Water, Water, Wildflower" on 6" Youngster 106 (b) (matrix 1983-D). Recorded by Grey Gull, 1926.

(as sung by Arthur Fields)

Water, water, wild flowers, growing up so high;
We are all young ladies,
And we are sure to die,
Excepting Susie Allen.
She is the finest flower,
Fie, fie, fie for shame;
Turn about and tell your beau's name.

Johnny Turner is a nice young man,
He comes to the door with his hat in his hand.
Down he comes, all dressed in silk,
A rose in her bosom, as white as milk.
She takes off her gloves, she shows me her ring,
Tomorrow, tomorrow, the wedding begins.

Go round and round the valley
Go round and round the valley
Go round and round the valley
As we are all so gay

Go in and out the window
Go in and out the window
Go in and out the window
As we are all so gay

Go back and face your lover
Go back and face your lover
Go back and face your lover
As we are all so gay

Such love have I to show you
Such love have I to show you
Such love have I to show you
As we are all so gay
Transcription from Azizi Powell from the above sound file. Italics means that I'm not sure about that particular line. Additions & corrections are welcome.

Here's information about the song "Go In And Out The Window" from
"Go In and Out The Window" is a popular song composed by Hall of Fame songwriter Lew Pollack (1895–1946). The song remains popular today as a children's music standard. Melody circa 1762; lyrics "Bear Went" circa 1939 (Linscott); Earliest Date for US version of Go in and Out the Window: 1911; certainly dates back to 19th century. English versions published 1898."

Thanks to Arthur Fields for his musical legacy.

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Visitor comments are weclome.


  1. I never met this song in real life, but I remember reading a short story in which it's referred to. It was a ghost story, and I'm afraid I've forgotten the author and title. I have an idea it probably dates from 1940s (the story, that is), or at least was written before WW2, I don't know why I think that. In the story the song is presented as part of a traditional Scottish game for girls, and this site seems to think the same:

    Perhaps the children's game derived from Pollack's hit, but I think perhaps it was the other way round.

    In the story the words were (from memory):

    Water water wallflower, standing so high
    We are all maidens, we must all die
    Except [name?], she's the fairest of us all
    She can dance and she can sing
    And soon she'll show her wedding ring.

    The ghost story is that a beautiful girl vanishes after her wedding day, and years later her skeleton is found and only identified by the wedding ring. But in the years she is still mysteriously missing a faint, spectral voice sometimes joins in the children's singing during this game, but changing the words. The sad voice laments that the lost girl "She can't dance, and she can't sing, but she can STILL show her wedding ring.." Cue shiver:)

    1. Thanks for your comment, slam2011. Like you, I've never performed "Water Water Waterflower" or seen it performed.

      For the folkloric record, I'm quoting the content of the page whose hyperlink you shared:;jsessionid=6476B3656ED0B655B6ABAFF7AF68B85F

      "Title - Water, Water, Wallflower
      Contributors - Jean Rodger
      Reporters - Dr Emily Lyle

      Summary - Girls' singing game, 'Water, Water, Wallflower'.

      The girls make a circle and go round singing:

      Water, water, wallflower, growing up so high,
      We are all maidens and we must all die,
      Except Jeannie Rodgers who is the fairest one,
      She can dance and she can sing and she can do the polka.
      Fie, fie, fie for shame, turn your back to the wall again.

      At "Fie, fie" everyone points to the person named, who then must turn and face the other way. Jean Rodger also had a different version of this rhyme given to her by an old lady from farther north.

      Track Duration (h:m:s) - 00:01:31
      Date Recorded - 1976.07.10
      Language - English
      Genre - Song, Information
      Collection - School of Scottish Studies


      Recording Location:
      County - Angus
      Parish - Forfar
      Village - Forfar"
      That page includes hyperlinks to four other examples of "Water Water Waterflower". Here's one that features a boy in the center:

      Title - Water Water Wallflower
      Contributors - Alexander Smith
      Reporters - Dr Emily Lyle

      Summary - Water, water, wildflower, growing by the wa
      We are all children and we must all die
      'ceptin [name], the youngest of them aa,
      He must dance and he must sing
      And he must turn a saucer [do a somersault]
      Fy, fy, fy for shame
      Turn your back and walk in.

      Track Duration (h:m:s) - 00:00:43
      Date Recorded - 1977.02.27
      Language - Scots
      Genre - Song
      Collection - School of Scottish Studies