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"Sweet Betsy from Pike," Lyrics, Text Format
"Sweet Betsy from Pike," Lyrics, Text Format

Beginning syncopation, two part (harmonic echo) refrain, descending octave skip (P8), tonic (I,C) and mediant (iii,Em) arpeggios.



  • Grade: Fifth
  • Origin: England – tune: “Villikens and His Dinah”
    USA – words: Folk Ballad
  • Key: C Major
  • Time: 3/4
  • Form: AB – verse/refrain
  • Rhythm: beginners: | ta ta ta | ta/a ta | ta/a ti ti |
    | ta ta/ ti | syncopation, | (ta) ta/ ti | syncopation,
    | ta (ta) (ta) |
  • Pitches: intermediate: Ti Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do
  • Intervals: intermediate: Do/Mi/So/Do8 ascending tonic arpeggio (I, C), Ti\So (M3), So/Do8 (P4), Ti\So\Mi descending mediant (iii, Em), So\Do (P5), Do/Do ascending tonic octave skip (P8), La/Do8\La (m3), Fa\Re (m3)
  • Musical Elements: notes: dotted half, half, dotted quarter, quarter, eighth; rest: quarter; pickup beat, two part (harmonic echo) refrain, singing in parts, repeated melodic rhythm patterns, syncopation, vocal slur, octave, tonic (I, C) and mediant (iii, Em) arpeggios
  • Key Words: USA history: Brigham Young; USA geography: world geography: England, Shanghai; Pike, Missouri, California, Salt Lake City, Utah; wide prairie, husband, yoke of Oxen, swam, rivers, peaks, camped, starvation, cholera, slaughter, plateau, sore-footed, repose, gazed, starry night, shouted, whiskey, plain, wagon train, thundering, horde, scared, scalp, adored, wagon-bed, crawl, musket ball, terrible, crash, suspicious, square, inquire, declared, frightened, pawing, steer, alkali, desert, soul, shrank, lurked, fondly, embraced, waist, rooster, cattle, fried bacon, discouraged, wonderfully, suddenly, wonder, Placerville, Hangtown, attended, doggone, chock-full, jealous, obtained, divorce, well-satisfied, shout, lummox (clumsy person); contractions: ’twas (it was), you’ll (you will); abbreviations: ‘spint (in spite), o’er (over); colloquial slang: injuns (indians), hoss (big man)

*possibly the county of Pike, Missouri, USA

“Sweet Betsy from Pike” 

1. Oh, don’t you remember sweet Betsy from Pike?
She crossed the wide prairies with her brother Ike,
With two yoke of Oxen, and old yellow dog,
A tall Shanghai rooster and one spotted hog.
Too-ra-lee, too-ra-lay,
Singing too-ra-lee, too-ra-lay, too-ra-lee-ay.
They swam the wide rivers and crossed the tall peaks,
And camped on the prairie for weeks upon weeks.
Starvation and cholera, hard work and slaughter–
They reached California ‘spite of rain and high water.
3. One evening quite early they camped on the Platte,
Twas near by the road on a green shady flat.
Betsy, sore-footed, lay down to repose–
With wonder Ike gazed on that Pike County rose.
4. Out on the prairie one bright, starry night,
They broke out the whiskey, and Betsy got tight.
She sang and she shouted and she danced o’er the plain,
And she put on a show to the whole wagon train.
5. Out on the prairie one bright, starry night,
They broke out the whiskey, and Betsy got tight.
She sang and she shouted and she danced o’er the plain,
And she put on a show to the whole wagon train.
6. The Injuns came down in a thundering horde,
And Betsy was scared they would scalp her adored.
So under the wagon-bed Betsy did crawl
And she fought off the Injuns with musket and ball.
7. The wagon broke down with a terrible crash,
And out on the prairie rolled all sorts of trash.
A few little baby-clothes, done up with care,
Looked rather suspicious, but all on the square.
8. They stopped at Salt Lake to inquire of the way,
When Brigham declared that Sweet Betsy should stay.
Betsy got frightened and ran like a deer,
While Brigham stood pawing the ground like a steer.
9. The alkali desert was burning and bare,
And Isaac’s soul shrank from the death that lurked there.
“Dear old Pike County, I’ll go back to you”–
Says Betsy, “You’ll go by yourself if you do!”
10. They soon reached the desert, where Betsy gave out,
And down in the sand she lay rolling about.
Ike in great wonder looked on in surprise,
Saying, “Betsy, get up, you’ll get sand in your eyes.”
11. Sweet Betsy got up in a great deal of pain.
She declared she’d go back to Pike County again.
Ike gave a sigh, and they fondly embraced,
And they traveled along with his arm round her waist.
12. The Shanghai ran off, and the cattle all died,
That morning the last piece of bacon was fried.
Ike got discouraged, Betsy got mad,
The dog drooped his tail and looked wonderfully sad.
13. They suddenly stopped on a very high hill,
With wonder looked down upon old Placerville.
Ike said to Betsy, as he cast his eyes down,
“Sweet Betsy, my darling, we’ve got to Hangtown.”
14 Long Ike and Sweet Betsy attended a dance.
Ike wore a pair of his Pike County pants.
Betsy was covered with ribbons and rings.
Says Ike, “You’re an angel, but where is your wings?”
15. A miner said, “Betsy, will you dance with me?”
“I will that, old hoss, if you don’t make too free.
Don’t dance me hard, do you want to know why?
Doggone you, I’m chock-full of strong alkali.”
16. This Pike County couple got married, of course,
But Ike became jealous, and obtained a divorce.
Betsy, well-satisfied, said with a shout,
“Good-bye, you big lummox, I’m glad you backed out!”
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"Sweet Betsy from Pike," Music Format
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