Sweet Betsy from Pike


"Sweet Betsy from Pike" is an American ballad about the trials of a pioneer named Betsy and her lover Ike who migrate from Pike County Missouri to California. This Gold Rush-era song, with lyrics written by John A. Stone before 1858, was collected and published in Carl Sandburg's 1927 American Songbag. It was recorded by Burl Ives on February 11, 1941 for his debut album. The melody is to the tune of the Irish song "Master McGrath," which made its way to America after the Great Famine of Ireland. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. It has been adapted many times, most recently by Johnny Cash and myself (with apologies).

Sweet Betsy From Pike

Now don’t you remember sweet Betsy from Pike

Who joined a nice bridge club with her lover Ike

She bought Bridge for Dummies as it said on the blog

And arrived nice and early with Scout, her big dog

Ike bid three No Trump and Betsy made four

The next board they set ‘em and made even more

They made a small slam when her suit it did run

Betsy laughed loudly said “This sure is fun!”

Then Ike overbid game and Betsy fell short

The next hands went poorly but she was a sport

Then Betsy got tired, sat down to repose

And Ike he just gazed at his Pike County rose

She said the opponents gave her some advice

“There’s lots of conventions that are very nice

I think that we really must upgrade our game

That’ll help us get master points which is the aim”

They started with Flannery then Two over One

Puppet Stayman and Namyats would be lots of fun

Ike got discouraged and Betsy got mad

The dog drooped his tail and looked wonderfully sad

Now Ike missed a signal and Betsy gave out

Down on the floor she lay rollin’ about

While Ike in great tears looked on in surprise

He said “Betsy get up, you’ll get corn in your eyes”

Ike and sweet Betsy got married of course

But Ike gettin’ picked on obtained the divorce

Betsy well satisfied said with a shout

“I need a loyal partner, I’ll stick with old Scout”