BUFFALO GALS


As I was walking down the street
Down the street, down the street
A pretty girl I chanced to meet
And we danced by the light of the moon

Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight
Come out tonight come out tonight
Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight
And we'll dance by the light of the moon

I danced with a gal with a hole in her stocking
And he knees was a-knockin' and her shoes was a'rockin'
I danced with a gal with a hole in her stocking
And we danced by the light of the moon

Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight
Come out tonight come out tonight
Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight
And we'll dance by the light of the moon

I danced with a gal with a hole in her stocking
And her knees was a-knockin' and her shoes was a-rockin'
I danced with a gal with a hole in her stocking
And we danced by the light of the moon

Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight
Come out tonight come out tonight
Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight
And we'll dance by the light of the moon


Bruce Springsteen recorded this traditional song with The Seeger Sessions Band during the "Seeger Sessions". The song is included on Bruce's 2006 cover album, We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions, as a bonus track on the DVD side of the DualDisc.

The Seeger Sessions consist of three recording sessions (a 2-days session on 01 and 02 Nov 1997, a 1-day session in Dec 2005, and a 1-day session in Jan 2006), during which all the album's songs were cut live in the living room of Bruce's New Jersey farmhouse. The songs were not rehearsed and all arrangements were conducted as Bruce and the band played. It is not clear during which one of the 3 sessions this song was recorded.

The in-studio performance of the song is included on the DVD side of the DualDisc album.

Bruce Springsteen reportedly rehearsed this song with his Seeger Sessions Band for the Seeger Sessions tour on 21 Mar and 06 Apr 2006 at the Paramount Theater, Asbury Park, NJ. Played during all 4 public rehearsal shows for The Seeger Sessions tour -- 20, 24, 25, and 26 Apr 2006 at the Convention Hall, Asbury Park, NJ.

The song was also played on 30 Apr 2006 at New Orleans Fair Grounds, New Orleans, LA, when Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band closed the first weekend of the New Orelans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

BUFFALO GALS was the first of any of the We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions songs recorded by Pete Seeger. He recorded it first in 1941 with The Almanac Singers. This version was released on his 2002 album Which Side Are You On. Seeger's recordings of the song are also found on:

  • American Favorite Ballads
Pete Seeger - American Favorite Ballads
Pete Seeger - American Favorite Ballads

The song was published in 1844 with the title "Lubly Fan". It was written by one of the first black-faced minstrels, Cool White (John Hodges). Allen and John Lomax believe it was a traditional tune, known before Cool White published the music. It was popular in minstrel shows throughout the United States and the location was changed accordingly to New York Gals, Charleston Gals, etc. Buffalo, therefore, refers to the city rather than the animal.

In Collection of North Carolina Folklore, Frank Brown suggests it may have its inspiration from an English singing game, "Pray, Pretty Miss", and that the tune is close to that of an old German music hall song, "Im Grunewald, im Grunewald ist Holzauktion". Other scholars have suggested the song originated around the Erie Canal.

Alternate titles of the song: "Alabama Girls", "Buffalo Gal", "Buffalo Girls", "Lubly Fan", "Portsmouth Airs", "Round Town Gals", "Round Town Girl". Check out Dave Marsh's liner notes below for more details.

Dave Marsh's liner notes about BUFFALO GALS:

It sounds like it's a song of the wild west but it is not. It's a song about Buffalo in the days of the Erie Canal, the Buffalo Gals being the hookers parading on Canal Street, which was lined with brothels (and, since it was the end of the Canal line, lavish corporate headquarters of rail and shipping companies).

The tune, originally known as "Lubly White," and attributed to one of the first black-faced minstrels, Cool White (John White), clearly was not written by White. As "Midnight Serenade," some of the same versions and the tune appeared in print in 1839. It has been traced to an English song, "Pray, Pretty Miss," and to an older German music hall song, "Im Grunewald, im Grunewald ist Holzauktion." The Buffalo Gals lyric came about when the tune was used for a canal song, and some speculate that the words became "New York Gals," "Rochester Gals," or whatever town the canalmen happened to be passing through. In parts of Virginia and West Virginia, it's called "Round Town Gals." There was also an early hillbilly version called "Alabama Gals." Alan and John Lomax found a version called "As I Walked Down on Broadway."

White copyrighted the song in 1844. Exactly a century later, it became a hit as "Dance with the Dolly." Two years later, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed sang it while prancing down the street in It's a Wonderful Life.

Almost forty years later, Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren and the World's Famous Supreme Team did a very early hip-hop version whose video featuring kids from the Bronx helped initiate the break-dancing craze of 1982.

Among those who've recorded "Buffalo Gals" are Roy Acuff, Rosemary Clooney, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Oscar Brand and Eliza Gilkyson. Pete Seeger's rendition is on American Favorite Ballads (not to be confused with American Favorite Ballads Vol. 1, 2 or 3.)

Available Versions

List of available versions of BUFFALO GALS on this website:

BUFFALO GALS