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Origins: Black Socks (round)

30 Oct 17 - 10:29 PM (#3885837)
Subject: Origins: Black Socks (round)
From: Joe Offer

We never seem to have much luck tracing the origins of camp songs and scout songs and rounds. We have this song in the Digital Tradition, but no information about its origins.

Here are the DT lyrics:



Black socks, they never get dirty.
The longer you wear them, the stronger they get.
Some times I think of the laundry,
But something inside me says: "Don't send them yet."


From the singing of Judy Cook
@kids @clothes
filename[ BLAKSOCK

This song is not in Sol Weber's Rounds Galore or in The Penguin Book of Rounds. I did find it in The Great Rouunds Songbook by Esther L. Nelson (1985, Sterling Publishing - page 47).

But can anyone tell us where this round comes from?

31 Oct 17 - 03:07 PM (#3886026)
Subject: RE: Origins: Black Socks (round)
From: GUEST,Stevebury

?Black Socks? was a favorite in the circles I was singing in around Philadelphia by the early 1970?s. So I learned it by ear, not from a page. I did look through a few dozen rounds books in my library, and there are a couple of other published sources.

* ?Black Socks? is included in ?Rise Up Singing? (published 1988; p 188); the revised larger print edition (2004?) lists it as ?public domain?.

* As Joe notes, it is in Nelson?s ?The Great Rounds Songbook? but Nelson doesn?t credit anyone for anything, so that?s not much help. Her tune is essentially the same as in ?Rise Up Singing?.

* ?Black Socks? isn?t in ?Rounds Galore?, but it is included in Sol Weber?s ?Unofficial Set of Additional Rounds? (rev, 1997; p 7). Sol tended to include sources or composers when he knew them, so we can pretty much assume he didn?t know who wrote it.

The tune I learned is rather different from Judy Cook's in DT. The tune in ?Rise Up Singing? is closest to what I learned. The DT version does not note when the successive parts come in: it?s a fairly close canon, with successive voices entering on each measure. (Up to four parts, before it gets too muddy.)

I will be interested to know whether anyone else can help track down a composer, or an earlier version!

-- Stevebury

31 Oct 17 - 04:03 PM (#3886031)
Subject: RE: Origins: Black Socks (round)
From: RTim

The longer you wear them the BLACKER they get...........

Tim Radford

31 Oct 17 - 04:49 PM (#3886035)
Subject: RE: Origins: Black Socks (round)
From: Ged Fox

It is a parody of "White Wings"
"White wings, they never grow weary, they carry me cheerily over the sea, etc." Banks Winter, 1912

01 Nov 17 - 01:26 AM (#3886075)
Subject: ADD: White Wings
From: Joe Offer

I guess "Black Socks" IS a parody of "White Wings."

White Wings:


White Wings, they never grow weary.
They carry me cheerfully,
Over the sea.
Night falls, I long for thee dearly.
I spread out my White Wings,
And fly home to thee. has a longer version.


22 Feb 21 - 04:16 PM (#4094331)
Subject: RE: Origins: Black Socks (round)

My husband remembers his godfather, the sail maker Colin Ratsey singing it. He would have been a teenager during the first World War. My husband somehow understood that his godfather had learned it in his youth.

22 Feb 21 - 06:21 PM (#4094362)
Subject: RE: Origins: Black Socks (round)
From: Felipa

for what it's worth, I learned very slightly different words

Black socks, the longer you wear them the blacker they get
Sometimes I think I should wash them
But then a voice says to me, don't do it yet
not yet, not yet, not yet.

not to the tune of white sail, though there is some similarity
this tune

24 Feb 21 - 06:33 AM (#4094573)
Subject: RE: Origins: Black Socks (round)
From: clueless don

One more version - I heard this from a Girl Scout Troop back in my daughter's Scouting days:

Black socks
they never get dirty
the longer you wear them
the blacker they get.

Some - times
I think I should wash them
But something inside me keeps saying
not yet
not yet
not yet
not yet.