Western Song: Buffalo Gals
“Buffalo Gals” is probably one of the several songs of the minstrel show that circulated orally before it was published. The song is widely popular throughout the United States, where musicians often alter the lyrics to suit local audiences. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western Songs of all time.
History of the Song
Buffalo Gals is a traditional American song that blackface minstrel John Hodges who also performed as Cool White wrote and published as Lubly Fan in 1844.
The minstrel group, The Ethiopian Serenaders, published a song with the same melody and lyrics called Philadelphia Gals in 1845. While in 1848, they also published another version called Buffalo Gals, to which Buffalo refers most likely to Buffalo, New York.
Philadelphia Gals and Buffalo Gals, together with the other versions of the song may have circulated orally before Hodges publicized Lubly Fan. Fiddler and folklorist Alan Jabbour tracked the melody of the song to a dance tune called Midnight Serenade. In 1839, the tune was first published in the book by G.P. Knauff, Virginia Reels, Selected and Arranged for Piano Forte, though it probably revolved orally before it.
The lyrics of the song are a reference to the many “dancing girls” who performed in the bars, concert-hall dives, and brothels of the Buffalo, New York, Canal district, which at the time was the western end of the Erie Canal and the site where the canal and freighter personnel received their wages.
Popular Recordings and Adaptations
Many artists adapted the lyrics as well as the melody of the song and recorded their own versions including:
- Russ Morgan
- Evelyn Knight
- Tony Pastor
- Bing Crosby
- The Andrews Sisters
- Bill Haley & His Comets
- Damita Jo
- Bobby Darin
- Ray Smith
- The Olympics
Other Titles for Buffalo Gals
The song has been performed under various names including:
- Round Town Gals
- Round Town Girls
- Alabama Gals
- Midnight Serenade
Listen (Bruce Springsteen Version)
Buffalo Gals Lyrics
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