Devilish Mary

Roba Stanley

I can't find much information about the origins of 'Devilish Mary' but the song has been such a staple of the old-time music repertoire it must have long reaching traditional roots. Several versions have been collected by folklorists such as John Lomax and Max Hunter.

The earliest known recording is by the lovely Roba Stanley who recorded 'Devilish Mary' for Okeh records in 1924 at the tender age of sixteen. Roba is sometimes credited with being the first recorded female country singer. Since then it has been played by the best folks of both the country and folk music world including Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, Pete Seeger, Odetta and The Grateful Dead.


When I was young and in my prime,
I thought I never would marry;
Fell in love with a pretty little girl
And sure ‘nuff we got married

Rink come a dink dum a derry,
Prettiest little girl I ever did see
And her name was Devilish Mary

We both was young and foolish
Got in the devil of a hurry;
We both agreed upon one word
And the wedding day was Thursday.

Rink come a dink dum . . .

We hadn't been married but about three weeks
Till she got as mean as the devil,
An' ever' time I looked cross-eyed
She knocked me in the head with the shovel.

Rink come a dink dum . . .

She washed my clothes in old soap suds
She wouldn’t do no dishes
She let me know right from the start
That she’s gonna where the britches.

Rink come a dink dum . . .

We hadn't been married but about six month
When she said we better be parted;
She gathered up her duds and things
And down the road she started .

Rink come a dink dum . . .

If ever I marry an another wife
Won't be for love nor riches;
I'll marry a little that's two foot high,
So she cain't wear my britches!

G standard