Careless Love    (1911)

If I were a little bird,
I would fly from tree to tree,
I'll build my nest way up the air,
Where the bad boys couldn't bother me.

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Love, oh love, oh careless love,
You've broke the heart of many a poor girl,
But you'll never break this heart of mine.

When I wore my apron low,
When I wore my apron low,
When I wore my apron low,
He always passed by my door.

Now I wear my apron high,
Now I wear my apron high,
Now I wear my apron high,
And he never, never passes by.

Bessie Smith's version:

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
You've fly to my head like wine.
You've wrecked the life of many a poor girl
And you nearly spoiled this life of mine.

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
In your clutches of desire.
You've made me break a many true vow
Then you set my very soul on fire.

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
All my happiness bereft.
Cause you've filled my heart with weary old blues
Now I'm walkin' talkin' to myself.

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Trusted you, now it's too late.
You've made me throw my old friend down
That's why I sing this song of hate.

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Night and day I weep and moan.
You brought the wrong man into this life of mine
For my sins till judgement I'll atone.

Fats Domino's version:

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Can't you see what careless love done to me?
It made me wrong and leave my happy home,
It was love, oh love, oh careless love.

It tied me to your apron string,
It tied me to your apron string,
You said that you love me and it didn't mean a thing,
It was love, oh, love, oh careless love.

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee's version:

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Love, oh love, oh, careless love,
Don't you see what careless love has done.

Calls me weep and calls me mourn
Calls me weep calls me to mourn
Careless love calls me to weep, careless love makes me mourn
And calls me to lose my happy home.

Don't never drive a stranger from your door,
Never drive a stranger from your door,
Don't never drive a stranger from your door,
Well, it may be your best friend you don't know.

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Love, oh love, oh, careless love
Don't you see what careless love has done.

Once I wore my apron low
Once I wore my apron low
Oh it's once I wore my apron low,
You'd follow me through rain and snow.

Now I wear my apron high
Now I wear my apron high
Oh it's now I wear my apron high,
You'll see my door and pass it by.

I cried last night and the night before,
I cried last night and the night before,
Oh I cried last night and the night before,
Going to cry tonight and cry no more.

Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Love, oh love, oh careless love,
Oh it's love, oh love, oh careless love
You see what careless love has done.

Lonnie Johnson's version:

Love, oh love, oh careless love
Love, love, oh careless love
You have caused me to weep
You have caused me to moan
You have caused me to lose my happy home

Don't never drive a stranger from your door
Don't never drive a stranger from your door
It may be your best friend knockin' on your door
Then it may be your brother, you will never know

Careless love, look how you carry me down
Careless love, look how you carry me down
You caused me to lose my mother and she's layin' in six feet of ground
Careless love I can't let you carry me down

Careless love, you drove me through the rain and snow
Careless love, you drove me through the rain and snow
You have robbed me out of my silver and out of all my gold
I'll be damned if you rob me out of my soul

You've worried my mother until she died
You've caused my father to lose his mind
Now damn you, I'm goin' to shoot you and shoot you four five times
And stand over you until you finish dyin'

Lyrics by Spencer Williams.
Recorded by Bessie Smith; Fats Domino; Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee; Lonnie Johnson; many others.
This anonymous blues tune has a long history of changing lyrics and claimants of authorship including William C. Handy and Martha E. Koenig who registered for copyright in 1926.
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