The Train to Adler Planetarium
Orphan Songs, Part 8:
Motherless Children Have a Hard Time

Misheard Lyrics:
Cave Love Has Gained the Day

Kelly Harrell
Kelly Harrell

Many massive volumes could be written about the musician-recordist relationship, but my favorite stories about these worlds colliding in the 1920's are about the engineers misunderstanding the song titles.

In the 1920's, record companies took a keen interest in southern "folk" musicians — by that, I mean generally amateur musicians who couldn't read music and who learned mostly traditional songs from family members or neighbors. These musicians were typically poor, rural people.

Now, the guys who showed up to record them came from a very different set of worlds — urban, middle- or upper-class, well-educated, and often with rather high-brow musical tastes. Legend has it that they were sometimes appalled at the music they were recording, and mystified that these records often sold extremely well.

At a February 1929 recording session for Victor records, Kelly Harrell sang a song entitled 'Cuz Love Has Gained the Day, but his pronunciation sounds more like 'Caze Love Has Gained the Day.

The engineers recording him that day apparently misunderstood and rather underestimated Harrell, possibly reflecting their attitude toward this Virginia textile factory worker. Their paper work (as well as the label of the record that was actually released to the public) identifies the song as "Cave Love Has Gained the Day." Despite what Harrell actually sang, here are the lyrics that the Victor representatives thought they heard:

Go find your lover like I did
Go find your lover like I did
Go find your lover like I did
Cave love has gained the day

I'd give ten cents to kiss her
I'd give ten cents to kiss her
I'd give ten cents to kiss her
Cave love has gained the day

I'd walk fifty miles to see her (3x)
Cave love has gained the day

I've got some candy to give her (3x)
Cave love has gained the day

I'll try to take it over Saturday (3x)
Cave love has gained the day

I got her a whole dime's worth (3x)
Cave love has gained the day

That's the way I beat the other fellow (3x)
Cave love has gained the day

We'll fly to get married at Christmas (3x)
Cave love has gained the day