Howdy, honey, howdy


Howdy, honey, howdy - (2013)    

Paul Laurence Dunbar

for medium voice and piano

Do' a-stan'in' on a jar, fiah a-shinin' thoo,
  Ol' folks drowsin' 'roun' de place, wide awake is Lou,
W'en I tap, she answah, an' I see huh 'mence to grin,
  "Howdy, honey, howdy, won't you step right in?"

Den I step erpon de log layin' at de do',
  Bless de Lawd, huh mammy an' huh pap's done 'menced to sno',
Now's de time, if evah, ef I's gwine to try an' win,
  "Howdy, honey, howdy, won't you step right in?"

No use playin' on de aidge, trimblin' on de brink,
  W'en a body love a gal, tell huh whut he t'ink;
W'en huh hea't is open fu' de love you gwine to gin,
  Pull yo'se'f togethah, suh, an' step right in.

Sweetes' imbitation dat a body evah hyeahed,
  Sweetah den de music of a love-sick mockin'-bird,
Comin' f'om de gal you loves bettah den yo' kin,
  "Howdy, honey, howdy, won't you step right in?"

At de gate o' heaven w'en de sto'm o' life is pas',
  'Spec' I'll be a-stan'in', 'twell de Mastah say at las',
"Hyeah he stan' all weary, but he winned his fight wid sin.
  Howdy, honey, howdy, won't you step right in? "

5 pages, circa 3' 40"

Paul Laurence Dunbar


The text appears in three different collections published by Dunbar, the poem giving its name to the collection, Howdy Honey Howdy (1905), but having been published two years earlier, in When Malindy Sings (1903), and Lyrics of Love and Laughter (1903). For other song settings to Dunbar's poetry, click here.



The five strophes are handled in various ways, the first two via repeat marks, the third by an altered accompaniment, the fourth by bridge material which modulates to D flat and a final summation in the new key. The savory dialect in which Dunbar captures this era and cultural variant is perhaps difficult at first, but familiarizing one's self with the text and solving any puzzles by context will be well worth the effort. Like the Gullah dialect of the sea islands of the south eastern seaboard, Dunbar's spellings are intended to capture the speech sounds, and this is required for the singer to do, out of respect for Dunbar's works of abiding value.



The score for Howdy, honey, howdy is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


Howdy, honey, howdy