Historic Sheet Music Collection

Document Type


Publication Date



MacIntosh Collection

New York : Jerome H. Remick & Co., ©1907.

Some of these resources may contain offensive language or negative stereotypes. Such materials should be seen in the context of the time period and as a reflection of attitudes of the time. The items are part of the historical record, and do not represent the views of the library or the institution.


[Verse 1]
When Sylvester Johnson Lee hit New York from Tennessee, he thought he’d make his fortune right away
He worked aroun’ in swell hotels a shinin’ shoes an’ hoppin’ bells, but somehow he couldn’t seem to make it pay
One day to self, sez he, something mus’ be wrong with me I can’t seem to get a cent from no one, I wonder why.
No one hands me any “tips” or nothin’ else but heavy grips, I’m goin’ to bid these swell hotels goodbye.

It’s mighty strange!
It’s mighty strange!
No one ever says “Sylvester you keep the change”
I try to do: as folks tell me to: but they all get absent minded when my work is through:
I don’t know why: the more I try: somehow or other all the coin gets by:
It’s time I blew for some job that’s new,
All I get here is “Much obliged to you.”

[Verse 2]
The next job that came his way, found him in a swell Café, he’d heard so much about a waiter’s “graft”
But poor Sylvester hardly knew an omelet from a kidney stew, so when they saw him coming, people laughed
One day in a lady came, with a bull dog on a chain,
Poor Sylvester had to stand and hold him outside the door,
When she finished out she went and handed him a measly cent, no wonder that he cried out as before


[Verse 3]
One day, back to Tennesse, “beat” Sylvester Johnson Lee, disgusted with the ways of New York town:
Sez he, I’ve worked at ev’ry trade, the Lord or devil ever made, and I aint seen no fortunes lyin’ roun’
Good old Nashville, Tennessee, always did look good to me, I aint goin to work no more for no one an ‘ose my health,
While I’m feelin’ strong an’ well, I’m goin’ to take a restin’ spell, I’m sick an tried of chasing after wealth



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.