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Just in Time for Valentine’s Day, One Man’s Miserable Tale of Love

February 11, 2011

A perusal of the Library’s sheet music collection yesterday revealed a song we found highly entertaining; coincidentally, as it’s about romance (albeit its more unpleasant side), we thought it would be perfect for a Valentine’s Day blog post.

The sheet music cover for "Don't Shoot (I'll Marry the Girl)"

The sheet music cover for "Don't Shoot (I'll Marry the Girl)."

“Don’t Shoot (I’ll Marry the Girl),” 1924

It was time to say good-night,
John held Susie held her tight,
All at once there came a light
Johnny’s heart went cold,
Then Susie’s Pa came on the run
In his hand a big shot gun
There they stood side by side
Johnny loudly cried.

CHORUS:
Don’t shoot! don’t shoot! I’ll marry the girl
Don’t shoot! don’t shoot! My head’s in a whirl

I’ll do anything you say
Let you set our wedding day
Don’t shoot! don’t shoot! I’ll marry the girl.

Now the worst is yet to come,
When they will be made as one,
Johnny says it can’t be done
I leave town today,
But Susie’s Pa was on his trail
Had poor Johnny put in jail
There he waits to be wed
Wond’ring why he said.

CHORUS:
Don’t shoot! don’t shoot! I’ll marry the girl
Don’t shoot! don’t shoot! My head’s in a whirl

Mister can’t you understand
All I did was hold her hand
Don’t shoot! don’t shoot! I’ll marry the girl.

It was just last night at nine,
That the wedding bells did chime,
Ev’ry one said ain’t that fine
Such a happy pair,
But when the preacher said do you
Promise always to be true
John said yes with a sigh
Then began to cry.

CHORUS:
Don’t shoot! don’t shoot! I’ll marry the girl
Don’t shoot! don’t shoot! My head’s in a whirl

I love her and she loves me
Soon we’ll have a family
Don’t shoot! don’t shoot! I’ll marry the girl.

Cursory research indicates that Maurice Dwight Bourn, who wrote the music and lyrics for “Don’t Shoot (I’ll Marry the Girl),” was born in Missouri on December 19, 1899. His father William M. Bourn, a dentist, moved the family to San Antonio sometime between 1910 and 1920. Dwight Bourn may have been a World War I veteran and, in the early 1920s, attended the University of Texas. San Antonio city directories from around 1930 list Bourn as a musician; additional evidence suggests that he participated in a jazz recording session as a pianist in 1925 and co-wrote the song “Make ‘Em Say Uncle, Uncle Sam!” in 1942. As a captain stationed at Kelly Air Force Base, Bourn married Sally Florence Saye Frampton (1899-1972) in 1946; she was a long-time manager at the Menger Hotel. Dwight Bourn was eventually promoted to Major in the Air Force and served in Roswell, New Mexico, and Africa. He died in Bexar County on August 23, 1963.

Earl C. Diggans (1880-1938), who published the sheet music for “Don’t Shoot (I’ll Marry the Girl),” was a San Antonio music merchant. An article in the Presto-Times, the American Music Trade Weekly, from March 1932 included an article about Diggans’ store, which he operated with his son, George C. The article described the two men as “thoroughly experienced piano men…with a record of having sold collectively upwards of ten thousand pianos in the state of Texas during the past twenty years.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Click here for a full citation of the documents and images included in this entry.

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