Folk and Traditional Song Lyrics:
Waste Not Want Not

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Waste Not, Want Not

Waste Not, Want Not
(Rowland Howard)
(You Never Miss the Water Till the Well Runs Dry)

1. When a child, I lived at Lincoln, with my parents at the farm,
   The lessons that my mother taught to me were quite a charm;
   She would often take me on her knee, when tired of childish play,
   And as she pressed me to her breast, I've heard my mother say:

   Waste Not, Want not, is a maxim I would teach,
   Let your watch word be dispatch and practice what you preach,
   Do not let your chances like sunbeams pass you by,
   For you never miss the water till the well runs dry.

2. As years rolled on, I grew to be a mischief-making boy!
   Destruction seemed my only sport, it was my only joy;
   And well do I remember, when oft-times well chastised,
   How father sat beside me, then, and thus has me advised:

3. When I arrived at manhood, I embarked in public life,
   And found it was a rugged road, bestrewn with care and strife;
   I speculated foolishly, my losses were severe;
   But still a tiny voice kept whispering in my ear:

4. Then I studied strict economy, and found to my surprise,
   My funds, instead of sinking, very quickly then did rise;
   I grasped each chance, and always "struck the iron while 'twas hot,"
   I seized my opportunities, and never once forgot:

5. I'm married now, and happy, I've a charming little wife,
   We live in peace and harmony, devoid of care and strife;
   Fortune smiles upon us, we have little children three,
   The lesson that I teach them as they prattle round my knee:

From   the  singing of Helen Schneyer,  who got it  from  Sigmund
Spaeth's  book "Read 'Em  and Weep" Spaeth  says:  Let  it  never
be  said  that  the ribald songs  of   the   Nineteenth   Century
outnumbered   the   virtuous.  For  every  lyric  endorsement  of
intemperance,   there  was  an equally powerful  presentation  of
the  advantages  of the restrained and moral  life."Adage  songs"
were  very popular as stimulators of uplift and  the best   known
of   the  lot was You Never Miss the Water Till  the  Well   Runs
Dry.  There  is practically no answer to this argument,  and even
though the chorus mixes its metaphors  a bit,  it remains one  of
the  world's  most  intelligible treatises  on  economy.  Rowland
Howard was the author, and Hamilton S. Gordon the publisher.

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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III