Dolly Parton - Silver Dagger Lyrics

Don't sing love songs
You'll wake my mother
She's sleeping here right by my side
In her right hand is a silver dagger
She says that I can't be your bride

All men are fools
So says my mother
They'll tell you again
Love and lies
And then they'll go
And court someother
Leave you alone to pine inside

My daddy is a handsome devil
He's got a chain five miles long
On every link, a heart does dangle
Of another maid he's loved and wronged, ohhh

Go court another tender maiden
In hopes that she might be your wife
For I've been warned so I decided
I'll sleep alone all of my life, ohh...

Beware, beware, a silver dagger

Other Lyrics by Artist

Rand Lyrics

Dolly Parton Silver Dagger Comments
  1. smodgens

    Who is here after listening to Jad's podcast?

    Leo Reyes

    Me! I loved the guys version!

  2. Francette Vigneron

    C'est fantastique.

  3. Gayle Kenny

    This is originally an Irish song called Fair and Tender Ladies. It is a song warning women to be wary of fine words from faithless men!

  4. Sean Geraty

    Bow down. You're in the presence of royalty. You're all lucky enough to breath air. Be forever thankful that you are blessed with ears to hear this.

  5. Sierra Goedert

    Best version

  6. Manzi Glauninger


  7. Ana Pontes

    Sorry, i tried to like but Joan Baez's voice is brilliant, a masterpiece💕💎 but i like this melody, reminds me the old western movies with cowboys 🐴🌵


    i agree

    Barry Pack

    Both ladies do a tremendous job on this song.  Joan Baez, just a lady and her guitar. Dolly Parton brings in Jerry Douglas and his dobro and he is just sooooo good.  I don't have to vote, I just get to enjoy.

  8. tdrtx

    The most famous version of "Silver Dagger" is by Joan Baez, on her first album.

    Dylan Melton

    Thanks, encyclopedia brown

  9. Phrygian Bear

    Oh wow this version is so good.

  10. stevieray56

    The origins of “Silver Dagger” stretch back to the 19th century British Isles, to such songs as “Drowsy Sleeper” and “Who Is At My Bedroom Window?” It came out of various stories of love lost that featured a dagger as either a suicide weapon or an intimidating tool to keep suitors away. The preferred method of distributing lyrics in those days was in the form of “broadsides,” sheets of paper professionally printed to contain the words of an entire song on one side. And melodies were learned from performer to performer until they ended up becoming tradition.

    While the lyrics and the melody were changed to suit countless artists over the decades, Dolly Parton’s version of what became “Silver Dagger” is the story of a young woman whose mother forbids her to marry, and the girl isn’t necessarily arguing. She’s seen what a scalawag her own father is and how he’s hurt her mother, and in the end she decides to spend her life celibate and alone. Though she’s probably also influenced by the forbidding silver dagger in Mom’s right hand that could be a problem for the man who wants to serenade the young lass.

    Long before Parton cut it, though, Joan Baez introduced the song to the baby boomer generation on her eponymous 1960 debut album. It was a folkier and faster rendition than what Parton would later record, and was supported only by Baez’s own underrated guitar playing, where Parton’s recording features an all-star band. Baez’s version would later be used in the River Phoenix movie Dogfight. Before it ever got to the high-fidelity generation, though, one iteration or another of the song was recorded in the 1920s under different titles by such male singers as Kelly Harrell and Wilmer Watts, who revised the lyrics to be sung from a man’s point of view. In more modern times a song called “Katie Dear” (or “Katy Dear”), with male-oriented lyrics and basically the same melody, was sung by the Country Gentlemen and the Louvin Brothers. And Old Crow Medicine Show covers a combination, sort-of, of both songs on their Eutaw CD, with the name “The Silver Dagger” but the male-centric lyrics of “Katie Dear.”

    A book could be written about this song, about how it originated, how it evolved through both female and male performances, and how it lives on today. In the end, a great song is a great song, and that’s exactly what “Silver Dagger” is...

    Pagan Morph

    Many thanks stevieray56 For this history and information. Really good.

  11. Norma Sarkisian

    Great version of such a powerful lyric/song....

  12. tx898

    i love this song and she is the best!!!!!!

  13. Jake Stevens

    Dogfight Brought me here.....River Phoenix RIP

  14. Andreas Lukas

    Dolly goes Baez.

  15. NextVoiceUHear

    You can play along with Dolly Parton's Silver Dagger by using the words and chords here:

  16. Julie Morgana

    Would you call the instrumental music "bluegrass"?  Just asking.


    @Julie Morgana Yes, and this is one of the finest examples of the genre

    Pagan Morph

    +Julie Morgana Modern Bluegrass, I guess has redefined itself and become a lot softer and more appealing to a wider audience. Bluegrass instruments have also been modernised and many that were formerly acoustic have become electronic, I listen to both old and new and like both forms, music is always evolving along with our tastes, Dolly's singing here is inimitable and the musicians surely complement her.

  17. Patrick3183

    chilling version of this song,....Dolly's voice is so strange and moving to me

    Susan Garman

    Dolly has that mysterious mountain flavor, that is derived from the Scots ancesters who immigrated here.  Just beautiful!  But I will say, my favorite is Ebony Buckle.

  18. Pagan Morph

    This is a flawless performance from Dolly. Such a beautiful rendition and the music is superb, first time I heard this on the CD I was stirred to the core. This is Dolly at her finest, pure genius and thanks for leaving the long ending in too, really great!


    The ending is my favorite part of the entire song. The tragedy of it all is really felt in those last 30 seconds. 

    Tim H

    @baygrl518 Its my favorite as well. So much heartbreak in those last 50 seconds without saying a word.

  19. fameland


  20. Lara Selden

    Yeah :)

  21. baygrl518

    Yup, her rendition is amazing as well. I don't know, I guess Dolly just adds a special Dolly touch to the song which makes me love it so much :-)

  22. Lara Selden

    What about Ebony Buckle's from george gently?

  23. EyeLean5280


  24. MrBojango

    you are absolutely right...two different styles.Sorry,i just can't help but love Joan's voice so i guess i'm partial to her.

  25. CosmicHobo2

    Ebony Buckle's version is superior, I'd say. I like this interpretation though.

  26. Chris Williams

    Great version! Gotta love Dolly

  27. samtron2000

    @HerIvoryTower Hear hear

  28. VeE eSS

    Dolly is the best. end of.

    Christopher Dalton

    VeE eSS Have you heard the version from a UK band called The Pentad. ? They recorded differently and was released in 1965. THAT'S the best version of Silver Dagger-I'm unconvinced otherwise!

  29. MrBojango

    good for you!!

  30. MrBojango

    I was talking about singing.To me Joan Baez is incomparable as a singer.I don't care if she's liberal.And anyway,speaking about her private and political choices,i truly admire her. To me she fought the right battles and she lost just because the world we live in is unjust.

  31. lovinthejams

    One of the best performances ever and certainly Dolly's best. I love this song!

  32. baygrl518

    Actually, I have. While I do appreciate his take on the song, Dolly's is still number one in my book.

  33. Assy McGee

    then you clearly have never heard Robin Pecknold's version.

  34. k4man123

    Probably my favorite version of this ballad. She has this trademark warmth and delicacy that she brings to so many ballads like Jolene and I Will Always Love You.

    The Baez version sounds shrill by comparison, the tone is too high and the voice too thin for the material. This is heart breaking material that needs that tear-in-the-throat deliverence.


    Baeaz's voice has the ideal unearthly quality for this type of English ballad. Dolly's version is fine but is not about the emotion in the lyrics, just a good overall sound.

  35. MrBojango

    Dolly is good...but Joan Baez is incomparable

    Danute Kudaba

    Many women have song that song. They are not the only....

  36. baygrl518


    Agreed. The tail-end of the track adds to the sorrow and ache of the lyrics. Dolly's recording is my favorite by far.

  37. Pagan Morph

    One of my favourites too! I was over the moon with the whole collection on "The Grass Is Blue" I still think it's one of Dolly's finest works. Great posting, Many thanks, hope you don't mind me sliding it across to my Facebook account? ! As you mention this is a haunting song.. I love the ending where the music carries on for a while too.

  38. baygrl518


    You're welcome. Dolly's version is so haunting. Love the backing vocals. Love the Dobro. Love Dolly.

    Thom Imp

    Dobro player is Jerry Douglas -- he's about the best there is.

  39. PyrateParadox

    Love this version. Used to listen to my Mom's Joan Baez's album, but I like this version so very much... May just have to cover this in my own band. Thanks so much for posting, and also for just leaving an awesome shot of Dolly, not some cheesy video haha.. Thanks!

  40. baygrl518


    Absolutely. This ballad has an immense amount of history behind it and is still in use today.

  41. baygrl518


    Wow! Very welcome.

  42. baygrl518


    My pleasure. Thanks for listening.

  43. Darwin Niles


    Thanks for posting this somg..It has such great sounds to it..I especially love the Dobro ..Thanks again

  44. baygrl518


    You're very welcome. Glad to know that others enjoy the song as much as I do. =D

  45. fadmacat

    Thanks so much for uploading. I can't stop listening.