This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Looking For a Boy Name From a Folk Song

Alice writes:
we need help! obviously. I'm going to give birth NEXT WEEK to our 5th child. It's a boy. we don't have a name.
our other kids--oh wait. our names are Alice and Ethan Bond. Bond is a surname we just adopted because we are both estranged from our families. i don't exactly suggest being estranged from your family but after seeing what some friends went thru to honor every single person on their family tree, well..
When I was preg with our first child we had NO idea what to name her. Then one day we came across the old folk song little Liza Jane" and in one of those awesome moments we just glanced at each other and grinned really widely. So our first daughter is
Liza Jane Bond
(in retrospect i might've picked a different middle, not in love with the 1-1-1 flow of her name)
When i was preg the 2nd time we LOVED having a special song for our girl. Liza asked for the song ALL the time--at 8 she still does--and her room was/is decorated with a super artistic print of the lyrics, and we just loved it. we wanted the same thing for our 2nd child. we knew it was a girl, we thought about carefully and we came up with
Matilda Clare Bond
Waltzing Matilda, obviously. Clare is just a name we like.
in between M and her sister we lost a baby in the womb. Before we knew she was dead we'd named her Susannah Rose. we consider Susannah our daughter even tho we never really met her which is why i say we're on our 5th kid--kind of our 5th, kind of our 4th!
Our youngest is--and this took a LOT of thought but obviously we'd decided to continue the pattern--
Clementine Louise Bond
so the problem is this: we LOVE having daughters named after folks songs. and we love that they have very traditional mns just in case they need them-Jane, Clare, Louise. all 3 girls LOVE having their "own" song, and love singing them, and its just a great system.
this will be our last child. and its a BOY. and we are stuck! for middle names we like:
Miles (our favorite, will use if it works with the first name)
But we cannot come up with a first name! we feel like if it was a girl we'd have an easier time and also HAVE to stick with our pattern but with a boy maybe he could have something else special about his name? the thing is our girls LOVE their names and the whole song tie in. the other day we were talking about it and Matilda (our classic middle child, so sensitive) got really upset at the idea that the baby might not have a song name.
but we can't think of ANY folks songs, aside from John Henry which is we don't really like, that have boys names. there are some more obscure songs, but they are REALLY obscure...and we just can't find anything that carries on the tradition from our girls in the way we want. so, um, HELP????

I suggest Daniel/Danny or Jude or John(ny).

Danny is from Danny Boy, and it's a little morbid, but so are Waltzing Matilda and Oh My Darling, Clementine.

Jude is from Hey, Jude, a slightly cheerier choice in that it deals with divorce rather than death.

John(ny) is in many, many songs, but the ones that come to my mind are Who's Johnny?, Johnny B. Goode, and Johnny Angel. I'm not sure John Bond works, though.

I'm not familiar with many folk songs, but you could also see if there's anything here: Songs with Boys' Names in the Title or Baby Names Inspired by Popular Songs, or Names in Song Titles, or Boys Names From Songs, or Boy Names From Song, or Traditional and Folk Song Titles, or Song Names.

Name update! Alice writes:
thank you SO MUCH for all the help and thanks also so much to all of your commenters! that was SO helpful and actually i was reading them all while i was in labor! well, ethan was reading them to me.
anyway, they were great, thank you! we did like the james idea but naming the poor kid james bond seemed a little unfair. but we loved so many of the suggestions. other faves were Louis, Jude, Jeremiah, Henry...we liked a lot of them.
But in the end, we went with:
Daniel Tucker Bond
And we sing Old dan Tucker ALL THE TIME. the girls love, love love having a baby brother and we adore him, and his song has become a regular part of our day. only downside is the girls want to wash his hair in a frying pan...
thanks again for all the help!


Anonymous said...

maybe not perfectly folk, but we named our son "James" and sing him James Taylor's 'Sweet baby James'. He is now 5 and loves 'his' song.

Meg said...

I had a name come to mind immediately even though it doesn't quite meet your name in a song title criteria and that's Sean. At the end of John Lennon's Beautiful Boy, he whispers "Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy. Darling, darling darling Sean". I can't think of a more wonderful song for a little boy to have as his own :D

Clarabella said...

Does it have to be the *title* of a song, because Arlo (Guthrie) and Dylan (Bob) are lovely names.
"Waltzing Matilda" was written by a man named Banjo.
James Dean is mentioned in Don McClean's "American Pie."
Jack is in about 500 songs. If you like the name, you could just pick one for your son. Or he could have a bunch?
"Scarborough Fair" has Sage, although that might be a stretch.
Hmm. I will keep thinking about this.
Good luck.

Emmuh said...

Alexander is on your list, and that's a great song to sing.

"Come on and hear. Come on and hear. Alexander's Ragtime Band."

But please be sure and not go with Alexander Graham, as in Alexander Graham Bell- unless you are very proud of his invention- the telephone.

Giselle said...

Billy? "Oh where have you been, Billy boy, billy boy,/Oh where have you been, charming Billy?"

John? "John-jacob-jingleheimer-schmidt" (one of my kids' favorite songs)

Michael? "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore"

vanessa steck said...

i LOVE the idea of having kids with their own songs. I may have to steal this idea. I'm beginning to think my daughters will all have names that go Folk Song-Harry Potter name.
I like Jack although off the top of my head I can't think of any songs. or there's Jacob as in John Jacob Jingle etc.
it seems like you want more common/better known folk songs--YMMV but these are all songs I've heard of and sang as a kid. and it does seem like there are more of those with girls names.

Claire Wessel said...

I'm leaving out all the John/Johnny songs because there are lots of those. When I first read this, my thought was immediately "Arlo Guthrie" who did Alice's Restaurant. But, Arlo's not a song :) It also seems you are using long old folk songs, not 60's/70's songs, so I came up with this list. All of these songs can be found with lyrics and sheet music at

Black Jack Davey
Buckeye Jim
Charlie Over the Ocean
Ezekiel Saw the Wheel
Gypsy Davy
Halsey, Halsey (Bobby Halsey)
Haul Away, Joe
Henry Martin
John Henry
Lord Randal (Jimmy Randal)
Old Dan Tucker
Old Doc Jones

Have fun and remember to update us!!

beckye said...

There's the folk song Martin, Abraham, John. It's from the 1960s and it names fallen leaders . Sounds like it's in your taste

Anonymous said...

Jack "Frere Jacques"
Lou "Skip to my Lou"
Wyatt "Lullaby for Wyatt" by Sheryl Crow

Anonymous said...

I know that this isnt really in linebwith the girls, but it doesn't get much better than Bob Dylan. I also really like Jude, though not a folk song. I will think more on this and see if I have anything else to add.

Annika said...

I suggest Arlo or Peter, for Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Not quite the same naming style as the girls, but they are both great names.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

What about naming after a musician instead of a song? Like Miles Davis, for example?

Anonymous said...

Finnegan-"There was an old man named michael finnegan..."

Abraham (Abe, Bram)-"Father Abraham had many sons..."

NellaBean said...

I know it's not a title name, but I'm partial to the song "You are my sunshine" with the name "Ray". I sang a folk song sung by Gillian Welch to my boys - even before they were born. They love hearing it at bedtime. So special that you're giving this heritage of love to your kiddos.

Elsha said...

Not exactly a folk song, but what about Al/Allen for Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al.

Holly said...

How about:
Jeremiah (Jeremiah was a bullfrog)
Michael (Michael row the boat ashore)
John/Jacob (John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt)
Henry (There's a hole in the bucket) - this would be a nice connection for Liza too!

Anonymous said...

Great, you didn't even mention it and now I've got Elton John's Daniel stuck on my brain. Good song though.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first commenter. James is a great name, and the song Sweet Baby James makes a perfect lullaby for a little baby. If you think this may be your last, then it's extra special since he really will be your baby!!!

Tracy H. said...

I like the James suggestion as well. The first name to pop in my head was Ryder. Kate Hudson named her son Ryder after the song "I Know You Rider" which was regularly performed at Grateful Dead shows.

Frazzled Mom said...

What fun!

Bobby McGee - from the Janice Joplin song. I would formally name him Robert McGee and call him Bobby. That way if he doesn't like the idea of being named after the song he can be called Rob or Bob or Robert. Boys aren't like girls and usually don't care about the origins of their names.

In line with Arlo Gurtherie, there is a modern singer who is sort of folkish named Amos Lee.

Amos is such a great name, and probably isn't used more because of Famous Amos, but if you love the name like I do, you can counter any snide Famous Amos comments with, actually he's named after Amos Lee.

If you aren't familiar with Amos Lee, here's a link to one of my favorite songs, Flower.

My four year old loves the song too so maybe your daughters would like it.

I don't know if you would be able to get away with decorating his nursery with Amos Lee or Arlo Gutherie, since that seems like obsessive fan worship, but I just love the idea of Amos Lee Bond. I would even use Lee as the middle name even though your middle names are also nice.

ok - excuse the mispellings. I don't know if I have time to spell check before I lose power her in New England. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I'd start with the name and find a song. It sounds like you feel stuck with the tradition (I love the tradition!) and want to choose a name you love.

Refrain of The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night: "He had many MILES to go that night, before he reached the town-o"

Refrain of 500 Miles Away from Home: "a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles..."

Alexander's Ragtime Band: "Let me take you to Alexander's grand stand brass band"

Alexander Beetle: "I called him Alexander and he answered just the same"

There are even songs about Alexander Graham Bell out there.

Frazzled Mom said...

Oh - Sweet Baby James is probably the best suggestion. James is a classic so the connection to the song isn't obvious if your boy grows up to hate the song, yet it would be fun to decorate the nusery with "Sweet Baby James."

I wish I thought of it.

Frazzled Mom said...

Oh - sorry for the random after the fact thoughts, but the only downside to Sweet Baby James:

The risk that your daughters will be referring to him as "Sweet Baby James" when he's 15.

This could be good or bad depending on how you look at it.

ok - hope I haven't over stayed my welcome.

Swistle said...

Their surname (Bond) likely rules out James.

christine said...

I wouldn't call it a folk song, but in that same vein, maybe Levon? Levon Miles Bond? Maybe not the happiest song for Levon, though. Jude is my favorite, and such a great song.

Oh, kind of a 70s rendition of a folk song, Billy the Kid, by Billy Joel? You could name him William and call him Billy the Kid.

See also, maybe a song will ring a bell...

Names that pop out to me:
Earl Brand - Earl Graham Bond?
George Collins, but it is pretty sad
Paul Jones - But then you have the same sort of 1-1-1 syllabic thing going on.
Ben, from Ben Bolt
Johnny, from Johnny comes Marching Home

Good luck!

Kristen said...

Davy, for Davy Crockett.

Anonymous said...

lol I'm laughing at all the suggestions for James, which would make the poor dear a James Bond!

I like Jude, but Jude Bond doesn't sound great. I DO love Daniel, nn Danny-- a song I adore, btw-- with Bond! Daniel Miles Bond. Oohhh!

Megan said...

This isn't what you asked for- but my aunt actually writes Lullaby's for parents and includes their child's name. She has them professionally recorded and it's something that kids cherish. You might consider having a lullaby written for your child if you don't love any of the names out there!

Anonymous said...

As I was reading I thought, John Henry, and then got to your no John Henry part! But since I love the name (it's my son's) I thought I'd suggest it as a double first name, so
John Henry middle Bond. Silly long shot since you specifically said no John Henry but I said no to John and Henry by themselves for my boys but yes to the double so maybe a slim chance you'd feel the same! Not to mention Jack or Hank are nick name possibilities.
Best of luck, and congratulations on your son!

The Mrs. said...

Johnny Cash sang 'Big John':
"Every morning at the mine, you could see him arrive,
He stood six foot six and weighed two forty-five,
Kinda broad in the shoulder and narrow at the hip,
Nobody gave any lip
to Big John."

In the traditional 'Skye Boat Song', it sings of bonny Prince Charlie of Scotland.

There's the 'Red River Valley'... Red could be a name.

'On a Sunday Afternoon' talks of taking 'a trip up the Hudson'... do you like Hudson?

I know James wouldn't work for a first name, but 'Jimmy Crack Corn' has the name Jimmy.

There's 'Johnny Appleseed' for Johnny.

'Micah Row the Boat Ashore'
'Duke of Earl'

OOH! 'Meet Me in St. Louis'!!
"Meet me in St. Louis, Louis,
Meet me at the fair,
Don't tell me the lights are shining,
Any place but there!"
Louis (LOO-ee) would be great!!

LOVE the name theme you have going for your kids. Mine, too, each have a song for their names and really cherish it. In fact, instead of yelling for them on a crowded playground, I just sing each of their names, and like magic, they pop out of no where. It's pretty nice.

Excited to hear what you choose! All the best to you and your growing family! (By the way, your story about Susannah was wonderful; your kids know how special their siblings are before they are even born. Good for you!)

Sonia said...

My son is Ezekiel, and he loves "his" song, Ezekiel Saw the Wheel by Woodie Guthrie.

Melissa Haworth said...

I'm guessing you don't want to go with Sue? Just kidding but since Johnny Cash was mentioned it popped into my head :)

I love both Jude and Daniel/Danny and your naming tradition is wonderful!

Lynnette said...

London? As in London Bridge? I second the Louis suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Eric Bibb has recorded the most beautiful rendition of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" ever! I sing it every night to my baby (whose name is Alice, so she can't really lay claim to it). Not like YOUR Michael could!

I like the idea of each child having a song. Hope you find the right one.

Leslie said...

The first thing that came to mind for me was Johnny, from When Johnny Comes Marching Home, but I see that's already been suggested. Another thought, is that regardless of which name you pick, his song could be Hello Brother (Louis Armstrong has a fantastic version of this, and I love the lyrics). In fact, Louis would be a great name - but the song would work with any name.

I'll have to give some thought to finding other suggestions. Best of luck!

StephLove said...

What great suggestions everyone has.

I like Daniel, Jeremiah, John Jacob, Jude, Michael and Sean best.

LoriD said...

I also came to recommend James for "Sweet Baby James". So lovely.

bunnyslippers said...

Isn't there a song about Casey Jones?

What about Sullivan? (there are a couple, 'ginseng sullivan') You could tease him and offer to shorten it to Sue (a boy named sue).

MY VOTE: (for what it counts)
Luke. Lukey's Boat is a very catchy old folk song that would appeal to kids 'lukey's boat is painted green' ('s_Boat)
There is a charming, upbeat version sung by Great Big Sea ('s_Boat) that could be very popular with young Luke.

Susan said...

I like Holly's idea of Henry, with the "There's a Hole in Your Bucket" connection. The Liza mention is great, and both the name and the song fit well with the others. I do think it would be a shame not to continue with the song theme. Be sure to let us know what you pick!

Anonymous said...

What about Sullivan? Sullivan Street is a song by The Counting Crows. I really like the name and the song, but it isn't exactly a peppy song or a folk song. This is hard!

Anonymous said...

Jeremy by Pearl Jam? Ok thats a bit of a joke (although a great song). I think you've got a good list here though (aside from the James and Sean suggestions - Sean Bond seems too rhymey I think). Jude Bond though - and the song being so good, I kind of love that. like Brad Pitt, a 1-1 can work if it doesn't rhyme....

The DeLongstockings said...

~Blue: Little Boy Blue
~Cole: Old King Cole
~Finnegan: Michael Finnegan
~George - Georgie Porgie
~Jack: Jack be Nimble/Jack & Jill/Jack Sprat/Little Jack Horner
~Michael: Michael Row Your Boat Ashore/Michael Finnegan
~Peter: Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater/Peter Piper
~Simon: Simple Simon
~Tommy: Little Tommy Tucker
~William: Wee Willy Winky
~Tucker: Little Tommy Tucker

liz said...

"My Johnny Was a Shoemaker" (and many others)

Dittoing "Sweet Baby James"

George (Georgie Porgie)

Nicole Trager said...

Puff the magic Dragon.. has a little boy named Little Jackie Paper.. Jack, Jackie.. Jackson Bond, Jack Bond, Jackson Elliot Bond, Jackson Alexander Bond

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Little Jackie paper loved that rascal puff,
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. oh

Mrs S said...

Quinn "mighty Quinn" bob Dylan
Lou "skip to my loo" loo is Scottish word for love.

m said...

I found this list and while most of them are pop songs, most pop songs can be sung as ballads. (Probably not the rap, but, who knows!)'_names_in_the_title.php

What about songs that mention names but the names aren't in the title? The one that comes to mind is the Major Tom in Bowie's Space Oddity. It's not exactly the happiest of songs, but it is beautiful and I have heard a haunting version by the Langley Schools Music Project.

m said...

Oops! I gave a link that was in the original post--sorry about that. But I still stand behind Tom!

The Mrs. said...

If you did choose Louis, you could sing 'Louie, Louie' (by the Kingsmen), too!

StephLove said...

This is not in the folk vein, but I could see singing that 80s pop song that goes "Hey, Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, Hey, Mickey!" to a baby or a little boy. I'd use Michael as the full name.

Anonymous said...

If you have a list of names that you love, just try plugging them into itunes and see what you get. My daughter's name is Sylvia, nn Sylvie, and I was pleasantly surprised to find an album full of songs with those two names in the title. Some were obscure artists, but we even have a Stevie Wonder, an Elvis, and a Leadbelly song. So fun!

Anonymous said...

I think you should choose a few names that you really like and then find a song or book or something that has the name in it and that can be his special thing. Maybe it doesn't have to be a folk song since he is your first boy. You do have a lot of great suggestions here though!

Anonymous said...

What about Clayton from Tom T Hall's "The Day Clayton Delaney Died". Or Billy...Billy Bayou by Jim Reeves. Billy Bayou would work really well if there is a chance your son will have red hair.

Anonymous said...

What about Gabriel? Gabriel and Me by Joan Baez (the queen of folk)!! Such a pretty song...

How about Gabriel Dylan (in honour of the king and queen of folk)?

Gabriel Dylan Bond

Jennifer said...

An early commenter mentioned it but it kind of got lost in a list -- the song "Old Dan Tucker" is a classic folk tune and gives you 2 name options. Also, I am a huge Springsteen fan and he did an album of folk tunes called The Seeger Sessions. Dan Tucker is on it, as is a song called "Jesse James" and "Jacob's Ladder."
Good luck -- it's a cool tradition and I am sure you'll find just the right song and name. :)

bellaf said...

I love the Mighty Quinn suggestion. The version by Manfred Mann is really fun to listen to and I almost get teary eyed imagining parents singing "you'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn" to their little boy.

The Mrs. said...

I don't know why, but I cannot stop thinking about your kids' names!
So late last night, we were driving home, and my husband started humming a tune.
"I like that," I told him. "What is it?"
"Tennessee Waltz," he replied.

Tennessee!! THAT is a folk song name!

Liza, Matilda, Susannah, Clementine, and Tennessee.

Wishing you the best! Please, PLEASE, P-L-E-A-S-E keep us up to date!

Anonymous said...

James was a great suggestion, I forgot about your surname. I love Levon, you could call him Levi. But Levon Bond reminds me of glue. For some reason I thought of Bojangles, nn Bo. The actress from Brothers & Sisters named her son Bojangles. Very unique! I just know I'll be singing Mr Bojangles all night now! Good luck! I love all of your girls names, you'll do great!