My Creole Belle

What most of us know now as (My) Creole Belle is actually a fragment of a fragment of the original song, published in 1900 by George Sidney and J. Bodewalt Lampe. Their version had a verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. Those verses are unsalvageable and I've never heard anyone try, so now everyone just sings the chorus. But even that had to be reworked. The original read:

My Creole Belle, I love her well.
Around my heart she has cast a spell.
When stars do shine, I'll call her mine,
My dusky baby, my Creole Belle.

Instead of a "dusky" baby, would you settle for a darlin' one? Good, because that's the way John Hurt sang it and just about anyone who knows the tune these days owes it to his version, directly or otherwise. He played it in C, so it is a heresy of sorts to have moved it to D. But a little heresy never Hurt anyone.

OK, I'll stop now. Here are a couple recordings of the song to help you familiarize yourself with the melody. Then let's see what you can do with it.

First a live version from the late great Mississippi John Hurt himself.

And here's Doc and Merle Watson having at it. Notice that even one of the great flatpicking guitarists of all time plays this one strictly fingerstyle. We trangress! Enjoy!