breaking hearts in Halifax county
the three fine daughters
of farmer brown
turning heads of the boys
in the schoolyard
catching whistles from
the men downtown
no one knows why they went rowin'
the three fine daughters
of farmer brown
they didn't know that
the rocks on the river
be the three sisters island
where they'd all drown

widower brown had a girl named nellie
she was the oldest
the toughest of three
she would her daddy's well
sharpened sickle and carve "kill men"
in the sycamore tree
the men come-a-clurtin'
but she'd keep her distance
never cracked a smile just played it coy
some say she's as tender as a petal
she'd act tough
'cuz her daddy wanted a boy

old man brown had a girl named dottie
the middle button
and the most vane of the three
she'd take her daddy's
fat leather boot strap
and whip anyone
who'd call her dorothy
the men would fawn her
and she would repay them
and peck 'em where they'd
find it safe to kiss
like the barn or the porch
or the upstairs parlor
anywhere that'd keep 'em
from her father's fist


farmer brown had a girl named becca
she was the youngest
and most reverent of all
she would take her daddy's
king james bible
and go study scripture
at the brethren hall
the men would avoid her
'cuz she would condemn them
for cussin' and drikin'
and chasin' the browns
she'd say "repent and join god forever
the pleasure of sin's
not as good as it sounds."

one day the three
with nothing in common
spied upon an abandoned row boat
maybe their sense of adventure had
pushed the three young girls
to set the ship afloat
they didn't know
the strength of the river
the merciless current
that pulled them down
maybe it was the due to the
weight of their denim
but the three girls bodies
were never found

some may recall
the singing of the sirens
lured in the sailors
who'd wreck and drown
some say they still hear the fightin' and
the flirtin' and the preachin'
of the daughters of farmer brown


Lyrics submitted by ruben

The Three Fine Daughters Of Farmer Brown song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentI love this song.

    The harmonies are awesome, as is the guitar part.

    It's sad, though, when you listen to the lyrics.
    knoxvilleon December 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love this song though it irritates me that every time they played it live Julie's (the singer) dad would get the crowd screaming so you couldn't hear them sing. When they were first playing little clubs in VA and DC it was amazing the sound they could get on that bridge.
    dmesgon January 20, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt sounds a bit like a sailors song to me. The rythem is similar to a sea shanty, and the lyrics also speak about sea (or river, in this case) fairytale. The three daughters represent the three promises for sailors, which are fights (nellie), love (dottie) and salvation (becca). And it is no wonder that their voices are those who lure sailors to wreck and drown.
    bartoshekon September 04, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationMy interpretation is that the three girls were each unhappy with their father, so they faked their own deaths to escape him. Nellie wanted to not have to act so tough all the time, Dottie wanted to kiss people without her father beating her, and Becca... well, I'm not so sure about her, but "the pleasure of sin's not as good as it sounds" might refer to sexual abuse.

    Whatever the details, the narrator is wrong to say that the three girls have nothing in common. What they have in common is that their father is ruining their lives and they need to get away. So, they hatch a scheme: they'll be seen climbing into the rowboat, and then they'll secretly get out of the rowboat and set it adrift on the "merciless" river. When the wrecked rowboat is later discovered, everyone will assume that the sisters have drowned, and that the bodies are missing because their heavy clothing made them sink to the bottom of the river. In fact, the reason why the "bodies were never found" is that there aren't any bodies. They're not dead. They're free!

    So I disagree with the previous commenter who said it's a said song. I think it's a song about empowerment, about taking control of your own destiny, and I think the lyrics are well-suited to the strong, triumphant melody.
    pterodactyluson February 08, 2010   Link

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