View Full Version : OT Tunes With the Funniest/Strangest Names
One endearing trait of old-time music is the tune titles. One can only imagine what was happening with the author or going through his or her mind when naming these tunes. Some of them never fail to give me a pause or a chuckle, no matter how often I hear them. My favorite funny/strange obtuse OT tune titles are:
"Bonaparte Crossing the Rocky Mountains" (He never did.)
"Shove That Pig's Foot a Little Closer to the Fire" (Hurry up, I'm hungry!)
"Chinese Breakdown" (There was a Chinese influence in OT?)
"Nail That Catfish to a Tree" (While we eat the pig's foot!)
"Monkey on a Dog Cart" (There's something you don't see every day!)
"Squirrel Heads and Gravy" (More good eatin'!)
What are your favs?
Pasquale Taraffo's First Night in Leadville (this could be a Norman Blake composition)
Michael H Geimer
I was already thinking of Bonaparte's ficticious journey before I even scrolled downwards.
I've always imaginged some boastfull fiddler, having heard of Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine, Bonaparte's Retreat, etc. boldy exclaiming that his tune is better than all those, as it's about Bonaparte Crossing The Rocky Mountains ... Ooooh!
My fav ... Great Big Taters in Sandy Land
From Robin Williamson's Fiddle Tunes book....
The Stool of Repentance ( OKayyyya! )
Dunse Dings A' ( A question Mark at the end maybe?)
The Young May Moon %0
All in a Garden Green #( might go with the last one)
The Peasures of Town and
Mr. Cosgill's Delight
Bung Your Eye #( OW )
Petticoats Loose (I think that this one was an anti-corset! song)
Small Coals for Nailers
And you wonder where these Americans got their humor from.
We have a guy in the St. Louis area who is a fine banjo player, dance caller and OT historian. He told me a story about the fiddler who wrote "Bonaparte Crossing the Rocky Mountains." Unfortunately, I forgot the fiddler's name, but the story goes that when people would come up this old fiddler on breaks and say something like, "You know, your "Bonaparte Crossing the Rocky Mountains" is a great tune, but Bonaparte never got in anywhere near the Rockies in his life."
The old fiddler would just say nonchalantly, "Well...historians differ."
I just remembered some others
From Ill-Mo Boys tapes:
"Jump in the Well, My Pretty Little Miss"
"Forty Miles Out of Georgetown With No Whiskey"
"That's My Rabbit, My Dog Caught It"
This one is in the old-time style, by an old time band, but it is not traditional. It is the title track from the latest CD by Red Mountain White Trash:
"Fire in the Dumpster"
"Look at That"
"I Ha'e A Wife O' My Ain"
"The Gobby O"
"Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself"
I don't know what any of these mean, but they are funny names for tunes.
"Who Hit Nellie With a Stovepipe?"
Swing Your Partner in the No Parking Zone - Richard Darsie
Sal's Got Mud Between Her Toes.
leftcoastmark ... hey, do you have TAB for that tune?
An alternate name for Soldier's Joy -- The King's Head.
I've only heard a couple of real old guys use that term, and I don't think any of them are still around. But I always wondered if there was story there that's been forgotten.
Other good names:
Wrassled With a Wildcat
A couple of Irish tunes:
I Buried My Wife And Danced On Her Grave
Kitty Got a Clinking coming To The Fair
mandorado - no I don't have tab for Sal's.....I learned it by ear off of one of those great old-time compilations, either young fogies or old-time music on the air. PM me and I'll see if we can't arrange some way for you to learn it.
Have you every heard "One Meatball"? I'm drawing a blank on the author, but R. Cooder did it on his first album. It's a depression era tune:
"The little man walked up and down, to find an eating place in town,
He read the menu through and through to see what 15 cents would do.
One meatball, one meatball... .he could afford but one meatball......"
Whoops, sorry; that's more of a blues than OT.
Bluejay Died of the Whooping Cough
I heard a new one at the Ozark Heritage Festival this past weekend. There was a really crazy old-time/blues/jugband duo there called "Uncle Cockburr's Champion Possum Carvers." If you every get a chance to see them, do. They are off-the-wall and a lot of fun. They have an original old-timey tune about something that occured in the history of the banjo player's family. The story goes that all the family had to get them through the winter was seven chickens and a some canned peaches. When the weather got rough, they put the chickens in the cellar with the peaches. Unfortunately, the peaches were not canned right and they fermented. The tune is called:
"Peaches Blew Up and Killed the Chickens"
Pattroglyph cited "The Stool of Repentance" and "Dunse Dings A'". For what it's worth, these are Scots tunes. The stool of repentance was the seat at the front of the church that folks caught fornicating had to occupy. "Duns dings a'" is the motto of the town of Duns, near the border with England. Roughly translated, it means "Duns beats everyone".
As to funny titles, I like "The Hen's March to the midden". You have to know that a midden is a dung-pile. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif
"Get the Taters off the Baby"
"Possum Up a Gumstump"
"Soapsuds Over the Fence"
Pig Ankle Rag. I love that tune!!
I bought an old 78 by Reeves White Co. Ramblers. One side was called "Rattler Treed a Possum". You can hear it on www.honkingduck.com in the 78's section. This site is a gem for old time songs.
...still very happy with my Gibson A9........