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Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)

DigiTrad:
LITTLE CAT


hartley@toto.pitton.com 21 Jan 97 - 10:31 PM
GUEST,Goody2Shz 03 Aug 01 - 11:08 AM
Brian Hoskin 03 Aug 01 - 11:24 AM
Brian Hoskin 03 Aug 01 - 11:34 AM
Goody2Shz 03 Aug 01 - 03:24 PM
Lin in Kansas 25 Oct 01 - 11:57 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Oct 01 - 12:25 AM
Lin in Kansas 26 Oct 01 - 01:20 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 26 Oct 01 - 07:53 AM
Lin in Kansas 27 Oct 01 - 11:41 PM
Joe Offer 04 Dec 01 - 03:39 AM
Joe Offer 26 Feb 15 - 01:41 AM
Joe Offer 26 Feb 15 - 01:46 AM
nickp 26 Feb 15 - 03:59 AM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Feb 15 - 10:14 AM
BanjoRay 26 Feb 15 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,old-timey guest 07 Mar 24 - 05:14 PM
cnd 07 Mar 24 - 07:09 PM
cnd 07 Mar 24 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,Old-timey guest 07 Mar 24 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,Old-timey guest 07 Mar 24 - 08:30 PM
cnd 07 Mar 24 - 08:34 PM
cnd 07 Mar 24 - 09:41 PM
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Subject: lyric req: Old Grey Cat on a Tennessee Farm
From: hartley@toto.pitton.com
Date: 21 Jan 97 - 10:31 PM

Would like the lyrics to Uncle Dave Macon song Old Grey Cat on Ten. Farm.


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Subject: Grey Cat on A Tennessee Farm
From: GUEST,Goody2Shz
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 11:08 AM

Any chance one of you may have Uncle Dave's Grey Cat lyrics?


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Subject: Lyr Add: GRAY CAT ON THE TENNESSEE FARM (Macon)
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 11:24 AM

GRAY CAT ON THE TENNESSEE FARM
(Uncle Dave Macon)

Good luck to the man who can if he will
Prosper in the valley of the Tennessee hills.

Oh the gray cat spit in the little cat's eye
Little cat, little cat, don't you cry

I do love liquor and I will take a dram
I'm going to tell you, pretty Polly Ann.

Cattle in the pasture, hogs in the pen,
Sheep in the field and wheat in the bin

Corn in the crib and porter in the yard
Meat in the smokehouse and a lard

Fruit in the cellar and cheese on the board
A big sack of coffee and sugar in the gourd.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Grey Cat on A Tennessee Farm
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 11:34 AM

Also there is a Realaudio clip of Dave Macon playing the song here (click)

Brian


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Grey Cat on A Tennessee Farm
From: Goody2Shz
Date: 03 Aug 01 - 03:24 PM

Thank you so much!!

dmp


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Subject: RE: lyric req: Old Grey Cat on a Tennessee Farm
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 11:57 PM

MP3 file at this site (click here), but no luck so far on lyrics.

Lin


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Subject: RE: lyric req: Old Grey Cat on a Tennessee Farm
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:25 AM

Stewie posted the lyric here earlier in the year:  GREY CAT ON A TENNESSEE FARM.

Another version of the song, unfortunately with no source of any kind acknowledged, is in the DT:  LITTLE CAT.


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Subject: RE: lyric req: Old Grey Cat on a Tennessee Farm
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 01:20 AM

Thanks, Malcolm!

Lin


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Subject: RE: lyric req: Old Grey Cat on a Tennessee Farm
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 07:53 AM

I have this by Uncle Dave Macon... I'm running this weekend, but if I get a chance, I'll pull it out and write down the lyrcis. Most of Dave's stuff has been reissued on CD and is highly recommended. What other folk singer do you know who has as much fun as Uncle Dave did?


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Subject: RE: lyric req: Old Grey Cat on a Tennessee Farm
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 11:41 PM

Hi Jerry:

We've got the lyrics (see above); but would you happen to have a midi or ABC for it? Looks like an interesting song!

Lin


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Subject: RE: lyric req: Old Grey Cat on a Tennessee Farm
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Dec 01 - 03:39 AM

Need tune transcription on this one. Link to MP3 above.
Help!
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: ADD Version: Grey Cat on A Tennessee Farm
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 01:41 AM

I disagree with Brian Hoskin's transcription of the Dave Macon recording. Here's what I hear, and what I plan to submit to the Rise Again songbook. Any corrections?

Grey Cat on A Tennessee Farm

Just look to the man who can if he will
Prosper in the valley of the Tennessee hills
Oh the big cat spit in the little kitten's eye
The little cat, little cat, don't you cry
Do love liquor & I will take a dram
I'm gonna tell you, pretty Polly Ann
D - / - AD etc.

Cattle in the pasture, hogs in the pen
Sheep on the ranch & a-wheat in the bin...

Corn in the crib & porter in the yard
Meat in the smokehouse & a big can of lard...

Fruit in the cellar & cheese on the board
A big sack of coffee & sugar in the gourd...

Horses in the stable & money in his pocket
A baby in the cradle & a pretty woman to rock it...

Recorded by Uncle Dave Macon, Liz Getz.


Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm

DESCRIPTION: About life on a Tennessee farm. All the singer wants is a "baby in the cradle and a pretty girl to rock it," plus meat in the sack, sugar in the gourd, a tub of lard. Ch: "Big cat spit in the little kitten's eye/Little cat, little cat, don't you cry...."
AUTHOR: Uncle Dave Macon, more or less
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (recording, Uncle Dave Macon)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Disjointed verses about life on a small farm in the Tennessee Hills. Singer says all he wants is a "baby in the cradle and a pretty girl to rock it," along with meat in the sack, sugar in the gourd, and a big tub of lard. Chorus: "Big cat spit in the little kitten's eye/Little cat, little cat, don't you cry/I do love liquor and I will take a dram/I'm gonna tell you, pretty Polly Ann"
KEYWORDS: farming drink nonballad baby family animal
FOUND IN: US(Ap)
RECORDINGS:
Uncle Dave Macon, "The Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm" (Vocalion 5152, 1927)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Grey Cat on the Tennessee Farm" (on NLCR06)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "One Fine Day" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Mary, She Did Dream a Dream" (lyrics)
File: RcGCotTF

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: ADD Version: Grey Cat on A Tennessee Farm
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 01:46 AM

Smithsonian Folkways has a 1966 recording of the song by Liz Getz. I thinks she has it wrong, but here's what she has:

GREY CAT ON THE TENNESSEE FARM
by D. Macon

Just look to the man who can if he will.
The fox run the valley of the Tennessee hills.

Well, the big cat spit in the little kitten's eye
Little cat, little cat, don't you cry

Just look to the man who can if he will.
The fox run the valley of the Tennessee hills.

We all love liquor and we'll all take a dram
I'm a-gonna tell you, pretty Polly Ann
Just look to the man who can if he will.
The fox run the valley of the Tennessee hills.

Cows in the pasture, hogs in the pen.
Sheep in the meadow and wheat in the bin
Fruit in the cellar, cheese in the wall,
Big sack of coffee and sugar in the gourd.
Just look to the man who can if he will.
The fox run the valley of the Tennessee hills.

Horses in the stable, money in his pocket.
Baby in the cradle and pretty girl to rock it.
Just look to the man who can if he will
The fox run the valley of the Tennessee hills.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)
From: nickp
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 03:59 AM

Makes s little more sense to sing

"Sheep in the pasture, hogs in the pen, Cattle on the ranch"...

even though Uncle Dave doesn't.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 10:14 AM

YOu can find the music for this at abcnotation.com   Search for 'grey cat on a Tennessee farm.'

(The mp3 linked above has expired.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)
From: BanjoRay
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 06:33 PM

I hear exactly the same as you, Joe Offer.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)
From: GUEST,old-timey guest
Date: 07 Mar 24 - 05:14 PM

Maybe a nitpick, but I disagree with the rendition of "I'm a-gonna tell you, pretty Polly Ann", which sounds to me like

I'm going to tell you *a* pretty Polly Ann

Thing is, I have no friggin' idea what a "Polly Ann" would be, but it would seem to fit right in to the somewhat Zen-like aspect of Uncle Dave's lyrics here.

Also, on the recording I have (the canonical one?), he definitely sings

"Do love liquor and will take a dram".

although "will" could just as well be "we'll".

Anyhow.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)
From: cnd
Date: 07 Mar 24 - 07:09 PM

old-timey guest, I largely agree with Joe's transcription, except for the first line of the chorus. I have two comments, the first being that the sound you hear before "pretty Polly Ann" is similar (but not exactly the same) as what's known as an "a-prefix," or the act as "a-prefixing." Common in southern speech, especially of older individuals -- note the presence elsewhere in this song, for example, "a-wheat in the bin." You hear it in a lot of Southern early southern music to help make phrasing work. My second comment is that he seems to say "Do love liquor and I will take a dram," the "I" just being very soft, rolling into the "will."

Here's my transcription of this recording, which matches the recording on County 521, Dave Macon - Early Recordings (1972). Though I'm not aware of a second recording (there could be one! I'm not sure), the liner notes from the album indicate that this was his recording with the Fruit Jar Drinkers (Sam & Kirk McGee and fiddler Maizi Todd), which definitively ID's it as that of         Vocalion 5152 (1927).

Just look to the man who can if he will
Prosper in the valley of the Tennessee hills

CHO. {
[X], the gray cat spit in the little kitten's eye
The little cat, little cat, don't you cry

Do love liquor and I will take a dram
I'm gonna tell you, a-pretty Polly Ann   }

Cattle in the pasture, hogs in the pen
Sheep on the ranch & a-wheat in the bin

CHO.

Corn in the crib and porter in the yard
Meat in the smokehouse and a big can of lard

CHO.

Fruit in the cellar and cheese on the board
A big sack of coffee and sugar in the gourd

CHO.

Horses in the stable and money in his pocket
A baby in the cradle and a pretty woman to rock it

CHO.

Oh, the gray cat spit in the little kitten's eye
The little cat, little cat, don't you cry


[X] = various "oh" or "why" depending on the chorus


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)
From: cnd
Date: 07 Mar 24 - 07:17 PM

Also, thinking more about it, is it possible instead of "porter" in the yard, he says "porker," as in a pig? Looking elsewhere, that's what Andrew Kuntz (Ragged but Right, 1987) wrote. Users on WeenieCampbell, however, who are generally pretty trustworthy with this sort of thing, felt it was porter and not porker. But I guess this belies the question, what is a porter in the context of this song?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)
From: GUEST,Old-timey guest
Date: 07 Mar 24 - 08:19 PM

Wow, a quick response in a 20-something-year-old thread.

OK, I'll accept your explanation of "a-". It certainly fits what I hear, even if the meaning is indefinite.

But I think you're wrong about one thing: it's not "The gray cat spit in the little cat's eye": it's the *big* cat. Listen to your recording again. (BTW, I'm pretty sure that's the same one I'm listening to, from a County LP.)

Does your ear agree?

Regarding "porter", my vote would be for "poultry", which would make more sense, no?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)
From: GUEST,Old-timey guest
Date: 07 Mar 24 - 08:30 PM

BTW, didn't see your YouTube link before. I listened to it and thought at first that it must be a different recording, as it's a faster tempo. But also about a step and a half higher pitch. I think it's actually the exact same recording as the one I have (which as I said I *think* is from a County LP), but somehow sped up (or maybe mine was slowed down?). In any case, the same material.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)
From: cnd
Date: 07 Mar 24 - 08:34 PM

I agree with you on poultry, but am going to stand pat on "the gray cat" part. I listened to both the YouTube version and my vinyl, and am confident it's "gray" and not "big." And I'm not just basing that on the name of the song, right?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gray Cat on the Tennessee Farm (D Macon)
From: cnd
Date: 07 Mar 24 - 09:41 PM

Here's my transcription of a recording from Stringbean (David Akeman), on his album A Salute To Uncle Dave Macon (Starday Records SLP 215 - listen. Interestingly, he very clearly sings "big cat" rather than "gray," possibly hence the name change.

TENNESSEE FARMER

Well, here's to the man, and he can if he will
Prosper in the valley of the Tennessee hills

CHO.
Oh, big cat spit in the little cat's eye
Little cat, little cat, don't you cry
I'm gonna see you, a-pretty Polly Ann

Got corn in the crib, money in the pocket
Got a baby at home and a pretty woman to rock it

CHO.

Last year was a good crop year, rose some ears and tomaters
Pap didn't make no corn a-tall, Lord, have mercy, the taters

CHO.

Last year, plowed a big bay horse, this year plowed a muley
'Ever I get my crop laid by, I'm going back home to Julie's

CHO.


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