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Lyr Req: Muskrat

Vixen 31 Aug 99 - 03:27 PM
Joe Offer 31 Aug 99 - 04:52 PM
Vixen 31 Aug 99 - 06:16 PM
rich r 31 Aug 99 - 09:17 PM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 99 - 01:39 PM
catspaw49 02 Sep 99 - 08:18 AM
Vixen 02 Sep 99 - 08:26 AM
GUEST,Amy 15 Jan 06 - 09:11 PM
GUEST 15 Jan 06 - 09:33 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 16 Jan 06 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,Chris Robbins 01 Dec 09 - 09:59 PM
Janie 02 Dec 09 - 06:28 AM
Joe Offer 02 Dec 09 - 03:00 PM
Arkie 02 Dec 09 - 09:06 PM
GUEST,wildcats2012 16 Mar 10 - 12:49 PM
Joe_F 16 Mar 10 - 08:18 PM
open mike 17 Mar 10 - 01:04 AM
GUEST,bootysweat 24 Mar 10 - 09:06 PM
GUEST,RobertX 01 Sep 10 - 05:05 PM
GUEST,'witz 25 May 11 - 09:38 PM
Effsee 25 May 11 - 10:13 PM
Jim Dixon 31 May 11 - 08:54 PM
GUEST,stanjakill 27 Aug 12 - 01:31 AM
Joe Offer 27 Aug 12 - 01:49 AM
Arkie 27 Aug 12 - 10:03 PM
Joe Offer 28 Aug 12 - 02:08 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Aug 12 - 01:05 PM
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Subject: Muskrat
From: Vixen
Date: 31 Aug 99 - 03:27 PM

D'Cats--

Here's another one. In case you're curious, I spend a lot of time with children, and they love these things, but they don't know all the words. Again, I searched the DT and the Forum for Muskrat, but nothing appeared. This is a bluegrass-y number, with a refrain that says "Muskrat, o Muskrat, I'll catch you if I can, catch you if I can"

TIA*2 V


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Subject: ADD: Muskrat
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Aug 99 - 04:52 PM

Well, Vixen, there's only one verse in Animal Folk Songs for Children (Ruth Crawford Seeger, 1950):
Muskrat, muskrat, doggone* your daddy's soul!
You cut my corn in the summertime,
And you drag it in your hole
Drag it in your hole.

*The notes say: "Even traditional singers sometimes substitute "God bless" for dog-gone!"
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Vixen
Date: 31 Aug 99 - 06:16 PM

Joe-- That's the song all right! Only the version I heard (summat scrambled) had lots of exploits of the rodent in question.

Not to get too carried away with these, but I thought I might try them out as "possum" songs...

;>

V


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Subject: Lyr Add: MUSKRAT, OH MUSKRAT (from Doug Elliot)
From: rich r
Date: 31 Aug 99 - 09:17 PM

Doug Elliot in his book "Crawdads, Doodlebugs & Creasy Greens" includes several traditional verses to "Muskrat, Oh Muskrat" along with some that he made up hizownself. He takes credit for the more upbeat verses.

MUSKRAT, OH MUSKRAT (from Doug Elliot)

Muskrat, Oh muskrat, what makes your tail so slick?
I been living in the swamp so durn long
I'm lucky I ain't sick, Lord, lucky I ain't sick.

Rooster, oh rooster what makes your spurs so hard?
I been scratching in your barnyard all of my life
And I'm a getting tired, Lord......

Redbird, oh redbird what makes you head so red?
I been eating your corn so darn long
I'm lucky I ain't dead, lord....

Groundhog oh groundhog, what makes your back so brown?
I been diggin in the dirt so darn long
Making my home in the ground, lord, diggin my hole in the ground.

Bullfrog, oh bullfrog what makes your back so green?
It's so I can hide in the weeds in the swamp
There I'll never be seen, lord,...

Chipmunk oh chipmunk what makes your cheeks so round?
I been gathering those seeds and nuts
I'm gonna store 'em in my hole in the ground, lord, store 'em in my hole in the ground.

Caterpillar oh caterpillar, don't you hate to creep and crawl?
I'll be flying high one day
So I don't miond at all, lord,...

Rattlesnake oh rattlesnake what makes your teeth so white?
I been lying in the sun so darn long
You're lucky I don't bite, lucky I don't bite.

If I had to guess, I would say that Elliot was responsible for the frog, chipmunk and caterpillar, but I don't really know.

rich r


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Subject: Tune Add: MUSKRAT
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 99 - 01:39 PM

Here's the Ruth Crawford Seeger version of the tune:

MIDI file: MUSKRAT.MID

Timebase: 192

Name: MUSKRAT
Text: By (traditional)
Key: Bb
TimeSig: 2/4 24 8
Start
0000 1 74 110 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 110 0160 0 74 000 0128 1 74 110 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 110 0160 0 74 000 0032 1 74 110 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 74 110 0048 0 74 000 0000 1 72 110 0046 0 72 000 0002 1 70 110 0094 0 70 000 0002 1 70 110 0094 0 70 000 0002 1 70 110 0094 0 70 000 0002 1 74 110 0160 0 74 000 0128 1 74 110 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 74 110 0094 0 74 000 0002 1 70 110 0094 0 70 000 0002 1 70 110 0046 0 70 000 0002 1 70 110 0046 0 70 000 0002 1 67 110 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 67 110 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 67 110 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 67 110 0046 0 67 000 0002 1 70 110 0094 0 70 000 0002 1 70 110 0094 0 70 000 0002 1 67 110 0048 0 67 000 0000 1 65 110 0046 0 65 000 0002 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 65 110 0160 0 65 000 0224 1 67 110 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 67 110 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 58 110 0094 0 58 000
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the March 10 MIDItext 98 software and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:Muskrat
M:2/4
Q:1/4=120
K:Bb
d2d6|d2d4d2|dcB2B2B2|d6d2|_d2d2B2BB|G2G2F2GG|
B2B2GFD2|F8|G2G2F2D2|B,2||

To play or display ABC tunes, try concertina.net


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Sep 99 - 08:18 AM

Vix! Your Back! When did you get back, missed you!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Vixen
Date: 02 Sep 99 - 08:26 AM

Dear Spaw--

I've been "back" since 23 August, but work has been insanely busy with the start of the semester, so I'ven't had much time to 'Cat around! Things are still a bit nuts, but I'm ready to claw up the couch with the rest of y'all!

V


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: GUEST,Amy
Date: 15 Jan 06 - 09:11 PM

I was looking for background info on the version of Muskrat above. I couldn't find anything in the DT, and this was the most informative post, so I thought I would add this transcription here. My daughter wanted to sing it at an upcoming Old Time music festival and I was hoping to find chords for it, as I am a mediocre musician.("mediocre" is actually high praise for my playing). The ABC file from 1999 seems to be a different tune than Doc plays. Anyone have any input?
Thank you!
Amy


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Subject: Lyr Add: MUSKRAT (from Doc Watson)
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jan 06 - 09:33 PM

MUSKRAT
(as performed by Doc Watson)

Muskrat, oh muskrat, what makes you smell so bad?
Laying around the farmers house eatin up all he had
Eatin up all he had
Eatin up all he had, boys
Eatin up all he had.

Muskrat, oh muskrat I'll track him through the sand
Muskrat oh muskrat gonna catch him if I can
Catch'im if I can
I'll catch'im if I can, boys
I'll catch'im if I can

Muskrat, oh muskrat catch you sure's your born
Runnin around all over the field eatin up all my corn
Eatin up all my corn
Eatin up all my corn, boys
Eatin up all my corn

Muskrat, oh muskrat I'll trap im on the bank
I'll skin'im out and stretch his hide and tack it on a plank
I'll tack it on a plank
Tack it on a plank, boys
I'll tack it on a plank.

Muskrat, oh muskrat trap him on the farm
Sell the hides when they get dry to keep some pretty gal warm
Keep some pretty gal warm
Keep some pretty gal warm, boys
To keep some pretty gal warm

Muskrat, oh muskrat, what makes you smell so bad?
Laying around the farmers house eatin up all he had
Eatin up all he had
Eatin up all he had, boys
Eatin up all he had.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLACK SNAKE and WOODPECKER
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 08:00 AM

Doc's version has the sound of a late composition, but I don't know. Is there anything on his album notes that indicates origin?

The song was even done (as Muskrat) by the Everly Brothers, who no doubt learned it from daddy Ike.

The song goes back a lot further than Doc, Don and Phil, though. It is also known as "Woodpecker," and as "Rattlesnake." The earliest versions I know are a couple of 1925 recordings: "Black Snake" by a black singer, John Henry Howard, on Gennett 3124, the other by Uncle Dave Macon as part of his "Muskrat Medley." Here's Howard:

BLACK SNAKE - John Henry Howard

So, black snake, so black snake,
What makes yo' teeth so white?
--next line uncertain-- " Cain't chew tobacco most all of my life ???
Never done nothin' but bite.

Says ol' yellowhammo', yellowhammo' [a bird]
What makes yo' head so red?
Shakin' the baccy most all my life,
And I wonder I hain't been dead.

So muskrat, muskrat,
What makes yo' tail so thick?
Stayed in the mud most all o' my life,
And I wonder I hain't been sick.

Yellowhammo', yellowhammo'
What makes you look so bad?
Lord, shake in the backbone,
And I'm a lonely sad.

My favorite version, which I put together from various traditional sources, is "Woodpecker":



WOODPECKER - Trad. arr. Bob Coltman

Woodpecker, woodpecker,
What makes your head so red?
Been peckin' at the wood most all of my life
It's a wonder I ain't dead, I ain't dead, I ain't dead.

Rattlesnake, rattlesnake,
What makes your teeth so white?
Been on the bottom most all of my life,
And I can't do nothin' but bite, nothin' but bite...

Muskrat, muskrat,
Why your back so slick?
Been living in the water most all of my life,
It's a wonder I ain't sick, I ain't sick, I ain't sick.

Groundhog, groundhog,
Why your back so brown?
Been livin' in the ground most all of my life,
It's a wonder I'm still around,, still around, still around.

Rooster, rooster,
Why you crow so hard?
I been scratchin' in the barnyard all of my life,
It's a wonder I ain''t tired, I ain't tired, I ain't tired.

Bobcat, bobcat,
Why your tail so long?
I've been prowlin' these woods most all of my life
It's a wonder I ain't gone, I ain't gone, I ain't gone.

Jaybird, jaybird,
Why do you fly so high?
Been eatin' your corn most all of my life,
It's a wonder I don't die, I don't die, I don't die.

A ~very~ cursory and hasty search through Thomas Talley, Odum and Johnson, Newman I. White, Dorothy Scarborough and other such likely sources has not turned up any earlier printed versions. But given that this song can be titled after any of its animals ("Jaybird" is a possibility), I may have missed it. Fascinating song!

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: GUEST,Chris Robbins
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 09:59 PM

Dwight Diller sings this song on his New Plowed Ground CD, but it's hard to hear the words. Two of the verses are:

Muskrat, muskrat, what makes your head so red?
(can't hear the rest)

Muskrat, muskrat, where you been so long?
Way down yonder in the farmer's field
Eatin' up the farmer's corn, eatin' up the farmer's corn

Muskrat, muskrat, what makes your head so brown?
Lived in a hole (???)
Way down under the ground, way down under the ground.

Muskrat, muskrat, what makes your tail so bare?
Way down yonder where I live,
It don't need no hair, it don't need no hair.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Janie
Date: 02 Dec 09 - 06:28 AM

The original Red Clay Ramblers and Buffy St. Marie also recorded versions of this song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Dec 09 - 03:00 PM

Are there muskrats in the UK or the European Continent, or is this an exclusively American song?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Arkie
Date: 02 Dec 09 - 09:06 PM

Merle Travis recorded a nice version of this song in which he makes his guitar talk. The guitar repeats the last line of each verse. I don't know if he originated that aspect though or if he heard it somewhere in the Kentucky hills.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: GUEST,wildcats2012
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 12:49 PM

I have been looking for information on this song for over a year. The first time I heard it, was during the closing credits at the end of an episode of Deadwood(RIP). I would love to know who performed that particular version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Joe_F
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 08:18 PM

Joe O.: According to Wikipedia, muskrats are native to North America but have been introduced widely in Europe & Asia.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: open mike
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 01:04 AM

there is another song "Muskrat Ramble" (different from the one discussed here) Country Joe and the Fish used the tune from it
for 1 - 2 - 3 - What are we fighting for....

why would anyone import a rodent?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: GUEST,bootysweat
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 09:06 PM

im pretty sure Bob Dylan does this song live sometimes


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: GUEST,RobertX
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 05:05 PM

The verse that keeps runnin' through my mind (and the reason I'm here, lookin' for the rest of it) goes:

Muskrat, o muskrat, I know you do no harm.
Hang around all summer long
just to keep some pretty girl warm,
just to keep some pretty girl warm.


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Subject: ADD: Rattlesnake
From: GUEST,'witz
Date: 25 May 11 - 09:38 PM

Lyrics published in Sing Out! in the 1970s went like this:

RATTLESNAKE

Rattlesnake oh rattlesnake,
What makes your teeth so white?
I been in the bottom all my life
And I ain't done nothin' but bite, bite,
Ain't done nothin' but bite.

Rooster oh rooster,
What makes your claws so hard?
Been scratchin' in gravel all my days,
It's a wonder I ain't tired, (tard), tired
A wonder I ain't tired.

Jaybird oh jaybird,
What makes you fly so high?
Been robbin' your cornpatch all my life,
It's a wonder I don't die, die,
A wonder I don't die.

Groundhog oh groundhog,
What makes your back so brown?
It's a wonder I don't smotherfy,
Livin' down in the ground, ground,
Livin' down in the ground.

I'm pretty sure there was a muskrat verse too, but none of those mentioned here ring much of a bell.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Effsee
Date: 25 May 11 - 10:13 PM

Didn't the Everley Brothers release a song called Muskrat in the '60s?


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Subject: Lyr Add: MUSKRAT (from Everly Brothers)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 31 May 11 - 08:54 PM

Indeed, you can hear this at YouTube:


MUSKRAT
As sung by the Everly Brothers, 1961

1. Muskrat, muskrat, what makes your back so slick?
I been livin' in the water all o' my life. It's a wonder I ain't sick,
I ain't sick, I ain't sick, I ain't sick.

2. Groundhog, groundhog, what makes your back so brown?
I been livin' in the ground all o' my life. It's a wonder I'm around,
I'm around, I'm around, I'm around.

3. Jaybird, jaybird, what makes you fly so high?
I been eatin' these acorns all o' my life. It's a wonder I don't die,
I don't die, I don't die, I don't die.

4. Rooster, rooster, what makes you crow(?) so hard?
I been scratchin' in the barnyard all o' my life. It's a wonder I ain't tired,
I ain't tired, I ain't tired, I ain't tired.

5. Tomcat, tomcat, what makes your tail so long?
I been prowlin' around all o' my life. It's a wonder I ain't gone,
I ain't gone, I ain't gone, I ain't gone.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: GUEST,stanjakill
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 01:31 AM

doc watson does a great version..muskrat oh muskrat what makes you smell so bad....laying around the farmers yard eatin up all he has, eaten up all he has....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 01:49 AM

Every time I think of this song, what comes to mind?
    Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam
    Do the jitterbug in Muskrat Land....
aaaaaaaaaargh!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Arkie
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 10:03 PM

Don't know if it is possible to get to the origins of this song, but if any of the Everly Brothers are still alive they might be able to provide some information. I think Doc Watson got his version from Merle Travis and the Everlys may have learned the song from Travis as well, though it is possible they got the song from their father and Travis might have also got the piece from Ike Everly. Or there may have been another Kentucky source for Ike Everly and Merle Travis.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 02:08 AM

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

    Rattlesnake

    DESCRIPTION: Various animals are asked about their characteristics, e.g. "Muskrat, muskrat, what makes you smell so bad? I've been in the bottom all my life Till I'm mortified in my head." "Rattlesnake, rattlesnake, what makes your teeth so white?"
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1925 (recording, Land Norris)
    KEYWORDS: animal questions dialog nonballad
    FOUND IN: US(Ap)
    REFERENCES (2 citations):
    Lomax-FSNA 83, "Rattlesnake" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Silber-FSWB, p. 394, "Muskrat" (1 text)

    Roud #6395
    RECORDINGS:
    Land Norris, "Muskrat" (OKeh 40404, 1925)
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "Mister Rabbit" (theme)
    File: LoF083

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibliography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2012 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Muskrat
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 01:05 PM

Alan Lomax, The Folksongs of North America, 1960, no. 83, pp. 165-166, with brief musical score.
The same verses as posted by 'witz, 25 May 11 but with the addition of the muskrat verse:

Muskrat, O muskrat, What makes you smell so bad,
I've been in the bottom all my life
'Till I'm mortified in my head, head, etc.

"From singing of Aunt Molly Jackson, Clay County, KY, collected and arranged by Alan Lomax."
Melodies and guitar chords in this book transcribed by Peggy Seegar.


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