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Lyr Req: Jaybird Song

Rad Sallee ( 05 Mar 98 - 05:20 PM
Bruce O. 05 Mar 98 - 07:08 PM
Dale Rose 05 Mar 98 - 11:36 PM
Bruce O. 06 Mar 98 - 02:14 AM 09 Mar 98 - 03:53 PM
rich r 14 Mar 98 - 04:19 PM
GUEST,Rad Sallee 11 Dec 08 - 10:52 PM
Jim Dixon 13 Dec 08 - 06:50 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Dec 08 - 10:22 PM
GUEST,Radford Sallee, Houston 13 Mar 09 - 04:14 AM
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Subject: Need Lyrics for Jaybird Song
From: Rad Sallee (
Date: 05 Mar 98 - 05:20 PM

Hi all, I'm searching for the lyrics of an old novelty (or folk? or play-party?) song that my grandfather used to sing in Kentucky. This site got my hopes up because I got a hit on "ripped," "swore" and "jaybird." The first two words are in the Old Grumbler, but that's not the one I'm looking for, which goes:

"Jaybird lived on the Forked Deer / Bluebird lived his neighbor near / Bluebird loved the Jaybird's sister / Flew to a pawpaw bush and kissed her." The second verse begins, "Jaybird ripped and the jaybird swore..." but I can't recall more than that. The chorus was nonsense syllables, something like "Jango milango hey." I've never been able to locate any such song on the Web.

If one of you has any clues, I'd appreciate an e-mail.

Thanks much. Rad Sallee (

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Subject: RE: Need Lyrics for Jaybird Song
From: Bruce O.
Date: 05 Mar 98 - 07:08 PM

A version of 'Little leather winged bat"? See DT and 17th century issues in the internet broadside index.

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Subject: RE: Need Lyrics for Jaybird Song
From: Dale Rose
Date: 05 Mar 98 - 11:36 PM

Folk Music On Recordings lists these four songs. The site doesn't give you any help on lyrics, but it is a great resource for who recorded what, when, label, etc. The Red Clay Ramblers also recorded a song called Blue Jay. (not the same, but similar in intent) I only know Marching Jaybird as a banjo instrumental by Etta Baker~~perhaps it has words somewhere. I know this is not a lot of help, but it might point someone else in the right direction.


Jaybird Died with the Whooping Cough

Jaybird Town

Marching Jaybird

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Subject: RE: Need Lyrics for Jaybird Song
From: Bruce O.
Date: 06 Mar 98 - 02:14 AM

I might have been close with my first note above. See "The Red-bird and the Crow", #96 in Legman/ Randolph's 'Roll me in your arms'. Jaybird verses might come from a toned down version of a very bawdy version of 'The Bird Harmony' [Oh said the jaybird as he flew/ I used to diddle the school marms too/.../ And that's how come my butt is so bare.] See also #40 about the woodpecker [A peckerwood pecked on the schoolhouse door. Pecked and pecked till his pecker got sore.....]

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Subject: RE: Need Lyrics for Jaybird Song
Date: 09 Mar 98 - 03:53 PM

Thanks to all for jaybird song suggestions. These are some leads to run down, anyway.

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Subject: Lyr Add: BUCKEYE JIM
From: rich r
Date: 14 Mar 98 - 04:19 PM

Here's another jaybird song. It was recorded by Bok, Muir & Tricket on their "A Water Over Stone" release (1980). The album notes say its southern mountain lullaby and it was published in Best Loved American Folk Songs by Alan Lomax.


Way up yonder above the sky,
Bluejay nests in a jaybird's eye.

CHORUS: Buckeye Jim, you can't go.
Go weave and spin, you can't go,
Buckeye Jim.

Way up yonder above the moon,
Bluejay nests in a silver spoon. CHORUS

Way up yonder in a hollow log,
Redbird danced with a green bullfrog. CHORUS

Way up yonder by a wooden trough,
An old woman died of the whooping cough. CHORUS

Repeat first two verses and choruses.

rich r

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Jaybird Song
From: GUEST,Rad Sallee
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 10:52 PM

Belated thanks to all who replied to my decade-old posting. The redbird / woodpecker song sounds closest to it, but none is the same song that my Daddy and Granddaddy sang back in the 40s. I think it may have been a country novelty song that came and went on the radio, rather than "real" folk music. I've never gotten a hit on any searches for the snatches of lyrics I remember.
To Rich R: Buckeye Jim is a great song. My daughter Mary loved it on a Burl Ives album of childrens's songs that also included Mr. Rabbit (whose ears were "put on wrong")and The Little White Duck.

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Subject: Lyr Add: DE JAY BIRD
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 13 Dec 08 - 06:50 PM

From I Myself by Elizabeth Paschal O'Connor (New York: Brentano's, 1911):

[The narrator says she learned this song from a slave.]


De jay bird he lived on de fork-eyed dear—
    Jang—my long go hay—
An' de blue bird lived a neighbor near
An' he sot one day on de top of de sawpit,
An' he saw de jay bird co'tin' de tomtit—
    Jang—my long go hay.

An' de blue bird he ripped, an' de blue bird swore
Dat he nebber had saw sich fun before.
Said de jay bird—"Blue coat, you be done
An' stop dat way of pokin' fun."
But de blue bird he kep' on a-laughin' still,
Said de jay bird: "Go it—have your fill."
Den de jay bird he co'ted de blue bird's sister,
An' he flew to de paw-paw bush an' he kissed her.
Den de blue bird he ripped an' de blue bird tore
An' said he nebber was so mad before.
Den de jay bird he 'loped wid de blue bird's wife,
An' it almos' took dat bluebird's life,
An he fluttered about an' he could not res'
Till he took an' destroyed dat jay bird's nes'.
Den all de birds from de crow to de wren
Poked dey fun at de blue bird den,
An' he moved away to de Arkansaw,
But de jay bird still stuck in he craw
An' he died one day of de melancholy
Because he had committed de folly
Of laughing at de jay bird an' de tomtit
As dey sat one day on de top of de sawpit,
An' he wiped his bill, an' he writ his will,
An' his will is in dat fam'ly still.
An' he lef' his chillun dis beques':
Nebber to fool wid a jay bird nes'.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Jaybird Song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Dec 08 - 10:22 PM

Good one. Any more verses in the O'Connor book?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Jaybird Song
From: GUEST,Radford Sallee, Houston
Date: 13 Mar 09 - 04:14 AM

Jim, thanks so much. That has to be the "jango milango hey" song from which the one I recall, much abbreviated, was derived.
It was regarded as an "old song" even among my grandparents' generation in the 1940s, and I'm sure that the song I recall them singing was only a part of the version you provide, whose lyrics are much more elaborate and make more sense.
(The Civil War aspect was entirely absent from the version passed down to me.)
As to "fork-eyed deer" -- I'm sure you know this-- Forked Deer is a name of a large creek/small river in west-central Tennesse (and probably of others elsewhere), as well as the name of a popular banjo/guitar tune.

I am intrigued that your citation for the lyric is a published poem from the early part of the century ("I Myself" by Elizabeth Paschal O'Connor (New York: Brentano's, 1911), since this raises the probably unanswerable question of how the slave's recollection, anthologized in verse by Ms. O'Connor, ended up in much simnplified form in the 1930s-40s with accompanying music.

In any case, thank you again. I will pass it down to my daughter (soon to be 27) and her eventual children. We are all of one cloth.

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