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Lyr Req: Old John Smith

GUEST,isbecb 20 Jan 05 - 01:00 PM
Joe Offer 20 Jan 05 - 01:32 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Jan 05 - 02:14 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Jan 05 - 02:23 PM
GUEST 09 Sep 15 - 11:02 AM
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Subject: old john smith song lyrics
From: GUEST,isbecb
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 01:00 PM

Have you ever heard the lines or similar?

Ole John Smith, he's dead and gone. He left me here to sing his song...
Went to the river but couldn't get cross, paid $5 for an old gray horse...
Had a pack of hounds...
Went to the river, but the river ran dry... and that's the last of my lie.

My grandfather used to sing this to me. He was from Mississippi and maybe learned it as a child early 1900's or so.

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Subject: RE: old john smith
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 01:32 PM

Hi - We have a song in the Digital Tradition called Old Bill Pickett (click). Seems like it might be related to your song. Take a look and see what you think.
Another possibility is Joe Turner, and another might be the one popularized by Leadbelly and the Weavers, Poor Howard.
As with all traditional songs, names and verses change a bit from one singer to another. Your "John Smith" is the first that I've noticed that calls the song a lie at the end.
Keep checking this thread. We may come up with something interesting.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: Lyr Add: WALK TOM WILSON
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 02:14 PM

Started out as a minstrel song and dance. Many versions, many names, many 'floating' verses. Here is one from Talley.


Ole Tom Wilson, he had 'im a hoss,
His legs so long he couldn' git 'em 'cross.
He laid up dar like a bag of meal,
An' he spur him in de flank wid his toenail heel.

Ole Tom Wilson he come an' he go,
From cabin to cabin in de country-o.
W'en he go to bed, his legs hang do'n,
An' his foots makes poles fer the chickens to roost on.

Tom went down to de river, an' he couldn' go 'cross,
Tom tromp on a gator an' he think 'e was a hoss.
Wid a mouf wide open, 'gator jump from de san',
An' dat Nigger look down to de Promus' Lan'.

Wa'k Tom Wilson, git out'n de way!
Wa'k Tom Wilson, don't wait all de day!
Wa'k Tom Wilson, here afternoon;
Sweep dat kitchen wid a bran' new broom.

No. 89, Thomas W. Talley's Negro Folk Rhymes," new ed. C. K. Wolfe, Univ. Tennessee Press.

"Another minstrel piece that became well known as a banjo and fiddle tune in southern Tennessee and northern Alabama. Uncle Dave Macon recorded a version in 1927" ....about a trip to New York.
Also collected from a white woman who called it a 'banjo song', Byron Arnold, "Folksongs of Alabama," p. 30-31.

Several versions in Mudcat, but I have not checked for them. Probably could be found through Search with - down to the river -, couldn't get across -, or similar bit of verse as a keyword or phrase.
The version of "Turkey in the Straw" in the DT has the floating verse:

Came to the river and couldn't get across,
Paid Five dollars for a blind old hoss,
Wouldn't go ahead nor he wouldn't stand still,
So he went up and down like an old saw mill.

"Walk, Jaw Bone," 1844, one of the first of the type. "Ole Jim Brown Come Play Upon de Fiddle Now" another old (1850s?) title.

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Subject: RE: old john smith
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 02:23 PM

Azizi, in thread 6378, lists a number of "couldn't get across" songs.
Get Across
Also see Johnny Boker, thread 67154 and others on this song (often spelled as Booker, etc.). Booker
Also "Limber Jim," etc.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old John Smith
Date: 09 Sep 15 - 11:02 AM

I went to the river. I couldn't get across I paid 5 dollars for an old blind horse. The horse wouldn't pull so I traded it for a Bill holler so I trade him for a dollar the dollar wouldn't pass do I three it in the grass the grass wouldn't grow so I trade it for a how. The hoe wouldn't dig so I trade it for a pig the pig wouldn't squeal so I trade it for a wheel the wheel wouldn't turn and the turn wouldn't turn and I don't give a darn..

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