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Lyr Req: Johnson's Old Grey Mule / Old Thompson's

GUEST,Richie 22 Oct 06 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Richie 22 Oct 06 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Richie 22 Oct 06 - 11:05 AM
GUEST,Richie 22 Oct 06 - 11:46 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Oct 06 - 01:10 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Oct 06 - 01:56 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Oct 06 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,Richie 22 Oct 06 - 02:30 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Oct 06 - 07:39 PM
GUEST,Richie 22 Oct 06 - 08:33 PM
Jim Dixon 24 Oct 06 - 11:25 PM
GUEST,Richie 25 Oct 06 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 25 Oct 06 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,Richie 25 Oct 06 - 10:02 PM
GUEST 28 Jan 11 - 11:24 PM
Louie Roy 29 Jan 11 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,Aunt Nell's Nephew 02 Mar 13 - 05:38 PM
GUEST,G. Orange 13 Nov 16 - 07:34 PM
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Subject: origin/lyrics: Johnson's Old Grey Mule
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 11:00 AM

Hi,

While looking for info about "Whoa Mule" I saw the Traditional Ballad Index that includes "Johnson's Old Grey Mule" with the "Woah Mule songs.

IMHO the songs seem to be different songs. A song in the DT "Thompson's Old Grey Mule" seems to be a version of "Woah Mule."

Both the Georgia Yellow Hammers and Earl versions doesn't have the "Woah Mule" chorus (instead have mule sounds). This seems like a different song. It also doesn't have the "Liza Jane" or "Hold onto the Sleigh" lyrics in the chorus.

To check this out I'd like to look at the lyrics to "Thompson's Old Grey Mule" by Thos. P. Westendorf 1884. This may be the original lyrics to the song. Westendorf is a well known writer from that period.

Anyone have these lyrics or a link to them?

Anyone have any other version's of Johnson's/Thompson's Old Grey Mule? These one in the DT seems more like a compilation.

I can post Georgia Yellow Hammers lyrics later.

Thanks,

Richie


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Subject: RE: origin/lyrics: Johnson's Old Grey Mule
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 11:03 AM

I'm posting the TBI info that lumps both songs together:

Whoa Mule (The Kickin' Mule)
DESCRIPTION: The singer describes courting and the dangers of a kicking mule which "kicked the feathers off a goose," etc. The stubborn mule Simon Slick is often mentioned. The chorus will generally contain the instruction "Whoa, mule."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1924 (recordings, Bill Chitwood & Bud Landress, Sid Turner)
KEYWORDS: animal courting talltale humorous
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,SE,So)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
BrownIII 513, "The Kicking Mule" (1 text)
Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 186, "Whoa, Mule!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brewster 84, "Simon Slick" (2 texts, longer than most, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 231, "The Kickin' Mule" (1 text, 1 tune)
Pankake-PHCFSB, pp. 62-63, "Whoa, Mule, Whoa" (1 text, tune referenced)
DT, SIMONSLK*
Roud #3774
RECORDINGS:
Roy Acuff, "Whoa Mule" (Capitol 2738, 1954)
Clarence Ashley & Tex Isley, "Whoa Mule" (on Ashley01)
Loman D. Cansler, "Kickin' Maud [or Kickin' Maude]" (on Cansler1)
Bill Chitwood & Bud Landress, "Whoa Mule" (Silvertone 3050, 1924; Brunswick 2811, 1925)
Al Clauser & his Oklahoma Outlaws, "Whoa, Mule, Whoa" (Melotone 7-08-63, 1937)
Elisha Cox, "Whoa Mule" (AAFS 547 A2)
J. D. Dillingham & O. J. Light, "Whoa, Maude, Whoa" (AAFS 899 B2)
Samuel Clay Dixon, "Whoa, Mule, Whoa" (AAFS 1749 B3/1750 A1)
Leonard C. Fulwinder, "Whoa Mule, Whoa" (Aurora [Canadian] 238, c. 1932)
Georgia Yellow Hammers, "Jonnson's Old Grey Mule" (Victor 20550, 1927); "The Sale of Simon Slick - Pts. 1 & 2" (Victor V-40069, 1929)
The Hillbillies, "Whoa! Mule" (OKeh 40376, 1925)
Hinson, Pitts & Coley, "Whoa Mule Whoa" (Bluebird B-7438, 1938)
Paul Holland, "Whoa, Mule, Whoa" (AAFS 3217 A1)
Al Hopkins & his Buckle Busters [or John Hopkins], "Whoa, Mule" (Brunswick 179, 1927)
Matilda Keene, "Whoa, Larry, Whoa" (AAFS 979 B1)
J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers, "Johnson's Old Grey Mule" (Bluebird B-6584/Montgomery Ward M-7006, 1936)
Bert Martin, "Whoa, Mule" (AAFS 1479 B2)
Chubby Parker, "Whoa Mule, Whoa" (Gennett 6120, 1927; Supertone 9189, 1928) (Conqueror 7892, 1927)
Pickard Family, "Thompson's Old Gray Mule" (Oriole 1502/Challenge 990, 1929; Conqueror 7736, 1931; Broadway 8179 [as Pleasant Family])
Riley Puckett, "Johnson's Old Gray Mule" (Columbia 150-D, 1924); "Whoa Mule" (Columbia 15040-D, 1925; Silvertone 3258, 1926)
Prairie Ramblers, "Jim's Windy Mule" (Conqueror 8648, 1936; Vocalion 03587, 1937 [as Sweet Violet Boys])
Pete Seeger, "Old Grey Mule" (on PeteSeeger08, PeteSeegerCD02)
Hobart Ricker, "Whoa, Mule, Whoa" (AAFS 3904 B4)
Shelton Brothers, "Johnson's Old Gray Mule" (Decca 5161, 1935) (King 646, 1947)
Roba Stanley [or Stanley Trio] "Whoa! Mule" (OKeh 40271, 1925)
Gid Tanner & his Skillet Lickers, "Johnson's Old Gray Mule" (Columbia 15221-D, 1928); "Whoa, Mule, Whoa" (Bluebird B-5591, 1934)
Sid Turner, "Go 'Long Mule" (Perfect 12147, 1924)
Tom Watson [pseud. for Gid Tanner & Riley Puckett], "Johnson's Mule" (Harmony 5095-H, n.d.)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Going Down to Cairo" (words)
Notes: Every version of this I've heard sung uses the Lomax chorus, "Whoa, mule, I tell you, Miss Liza, you keep cool; I ain't got time to kiss you now; I'm busy with my mule." It doesn't seem to show up much in tradition, though (it is found in the Brown text in a slightly different form). - RBW
Trying to sort out "Whoa, Mule," "Johnson's Old Grey Mule," and related songs is Excedrin Headache #1927. We've lumped them for want of a better solution.
This shouldn't be confused with a fiddle piece, "The Kickin' Mule," made popular by Fiddlin' John Carson; that one has a different tune. - PJS"


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Subject: RE: origin/lyrics: Johnson's Old Grey Mule
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 11:05 AM

Here's more info from Folk Music - An Index to Recorded
Resources:


Johnson's Old Grey Mule [Me II-W21] - Westendorf, Thomas P.
At - Thompson's Old Gray Mule ; Yodeling Mule
1. Pound, Louise (ed.) / American Ballads and Songs, Scribner's, Sof (1972), p213/#103 [1916] (Old Gray Mule)
2. Blevins, Frank. Devil's Box, Devil's Box, Ser, 32/2, p17a(1998) [1931ca]
3. Ensign, Bob; and the Stump Jumpers. Mountain Guitar Pickin', Rural Rhythm RRBE 255, LP (197?), trk# B.09 (Johnson's Mule)
4. Fox, Curly. Champion Fiddler, Vol. 2, Rural Rhythm RR 252, LP (196?), trk# 6
5. Georgia Yellow Hammers. Moonshine Hollow Band, Rounder 1032, LP (1979), trk# A.05 [1927/02/18]
6. Greer, Jim; and the Mac-O-Chee Valley Boys. Stars of the WWVA Jamboree, Rural Rhythm RRGreer 152, LP (197?), trk# A.09
7. Johnson, Earl; and his Clodhoppers. Red Hot Breakdown, County 543, LP (1976), trk# A.04 [1927/02/21]
8. Mainer's Mountaineers (J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers). Old Time Fiddling at Union Grove. The 38th Annual Old-Time Fi..., Prestige 14039, LP (1964), trk# A.01
9. Mainer's Mountaineers (J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers). J. E. Mainer & the Mountaineers. Vol 20. 20 Old-Time Favorites, Rural Rhythm RC-250, Cas (1988), trk# B.09
10. Mainer's Mountaineers (J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers). Sounds of the South, Atlantic 7-82496-2, CD( (1993), trk# 4.01 [1959/07ca]
11. Marks, Phyllis. Folksongs and Ballads, Vol 2. Phyllis Marks, Augusta Heritage AHR 008, Cas (1991), trk# 2.11 (Thompson's Mule)
12. Pegram, George. George Pegram, Rounder 0001, LP (1970), trk# 11
13. Pegram, George; and Parham, Red (Walter). Pickin' and Blowin', Riverside RLP 12-650, LP (1959), trk# 15 [1957]
Tate, Tater (Clarence). Tater Tate, Rimrock SLP 3000, LP (196?), trk# B.01


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Subject: Lyr Add: JOHNSON'S OLD GREY MULE
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 11:46 AM

Hi,

Here's my attempt to transcribe The Georgia Yellow Hammers version. Plaese listen to it here:
http://www.honkingduck.com/BAZ/honkingduck78s.php?qt=title&ap=10&tp=14&title=209

Corrections?

"Johnson's Old Grey Mule" by "Georgia Yellow Hammers"
Victor 20550 Recorded: Unknown Issued: April 1927

(Fiddle)

Johnson had an old grey mule
His name was Simon Slick.
He'd roll his eyes and switch his tail
Oh how that mule would kick.
Well(he) rolled him down to the foot of the hill
He hooked him to his cart
He loved that mule and that mule loved him
With all his muley heart.

You heared him sing:
Woah! He-haw he-haw he-haw
He-haw he-haw he-haw he-haw he-haw
Get him out of the hay.

Johnson just hooked him up to try him out one day,
He kicked, he hawed, and brayed all night and the chickens flew for days
He'd wink one eye and switch his tail
He'd greet you with a smile
He telegraphed with that left hind leg
He's send you half a mile

You could hear him sing:
Woah! He-haw he-haw he-haw
He-haw he-haw he-haw he-haw he-haw
Get him out of the hay.

Johnson set him on a rotten stump (?….) play
He fed him on some wooden pegs that were oats and hay
That mule would chaw with all his jaw a pair of old dirty socks
He'd wink his eye like he had some fly, his mouth was full of rocks

You could hear him sing:
Woah! He-haw he-haw he-haw
He-haw he-haw he-haw he-haw he-haw
Get him out of the hay.

That mule chewed some old bed quilt that was on wooden stool
Johnson he concluded then that old mule were a fool.
John thought that old mule had crashed through (yon back row ?)
You'd better bet Johnson left that old mule alone.

You could hear him sing:
Woah! He-haw he-haw he-haw
He-haw he-haw he-haw he-haw he-haw
Get him out of the hay.


This was tough to hear, Richie.


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Subject: RE: origin/lyrics: Johnson's Old Grey Mule
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 01:10 PM

The title of Westendorf's 1884 song is "Old Thompson's Mule." It is in American Sheet Music, found by keyword search at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/mussmhmtl/mussmhome.html

I will transcribe it here in the next hour.


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD THOMPSON'S MULE (Thomas P. Westendorf
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 01:56 PM

Lyr. Add: OLD THOMPSON'S MULE
Comic Song with Donkey Refrain
Thomas P. Westendorf, 1884

1.
Old Thompson had a big gray mule,
And he drove him 'round in a cart.
Oh! he loved dat mule and de mule loved him,
Wid all his mulish heart.
When de rooster crowed, Ole Thompson knowed,
Dat de day was gwine to break,
Den he'd clean dat mule wid de leg of a stool,
Or scratch him down wid a rake.
2.
He fed dat mule on old boot legs
And chunks of yellow clay,
Some shavings and some wooden pegs,
Dat was his oats and hay.
Dat mule would chaw wid his iron jaw,
On a pair of dirty socks,
And he'd wink his eye like he had some pie
Wid his big mouf chuck full ob rocks.
3.
Dat mule could kick like a ton o brick,
And his boff hind legs was loose,
He frowed 'em back at big lip Jack
And cooked his royal goose.
Dat nigger thought he had been caught,
In a awful big cyclone.
And you may bet dat he wish he'd let
Dat ole gray mule alone.
4.
One day while roaming 'round de field,
He found a old hoop skirt,
And commenc'd at once for to make a meal,
Ob ole wire, rust and dirt.
Dat night he took a awful cramp
And it settled in his feet,
But before de dawn dat mule was gone
To walk a bright golden street.

Chorus:
And de mule would say
"Eh-aw, eh-aw, eh-aw, eh-aw
Eh-aw, eh-aw, eh-aw, eh-aw,"
When he scratched him down wid a rake. (1)

Wid his big mouf full ob rocks. (2)

Dat ole gray mule alone. (3)

To walk a bright golden street. (4)

Sheet music, Thomas P. Westendorf, "Mod: Con spiritu," "Old Thompson's Mule," Copyright 1884 by J. Church & Co. Cincinnati.


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Subject: RE: origin/lyrics: Johnson's Old Grey Mule
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 02:19 PM

Perrow printed a folk fragment of "Old Thompson's Mule," from Negroes in Mississippi, MS of T. H. Holliman; 1909.

8. THAT MULE

That mule he had a hollow tooth,
He could eat ten bushels of corn;
Every time he blinked his eye,
Two bushels and a half was gone.
Oh! how that mule did holler-r
"Whoa! he-" whoa-a!*
When they curried him off with a rake!

That mule could pull ten thousand pounds,
"That wasn't half a load;**
Just clear the track, both white and black,
And give that mule the road.

* Imitation of the bray. **Cf. Jour. American Folk-Lore, vol. xxiv, p. 371.

Unrelated to other 'Mule' songs in Perrow, e. g., "I Had a Little Mule," "Whoa, Mule!", "Sweet to the Donkey."

"Songs and Rhymes from the South," E. C. Perrow, II. Songs in Which Animals Figure. Jour. American Folk-Lore, 1911, vol. 25, pp. 137-155 (continued in 1913, 1915).


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Subject: RE: origin/lyrics: Johnson's Old Grey Mule
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 02:30 PM

Thanks Q,

I think I can fix some of the lyrics now. You can really see the folk process at work at Westendorf's song is passed down.

We've established that "Whoa Mule" clearly is a different song than "Thompson's/Johnson's Old Grey Mule."

Nice work Q,

Richie


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Subject: RE: origin/lyrics: Johnson's Old Grey Mule
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 07:39 PM

Wondering where 'Johnson's' Mule came from, when "Old Thompson's Mule" was the original.
Ran across this verse in a Civil War minstrel song:

Den harness up de mule, be careful how ye whip
And mind your eye, Sam JOHNSON am de nigga gin'ral,
We're de brack brigade, Why don't ye let her rip?
Jeemeses Ribber Massa Greely, Oh!

"The Black Brigade," sheet music, words and music composed by Dan D. Emmett. Wm. A. Pond & Co., c. 1863. American Memory. "Sung with great success at Bryant's Minstrels."

I know that is really stretching it, but it caught my eye.


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Subject: RE: origin/lyrics: Johnson's Old Grey Mule
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 22 Oct 06 - 08:33 PM

It probably was a mishearing of Thompson. Earl Johnson & his Dixie Entertainers recorded it in 1927. It might have been changed deliberately by Johnson on his version. Who knows.

It was also called "Yodeling Mule" and has yodels. It was probably had to teach a mule to yodel!

Richie


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Subject: Lyr Add: JOHNSON'S OLD GREY MULE
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 24 Oct 06 - 11:25 PM

I listened to the Honking Duck file. Here are my corrections to Ritchie's transcription above. Some of these are very uncertain.

JOHNSON'S OLD GREY MULE
Georgia Yellow Hammers

1. Johnson had an old gray mule. His name was Simon Slick.
He'd wall his eyes and switch his tail. Hm! How that mule could kick!
Well, he rode him down to the foot of the hill. He hooked him to his cart.
He loved that mule and the mule loved him with all his muley heart. [CHORUS]

2. Johnson just hooked him up to try him out one day.
He kicked, he brawed, and bit all night and the chickens flew for days.
He'd wink one eye. He'd switch his tail. He'd greet you with a smile.
He telegraphed with that left hind leg. He'd send you half a mile. [CHORUS]

3. Johnson fed him on a rotten stump and lumps of yellow clay.
He fed him on some wooden pegs; that were his oats and hay.
That mule would chaw, revolve (?) his jaw, a pair o' old dirty socks.
He'd wink his eye like he had some pie, with his mouth as full of rocks. [CHORUS]

4. That mule chewed some old bed quilts, also a wooden stool.
Johnson he concluded then that old mule were a fool.
Johnson thought that old mule had crashed through (yon back row?)
You'd better bet that Johnson let that old gray mule alone. [CHORUS]

[I've never heard the expression "wall his eyes" but I assume it's related to the term "wall-eyed," and would therefore mean his eyes looked in opposite directions, the opposite of being cross-eyed.

["Brawed" I assume is a dialectical pronunciation of "brayed."]


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Subject: RE: origin/lyrics: Johnson's Old Grey Mule
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 08:53 AM

I'd say for the third verse to go back to the original:

3. Johnson fed him on a rotten stump and lumps of yellow clay.
He fed him on some wooden pegs; that were his oats and hay.
That mule would chaw, with his iron jaw, a pair o' old dirty socks.
He'd wink his eye like he had some pie, with his mouth as full of rocks. [CHORUS]

On the 4th verse, it just need to rhyme with "alone."

4. That mule chewed some old bed quilts, also a wooden stool.
Johnson he concluded then that old mule were a fool.
"Johnson thought that old mule had chawed some tobacco"
You'd better bet that Johnson let that old gray mule alone.

Or...

4. That mule chewed some old bed quilts, also a wooden stool.
Johnson he concluded then that old mule were a fool.
"Johnson thought that old mule would kick from head to toe"
You'd better bet that Johnson let that old gray mule alone.

Thanks,

Richie


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Subject: Lyr Add: JOHNSON AND HIS MULE
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 09:17 AM

The substitution of "Johnson" for "Thompson" was most likely inevitable, for I remember being told that "Johnson" was a broadly used generic name for a fool, sometimes referring to whites but more often to blacks (and thus a racial "code word"), perhaps with origin in minstrel or other early lore.

Just for comparison, a Virginia traditional version from Ben Moomaw, Roanoke, VA, 1954, (from memory):

JOHNSON AND HIS MULE

Johnson had an old grey mule
And he drove him around to the cyart,
He loved the mule and the mule loved him,
With all his mulish heart,

   Lord, that mule did sing-a-me, sing-a-me,
   Quonk! Quonk!
   Hoo-noo-nonna-me, quonk (snort) quonk (snort),
   Curry him down wid a rake.

That old mule chawed with a pair o' hind jaws
On a pair of old dirty socks,
But when he'd chew old Johnson knew
'Twas nothin' but sticks and rocks,

Of all the kickers in the the world
He must have been the best,
He rammed his hind legs down his throat
And he kicked himself to death.


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Subject: RE: origin/lyrics: Johnson's Old Grey Mule
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 10:02 PM

Bob,

Thanks,

That's interesting about the name "Johnson." The song "The Johnson Boys" also makes fun of the Johnsons because they "didn't know how to court a maid."

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnson's Old Grey Mule / Old Thompson's
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jan 11 - 11:24 PM

My grandmother used to sing to us just a verse of a song she called

Thompsons little grey mule.

Thompson had a little grey mule
he kept him in the barn.
He fed him on boot legs and hay
and all that little mule would say was
AWWWWW EEEE AWWWW EEE AAAAAA
AWWWWW EEEE AWWWW EEE AAAAAA
was all that mule would say.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnson's Old Grey Mule / Old Thompson's
From: Louie Roy
Date: 29 Jan 11 - 02:23 PM

We beat this song to death back in May 2001.If you go to the forum and type in (Old Grey mule) scroll down to all then click onto Pete Seeger Scroll down to Louie Roy this is the way I learned the song in 1930 and at that time we had this on a Edison record


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnson's Old Grey Mule / Old Thompson's
From: GUEST,Aunt Nell's Nephew
Date: 02 Mar 13 - 05:38 PM

Of course there are variant versions of this folk song, but I think the lyric others have speculated might be "Johnson thought that old mule had crashed through [yon back row?]" is more likely: "Johnson thought that old mule had crashed through yon CYCLONE..." And this in turn rhymes better with the next line, "You'd better bet that Johnson let that old gray mule alone." (I heard this on the 1924 recording (on You Tube) made by Gid Tanner & The Skillet Lickers. Tanner was from Georgia, which has plenty of tornadic weather.)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnson's Old Grey Mule / Old Thompson's
From: GUEST,G. Orange
Date: 13 Nov 16 - 07:34 PM

I believe the line by the Georgia Yellow Hammers is "passed through a young cyclone".


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