X:1 T:Blue Mule N:From the playing of Bob Holt (1930-2004, Ava, Missouri), via fiddler Lynn Frederick M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel Q:"Fast" N:Standard tuning D:http://drdosido.net/fiddleclub/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Blue-Mule-slow.mp3 Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:G ef|g2 d2 dedc|BAGF G2[G2c2]|edcB cBAB|AGFE D2ba| g2d2 dedc|B2G2[G2B2] [GB][GB]|D-F[FA]F D-F[FA]c|1B2G2[G,2G2]:|2B2[G,G]-[G,F][G,3G3]|| |:E-|D-G[GB]G D-G[GB]G|D-G[GB]c dBdB|([DA]F)AF D-FAF|D-FAB cB c2| D-G[GB]G D-G[GB]G|D-G[GB]c dedB|A-BAF D-F[DA]c|B2G2[G,2G]:|
BLUE MULE. AKA - "Old Blue Mule." AKA and see "Austin Breakdown." American, Reel (cut time). USA; Arkansas, Missouri. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Silberberg): AA'BB'C (Beisswenger & McCann). "Blue Mule" was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph in the early 1940's from Ozarks Mountains fiddlers, where it is a regionally popular tune formerly seldom heard in other parts of the country. The tune may have had origins in a hornpipe and is structurally similar. Mark Wilson sees resemblance with the tunes "Nancy's Got a Pretty Dress On" and "Austin Breakdown," while Drew Beisswenger (2008) finds Absie Morrison's "Irish Washerwoman (2)" (a reel version) similar, particularly with the ending cadences. There is some speculation it may have derived from the play-party song "Skip to My Lou." "Blue Mule" is usually heard played in two strains. Source Glen Rickman (1901-1982) believed the tune to have been played during the Civil War, and identified his additional third part as the one a "Rebel" cousin had played [Beisswenger & McCann].
Guthrie Meade gives two early 78RPM recorded sources: Bob Miller's Hinky Dinkers (1930) and Jess Hillard & His West Virginia Hillbillies (1933). It was in the repertoire of Missouri fiddlers Art Galbraith (1909-1993, who said it was learned from older members of his family) and Bob Holt (1930-2004), and by Bill (Willie) Bilyeau for the Library of Congress.