Cluck Old Hen (1)

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X:1 T:Cluck Old Hen [1] M:2/4 L:1/8 B:Kuntz - Ragged but Right K:A [Ae]a =g/a/g/f/|e/d/e/e/ df|[Ae]a =g/a/g/f/|e/c/B A2| [Ae]a =g/a/g/f/|e/d/e//e/ df|[Ae]a =g/a/g/f/|e/c/B A2|| [Ae][Ae] [ce]>[ce]|[A/e/][B/e/][Ae] [=GA]>[GA]|[Ae][A/e/][B/e/] [c/e/][B/e/][c/e/]d/| e/c/B A2|[Ae][Ae] [ce]>[ce]|[A/e/][B/e/][Ae] [=GA]>[GA]|[Ae][A/e/][B/e/] [c/e/][B/e/][c/e/]d/|e/d/B A2||



CLUCK OLD HEN [1]. AKA and see "Cacklin' Hen (1)," "Chicken in the Barnyard," "Cluckin' Hen," "Hen Cackle(d)," "Old Hen Cackled (1)." American, Reel. USA; widely distributed in the South and Midwest. G Major or Mixolydian (Fiddler Magazine): A Dorian or A Mixolydian (Phillips). Standard (G.B. Grayson, Ed Weaver), DGdg (Charlie Bowman, Joe Birchfield, Fiddlin' Cowan Powers, Harvey Sampson) or AEae tunings (fiddle). ABB (Phillips): AABB. "Cacklin' Hen" and "Cluck Old Hen" are titles that are similar and sometimes confused, however, "Cacklin Hen" generally refers to a different tune played in the key of G Major.

Mike Yates (2002) says this piece is usually performed as a banjo-tune, although fiddle versions are numerous and highly idiosyncratic, with many versions extent. In fact, it appears that the only thing that unites several of them, beside the title, is the fact that there is some sort of imitative 'chicken squawk' in one of the parts. It was widely distributed around the South, under this title and similar variants, and appears in several older collections of folksongs. Yates says the earliest text he has seen is dated 1886, appearing is the article "South Texas Negro Work-Songs," included in Rainbow in the Morning (Dallas, 1926, reprinted 1965 & 1975).

Charles Wolfe (1982) states the tune was popular with Kentucky fiddlers. Mt. Airy, North Carolina, fiddler Tommy Jarrell tells us that "Cluck Old Hen" is in the "old-timey tuning of A" also called the "sawmill key" (AEae). Jarrell was inspired to learn the tune from a distant relative and musical contemporary of his father (fiddler Ben Jarrell), named Tony Lowe, who effused the tune with an intricate routine which combined pizzicato "clucks" on the fiddle with elaborate gestures: "He'd swing the whole fiddle way out, and when he started back he'd pluck it in again and hit that with the bow, and all the while he'd never miss his time," said Jarrell (quoted by Barry Poss, 1976). It so happened that Russel County, southwest Virginia, musician Fiddlin' Cowan Powers was playing this tune on stage with the Stanley Brothers (Carter & Ralph) in Saltville, Virginia, when he had a fatal heart attack in the early 1950's. See Fiddler Magazine (Summer 2008) for Jody Stecher's comparative transcriptions of "Cluck Old Hen" by six influential fiddlers from the Up-Land South: Charlie Bowman, Harvey Sampson, Joe Birchfield, G.B. Grayson, Ed Weaver and Cowan Powers.


My old hen's a good old hen,
She lays eggs for the railroad men;
Sometimes one, sometimes two,
Sometimes enough for the whole damn crew.

First time she cackled, she cackled in the lot,
Next time she cackled she cackled in the pot;
Cluck Old Hen, cluck and squall,
Ain't laid an egg since late last fall.

Cluck old hen, cackle and sing,
You ain't laid an egg since way last spring.
Cluck old hen, cackle and squall,
You ain't laid an egg since late last fall. (Johnson)

My old hen's a good old hen,
She lays eggs for the railroad men;
Sometimes one, sometimes two,
Sometimes three and sometimes four.
Sometimes five, sometimes six,
Sometimes seven and sometimes eight;
Sometimes nine, sometimes ten,
And thats enough for the railroad men.

My old hen's a good old hen,
She lays eggs for the railroad men;
Sometimes one, sometimes two,
Sometimes enough for the whole damn crew.
First time she cackled she cackled in the lot,
Next time she cackled she cackled in the pot;
Cluck Old Hen, cluck and sing,
Ain't laid and egg since late last spring.

My old hen, she won't do,
She lays eggs and 'taters too; (Frank Proffitt)

The old hen she cackled,
She cackled in the morn;
She cackled for the rooster
To come get his pecker warm. (Tom P. Smith, W.Va.)

Cluck old hen, cluck for your corn,
Cluck old hen, your winter's all gone.

Cluck old hen, cluck in a lot,
The next time you cluck, you'll cook in a pot.

I had a little hen, she had a wooden leg,
The best danged hen that ever laid eggs.

Laid more eggs than the hens around the barn,
Another little drink wouldn't do me no harm. (Tommy Jarrell)

Cluck Old Hen, cluck I tell you,
Don't lay an egg, I'm a-gonna sell you. (Joel Shimberg)

My old hen died, what'll I do,
Guess I'll have some chicken stew. (Neal Walters)

Cluck old hen, you'd better cluck,
Hawk's gonna eat your chickens up. (Ed Weaver)

Cluck old hen, cluck all night,
Soon you will be Chicken Delight

Probable, possible. my fat hen.
She lays eggs in the relative when.
She might lay eggs in the positive now,
If only she could postulate how.

Cluck old hen, cluck I say,
The Dow-Jones average is down today.
Cluck old hen, cluck six-ten,
The Dow-Jones average is down again. (Neil Rossi)

Possible, probable my black hen
She lays eggs in the relative when
She can't lay eggs in the positive now
For she's unable to postulate how. (Spark Gap Wonder Boys)


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 70. Fiddler Magazine, Summer 2008, vol 15, No. 2; pp. 39-41. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 92 (appears as "Cackling Hen"). Johnson (The Kitchen Musician: Occasional Collection of Old-Timey Fiddle Tunes for Hammer Dulcimer, Fiddle, etc.), No. 2, 1982 (revised 1988 & 2003); p. 2. Krassen (Appalachian Fiddle), 1973; p. 35. Kuntz (Ragged But Right), 1987; p. 219-220. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 2, 1995; p. 32. Warner (Traditional American Folk Songs), 1984; pp. 292-293.

Recorded sources : - Augusta Heritage Recordings AHR-004C, Harvey Sampson and the Big Possum String Band - "Flat Foot in the Ashes" (1986/1994. Learned by Calhoun County, W.Va., fiddler Harvey Sampson from his father and others). Bay 204, The Arkansas Sheiks- "Whiskey Before Breakfast." Carryon Records 007, The Renegades - "I Need to Find." Cassette C-7625, Wilson Douglas - "Back Porch Symphony." County 405, "The Hill-Billies." County 701, Kyle Creed & Fred Cockerham - "Clawhammer Banjo." County 745, John Ashby- "Down on Ashby's Farm." County 756, Tommy Jarrell- "Sail Away Ladies" (1976). County CD 2702, Tommy Jarrell & Fred Cockerham. Document DOCD-8054, Grayson & Whitter (originally recorded 1928). Document 8040, "The Hill Billies/Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, vol. 2" (reissue). Folk Legacy FSA 1, Frank Proffitt (1962). Folkways Records FS-3811, Vester Jones - "Traditional Music from Grayson and Carroll Counties" (c. 1964). Gennett 6436 (78 RPM), 1928, G.B. Grayson (Va.). Gennett 6656 (78 RPM), Grayson & Whitter (1928). Heritage 080, Enoch Rutherford - "Old Cap'n Rabbit." Rounder CD 1702, Wade Ward. Rounder 1133, Ed Haley vol. 2 - "Grey Eagle". Rounder 0437, Jimm Beeler Kate - "Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks, vol. 3: Down in the Border Counties." In the repertoire of Fiddlin' Cowan Powers 1877-1952? (Russell County, Va.) and recorded by him for Edison in 1925. Rounder Records, "Spark Gap Wonder Boys" (1970). Smithsonian-Folkways SFCD 40077, Billy Cornett. Voyager Records, Vivian Williams - "Winter Moon."




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