Jimmy Sutton

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JIMMY SUTTON. AKA - "Old Buck Ram," "Old Jimmy Sutton." Old-Time, Breakdown. A Mixolydian/D Major. AEae or ADae tuning (fiddle). AB. The song/tune was collected from both Black and White sources, but the 'old-time' fiddle tune is closely associated with Blue Ridge regional musicians such as G.B Grayson (1887-1930), Fred Cockerham (1805-1980) and Tommy Jarrell (1901-1985). It was also in the repertoire of Grayson County, Virginia, clawhammer banjo player Vester Jones. As "Old Jimmy Sutton" the song/tune was in the repertoire of Grayson & Whitter who recorded it in the early 20th century (played in the key of G). These verses have been collected (sometimes a bleat or 'Baaa' is voiced at the end of the line):

Get out a rock as big as a button
Kill Jimmy Sutton as dead as mutton.

I like Sal and she likes chicken.
I'll keep Sal, all the time pickin'.

Sheep met a billy-goat going to pasture.
Sheep said "Goat, can't you go a little faster?"

Sheep fell down and skinned his chin
And, great God almighty, how the billy-goat grinned.

I like Sal and she likes mutton
And I hate to lose to old Jimmy Sutton.

If you can't dance that, you can't dance nothin'
And I wouldn't give a chaw to the old Jimmie Sutton (sometimes used as a chorus)

Bill took the gun, Bill went a huntin
BAM! went the gun and down fell a mutton.

Some of the verses are floating. Stacy Phillips points out that the lines-

Sheep met a billy-goat going to pasture.
Sheep said "Goat, can't you go a little faster?

were sung by Tommy Duncan on Texas fiddler Bob Wills' version of "Sally Goodin'," and were followed by--

Sheep fell down, goat rolled over,
Goat got up with a mouth full of clover.

North Carolina fiddler Tommy Jarrell sang:

Sheep, sheep, sheep and mutton,
If you can't dance that you can't dance nothing.
And a baa!
Baa! Old Jimmy Sutton.

We'll kill us a sheep and eat the mutton,
Save the tail for old Jimmy Sutton.
And a baa!
Baa! Old Jimmy Sutton.

A version of the song was collected by Thomas Talley and was printed in his Negro Folk Rhymes (1922) under the title "Sheep and Goat":

Sheep an' goat gwine to de paster;
Say de goat to de sheep: "Cain't you walk a liddle faster?"

De sheep says: "I cain't, I'se a liddle too full."
Den de goat say: "You can wid my ho'ns in yo wool."

But de goat fall down an' skin 'is shin
An' de sheep spli 'is lip wid a big broad grin.

Sources for notated versions: Highwoods String Band (Ithaca, New York) [Brody]; Judy Hyman (Ithaca, N.Y.) [Phillips].

Printed sources: Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 206 ("Old Jimmy Sutton"). Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), 1994; p. 125.

Recorded sources: Biograph 6003, "The Original Bogtrotters" (1968). Folkways FS-3811, Vester Jones. Rounder 0045, Highwoods String Band- "Dance All Night." Gennett Ge 6436 (78 RPM), G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter (1928). Tennvale 003, Pete Parish- "Clawhammer Banjo." Vester Ward - "Traditional Music From Grayson & Carrol Counties."

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear the tune played by Thorton and Emily Spencer (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia) at the Digital Library of Appalachia [2] [3]
Hear the tune by the Ballard Branch Bogtrotters on youtube.com [4]
Hear G.B. Grayson's 78 RPM recording [5]
Hear a slow learning version from the Old Town School of Folk Music [6]

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