Milk Cow Blues

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MILK COW BLUES. American, Country Blues. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AA'B. The tune has been attributed to Kokomo Arnold, who recorded it as a country blues tune called "Milkcow Boogie Blue" in 1934. Bluesman Robert Johnson adapted Arnolds song as "Milkcow's Calf Blues" and recorded it in 1937. It was soon picked up by jazz and western swing bands, transformed into "Milk Cow Blues" [1], and much recorded, with Bob Wills (1905-1975) and the Texas Playboys version particularly influential. The Playboys lyric begins:

Well, I woke up this mornin' looked outdoor,
I can tell my milk cow,
I can tell by the way she lows.

If you see my milk cow, please, drive her on home,
'Cause I ain't had no milk and butter,
Since my cow's been gone.

Beisswenger & McCann (2008) record that community lore has it that Missouri fiddler Alton Jones composed it while milking his cow one morning. Elvis Presley recorded a version with Arnold's title ("Milkcow Boogie Blue") for Sun Records in 1954, but it was musically more similar to the swing versions of the song.

Source for notated version: Alton Jones (1918-2002, Theodosia, Mo.), learned from Johnny Lee Wills [Beisswenger & McCann].

Printed sources: Beisswenger & McCann (Ozarks Fiddle Music), 2008; p. 83.

Recorded sources: Rounder CD 0437, Alton Jones - "Traditional Fiddle Music of the Ozarks, vol. 3" (2000).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Hear Kokomo Arnold's recording on youtube.com [3]
Hear Bob Wills and the Texas Playboy's 1946 recording on youtube.com [4]
Hear fiddler Vi Wickham's version [5] [6]




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