Old Jaw Bone (1)

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OLD JAW BONE. AKA and see "Jawbone," "Walk Jawbone (2)." Old-Time, Breakdown. A Major/Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The title appears in a list of traditional Ozarks Mountains fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954. Pope's Arkansas Mountaineers recorded a version of "Jaw Bone" in June 1928. Various sets of "Jaw Bone" lyrics go:

Oh my wife died in Tennessee,
She sent her jawbone back to me.
Walk jawbone and walk on by,
Walk jawbone, can't find me.

Saw an old man come riding by.
I said, 'Old man, your horse will die.'
'If he dies his hide I'll tan,
And if he lives I'll ride again.'

Walk jawbone and walk on by,
Walk jawbone, can't find me.

Walk jaw bone and walk away,
Walk jaw bone both night and day

The label on the Carter Brothers' recording gives the title as "Old Joe Bone," perhaps a clerical error by the recording company. Fiddlers George and Andrew Carter, along with son Jimmie Carter, recorded the tune/song in Memphis, Tennessee, in February, 1928. The also sang the following to the tune, along with some nonsense syllables (which may be a form of "mouth music"):

A jawbone walking, a jawbone talking,
A jawbone eating with a knife and fork.

I laid my jawbone on a fence,
And I ain't seen nothing of my jawbone since.

Chorus:
Old jawbone, couldn't get along,
Here comes Sally with a red dress on.

These are largely floating verses. The "I laid my jawbone on a fence..." couplet also was can by heard in the Highwoods String Band version of "Dance All Night." See notes for "Walk Jawbone (2)" and "Old Jaw Bone (2)" for more background.

Source for notated version: Carter Brothers and Son (Mississippi), 78 RPM recording [Phillips].

Printed sources: Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 171.

Recorded sources: County CO-3515, Carter Brothers & Son - "Mississippi String Bands, Vol. 1" (Reissue recording, various artists.). Document DOCD-8009, OKeh Records 45289 (78 RPM), Carter Brothers & Son (1928). Smithsonian Folkways SF 40040, "New Lost City Ramblers vol. 2, 1963-1973: Out Standing in their Field" (1993).

See also listing at:
Hear the Carter Brothers recording on youtube.com [1] [2]




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