Old Miller (The)

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OLD MILLER, THE. Old-Time, Air and Reel. Vance Randolph believes this tune a variant of "Turkey in the Straw." "Turkey in the Straw" is itself thought to be a variant of the British tune "Rose Tree (The)", a popular and widespread tune that lent itself as the vehicle for numerous songs, among them "My Grandmother Lived on Yonder Little Green" and "The Miller Boy." The latter title is not the only "Miller" connection with a "Turkey in the Straw" variant, for "Turkey..." has been called, along with several other names, "Jolly Old Miller (The)" from which Randolph's title presumably derived. "The Old Miller" was a popular 19th century play-party song for children (in Missouri and elsewhere), even with adults who did not dance (but who would participate in singing). The following is play-party stanza (sung to the air "Turkey in the Straw"), in which every line was accompanied by a general movement of the dancers, drawn up in two lines:

There was an old miller who lived by himself
As the wheels turned round, he gained all his wealth.
One hand in the hopper, the other in the sack,
Ladies step forward, gents fall back.

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