Old Yaller Hound

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OLD YALLER HOUN' . Old-Time, Breakdown. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The first stain of this tune is shared, in a general way, with O'Neill's "Always Welcome" and Roche's "Darkey's Dream." While these tunes appear in Irish or Irish-American publications, it seems likely they were derived from American black-face minstrel sources. Ira Ford (1940) printed the following verse with the tune:

Old yaller houn's barkin' treed, up the holler,
It's old mister 'possum, I'll bet half a dollar.
Fetch on the ax, boys, we'll see pretty soon,
He's worth half a dollar if it's old zipp coon. .... (Ford)

...and included this attempt at a colorful, but hardly illuminating, story to go with it:

The following sketch was taken down according to family recollection of an old Tennessee fiddler who played "Old Yaller Houn'" as it was handed down from his "grandpap."

"Back yander in the time of Davie Crockett'n Dan'el Boone, folks never seed much money. Furs'n pelts, beeswax'n taller wuz the legal tender uv the day in the settlement whur we'uns lived.

"Most any time when store goods wuz a-runnin' low Pap 'ud say: 'Newt, yew'n Lem go out to the granary'n fotch in all the skins that air dry enough. We'uns air a-goin' over to Bald O'int'n do some tradin' atter dinner.'

Newt'n Lem 'ud git the skins bundled. Then Pap 'ud say: 'Maw, what d'ye'n Granny need frum the tradin' store? Maw 'ud more'n likely say: 'Wal, yew mout fotch Grannyer er box uv snuff. 'N git me a new clay pipe. Be shore to pick as long a stem as yew kin git. Guess that's 'bout all fer the house. Oh yes, git 'nother set o' knit-needles. The yearn's all spun and we'uns'll go to knittin' sox'n mittens next week.' Then Pap 'ud say: 'All right. You'uns tie the hounds up while I git the mule'n we'll ride'n hitch.'

"Come to Bald P'int tradin' post Pap 'ud git th' ol' brown jug filled'n git two horns o' powder'n a pig o' lead'n do tradin' fer Maw'n Granny. There'd most allers be some change left. Maybe a couple o' possum skins'n a weasle or two. Newt'n Lem 'ud trade fer a plug o' flat chawin' terbackern'n we'uns 'ud *ride'n hitch back up th' holler to hum.

Maybe that night Old Drum 'ud bark treed, up th' holler. Pap 'ud git up'n go outside'n listed fer a spell. Then it 'ud be: 'Fotch the ax, boys, we'll see purty soon. He's wo'th a half-a-dollah ef et's ol' zipp coon.'"

*Note: Where two or more people went on a trip together and had but one horse, it was customary to "ride 'n hitch." The first "feller" would ride on ahead and hitch the horse to a tree, and start walking on. When the other parties came to the horse the next "feller" would fork the animal and ride until he overtook the first, and so on, until they reached their destination.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 61.

Recorded sources:




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