Pick the Devil's Eye Out

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X:1 T:Pickin' the Devils Eye N:From the solo playing of fiddler Enos Canoy (1909-1970, born and died in N:Magee, Simpson County, central Mississippi), recorded by Herbert N:Halpert for the Library of Congress. On the 1939 recording another local N:musician, Jim Myers, beats the straws. N:Parts were variously repeated by Canoy. N:"+" = pizzicato M:C| R:Reel Q:"Fast" N:AEac# tuning (fiddle) D:Library of Congress AFS , Enos Canoy (1939) D:https://www.slippery-hill.com/content/pickin-devils-eye Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:A J[e2e2][e2e2]-[e2e2]([ee]c-)|cB A2 {B}c3B-|c2{B}c2- c2E2|FA A2 [A3A3](B| cBA)AF2E2|(F[AA]) [A2A2] {B}[c3c3](B|cBA2)F2E2|(F[AA]) [A2A2][A4A4]| J[e2e2][e2e2]-[e2e2]([ee]c-)|cB A2 {B}c3B-|c2{B}c2- c2E2|FA A2 [A2A2]z2|| |:"+"c2"+"A2"+"E2E-F-|FAA2 B-c3|"+"c2"+"A2"+"E2E-F-|FA[A4A4]:|



PICK THE DEVIL'S EYE OUT. AKA - “Pickin(g) the Devil’s Eye.” American, Reel (cut or 2/4 time). USA; Mississippi, Arkansas. A Major. AEac# tuning (fiddle). Recorded (as "Pickin' the Devil's Eye") in 1939 for the Library of Congress by Herbert Halpert from the playing of Magee, Simpson County, Mississippi, fiddler Enos Canoy with straw beating by Jim Meyers [AFS 03058 A01]. The Library of Congress recording card originally listed the tune as "The Pig and the Devil's Eye." Canoy mentions that the plucking of the strings is “pickin’ the Devil’s eye, trying to get it out.”

The title appears in a list of traditional Ozarks Mountains fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954. Grayson County, Va., fiddler Thornton Spencer also played a version in ADad tuning called “Pickin’ Out the Devil’s Eyes,” learned from 75 year old fiddler M(a)uncy Galtney, who said it was the oldest tune he knew. Spencer was the brother-in-law of revered old-time fiddler Albert Hash, who taught him to play. See also fiddler Carlton Rawlings' "Plucking out the Devil's Eye", a different tune with a similar title and with also with pizzicato notes. These various tunes indicate that the notion of fiddler plucking strings and the image of 'picking the Devil's eye' was a widespread meme in the American South/Midwest.

Canoy's version is played quite fast, with a strong duple beat, however, underlying it is triple time rhythm. Played slower, Canoy's tune can be heard as a member of the "Rye Whiskey" family of old-time song-tunes.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Enos Canoy, who learned it from the playing of Love Kennaday, according to Halpert's field notes.

Printed sources : - Bolick (Mississippi Fiddle Tunes), 2015, p. 244.

Recorded sources : - Document DOCD-8071, Enos Canoy - "Mississippi Fiddle Tunes" (2015. Various artists). HCR-CD001, The Whitetop Mountaineers - "Go Away with Me" (2010).

See also listing at :
Hear Thornton Spencer play the tune in a recording from the 1979 Fiddler's Grove festival [1] [2]
Hear Enos Canoy's recording at Slippery Hill [3]



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