Polly Wolly Doodle

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POLLY WOLLY DOODLE. AKA - "Polly Woddle Doo." American, Song Tune (2/4 time). G Major (Ford, Sweet): D Major (Sweet). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The song appears to have blackface minstrel origins, where it was employed as a "walk-around," a stock part of the program (often the finale) in which each performer in the troupe would step out to do a verse, answered by the cast and audience, leading to a final verse with everyone joining in clapping and dancing. It is sometimes credited to American minstrel songwriter Dan Emmett (1815–1904), without real evidence, and authorship remains uncertain. "Polly Wolly Doodle" was popular during the American Civil War and was further popularized by the famous minstrel entertainer Billy Emerson, in 1866, just after the conflict concluded. A published version (perhaps the first) appears in in a Harvard student songbook, Student Songs (1880), edited by William H. Hills.

Oh, I went down South for to see my Sal
Sing Polly Wolly doodle all the day
My Sal, she is a spunky gal
Sing Polly Wolly doodle all the day

Fare thee well, fare thee well
Fare thee well my fairy Fay
For I'm going to Lou'siana, my guitar and her piana
Singing Polly Wolly doodle all the day

Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers recorded the song in November, 1926 (released in 1927) under the title "Polly Woddle Doo".

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 66 (Ford prints the lyrics on page 420). Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965/1981; pp. 5 & 6 (versions in two different keys).

Recorded sources: Columbia 15200-D (78 RPM), Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers (1927). Folkways FA 2381, "The Hammered Dulcimer as played by Chet Parker" (1966). Heritage XXIV, Cornlickers – "Music of North Carolina" (Brandywine 1978).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear the Skillet Lickers recording on youtube.com [2] and at Honking Duck [3]




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