Annotation:Sally Goodin

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X:1 T:Sally Goodin’ M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Air B:E.F. Adam - Old Time Fiddlers Favorite Barn Dance Tunes (1928, No. B:50, p. 20 Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:A A/c/B/A/ [AA](A/B/)|c/A/B/A/ [F/A/]-[A/A/][AA]|A/c/B/A/ [AA](A/F/)|E/C/E/E/ [F/A/]-[A/A/][AA]:| |:[c/e/]-[ee]([c/e/] [ee])c/e/|(f/g/)a/e/ (f/e/)c/d/|ef/e/ (c/B/)A/B/|c/A/B/A/ [F/A/]-[A/A/][AA]:|

SALLY GOODIN'. AKA – “Sally Gooden,” "Sally Goodwin." AKA and see - Sally Goodin', Broke-Legged Chicken (1), Sally Goodwin, Sallie Gooden, Sally Goodman. American, Reel (cut time). USA; Widely known. A Major (most versions): G Major (John Brown, Phillips/Davenport). AEae (Eck Robertson, Hiram Stamper, Marcus Martin) or Standard tunings (fiddle). AB (Bayard): AAB (Phillips/Martin): AABB (Adam, Brody, Kartchner, Phillips, Thede): AABB' (Phillips/Davenport): AABB’CBB’ (Beisswenger & McCann): AABBCCDD (Sweet): AA'BB'CDCD (Ford): AABBCCDDEE (Phillips/Franklin): AABB'CC'DDEE (Frets). USA.

"Sally Goodin" is a widely known breakdown and play-party tune/song in parts of the upland South, Mid-West and Southwest (but not universally known throughout the country--Paul Gifford reports that it was completely unknown to traditional fiddlers in Michigan, for example). As is often the case with American fiddle tunes, there is a wide variety of versions and variants, plus idiosyncratic renderings) in both the key of 'A' and 'G'. Penn State collector and musicologist Samuel Bayard (1981) was of the opinion that the tunes "Sally Goodin," "Old Dan Tucker" and his Pennsylvania collected "Rye Whiskey (2)" (a breakdown, not the 3/4 time version) are related "in an affinity that goes back a long while;" and some versions of these tunes do seem to blend with one another.

Charles Wolfe (1982) states it was popular with Kentucky fiddlers. In addition to "Sally Goodin" being a part of the core repertory of the the state's fiddlers, melodic material (particularly the cadence) from the reel fertilized other tunes--see also "Jake" Phelps related reel "George Holland's Tune". According to A.B. Moore in his History of Alabama (1934), “Sally Goodin” was one of the standard tunes in an (Alabama) fiddler’s repertoire. Rosenbaum (1989) remarks that it is an almost universally known fiddle tune in the South, but that the verses (an example is given below) are not sung 'as frequently today' as they were in the past. Texas fiddler Eck Robertson was the first person to record the tune in 1922 when he was aged thirty-four (Robertson, is was recalled, played the tune at variously in both AEae and standard tuning, although on his early and famous recording he played in AEae). Robertson was by accounts a colorful personality, who used to introduce the tune in performance something akin to the following (wrote fiddler Byron Berline, Frets Magazine):

There was a girl named Sally who had two boyfriends. The two boys were both fiddle players, and one of the boys had the last name of 'Goodin.' Sally couldn't decide which one to marry, so she thought a fiddle contest between the two would be a good way to make her selection. Of course, the fellow Goodin won the contest, and Sally became Sally Goodin. They were very happy and had a productive life with 14 children, so I'm going to play 'Sally Goodin' 14 different ways.

Arizona fiddler Kenner C. Kartchner said: "Old Texas tune. Only a few play it well. All try it" (Shumway), and indeed, it is played today by Texas-style fiddlers, usually with multiple variation parts. Eck Robertson's 1922 performance, for example, incorporated no fewer than thirteen distinct strains, and his version (with many of the original strains fairly intact) is played by Texas fiddlers today[1]. In other regions of the country two-part versions prevail. Missouri fiddler Bob Holt (1930-2004) played the tune in three parts, but acknowledged that most fiddlers in the Ozarks region played it in two. Bruce Greene relates the story (obtained from his informant, Knott County, east Kentucky fiddler Hiram Stamper, 1893-1991) that the tune was originally called “Boatin’ Up Sandy” (there are several tunes by this name) and was renamed during the American Civil War by Confederate soldiers attached to John Hunt Morgan’s unit of irregulars. The story, as Greene tells it, is that the company arrived at a point on the Big Sandy River in Pike County, Kentucky. A boarding house run by Sally Goodin was located nearby where she allowed the soldiers to camp and to play music. In appreciation of her hospitality the soldiers renamed the tune in her honor (Mike Yates, 2002). Stamper himself said that Sally's husband had been killed in the war, and that she opened up her home to soldiers passing through and "took care of them"[2].

Guthrie Meade (Country Music Sources) lists twenty-nine early 78 RPM recordings, attesting to the popularity and wide dissemination of the reel. “Sally Goodin” was in the repertoires of Fiddlin John Carson (North Ga.) {1922}, Fiddlin' Cowan Powers 1877-1952? (Russell County, S.W. Va.) {and who recorded the tune for Victor in August, 1924, though it was unissued}, Uncle Am Stuart (b. 1856, Morristown, Tenn.) {and who re-recorded it for Vocalion in 1924}, Uncle Jimmy Thompson 1848-1931 (Tenn.) {as "Sally Goodwin"}, and Alabama fiddler Monkey Brown (1897-1972).

North Georgia fiddler Earl Johnson, with his band the Clodhoppers, recorded a version of the tune in 1928 under the odious title “N....r in the Cotton Patch.” Also in repertoire of legendary fiddler J. Dedrick Harris, born in Tennessee, and who played regularly with Bob Taylor while he was running for Governor of the state in the late 1800's. Harris moved to Western N.C. in the 1920's and influenced a generation of fiddlers there: Osey Helton, Manco Sneed, Bill Hensley, Marcus Martin. The title was mentioned in reports of the De Kalb County Annual (Fiddlers') Convention, 1926-31 (Cauthen, 1990). At the turn of the century it was played by George Cole of Etowah County, Alabama, as recorded by Mattie Cole Stanfield in her book Sourwood Tonic and Sassafras Tea (1965).

The tune was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph from Ozarks Mountains fiddlers in the early 1940's (see Bill Bilyeu--pronounced 'blue'--AFS 06902); he said it was popular at play-parties in the Ozarks in the 1890's (see his Ozark Folksongs, vol. 3). Similarly, it was recorded in 1939 for the Library of Congress by Herbert Halpert from the playing of Itawamba/Tishomingo County, Mississippi, fiddler John Brown and, in the same year from Franklin County, Virginia, fiddler J.W. 'Peg' Hatcher (2741-B-2). Texas fiddler Eck Robertson's 1923 release of "Sally Goodin'" (backed with Robertson and H.C. Gilliland performing “The Arkansas Traveler") was the number one country music bestseller for the year 1923 (although it had been released in a limited pressing in 1922, then more fully the next year).

Georgia fiddler Bill Shores, a native Alabamian who spent most of his life in the Rome, Georgia, area (according to Wayne Daniels), recorded the tune (under the title “Sally Goodwin”) with guitarist Riley Puckett in Atlanta in 1926. North Georgia stalwarts The Skillet Lickers waxed “Sally Goodin” in 1929, as did Tennessee entertainer Uncle Dave Macon in 1925. Georgia fiddler A.A Gray played the tune on “A Fiddler’s Tryout in Georgia,” a sham fiddling-contest skit with supposed judges and two fiddlers vying for a prize (Joe Brown was his nemesis)—Gray plays “Bucking Mule” and “Sally Goodin’” on the 78 RPM record. George Edgin recorded it in 1932 under the title “Blue Mountain Sally Goodin.”

Texas fiddler Eck Robertson sang these verses:

Had a piece of pie, had a piece of puddin',
Give it all away to see Sally Goodin'.

I love pie, I love puddin',
Crazy 'bout the gal they call Sally Goodin'.

Looked up the road, seen Sally comin',
Thought to my soul she'd break her neck a-runnin'. ......(Thede)

Had five dollars, now I've got none,
Give it all away to see Sally Goodin.
Hey, ho, old Sally Goodin,
Hey, ho, old Sally Goodin.

Raspberry pie, blackberry puddin',
Give it all away to kiss Sally Goodin.
Hey, ho, old Sally Goodin,
Hey, ho, old Sally Goodin. ......(Rosenbaum/Knight)

Texas swing fiddler Bob Wills' version, with singer Tommy Duncan, goes (from the “Tiffany Transcriptions,” vol. 6):

Sheep and a goat was walkin’ in the pasture,
The sheep said to goat, “Can’t you get a little faster?”
The sheep fell down and the goat rolled over,
Sheep got up with a mouth full of clover

Like my pie, like my puddin',
Love that gal that they call Sally Goodin'

The meat on the goose and the marrow on the bone,
The devil on the hillside don’t you hear him groan;
Turkey playin' fiddle up on the melon vine,
The goose chewin' tobacco while the duck drinkin' wine.


Possum up a gum stump, dogs on the ground,
Man [Men] with [a] shotgun[s] walkin' all around;
Boss has stuck his head out, and grinned kinda silly,
Women and children are hollerin' “Willy, Willy.”


Grab your gal, turn around and around,
Let your little foot beat against the ground;
Circle eight, spread out wide,
Grab your partner an’ go hogwild.

Musicologist Vance Randolph (Ozark Folksongs) printed sung verses collected from Carrie Barber of Pineville, Missouri, that go:

I had a piece of pie, and I had a piece of pudding;
I gave it all away, to see Sally Goodin.
Swing Sally Goodin, Swing Grandma,
Everybody rag to please grandpa.

Chords for Texas-style guitar back-up go:


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Lee Ennis (Oklahoma County, Oklahoma) [Thede]; Kenner C Kartchner (Arizona) [Shumway]; Marion Yoders (fiddler and fifer from Greene County, Pa., 1961) [Bayard]; fiddler L.D. Snipes via Ray Knight (Lumpkin County, Georgia) [Rosenbaum]; Marcus Martin (western N.C.) [Phillips]; Major Franklin (Texas) [Phillips]; Clyde Davenport (Ky.) [Phillips]; Bob Holt (1930-2004, Ava, Missouri) [Beisswenger & McCann].

Printed sources : - Adam (Old Time Fiddlers' Barn Dance Tunes) 1928; No. 50, p. 20. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 273, p. 229. Beisswenger & McCann (Ozarks Fiddle Music), 2008; p. 67. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; pp. 246 & 247. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; pp. 64 and 128 (discord version) [Ford also prints additional verses on page 419, and a dance of the same title on page 209]. Frets Magazine, "Byron Berline: The Fiddle," May 1980; p. 60. Kaufman (Beginning Old Time Fiddle), 1977; pp. 30 & 60. Lowinger (Bluegrass Fiddle), 1974; pp. 13 & 33. Phillips (Fiddle Case Tune Book), 1989; p. 37. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 210 (three versions). Rosenbaum (Folk Visions and Voices: Traditional Music and Song in North Georgia), 1989; p. 210. Shumway (Frontier Fiddler), 1990; p. 270 (miss-labeled as "Sally Johnson"). Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965/1981; p. 76. Thede (The Fiddle Book), 1967; pp. 32-33.

Recorded sources : - Arhoolie C-220, Eck Robertson (et al) – “Southern String Bands, Vol. 1 & 2.” Briar 4201, Scotty Stoneman - "Live in L.A." Caney Mountain Records CEP 210 (privately issued extended play LP), Lonnie Robertson (Mo.), c. 1965-66. County 744, Kenny Baker - "Dry and Dusty." County 733, Clark Kessinger (W.Va.) - "The Legend of Clark Kessinger." County 703, Bartow Riley - "Texas Hoedown." County 705, Sonny Miller - "Virginia Breakdown." County CD5515, Eck Robertson – “ (1998). Document DOCD-8011, The Kessinger Brothers (reissue). Document DOCD-8042, Fiddlin’ Doc Roberts (reissue). Flying Fish 102, New Lost City Ramblers - "20 Years/Concert Performances" (1978). Folkways FA 2397, New Lost City Ramblers - "Vol. 2" (also on "Twenty Years Concert Performances"). Folkways FA 2337, “Clark Kessinger Live at Union Grove.” Gennett 6733 (78 RPM), 1928, G.B. Grayson (east Tenn.). Gennett 7221 (78 RPM), Doc Roberts (Ky.). Heritage 048, Lowe Stokes - "Georgia Fiddle Bands" (Brandywine 1972). Library of Congress AFS 4794-B2, Marcus Martin (recorded 1941 by Lomax, Liss * Wiesner). Musical Traditions MTCD321-2, Ted Boyd (et al) – “Far on the Mountains, Vols. 1 & 2” (2002). Old-Timey Records OT-101, Eck Robertson - "Old Time Southern Dance Music: The String Bands, Vol. 2" (appears as "Sallie Gooden"). Omac 1, Thomasson, Shorty, Morris, O'Conner - "A Texas Jam Session." Omac 2, Berline, Bush and O'Conner - "In Concert." Rounder 0044, "J.D. Crowe and the New South." Rounder 0073, The White Brothers - "Live in Sweden." Rounder 1027, Johnnie Lee Wills - "Tulsa Swing." Rounder 0099, Dan Crary - "Lady's Fancy." Rounder 0101, John Hickman - "Don't Mean Maybe.” Rounder CD-0388, Gene Goforth – “Emminence Breakdown” (1997). Rounder CD 0359, Skip Gorman - "Lonesome Prairie Love" (1996). Rounder CD0278, Mike Seegar – “Solo—Old Time Country Music” (1991). Rounder CD-0432, Bob Holt – “Got a Little Home to Go to” (1998). Rounder C11565, Ricky Skaggs - "Rounder Fiddle." Sonyatone 201, Eck Robertson (West Texas) - "Master Fiddler." Tradition TLP 1007, Mrs. Edd Presnell - "Instumental Music of the Southern Appalachians" (1956). Victor 18956 (78 RPM), Eck Robertson (West Texas) {1922}.

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear/see the tune played by Tashina Clarridge & Jefferson Hamer on [2]
Hear G.B Grayson's recording on [3]
Hear John Morgan Salyer's 1941/42 home recording at Berea Sound Archives [4]
Hear Marcus Martin's 1941 field recording by Alan Lomax at Slippery Hill [5]
Hear Carlton Rawling's c. 1960's home recording at Berea Sound Archives [6]
Hear Mulkey Kent's 1959 field recording at the John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection, Lyon College [7] and at Slippery Hill [8]

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  1. Micheal Mendelson, "Benny Thommasson and the Texas Fiddling Tradition," JEMF Quarterly, vol. 10, Part 3, #35.