Say Old Man can You Play the Fiddle? (1)

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X:1 T:Say Old Man, can You Play a Fiddle? [1], Oh S:Red Williams (Dallas, Texas) M:C| L:1/8 D:Univ. of Missouri - "Old Time Fiddlers' Repertory" (1976). F:https://www.slippery-hill.com/recording/oh-say-old-man-can-you-play-fiddle Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:Emin BcBG BcBA|GBAG EFGA|BcBG BcBA|GBAG [E2B2][E2B2]| BcBG BcBA|GBAG EFGA|B[e2e2][ef] [e2e2]dc|BGAG [E4B4]|| B,2EF GEFE|DAFD ADFD|B,B,EF GFGc|BGAc BAGF| B,CB,E GEFE|DAFD ADFD|B,B,EF GFGc|BGAc BG [E2B2]|| K:E [E3B3][EB][G2B2][G2B2]|BcBG FG [E2B2]|EGBG BAGA|Bdfb (3gbge2| [E3B3][EB][G2B2][G2B2]|BcBG FG E2|EGBc BAGA|Bdfb (3gbge2|| |:Bege bege|defg afgf|efge bege|1BcBG [E2B2][E2B2]:|2 BcBG [E2B2]Bc|| K:Em e2 ef e2ef|gfef ga b2|Bdef e2ef|gfeg efdc| Bdef e2ef|gfef ga b2|B[e2e2][ef] [e2e2]dc|BGAG [E4B4]||



SAY OLD MAN CAN YOU PLAY THE FIDDLE? [1] AKA - "Oh, Say Old Man Can You Play the Fiddle?" "Ladies Fancy (1)." American, Reel (cut time). USA; Texas, Virginia, North Carolina. E Minor ('A', 'B', 'E' and 'F' parts) & E Major ('C' and 'D' parts). Standard or EDae tunings (fiddle).ABC (Christeson): ABBCC (Brody): AABBCCDDEEFF. "Say Old Man can You Play the Fiddle" is known as a Texas tune. Sometimes played in the very rare EDae tuning (and may be the only tune traditionally in that tuning). Joe Burke tells the story that Slim Rutland went looking for interesting musicians in the Dallas area and was pointed to Luke Thomasson, Benny Thomasson’s father. He passes on that Gary Lee Moore remembers that “Say Old Man, Can You Play the Fiddle” is the phrase Rutland introduced himself to Thomasson with, and the two spent the weekend working out the tune. Benny Thomasson referred to the tune as “Lady’s Fancy.” There are other versions of the story around. Another (from Mark O'Connor via Stacy Phillips) version has Slim knocking on Benny Thomasson’s door and saying, "I heard you're the greatest fiddler in the world. Will you play for me?" According to the latter version, Benny taught him a lot of tunes, including “Say Old Man Can You Play the Fiddle” and credited Rutland with being "a great fiddler.” An interesting version of the tune from the playing of West Texan Peter Tumlinson Bell, made by Bill Owens in 1941 is in the Owens archive at Texas A&M (Bell’s ancestor and namesake, Peter Tumlinson, was the first captain of the famed Texas Rangers). Paul Wells notes a relationship between the ‘A’ part of “Say Old Man” and one of the strains of Kentucky fiddler Luther Strong’s version of “Glory at/in the Meetinghouse” (recorded for the Library of Congress in 1937). Sometimes the following is sung as a verse:

Say old man can you play the fiddle?
I don't know, I might play a little. ...... (Gene Goforth)


Additional notes

Sources for notated versions: - Red Williams (Dallas, Texas; Christeson); Howard Forrester [Phillips]; Jay Ungar (New York; Brody).

Printed sources : - Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 251. R.P. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 1), 1973; p. 75. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 123.

Recorded sources: -American Heritage- "Poor Richard's Almanac" (appears as "Lady's Fancy"). Black Rose Productions, The Mando Mafia – “Get Up in the Cool.” County 202, "Eck Robertson (Tx): Famous Cowboy Fiddler." County 703, Benny Thomasson- "Texas Hoedown." Flying Fish 065, Buddy Spicher- "Me and My Heroes." June Appal 007, Tommy Hunter "Deep in Tradition" (1976. Learned from his grandfather, fiddler James W. Hunter, Madison County, N.C.). Marimac AHS #3, Glen Smith – “Say Old Man” (1990. Learned from Howdy Forrester). Philo 1023, Jay Ungar & Lyn Hardy - "Songs, Ballads & Fiddle Tunes" (1975. Learned from a tape of Eck Robertson). Rounder 0046, Mark O'Conner- "National Jumior Fiddle Champion." Rounder 0099, Dan Crary- "Lady's Fancy" (appears as "Lady's Fancy"). Rounder CD-0388, Gene Goforth – “Emminence Breakdown” (1997). Voyager CD 345, Benny Thomasson – “Say Old Man, Can You Play the Fiddle?”



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