X:1 T:Tennessee Wagoner N:Transcribed by Frank Maloy based on the playing of Tommy N:Jackson (1924-1979) M:2/4 L:1/8 B:Stephen F. Davis - Devil's Box, vol. 14, No. 1, March 1980 (p. 23) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:C a/g/|"C"e/[ce][c/e/] [ce][c/e/][c/e/]|[c/e/]d/e/f/ g/e/d/c/|"G7"B/[GB][G/B/] [GB][G/B/][G/B/]|^F/G/B/c/ d/B/a/g/| "C"e/[ce][c/e/] [ce][c/e/][c/e/]|[c/e/]d/e/f/ g/a/g/e/|"G7"f/g/a/f/ g/a/g/f/|"C"e/[ce] [ce]:| |:G,-|"C"G,/B,/C/D/ E/G/A/B/|c/B/c/d/ c/B/c/d/ c/A/G/E/|"G7"D/C/B,/A,/ G,/A,/B,/C/|D/E/G/B/ A/G/E/D/| "C"C/B,/C/D/ E/G/A/B/|c/B/c/d/ e/f/g/e/|"G"f/g/a/f/ g/a/g/f/|"C"e/[ce][d/e/] [ce]:|]
TENNESSEE WAGONER. AKA and see "Wagoner (1)" and its versions, and "Rolling River." American, Reel (2/4 or cut time). USA; widely known. C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Bayard): ABB’ (Beisswenger & McCann). This popular tune appears in a variety of variants and title spellings (see note for “Wagoner”) that usually vary from state-to-state, with the name of the states often interchangeable. The tune is derived from "Belle of Claremont Hornpipe," according to both Christeson and Bayard, although Bayard further believes it to be composite in nature and traceable to older tunes. The first part is thought to be derived from "Billy in the Lowground (1)," while the second he identifies is a strain from an old Scottish air "Gaberlunze Man (The)" (the earliest version of which can be found in Thompson's Orpheus Caledonius, 1725, p. 23). This second strain has an old and venerable history in folk process; the second half of both "Wagonner" and "Gaberlunzie" 'greatly resemble' the Scots tune "Johnny Cope" and "Keep Off the Grass," states Bayard, albeit the association seems weak to many. Even the second half of the well known American breakdown "Mississippi Sawyer (1)" may be derived from this element.
The reel was in repertoires of Uncle Jimmy Thompson 1848-1931 (Texas, Va.) as both "Tennessee Wagoner and as "Wagner," and the John Lusk Band (a Black string band from the Cumberland Plateau region of Ky.) as "Rolling River." In fact, the reel is said to have been the first tune Uncle Jimmy played on Nashville’s WSM in November, 1923, in what was to become the very beginning of the country music showcase of the Grand Old Opry (Wolfe, 1997). The tune was recorded for the Library of Congress by folklorist/musicologist Vance Randolph, from the playing of Ozarks Mountains fiddlers in the early 1940's, and by musician and collector Bob Christeson from the playing of African American fiddler Bill Driver in 1948.