Whoa Mule (1)

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WHOA MULE (WHOA) [1]. AKA and see "Kicking Mule." Old Time, Bluegrass; Song and Breakdown. USA; Missouri, Oklahoma, Georgia, southwestern Va., western North Carolina. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "Whoa Mule" or "Whoa Mule Whoa" is a widespread song and tune played throughout the south, midwest and southwest in a variety of styles and genres, by both black and white musicians, as a song, instrumental and a combination. There is much varaition between versions, especially in tempo, and song lyrics are often imported from other songs or are "floaters" in the tradition.

It was a "band" tune and tune title characteristic of Patrick County, southwestern Va. (Tom Carter & Blanton Owen, 1976), and Surry County, North Carolina (Kerry Blech). "Whoa Mule" was one of the songs recorded in Atlanta, Georgia, by Roba Stanley, fourteen years old, in August 1924 for OKeh Records. She, “according to country music historians, became America’s first recorded female country singer (Wayne W. Daniel, Pickin’ on Peachtree, 1990), but sang the song on the recording as a duet with her father, R.M. “Rob” Stanley, the winner of the Georgia state fiddling championship in 1920. The song/tune was the repertoire of the Kimble Family, Patrick County, Va., Benton Flippen, Surry County, North Carolina, and Phil Reeve of the Georgia Yellow Hammers (north Ga.).

(Spoken)
"Say, look hyah, Jane!
Doancha wanna take a ride?"
"Well, doan care if I do."
So he hitch up his mule an' staht out.

(Sung)
Well, it's whoa, mule, git up and down,
'Til ah says who a mule.

Well its git up and down
Just as fas' as you can
Fer I'se goin' to feed ye
All the oats an' bran.

An' its who a mule, git up and down,
'Til Ah say who a mule.

(Spoken)
"Ain't he a mule, Miss Jane?"
"Uh huh."

Ira Ford printed these verses in his Traditional Music in America (1940):

I went up on the mountain,
To give my horn a blow,
I looked down the other side,
And there I saw my beau.

I went up to see Miss Liza,
She was standing in the door,
Shoes and stokins' in her hand,
And feet all over the floor.

CHO:
Whoa, mule, whoa!
Whoa, mule, I day!
Just hop right in, Miss Liza,
And hold on to the sleigh. ... (Ford)

There are general melodic similarities to "Fortune (1)."

Sources for notated versions: Bill Katon (Tebbetts, Missouri) [Christeson]: Max Collins (Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma) [Thede].

Printed sources: Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 2), 1984; p. 87. The Devil's Box, p. 23. Thede (The Fiddle Book), 1967; p. 130.

Recorded sources: Bluebird 5591B (78 RPM), Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers (north Ga.) {1934}. Document 8039, “The Hill Billies/Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters: Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1” (reissue). Library of Congres Sidney Stripling (1941).

See also listing at:
Hear African-American banjo player and singer Sidney Stripling's 1941 field recording at the LOC [1] [2]
Read entry at the Ballad Index [3]




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