Wink the other Eye

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X:1 T:Wink the other Eye S:Hack's String Band (Muhlenburg County, Ky., 1930) M:C| L:1/8 D: F: Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:G {A}B>d|g4 +slide+f3d|efed BG2(_B|=B)dBG E2G2|BdBG D2G2| [B4g4]+slide+f3d|efed BG2(_B|=B)dBG ED3|1G4- GABd:|2G4-G2(3DEF|| G2A2B2d2|g2ed BG2(_B|=B)dBG E2G2|BdBG D2(3DEF| G2A2B2d2|g2ed BG2(_B|=B)dBG ED3|1G4-G2(3DEF:|2 G4-GABd||

WINK THE OTHER EYE. American, Reel (cut time). USA; Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Beisswenger & McCann, Christeson): AA'BB' (Phillips). "Wink the other Eye" is a ragtime influenced reel that is meant to be played at a tempo slower than that of a standard breakdown. Charles Wolfe says it is a "fine old Sequatchie Valley (Tenn.) fiddle band tune known to area fiddlers as diverse as Tom Douglas and Curly Fox" (Charles Wolfe, The Devil's Box, vol. 15, No. 4, Dec. 1981, p. 56). Early recordings (listed by Guthrie "Gus" Meade, 2002) are by Theron Hale & His Daughters (1928), Jess Young’s Tennessee Band (1929) and Hack’s String Band (1930). The latter mentions was a large 7-member string band (also known as the E.E. Hack String Band) from Muehlenburg County, Kentucky, featuring the fiddling of James Brown and William Virgil Garrett, who traveled to Richmond, Indiana, in September, 1930, to record for Gennett Records ("Wink the other Eye" was issued on their subsidiary labels, Champion and Superior, albeit the group is called the Cumberland String Band on the latter). The piece seems to be well known in those states just west of the Mississippi River (often in more elaborate versions), as it is in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Meade (1980) associates the title with songwriter W.T. Lytton, who penned “When You Wink the Other Eye” in 1890 (and popularized by Marie Lloyd, "whose aesthetic virtues T.S. Eliot once praised in a celebrated essay"[1]), a slightly risqué variety piece that begins:

Say boys, what do you really mean when you wink the other eye?
Why, when you tell us where you’ve been do you wink the other eye?
You tell your wives such stories, you can give them just a few,
“Just met an old acquaintance” or “The train was over-due.”
And when the simple wife believes that every word it true,
Then you wink the other eye.

Say, boys, now is it quite the thing?
Say, should we let you have your fling?
Oh! When you’ve got us on a string
Then you wink the other eye.

The recordings of the tune by Theron Hale and fiddler Jess Young (Chattanooga, Tenn.) for Columbia Records in 1929, but never issued.

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Lonnie Robertson (Ozark County, Missouri) [Christeson]; William Garett with Hack's String Band [Phillips]; Art Galbraith (1909-1993, near Springfield Missouri), who learned it from Lonnie Robertson [Beisswenger & McCann].

Printed sources : - Beisswenger & McCann (Ozarks Fiddle Tunes), 2008; p. 42. R.P. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 2), 1984; p. 82. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 172.

Recorded sources : - Champion R-16326-B (78 RPM), Hack's String Band (1930). Heritage 060, Art Galbraith - "Music of the Ozarks" (Brandywine, 1984). Morning Star 45003, Hack's String Band (Muhlenberg County, Ky.) - "Wink the Other Eye: Old Time Fiddle Band Music from Kentucky" (1980. Originally recorded in 1930). Yazoo 2200, Hack's String Band - "Kentucky Mountain Music". Rounder 0375, Lonnie Robertson. Rounder 11661-0133-2, "Art Galbraith, James River Fiddler: Dixie Blossoms" (2007, extended reissue of 1981 LP).

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear the 1930 recording by Hack's String Band at Slippery Hill [2] and on [3]
See banjo tab for the tune at [4]

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  1. Mark Wilson, liner notes to Rounder 11661-0133-2, "Art Galbraith, James River Fiddler: Dixie Blossoms" (2007, extended reissue of 1981 LP).