Yellow Dog Blues

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YELLOW DOG BLUES. American, Country Blues (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB’. While the title may simply refer to a canine, a ‘Yellow-Dog’ Democrat is a slang term for an individual who would vote for the Democratic candidate, no matter who ran, ‘even a yeller dog.’ The most famous tune by this name was a 1915 song written by ragtime and blues composer W.C. Handy, who originally entitled it "Yellow Dog Rag." It sold poorly, but in 1919 he thought to change the title to "Yellow Dog Blues" to take advantage of the popularity of blues songs, and it sold much better. The song was subtitled "He's Gone Where the Southern Cross' the Yellow Dog", revealling that Handy's 'yellow dog' referred to a nickname for the Yazoo Delta Railroad [1]; the "Southern" is the much larger Southern Railway. Handy's "Yellow Dog Blues" became a jazz standard, however, it is a different melody than the one that appears in Arizona fiddler Viola "Mom" Ruth's mid-20th century publication.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Ruth (Pioneer Western Folk Tunes), 1948; No. 58 p. 21.

Recorded sources:




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