Mule Skinner Blues

DESCRIPTION: "Good morning, Captain, Good morning, shine... Do you need another mule skinner out on your new road line?" About the hard life on the road work gang, waiting for water, and dealing with a mule
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1930 (recording, Jimmie Rodgers)
KEYWORDS: work loneliness animal floatingverses
FOUND IN: US(Ap)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Roberts, #84, "Mule Skinner Blues" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 152, "Mule Skinner Blues" (1 text, 1 tune, with one stanza of "T for Texas" thrown in for fun)
Silber-FSWB, p. 129, "Mule Skinner Blues" (1 text)
Jackson-DeadMan, pp. 67-70, "I Can Buckle a Wheeler" (2 texts, 2 tunes, both probably the same as one of the composite parts of Lomax's "Levee Camp Holler"; the "A" text also contains a large part of "Mule Skinner Blues")

Roud #3437
RECORDINGS:
Roy Acuff, "Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel #8)" (OKeh 05638/Conqueror 9528, 1940; Columbia 37012, 1946; Columbia 20038, c. 1947; rec. 1940)
Maddox Bros. & Rose, "New Muleskinner Blues" (4-Star 1240/4-Star 1288, n.d. but post-WWII)
Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys, "Mule Skinner Blues" (Bluebird B-8568, 1940; RCA Victor 20-3163, 1948)
Bill Monroe & his Bluegrass Boys, "New Muleskinner Blues" (Decca 46222, 1950)
Sonny Osborne, "Mule Skinner Blues" (Kentucky 605, n.d.)
Jimmie Rodgers, "Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel #8)" (Victor 23503, 1930; Bluebird B-6275, 1936; RCA Victor 20-6205 [as Jimmie Rodgers w. the Rainbow Ranch Boys], 1955)
Pete Seeger w. Jerry Silverman & Sonny Terry, "Muleskinner Blues" (on HootenannyTonight)

NOTES: A "skinner" is a teamster.
To the best of my knowledge, every known version of this goes back to Jimmie Rodgers ("Blue Yodel #8"). I doubt the song can truly be considered traditional. - RBW
To add to the fun, the Lomaxes tacked part of another Rodgers piece, "T for Texas," onto the end of this one. Given that neither song has much of a plot, it can be hard to separate the resulting hybrids. - PJS, RBW
One more bit of mixture: "Chinaman" Johnson's song "I Can Buckle a Wheeler," which seems to be mostly the same as the song the Lomaxes call "Levee Camp Holler," starts with a couple of verses of this. "Chinaman" sang the song more than thirty years after Rodgers recorded it, so the two could have simply been attracted together -- but the flip side is, who was worrying about mule behavior in 1965? I think we just have to call the whole thing a mess. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: LoF152

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