Tune The Old Cow Died On, The
DESCRIPTION: "The old cow might have been living yet, A-chewin' her cud with glee, If Farmer John hadn't sung of this song...." Farmer John sings, the cows gather in surprise. The old cow tries to join in, and it kills her
AUTHOR: Joseph E. Winner?
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (Randolph)
KEYWORDS: death animal farming music humorous
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,So)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Randolph 411, "The Tune the Old Cow Died On" (1 text plus 2 fragments, 1 tune -- although the "C" fragment does not appear related to the first two)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 352-354, "The Tune the Old Cow Died On" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 411A)
Warde Ford, "The Tune the old cow died on" (AFS 4212 A2, 1939; in AMMEM/Cowell)
NOTES: Carl Sandburg wrote in 1936, "A man having nothing to feed his cow sang to her of the fresh green grass to come; this is the tune the old cow died on." One suspects that this phrase was part of popular idiom, and someone created a song to explain it.
This would also explain why there is a distinct fiddle tune with the same name. Marge Steiner informs me that "there is a fiddle tune by that name as well. John Kirk, of Greenfield Center, New York, found a 19th-century manuscript of it in the Lockwood Collection, found in an attic in an old house."
Cohen reports an 1880 copyright of a song with this title, credited to George Russell Jackson and Eastburn (Joseph E. Winner), but adds that the song "must date from the 1850s or 1860s." He does not, however, give evidence for this claim. - RBW
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