Old Dan Tucker

DESCRIPTION: Vignettes: Old Dan Tucker arrives to court the girls, sell his produce, and/or get drunk. Example: "Old Dan went down to the mill / To get some meal to put in the swill. / The miller swore by the point of his knife / He never seen such a man in his life."
AUTHOR: attributed to Daniel Decatur Emmett
EARLIEST DATE: 1841? (Emerson-StephenFosterAndCo says 1843)
KEYWORDS: bawdy playparty talltale
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,Ro,SE,So) Australia New Zealand
REFERENCES (34 citations):
Randolph 521, "Old Dan Tucker" (3 texts plus 2 excerpts, 1 tune)
Randolph/Legman-RollMeInYourArms I, pp. 431-433, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 tune, 3 texts)
Spurgeon-WaltzTheHall-AmericanPlayParty, pp. 148-149, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 82, "Old Dan Tucker" (6 texts); 509, "Nigger in the Woodpile" (1 two-line fragment, probably this though the vulgar idiom of the title is obviously common to many songs)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 82, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 tuns plus a text excerpt)
Scarborough-OnTheTrailOfNegroFolkSongs, p. 188, (no title) (2 fragments, one clearly this and the other a Dan Tucker stanza but with "Ole Aunt Dinah" in Dan's place); also p. 199, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, with a verse from this song though it has a chorus about "Sambo")
Browne-AlabamaFolkLyric 129, "Old Miss Wilson" (1 fragment, clearly this song although "Old Miss Wilson" has replaced "Old Dan Tucker")
Killion/Waller-ATreasuryOfGeorgiaFolklore, p. 219, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 short text)
Brewster-BalladsAndSongsOfIndiana 86, "Old Dan Tucker" (4 short text)
Wolford-ThePlayPartyInIndiana, pp. 78-80=Wolford/Richmond/Tillson-PlayPartyInIndiana, pp. 180-182, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Thompson-BodyBootsAndBritches-NewYorkStateFolktales, p. 274, "(Old Dan Tucker)" (1 short text, probably localized)
Gainer-FolkSongsFromTheWestVirginiaHills, pp. 176-177, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fuson-BalladsOfTheKentuckyHighlands, p. 163, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text)
Cambiaire-EastTennesseeWestVirginiaMountainBallads, p. 140, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 fragment)
Roberts-SangBranchSettlers, #88, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wolfe/Boswell-FolkSongsOfMiddleTennessee 81, pp. 130-132, "Walk, Tom Wilson" (1 text, 1 tune, about half "Old Dan Tucker" and half "Walk Tom Wilson," with probably a few other stray elements as well)
Bush-FSofCentralWestVirginiaVol4, pp. 28-30, "Old Dan Tucker" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Owens-TexasFolkSongs-2ed, p. 155, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Abernethy-SinginTexas, pp. 78-81, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune, plus many sundry verses)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #200, "Old Dan Tucker" (3 texts)
Meredith/Anderson-FolkSongsOfAustralia, p. 263, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Sutton-Smith-NZ-GamesOfNewZealandChilden/FolkgamesOfChildren, p. 133, "(Dan, Dan, the dirty man)" (1 short text)
Jackson-PopularSongsOfNineteenthCenturyAmerica, pp. 160-162, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax/Lomax-FolkSongUSA 27, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax/Lomax-AmericanBalladsAndFolkSongs, pp. 258-262, "Old Dan Tucker" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Coleman/Bregman-SongsOfAmericanFolks, pp. 28-29, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Emerson-StephenFosterAndCo, pp. 34-35, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text)
Seeger-AmericanFavoriteBallads, p. 52, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 240, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text)
Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, p. 81, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text)
Heart-Songs, pp. 174-175, "Old Dan Tucker" (1 text, 1 tune)
NorthCarolinaFolkloreJournal, Archie Green, "A Literary Contribution to the Creation of an American Folk Hero: Dan Tucker in Roakoke," Vol. XL, No. 2 (Summer-Fall 1993), pp. 49-69, (citations only)
ADDITIONAL: Richard M. Dorson, _Buying the Wind: Regional Folklore in the United States_, University of Chicago Press, 1964, pp. 382-384, "Old Dan Tucker" (2 texts, 1 tune)

ST R521 (Full)
Roud #390
Bentley Ball, "Old Dan Tucker" (Columbia A3087, 1920)
Harry C. Browne "Old Dan Tucker" (Columbia A1999, 1916; on Protobilly)
Fiddlin' John Carson, "Old Dan Tucker" (OKeh 40263, 1925; rec. 1924)
Pat Ford, "Old Dan Tucker" [fragment] (AFS A 4211 B2, 1939; in AMMEM/Cowell)
Al Hopkins & his Buckle Busters, "Old Dan Tucker" (Brunswick 295, 1929; rec. 1928)
Charlie Jones & his Kentucky Corn Crackers, "Old Dan Tucker" (Rondo R-168, n.d., prob. late 1940s)
Uncle Dave Macon, "Old Dan Tucker" (Vocalion 15033, 1925)
Pete Seeger, "Old Dan Tucker" (on PeteSeeger17)
Judge Sturdy's Orchestra "Old Dan Tucker" (Victor 20102, 1926; rec. 1925)
Gid Tanner & his Skillet Lickers, "Old Dan Tucker" (Columbia 15382-D, 1929; rec. 1928; on Protobilly)
Dan Tate, "Old Dan Tucker" (on FarMtns2)

Bodleian, Harding B 15(227a), " Old Dan Tucker" ("Dan Tucker lived in a nice little hut"), Birt (London), 1833-1851; also Harding B 11(3639), Harding B 15(227a), Harding B 15(84a), "[Old] Dan Tucker" ("Dan Tucker lived in a nice little hut"); Harding B 11(952), "Old Dan Tucker" ("I came across de ocean wide"); Harding B 11(927), Firth b.28(38) View 2 of 2)[some words illegible] , "Ole Tan Tucker"("Ole Tan Tucker cum to town one night"); Harding B 15(227b), Firth c.17(70), "Old Dan Tucker" ("I came ober here de oder day")
LOCSheet, sm1843 031800, "Old Dan Tucker" ("I come to town de oder night"), F. D. Benteen (), 1843 (tune); also sm1845 791510, "Old Dan Tucker"("I come to town de udder night"), (tune)

cf. "Clear the Track" (tune)
cf. "Johnny, Get Your Gun (II)" (floating lyrics)
cf. "The End of Big Bill Snyder" (tune)
cf. "Old Ann Tucker" (derivative: female version)
Clear the Track (I) (File: SCW48)
Bryan Campaign Song (File: Wels078B)
The End of Big Bill Snyder (Greenway-AmericanFolksongsOfProtest, pp. 30-31)
The Workingman's Train ("Ho, the car Emancipation, Leaves to-day, Industrial station") (by E. R. Place) (apparently derived directly from "Clear the Track (I)") (Foner, p. 132, with a broadside print on p. 133; Greenway-AmericanFolksongsOfProtest, pp. 87-88)
Henry Clay (Hudson-FolksongsOfMississippi, p. 211; cf. "Henry Clay Songs," File: SRW039)
A Song for the Campaign (File: TPS061)
Riot in the City Hall Park, June 18, 1857 (Wolf-AmericanSongSheets p. 135)
Our Flag Is Up ("Come Whigs and Patriots, one and all, Our Suffering Nation gives a 'call'") (Lawrence-MusicForPatriotsPoliticiansAndPresidents, p. 320)
The New Party ("Come all ye who're fond of singing, Let us set a song a-ringing) (Lawrence-MusicForPatriotsPoliticiansAndPresidents, p. 323)
John Merryman ("John Merryman, the Marylander") (Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, p. 190)
Position and Call to Start a Tucker/Old Dan Tucker (square dance call) (Welsch-NebraskaPioneerLore, p.. 110-111)
The Pastor's Daughter Oh! Boatman Haste (words by George Pope Morris, 1844; cf. Jon W. Finson, _The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song_, Oxford University Press, 1994, p.31)
Association Song ("O come where love makes labor light, Where toil with pleasure we unite") (Foner, p. 47)
The Working Men's League ("Come all you who are fond of singing, Let us set a song a ringing") (Foner, p. 48)
Cordwainer's Rallying Song ("Band together Lynn cordwainers, All as one, and you'll be gainers") (Foner, p. 63)
NOTES [306 words]: Randolph/Legman-RollMeInYourArms I offers a few bawdy verses to this otherwise immaculate dance tune. - EC
This was originally published as by "Dan Tucker Jr.," but it is generally believe that it was by Dan Emmett -- his first significant work. For a description of the sheet music, see Harry Dichter and Elliott Shapiro, Early American Sheet Music: Its Lure and Its Lore, 1768-1889, R. R. Bowker, 1941, p. 52. - RBW
The broadsides are more varied than usual. Note the differences in titles and first lines. - BS
This was apparently the first song ever sung by Dan Emmett and the Virginia Minstrels in their very first audition in 1843 (see details in the notes on "Dixie"). The rest, obviously, was history.
There is dispute over Emmett's role in the composition. Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 178, says that it was first published in 1842 by Millet's Music Saloon, with no attribution. The 1843 version more strongly associated with Emmett has a different form; it makes Old Dan a "a primitive backwoodsman with awesome abilities." Finson's note 39 cites S. Foster Damon to the effect that Emmett wrote the song in 1830.
The most likely explanation for all this, it seems to me, is that Emmett originally wrote the song but had no way of publishing it. Someone put out what amounts to a bootleg edition. This may have been rewritten, or perhaps Emmett himself, once the bootleg came out, rewrote the song to allow a separate copyright. But I can't prove any of this. And I would certainly admit the possibility of earlier folktales about Old Dan. For examples of Old Dan's folklorization, see the Archie Green article in NorthCarolinaFolkloreJournal, which describes Dan's role in Calvin Henderson Wiley's 1849 book Roanoke. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.1
File: R521

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