Zebra Dun, The [Laws B16]
DESCRIPTION: A new man joins the cowboys, and proves expert on many things. The cowboys think he must be a greenhorn, and allow him to take on the wild Zebra Dun. To their surprise, he controls the horse and receives a job. Not all educated people are greenhorns...
EARLIEST DATE: 1908
FOUND IN: US(MA,So,SW) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (15 citations):
Laws B16, "The Zebra Dun"
Gray-SongsAndBalladsOfTheMaineLumberjacks, pp. 98-101, "The Zebra Dunn" (1 text)
Larkin-SingingCowboy, pp. 49-52, "Zebra Dun" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph 208, "Zebra Dun" (1 text)
Friedman-Viking/PenguinBookOfFolkBallads, p. 427, "Zebra Dun" (1 text)
Thorp/Fife-SongsOfTheCowboys XII, pp.135-147 (27-29), "Educated Feller" (4 texts, 1 tune -- one of which, "Bow-Legged Ike," may be independent or an ancestor); Thorp/Logsdon-SongsOfTheCowboys, pp. 171-174, "The Zebra Dun" (1 text)
Fife/Fife-CowboyAndWesternSongs 71, "The Educated Feller (Zebra Dun)" (2 text, 1 tune plus a tune reference)
Ohrlin-HellBoundTrain 22, "Zebra Dun" (1 text, 1 tune)
Logsdon-WhorehouseBellsWereRinging 12, pp. 77-85, "Old Zebra Dun" (1 text, 1 tune)
Tinsley-HeWasSinginThisSong, pp. 134-138, "The Zebra Dun" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach-HeritageBookOfBallads, pp. 166-168, "Zebra Dun" (1 text)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 107, "The Zebra Dun" (1 text)
DT 383, ZEBRADUN*
ADDITIONAL: John I. White, _Git Along, Little Dogies: Songs and Songmakers of the American West_, 1975 (page references are to the 1989 University of Illinois Press edition), pp. 148-152, "'The Zebra Dun'" (1 text, 1 tune, plus various excerpts and a history of the song)
Hal Cannon, editor, _Cowboy Poetry: A Gathering_, Giles M. Smith, 1985, pp. 8-10, "The Zebra Dun" (1 text)
Jules [Verne] Allen, "Zebra Dun" (Victor V-40022, c. 1928; Montgomery Ward M-4464, 1934; on AuthCowboys)
Tex Fletcher, "The Zebra Dun" (Decca 5302, 1936)
Harry Jackson, "Zebra Dun" (on HJackson1)
Glenn Ohrlin, "Zebra Dun" (on Ohrlin01)
J. M. Waddell, "The Zebra Dun" (AFS, 1940s; on LC28)
cf. "I've Busted Broncs" (theme: the un-ridable horse)
cf. "The Strawberry Roan" [Laws B18] (theme: the un-ridable horse)
cf. "Preacher Dunn" (theme: the un-ridable horse)
cf. "Cowboys Victimized" (theme: the un-ridable horse)
cf. "Buckskin Joe" (theme of a tenderfoot who knows what he is doing)
NOTES [184 words]: Larkin-SingingCowboy states, without evidence though it's a reasonable conjecture, that the horse in this piece was a dun with the Z bar brand, with the "Z bar dun" wearing down to the "Zebra dun." Her other conjecture, that the singer may have been an Englishman who learned to ride while hunting fox, seems much less likely.
Logsdon-WhorehouseBellsWereRinging (who mentions Larkin's suggestion) notes that her explanation arises because, while "dun" is a recognized description of a horse's hide, "zebra" isn't. But he observes that a "zebra dun" would be a dun with stripes.
White, however, spoke with many cattle hands, and reports that there were genuine "zebra dun" horses. Some reported that the animals were so ornery that they were suspected of having mule blood. (Don't ask me to explain that part....) But they were also reported to be tough and long-lived.
One of Logsdon's texts, interestingly, was sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"/"John Brown's Body," though there is no chorus and some of his lines must have taken some quick tongue-work to sing to the Battle Hymn. - RBW
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