Old MacDonald Had a Farm
DESCRIPTION: (Old MacDonald's) farm features a wide variety of livestock, described cumulatively, e.g. with the pig making an oink here and an oink there, the cow a moo-moo here and there, etc. until the entire farm is sounding off
EARLIEST DATE: 1917 (Tommy's Tunes)
KEYWORDS: animal farming cumulative nonballad
FOUND IN: US(MW,SE,So) Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Randolph 457, "The Merry Green Fields of the Lowland" (1 text); 458, "Old Missouri" (1 text)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 125, "McDonald's Farm" (5 text)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore5 125, "McDonald's Farm" (3 tunes plus text excerpts)
Gilbert-LostChords, p. 83, "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" (1 text)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 389, "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" (1 text)
Pound-AmericanBalladsAndSongs, 120, pp. 238-240, "Sweet Fields of Violo" (1 text)
Fuld-BookOfWorldFamousMusic, pp. 410-412, "Old MacDonald Had a Farm"
Warren Caplinger's Cumberland Mountain Entertainers, "McDonald's Farm" (Brunswick 224, 1928)
John M. Curtis, "The Farmyard" (on MUNFLA-Leach)
Englewood Four, "Old McDonald Had a Farm" (Champion 15451/Challenge 396, 1928 [as Henry County Four]; rec. 1927)
Sam Patterson Trio, "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" (Edison 51644, 1925)
Dan Russo's Orioles, "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" (Columbia 2647-D, 1932)
Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers, "Old McDonald Had A Farm" (Columbia 15204-D, 1927)
cf. "The Farmyard Song (I)" (theme)
Golly, Ain't That Queer (Pankake/Pankake-PrairieHomeCompanionFolkSongBook, pp. 171-172)
Young McDonald Had a Horse (RECORDING: Jerry Abbott & the Main Streeters Standard, T-2071, rec. 1942)
The Farmyard Song
NOTES [256 words]: Are the pieces listed here really one song? It's not immediately obvious. The British and American versions are often very distinct, but there are intermediate versions, e.g. Randolph's. There may well be mixture with "The Farmyard Song (I)," and maybe "The Swapping Boy" as well; indeed, early versions of the Index lumped this with "The Farmyard Song (I)."
Neither of Randolph's texts conforms to the common version of "Old MacDonald," and "The Merry Green Fields of the Lowland," in particular, looks older (It probably derives from the George Christy version "In the Merry Green Fields of Oland," from 1865; compare Sharp's "Merry Green Fields of Ireland" and Pound's "Sweet Fields of Violo"). But the cumulative pattern is the same (indeed, something very like it is quoted in Pills to Purge Melancholy in 1707), so I assume the family is a unity.
Gilbert-LostChords claims the piece (in which "My Grandfather," rather than "Old MacDonald, is the farmer) comes from a busker of the 1870s called "the Country Fiddler," but gives no details to verify this.
I use the "Old MacDonald" title because it is the best-known, though Fuld reports that this version did not appear until 1917 (and even then, it was "Old MacDougal"). - RBW
The John M Curtis Newfoundland version replaces the leading "Old MacDonald had a farm" with "Aye bonny lassie will you come For to mind my father's (hens/geese/...)" and the trailing "Old MacDonald had a farm" with "Aye bonny lassie will you come to the bonny woods of ivy." Roud has this as #544. - BS
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