Turkey in the Straw

TITLE: Turkey in the Straw
AUTHOR: unknown
CATEGORY: traditional, public domain
KEYWORDS: travel, animal, bird, dancetune
EARLIEST DATE: 1896 (recordings, Billy Golden)
HISTORICAL REFERENCESTurkey in the Straw was very popular during Andrew Jackson’s presidency,

art_turkey09Turkey in the Straw is one of America’s oldest folk songs for which its origins are unrecorded. It’s likely that the lyrics and the melodic tune were written by different people at different times and later melded together. Some suggest that the tune is of celtic origins either from an 18th century British air called the “Tea Rose Tree”. Still others believe it to be crafted from an Irish Jig called “The Kinnegad Slashers”. It’s appearance in America dates back to the 1830s originating as a traveling minstrel tune called “Zip C**n” to which the black faced minstrels danced a jig. (Bella Online

  • Turkey in the Straw was one of the earliest American minstrel songs. It was a fiddle tune named Natchez Under the Hill before it was published with words in 1834 as Old Zip C**n. It was very popular during Andrew Jackson’s presidency.
  • The song was first published in 1834 with the sole credit being “a favorite comic song sung by Mr. G. W. Dixon.”
  • The title Turkey in the Straw first appeared on sheet music in 1861.
  • The tune is included on the soundtrack of the motion picture The Sting.
  • Turkey in the Straw is still popular today among street fiddlers and ice cream trucks. It can be heard in many movie sound tracks; the song was already public domain by the start of sound in film, so it was extensively used. In cartoons it is commonly used for suggesting farms or rural life, or old fashioned country people. Perhaps the first use of the tune in an animated cartoon soundtrack was in Steamboat Willie. (Banjo News)

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • Old Zip C**n

RECORDINGS:

YOUTUBE VIDEO:

YOUTUBE AUDIO: download
LYRIC & CHORD PRO CHART: download
PPT LYRICS FOR THE CLASSROOM: download
BONUS YOUTUBE VIDEO:

Turkey in the Straw

Well, I had an old hen and she had a wooden leg,
Just the best old hen that ever laid and egg,
She laid more eggs than any hen on the farm,
But another little drink wouldn’t do her any harm.

Turkey in the hay, in the hay, hay, hay!
Turkey in the straw, in the straw, straw, straw!
Pick ’em up, shake ’em up, any way at all,
And hit up a tune called ‘Turkey in the Straw’.

Well, I hitched up the wagon and I drove down the road,
With a two horse wagon and a four horse load,
Well I cracked my whip and the lead horse sprung,
And I said “Goodbye” to the wagon tongue.

Turkey in the hay, in the hay, hay, hay!
Turkey in the straw, in the straw, straw, straw!
Pick ’em up, shake ’em up, any way at all,
And hit up a tune called ‘Turkey in the Straw’.

Well, if frogs had wings and snakes had hair,
And automobiles went flyin’ thro’ the air,
Well, if watermelons grew on a huckleberry vine,
We’d still have winter in the summer time.

Turkey in the hay, in the hay, hay, hay!
Turkey in the straw, in the straw, straw, straw!
Pick ’em up, shake ’em up, any way at all,
And hit up a tune called ‘Turkey in the  Straw’.

Oh, I went out to milk and I didn’t know how,
I milked an old goat instead of a cow,
A monkey sittin’ there on a pile of straw,
A-winkin’ his eyes at his mother-in-law.

Turkey in the hay, in the hay, hay, hay!
Turkey in the straw, in the straw, straw, straw!
Pick ’em up, shake ’em up, any way at all,
And hit up a tune called ‘Turkey in the Straw’.

Well, I come to the river and I couldn’t get across,
So I paid five dollars for an old blind horse,
Well, he wouldn’t go ahead and he wouldn’t stand still,
So he went up and down like an old saw mill.

Turkey in the hay, in the hay, hay, hay!
Turkey in the straw, in the straw, straw, straw!
Pick ’em up, shake ’em up, any way at all,
And hit up a tune called ‘Turkey in the  Straw’.

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books
  • Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore (1952), Volume 3: Folk Songs from North Carolina. Edited by Henry M Beldin and Arthur Palmer Hudson. Duke University Press.

SONGBOOKS:

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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