Turkey In The Straw

Words & Music:

John Renfro Davis


This was an early minstrel song.  According to contemplator.com, it was originally a fiddle tune named Natchez Under The Hill.  Words were added & it was published in 1834 as Old Zip Coon.  It was top of the charts during Andrew Jackson's presidency.  More notes from contemplator.com:  "...The first verse of Old Zip Coon is:  'There once was a man with a double chin / Who performed with skill on the violin, / And he played in time and he played in tune, / But he wouldn't play anything but Old Zip Coon.' [and]  According to Linscott, the tune is derived from the ballad My Grandmother Lived on Yonder Little Green which in turn derived from the Irish ballad The Old Rose Tree."  This has since become a favorite instrumental tune and is now associated everywhere with the ice cream trucks of summer.


   F                                                    C

As I was a-gwine down the road, with a tired team and a heavy load,

  F                                                                  C  F

I crack'd my whip and the leader sprung, I says, "Day-day" to the wagon tongue.



F                                          Bb

Turkey in the straw (Turkey in the straw), Turkey in the hay, (Turkey in the hay)

F                                        C7

Roll 'em up and twist 'em up a high tuckahaw

    F                                 C      F

And twist 'em up a tune called Turkey in the Straw.


Went out to milk, and I didn't know how, I milked the goat instead of the cow.

A monkey sittin' on a pile of straw, A-winkin' at his mother-in-law.




Met Mr. Catfish comin' down stream. Says Mr. Catfish, "What does you mean?"

Caught Mr. Catfish by the snout, And turned Mr. Catfish wrong side out.




Came to a river and I couldn't get across, Paid five dollars for a blind old hoss;

Wouldn't go ahead, nor he wouldn't stand still,

So he went up and down like an old saw mill.




As I came down the new cut road, Met Mr. Bullfrog, met Miss Toad

And every time Miss Toad would sing, Old Bullfrog cut a pigeon wing.




Oh I jumped in the seat and I gave a little yell

The horses ran away, broke the wagon all to hell

Sugar in the gourd and honey in the horn

I never been so happy since the day I was born.





The provenance of the attached easy arrangement of this is unknown.  It is part of a collection that people gave me over the years.  Please inform me if you know it.

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