Tune of the Day: Old Dan Tucker
The origins of this popular American song are obscure. The tune may have come from oral tradition, while the original words are usually attributed to songwriter and performer Dan Emmett. “Old Dan Tucker” was first popularized by the blackface troupe of the Virginia Minstrels in 1843, and it became a minstrel hit. The song quickly entered the folk vernacular, and today it still stands as a bluegrass and country music standard.
The simple and malleable nature of this tune enables performers to begin or end it at any point, and to invent variations on the spot. This applies both to the melody and to the lyrics; in fact, hundreds of folk verses have been recorded.