Tune of the Day: The Arkansas Traveler
A tune, a dialog, and a painting from the mid-nineteenth century, the “Arkansas Traveler” became a catch-all phrase for almost anything or anyone from Arkansas: it has been the name of a kind of canoe, various newspapers, a racehorse, a baseball team, and more.
The Arkansas-based version of the Traveler is said to have begun in 1840. Colonel Sandford Faulkner got lost in rural Arkansas and asked for directions at a humble log home. Faulkner, a natural performer, turned the experience into an entertaining presentation for friends and acquaintances in which the Traveler was greeted by the Squatter at the log cabin with humorously evasive responses to his questions. Finally, the Traveler offered to play the second half, or turn, of the tune the Squatter was playing on his fiddle. The tune was “The Arkansas Traveler”. In his happiness at hearing the turn of the tune, the Squatter mustered all of the hospitality of his household for the benefit of the Traveler. When the Traveler again asked directions, the Squatter offered them but suggested that the Traveler would be lucky to make it back to the cottage “whar you kin cum and play on thara’r tune as long as you please.”