"Old Dan Tucker"

Number One on My Elementary School Hit Parade

(Number Two is "Little Liza Jane")


Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man,
He washed his face in a frying pan.
He combed his hair with a wagon wheel,
And died of a toothache in his heel.

Get out the way old Dan Tucker.
You’re too late to git your supper,
Supper’s gone and dinner cookin’.
Old Dan Tucker’s just a-standin’ there lookin’.


Thank you Dan Emmett for your 1843 song imprinted in my brain as a grade school kid!  Many southerners would say, "Well, dag durned it, you must mean 'Dixie Land'!" (More commonly know as just Dixie.) 

"No," I reply, "It was 'Old Dan Tucker'." I especially was tickled by his combing his hair with a wagon wheel. Was he that large, or what?

We sang other Americana folk tunes in this similar genre of a "Southern dialect song,"  Countess Ada de Lachau's  1910, "Little Liza Jane,"  "John Henry," and "The Wreck of the Old 97." This tune, Dan Tucker, about a Paul Bunyon kind of character, was most likely a slavery derived song. About an itinerant minister from Elberton, Georgia, it was sung on both sides of the lines while sitting around their fires in the American Civil War.

D.D. Emmett was actually originally from Ohio. I thought his birthplace of Mount Vernon was in Northern Virginia like George Washington or something, but like there are other Dallases and Atlantas, there can be duplicates. (Except New York, though there is a York, England, a York County, Maine,  and a borough so-named in Pennsylvania.  Dan Emmett is actually quite an interesting fellow, maybe not quite like old Dan Tucker riding a Billy goat. Emmett enlisted at 13, becoming Jefferson Barracks' fifer and drummer there in Missouri. (Later on he co-authored with George G. Bruce their 1862 Fifer’s and Drummer’s Guide.)

Afterward his discharge in 1835, he took his musical talents to the circus, adding not just banjo and vocals, but black face to his shtick. By 1843 he was hitting the Big Apple with it in the Virginia Minstrels, they became the  first to do more than a warm-up solo act, but a whole group doing the main show. Later he lamented about "Dixie," which became a big Confederate hit, and ironically liked even by Abraham Lincoln: "If I had known to what use they were going to put my song, I will be damned if I'd have written it."

He died (not of any toothache in his heel, however), at 88 -- some years, after retiring in Mount Vernon. He was inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

You too, can sing along with this link. His cinematic biography was in the 1943,  A. Edward Sutherland musical production of Dixie, with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour

I was born in Bal-T-Mo (that's the way I remember it being sung) so, here's the lyrics, (varieties from several contributions) to Little Liza Jane (I don't think it's noded):

I got a gal that I adore,
Little Liza Jane.
Way down south in Baltimore,
Little Liza Jane.


Oh Eliza, Little Liza Jane,
Oh Eliza, Little Liza Jane.

Down where she lives the posies grow,
Little Liza Jane.
Chickens round the kitchen do',
Little Liza Jane.

(Repeat Chorus)

I don't care how far we roam,
Little Liza Jane.
Where she's at is home sweet home,
Little Liza Jane.

(Repeat Chorus)

I've got a gal and you've got none, li'l Liza Jane;
I've got a gal that calls me "hon", li'l Liza Jane.
Liza Jane done come to me...
We're as happy as we can be.

(Repeat Chorus)

Come my love and live with me,
I will take good care of thee.
House and a lot in Baltimore,
Lots of children running out the door.

(Repeat Chorus)

Jimmy John is layin' low, Li'l Liza Jane.
Honey, take me for you beau, Li'l Liza Jane.
G'wine ter th'ow the dice away, Li'l Liza Jane.
When yo' name the happy day, Li'l Liza Jane.

(Repeat Chorus)

Bumble bee he out for sips, Li'l Liza Jane.
Takes mah sweetmeats from yo' lips, Li'l Liza Jane
Ev'y mawnin' when I wakes, Li'l Liza Jane.
Smell de ham an buckwheat cakes, Li'l Liza Jane.

(Repeat Chorus)

Nevermo' from you I'll roam, Li'l Liza Jane.
Bestest place is home sweet home, Li'l Liza Jane.

(Repeat Chorus)


Countess Ada de Lachau was supposedly an aristocrat who fell on hard times, but more probably a fiction on the 1916 sheet music for Little Liza Jane. Eliza Jane was a standard female nick in the minstrel shows. David Bowie did it 5 June 1964 as Davie Jones and the King Bees, and repeated for a fortieth anniversary of what he called "absolutely dreadful” and “excruciating."


This whole former daylog writeup, (now a personal writeup) was a response to a catbox topic prompting folks to log about their fave childhood song. Now, after reading andycya's log, he's mentioning stuff from his teens, I think. Then I would have add doing my homework in Rockville, Maryland on a Spring afternoon, window thrown open with the radio on, and the DJ announcing a new hit from across the ocean, and the next minute those janging clanging chords kicked in of the beginning of "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Those mop head boys from Liverpool got my attention. Later I would grow into adulthood with the Beatles, with Sgt. Pepper's making a very important midway point in my life.

To make this searchable, after a suggestion by number one E2Hon from Baltimore, momomom, I asked the proficient Borgo to move it to this title. We managed to not accidentally move anyone else's writings here, too.

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