See Rock City

See Rock City

Monday, July 14, 2008

Old Dan Tucker

Old Dan Tucker Sheet Music

Dan Tucker Graveyard

"Old Dan Tucker" entered American folklore soon after it was written. Its simple and malleable nature means that singers may begin or end it at any point or invent new verses on the spot. In fact, hundreds of folk verses have been recorded. This is a common folk variant:

Old Daniel Tucker wuz a mighty man,
He washed his face in a fryin' pan;
Combed his head wid a wagon wheel
And he died wid de toofache in his heel.
A common chorus variant goes:

So, git outa de way for old Dan Tucker,
He's come too late to git his supper.
Supper's over and breakfast cookin',
Old Dan Tucker standin' lookin'.

For decades "Old Dan Tucker" was used as part of a dancing game. The players formed a ring, and one man moved to the center. He selected women to swing around according to the lyrics:

Here's old Dan, he comes to town;
He swings the ladies round and round.
He swings one east, he swings one west,
He swings with the one he loves the best. 

A story dating to at least 1965 claims that "Old Dan Tucker" was written by slaves about a man named Daniel Tucker who lived in Elbert County, Georgia. Tucker was a farmer, ferryman, and minister who appears in records from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The story, as related by Mrs. Guy Rucker, the great-great-granddaughter of one of Tucker's neighbors, claims that Tucker became quite well liked by the slaves in his area through his ministry to them.