These three tunes are definitely on my private teaching Greatest Hits list. Great for the near beginner. Great at Pickin’ Parties. Knowing these three will surely lead to situations where other musicians will join in with you, as most everybody will know them. As repeated below, there are many many versions of all these songs. I prefer (for educational reasons and to my own idealogical liking) that we start with a “sing-able” version, like these, first. You can always advance to fancier Bluegrass versions later when you are ready. Also, I am linking to the full FJi Library lesson for each of these, which will have additional more advanced materials as you scroll down their pages. Do what you can. Do not think that you have to do everything now.
- Bile Them Cabbage Down. No, that’s not a typo! “Bile” is the American Southern dialect for Boil. I can only imagine this song’s origins in the 1800’s before the invention of refrigeration, when Cabbage was a much more important food that could last a long time before rotting! Just like today, when pop songs tend to be about life today, these songs are about life as it was current then too. “Bile them cabbage down boys, bake those hot cakes brown, the only song that I can sing is bile them cabbage down.” The version I teach here is in the key of A major with most of the notes on the A string, except two on the D string in the “B” section. I teach beginners this song in the first month of playing, but, in usual Fiddle Jam fashion, you can also go much deeper with it by tatering and improv too if you want to.
- Cripple Creek. There are many versions of this song. The one I teach here is simple enough so a student in their second month of lessons could accomplish it without too much difficulty.
- Old Joe Clark. The epitome of silliness, lyrics to this song abound. Besides Old Joe having a 16 story house that was filled with chicken pie, my favorite verse is about his friends warning Joe about his girlfriend: “Old Joe Clark don’t marry that girl, tell you the reason why, she’ll blow her nose on your cornbread and call it pumpkin pie!” Gotta love the humor! Technically this song has low 2 fingering (on the E string) and normal high 2’s (on the A string). Be sure to get those right and you should be fine.
Now, get in that kitchen and bake a casserole to take the the Pot Luck Pickin’ Party!