“Rye Straw”

Alternate titles: “Joke on the Puppy”; “The Unfortunate Pup”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1924 (recording, Uncle "Am" Stuart)
Keywords: injury dancetune nonballad animal dog
Found in: US(SE)

Description

Dance tune: "Dog shit a ryestraw, dog shit a jackstraw/Dog tore his asshole tryin' to shit a hacksaw." "Dog shit a ryestraw, dog shit a minner/Dog shit a catfish big enough for dinner"

Notes

With the exception of the anonymous version on "The Unexpurgated Folk Songs of Men" (Unexp1), none of the recorded versions includes the lyrics, although every American fiddler knows them. On the Skillet Lickers' recording, when the fiddler announces that the tune will be "Ryestraw," someone replies, "All right, but let your conscience be your guide." - PJS

Bascom Lamar Lunsford, in his recording of this song, noted "There are a lot of unprintable and unsingable stanzas to the old song. However, that is not confused with what we boys used to do in the old days, gather around... and possibly some of the boys would repeat maybe some questionable stanzas and follow it with 'Rye straw, rye straw, rye straw.'"

Incidentally, I've seen at least one "clean" mnemonic for this song, though presumably it is not the original. - RBW

Recordings

References

  1. Roud #16847
  2. BI, RcRyStra