“The Zebra Dun”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1908
Keywords: cowboy
Found in: US(MA,So,SW)

Description

A new man joins the cowboys, and proves expert on many things. The cowboys think he must be a greenhorn, and allow him to take on the wild Zebra Dun. To their surprise, he controls the horse and receives a job. Not all educated people are greenhorns...

Notes

Larkin states, without evidence though it's a reasonable conjecture, that the horse in this piece was a dun with the Z bar brand, with the "Z bar dun" wearing down to the "Zebra dun." Her other conjecture, that the singer may have been an Englishman who learned to ride while hunting fox, seems much less likely.

Logsdon (who mentions Larkin's suggestion) notes that this is because, while "dun" is a recognized description of a horse's hide, "zebra" isn't. But he observes that a "zebra dun" would be a dun with stripes.

One of Logsdon's texts, interestingly, was sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"/"John Brown's Body," though there is no chorus and some of his lines must have taken some quick tongue-work to sing to the Battle Hymn. - RBW

Recordings

References

  1. Laws B16, "The Zebra Dun"
  2. Larkin, pp. 49-52, "Zebra Dun" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Randolph 208, "Zebra Dun" (1 text)
  4. Friedman, p. 427, "Zebra Dun" (1 text)
  5. Thorp/Fife XII, pp.135-147 (27-29), "Educated Feller" (4 texts, 1 tune -- one of which, "Bow-Legged Ike," may be independent or an ancestor)
  6. Fife-Cowboy/West 71, "The Educated Feller (Zebra Dun)" (2 text, 1 tune plus a tune reference)
  7. Ohrlin-HBT 22, "Zebra Dun" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Logsdon 12, pp. 77-85, "Old Zebra Dun" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Silber-FSWB, p. 107, "The Zebra Dun" (1 text)
  10. DT 383, ZEBRADUN*
  11. ADDITIONAL: Hal Cannon, editor, _Cowboy Poetry: A Gathering_, Giles M. Smith, 1985, pp. 8-10, "The Zebra Dun" (1 text)
  12. Roud #3237
  13. BI, LB16