“The Coon-Can Game”


The singer is so disturbed by his woman's unfaithfulness that he cannot even play cards. He takes a train, sees the woman, and shoots her. He is arrested, convicted, and left to lament his fate


This song should not be confused with the blues "Poor Boy, or Poor Boy Long Ways from Home"; the two songs are unrelated. Also, although [the version in the Folksinger's Wordbook] has picked up a pair of verses from "The Maid Freed from the Gallows", it's otherwise a completely separate song, and one unique in my experience. - PJS

Cross references


  • Dock Boggs, "Poor Boy in Jail" (on Boggs2, BoggsCD1)


  1. Laws I4, "The Coon-Can Game"
  2. Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 87-89, "The Coon-Can Game" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Sandburg, pp. 301-311, "Coon Can (Poor Boy)" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Darling-NAS, pp. 237-238, "Poor Boy in Jail" (1 text)
  5. Silber-FSWB, p. 70, "Poor Boy" (1 text, which appears to be mostly this song but with an ending partly derived from "The Maid Freed from the Gallows")
  6. DT 688, POORBOY
  7. Roud #3263
  8. BI, LI04


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1925 (Scarborough)
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So)