Monday, January 23, 2006

Two Versions of Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane

With all the Web sites I've been visiting looking for "Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane" lyrics, I should report that I found what I was looking for, sort of. Below is a bluegrasser's version of the way the song is commonly sung today. I've corrected some misspellings and some words that didn't make sense. One of the good things about lyrics collections on the Internet is that anyone that knows something can make it available. One of the bad things about lyrics collections on the Internet is that anyone who thinks he knows something can slap it up without checking or editing. The more popular a topic is, it seems, the more mis-information is available. Bluegrass songs seem to be popular enough to accrue a lot of junk.

Oh I'm gettin' old and feeble and I cannot work no more
My rusty-bladed hoe I've laid to rest.
And my papa and my mama they are sleepin' side by side.
Their spirits now are roaming with the blest.

CHORUS:
   Oh the chimney's fallin' down and the roof is all caved in,
   Lettin' in the sunshine and the rain.
   And the only friend I've got left is that good old dog of mine
   In the little old log cabin in the lane.


Oh the path is all growed up now that led around the hill;
The fences they have all gone to decay.
And the creek is all dried up now where we used to go to mill,
And time has changed its course another way.

CHORUS

Oh I ain't got long to stay here; what little time I've got
I want to rest content wile I remain.
'Til death shall call this dog and me to find a better home
Than this little old log cabin in the lane. 

CHORUS

Below are Will Hays lyrics for the original song. As you can see, they are in minstrel show fake dialect, which these days is considered fairly offensive. The "modern" version looses this problematic feature, but it also gives up the poignant content. Singing the modern version, I imagine an older man living a simple, contented life in his old home, with his faithful dog. The original version is the voice of an elderly freed slave, slowly starving to death on the abandoned plantation. It's a strange mixture of contempt (the fake dialect) and pity.


"The Little Old Cabin in the Lane" (1871)
As Sung by Manning's Minstrels.
Words & Music by William Shakespeare Hays, 1837-1907

1.
I'm getting old and feeble now,
I cannot work no more,
I've laid de rusty bladed hoe to rest,
Ole massa an' ole miss's am dead,
dey're sleepin' side by side,
Deir spirits now are roaming wid de blest;
De scene am changed about de place,
de darkies are all gone,
I'll neber hear dem singin in the cane,
And I'se de only one dat's left
wid dis ole dog ob mine,
In de little old log cabin in de lane.

CHORUS
De chimney's falling down, and de roof is cavin' in,
I aint got long round her to remain,
But de angels watches over me when I lays down to sleep,
In de little old log cabin in de lane.

2.
Dar was a happy time to me,
'twas many years ago,
When de darkies used to gather round de door,
When dey used to dance an' sing at night,
I played de ole banjo,
But alas, I cannot play it anymore.
De hinges dey got rusted an' de door has tumbled down,
And de roof lets in de sunshine an' de rain,
An' de only friend I've got now is dis good ole dog ob mine,
In de little old log cabin in de lane.

(CHORUS)

3.
De footpath now is coverd o'er
dat led us round de hill,
And de fences all are going to decay,
An' de creek is all dried up
where we used to go to mill,
De time has turned its course an-od-der way.
But I aint got long to stay here, and what little time I got,
I'll try and be content-ed to remain
Till death shall call my dog an' me to find a better home
Dan dat little old log cabin in de lane.

(CHORUS)

3 comments:

Jim Murphy said...

Thank you this is the fiddlin john carson lyrics ive been looking for.

Realwyo said...

First version was used (during film and throughout the final credits) in the 2014 film, "Tiger Orange" (on NetFlix) and inspired me to learn to play it on my harpsichord. Want to learn it on my grandfather's 1924 Vega Banjo.

Realwyo said...

First version was used (during film and throughout the final credits) in the 2014 film, "Tiger Orange" (on NetFlix) and inspired me to learn to play it on my harpsichord. Want to learn it on my grandfather's 1924 Vega Banjo.