December 18th, 2000

dragon

So. What Did I Get A Yen To Look Up at 3 am? The Arkansas Traveler Lyrics



Fatal bathroom break. For some strange reason, I tried to sing several songs, but was unable to remember the lyrics. I at one time knew two different versions of this song, but couldn't get through either one of them. Then I sort of got all the lines to this one. I decided to look up the other one, but so far, all I found was the first verse, which I could remember.

The Arkansas Traveler Lyrics

Oh, once upon a time in Arkansas,
An old man sat in his little cabin door
And fiddled at a tune that he liked to hear,
A jolly old tune that he played by ear.
It was raining hard, but the fiddler didn't care,
He sawed away at the popular air,
Tho' his rooftree leaked like a waterfall,
That didn't seem to bother the man at all.

A traveler was riding by that day,
And stopped to hear him a-practicing away;
The cabin was a-float and his feet were wet,
But still the old man didn't seem to fret.
So the stranger said "Now the way it seems to me,"
You'd better mend your roof," said he.
But the old man said as he played away,
"I couldn't mend it now, it's a rainy day."

The traveler replied, "That's all quite true,
But this, I think, is the thing to do;
Get busy on a day that is fair and bright,
Then patch the old roof till it's good and tight."
But the old man kept on a-playing at his reel,
And tapped the ground with his leathery heel.
"Get along," said he, "for you give me a pain;
My cabin never leaks when it doesn't rain."
dragon

The Arkansas Traveler, Revisited



The second version:

The Arkansas Traveler



Far and far away down in Arkansas,
There lived a squatter with a stubborn jaw;
His nose was ruby red and his whiskers gray,
And he would sit and fiddle all the night and all the day.

Came a traveler down the valley, asked if he could find a bed;
"Yes, try the road," the kindly squatter said;
"And could you point me out the way to find a tavern or an inn?"
"Quite a little piece, I reckon, though I've never been."

When the rain came down on the cabin floor,
The squatter only fiddled all the more;
"Why don't you mend your roof?" said the traveler bold;
"How can I mend my cabin when the rain is wet and cold?"

“Squatter, pick a sunny morning when the air is dry and nice;
"Patch up your cabin, that is my advice,"
But the squatter shook his hoary head and answered with a stubborn air,
"Cabin never leaks a drop when days are bright and fair."

(Author unknown to me)
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    The Arkansas Traveler
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dragon

The Other Version - Help Me Out



The Arkansas Traveler

Far and far away down in Arkansas
There lived a squatter with a stubborn jaw;
His nose was ruby red and his whiskers gray,
And he would sit and fiddle all the night and all the day.

Came a travler down the valley
Asked if he could find a bed.
"Yes, try the road," the kindly squatter said;
"And could you point me out the way to find a tavern or an inn?"
"Quite a little piece, I reckon, though I've never been."
dragon

Got It! Three Verse Arkansas Traveler



My prefered version of "The Arkansas Traveler" has always been the three stanza version, but the other night, when I was trying to sing it, I just couldn't get there.

Today, for no apparent reason, it came... piecemeal, but eventually, I got to the whole cloth:

The Arkansas Traveler

(first part of tune)
Far and far away down in Arkansas,
There lived a squatter with a stubborn jaw
Who fiddled at a tune that he liked to hear;
A jolly old reel that he played by the ear.
(second part of tune)
It was raining hard, but the fiddler didn't care;
He sawed away at the popular air;
Though his roof-tree leaked like a waterfall,
That didn't seem to bother the little man at all.

A traveler was a'ridin' by that day
And stopped to hear him a'practicin' away;
His cabin was afloat, and his feet were wet,
But still the little man didn't seem to fret.
So the stranger said, "Now, the way it looks to me,
You'd better mend your roof," said he;
But the old man said as he played away,
"I couldn't mend it now; it's a rainy day."

The traveler replied, "That's all quite true,
But this, I think, is the thing for you to do:
Get busy on a day that's fair and bright
And patch up your roof 'til it's good and tight."
But the old man kept on a'playin' at his reel
And tapped the ground with his leathery heel;
"Get along," said he, "for you give me a pain!
My cabin doesn't leak when it doesn't rain!"

In some performances, the fiddler repeats the first part of the tune over and over, never going on to the second part, as they talk. The traveler, growing more and more exasperated, finally asks him why he never finishes the tune. When the old man professes ignorance of any more of it, the traveler takes the fiddle and finishes it off with the second part of the tune, played up-tempo, of course.

It's not real singable in that version to me, but it IS funny.
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    The Arkansas Traveler
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