In the 1920s, Georgia fiddler Oscar Ford and fellow bandmate Walter Morris made a number of great recordings including this one: Old Folks Get in Bed. Craig Judelman teaches this great tune and gives some tips on adding drone strings and ornaments to the basic melody. It’s also a lot of fun to sing, apparently taking from a variety of floating verses.
If you listen to all three versions presented here, you’ll notice that there’s disagreement on the timing. Oscar Ford’s version sometimes adds a beat at the end of the phrase, but there’s no regularity to the crookedness. Judelman opts to use the extra beat each time, while Ryland Burhans plays it straight (for once!).
Listen to the original version with Oscar Ford here:
Old folks old folks better go to bed, ‘fore you put the devil in the young folk’s head.
Me and my wife, couldn’t agree, I love coffee and she loves tea.
I know a funny song, I’m a gonna sing it, hawk caught a yellowhammer, eat’m in a minute.
Asked a gal to marry me, she said I hadda wait, ’til I could buy her a Cadillac 8.
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Craig Judelman says he also borrows floating verses from other songs, such as:
Love my wife, love my babies, love my biscuits sopped in gravy.
Rainin’ and a-pouring’, and the creek’s a-runnin’ muddy,
And I’m so drunk that I can’t stand study. (Just to rhyme)
I had a dog, his name was Rover, when he died, he died all over.
Or check out a more recent one with Ryland Burhans: