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The Cuckoo

Composer: Traditional

Recordings

no info Bradley Kincaid, 1928
no info Clarence Ashley, 1929
no info Kelly Harrell, 193?
info Jean Ritchie Singing the Traditional Songs of Her Kentucky Mountain Family, Jean Ritchie, 1952
info Anthology Of American Folk Music, Vol. 3: Songs, Various Artists (Clarence Ashley), 1952
info Songs of Her Kentucky Mountain Family, Jean Ritchie, 1957
info Banjo Tunes and Songs, Pete Steele, 1958
no info American Ballads And Folksongs, Joan O'Bryant, 1958
no info False True Lovers, Shirley Elizabeth Collins, 1959
no info Sweet England, Shirley Collins, 1959
info Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, 1961
info The New Lost City Ramblers, Vol. 4, The New Lost City Ramblers, 1962
no info Edna Ritchie, Viper Kentucky, Edna Ritchie, 1962
info Fleming Brown, Fleming Brown, 1962
no info Rockin' the Cradle, Judy Mahan, 1962
no info Joseph Able Trivett, Joseph Able Trivett, 1962
info Folk Music of Washington Square, Various Artists (Howard Tarnower), 1962
info Old-Time Music at Clarence Ashley's, Vol 2, Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson , 1962
info Sunny's Gallery of Folk Ballads, Sunny Schwartz, 1963
info This Life I'm Living, Carolyn Hester, 1963
info Old Time Music At Newport 1963, Various Artists (Clarence Ashley w/ Doc Watson), 1964
info Old Timey Music, The New Lost City Ramblers, 1964
no info Osborne Brothers, 1964
no info Holy Modal Rounders, Holy Modal Rounders, 1964
info The Folk Box, Various Artists (Clarence Ashley), 1964
no info Folk Songs, Maxine Sellers, 1964
info Who's Going to Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot?, Tom Paley & Peggy Seeger with Claudia Paley, 1964
no info Hobart Smith, Hobart Smith, 1964
no info Relax Your Mind, Jim Kweskin, 1965
info Traditional Music At Newport, 1964, Vol. 1, Various Artists (Hobart Smith), 1965
no info Song Will Arise, Peter, Paul and Mary, 1965
info Allen-Ward Trio, Allen-Ward Trio, 1965
info Folk Go-Go, Various Artists (Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson), 1965
info Ballads from Deep Gap, Doc Watson, 1967
no info The Old Timey Rap: American Songs & Instrumentals, Hobart Smith, 1968
no info Basket Of Light, Pentangle, 1969
info Children's Songs From Devon and Cornwall, Cyril Tawney, 1969
no info Chicago Mob Scene. A Folk Song Jam Session, Bob March, 196?
no info Folk Songs of Old Eire, Judy Mayhan, 196?
no info Tom Rush, Tom Rush , 196?
no info True Religion, Eric Darling, 196?
no info Old Traditions, Bill and Jean Davis, 196?
no info Ballads From Deep Gap, Doc Watson, 1971
no info Faro Annie, John Renbourne, 1972
info Pickin And Singin, Jim McCall, 1972
info Out of Love, Hope and Suffering, Frankie Armstrong, 1973
no info At the Wednesday Night Waltz, Hickory Wind, 1974
info Light Shine, Jesse Colin Young, 1974
no info How to Play Clawhammer Banjo, Peter Feldmann, 1975
no info Bright Shining Morning, Lou and Sally Killen, 1975
no info Hard Travelin': Songs by Woody Guthrie and Others, Ramblin' Jack.Elliot, 1977
no info In Come a Bumblebee: Traditional Songs and Tunes on English Concertina, Various Artists, 1977
no info High Hills and Mountains, Jean Ritchie, 1979
no info The Old Timey Rap, Hobart Smith, 1981
no info Oh, Come Along Children and Sing with Me, Johnny Richardson, 1982
info Bleecker & MacDougal: The Folk Scene Of The 60s, Various Artists (Tom Paley), 1984
no info Voices In Bluegrass, The Osborne Brothers, 1985
info O Love Is Teasin' (Anglo-American Mountain Balladry), Various Artists (Jean Ritchie), 1985
info Nine 'Til Midnight, Robin & Linda Williams, 1985
no info Southern Light, Mark Nelson, 1986
no info Hello City Limits, Hugh Moore, 1986
no info Forked Deer, Dan Gellert and Shoofly, 1986
no info This-A-Way, That-A-Way, Ella Jenkins, 1989
no info Rhythms of Childhood, Ella Jenkins, 1989
no info The Watson Family, Doc Watson, CD only), 1990
no info Once More, Vols. 1 and 2, The Osborne Brothers, 1991
info Old Tom Moore and More, Tom Paley, 1991
no info The Wheel Of The Year: Thirty Years Of The Armstrong Family, The Armstrong Family, 1992
info Close as We Can Get / Nine 'Til Midnight, Robin & Linda Williams, 1992
no info Walk Right Back: Everly Brothers On Warner Bros, Everly Brothers, 1993
info Custer LaRue Sings The Daemon Lover, Custer LaRue with the Baltimore Consort, 1993
no info The Lark In The Clear Air, The Cambridge Singers, 1993
info Original Folkways Recordings of Doc Watson and Clarence Ashley, 1960-1962, Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson , 1994
no info Heartaches and Harmonies, Box), Everly Brothers, 1994
no info Mountain Born, Jean Ritchie and Sons, 1995
info Dear Companion, Carolyn Hester, 1995
info 1956-1968, The Osborne Brothers, 1995
info The Vanguard Years, Doc Watson, 1995
info The Vanguard Years Sampler, Doc Watson, 1995
info Smithsonian Folkways American Roots Collection, Various Artists (Clarence Ashley/Doc Watson), 1996
info Mountain Music of Kentucky (CD), Various Artists (Mr. and Mrs. John Sams), 1996
no info Smithsonian/Folkways American Roots Collection Sampler, Various Artists (Clarence Ashley), 1996
info Riverside Folklore Series, Vol. 2: Singing the American Roots, Various Artists (Jean Ritchie), 1996
info Live At Newport, Joan Baez, 1997
info Behind the Barn Vol. 2, The Krüger Brothers, 1997
info The Harry Smith Connection: A Live Tribute, Various Artists (Ella Jenkins), 1998
no info The Harry Smith Connection - A Live Tribute, Various Artists (Toshi Reagon), 1998
info Holy Modal Rounders 1 and 2, Holy Modal Rounders, 1998
no info Fingerdances For The Dulcimer, Bonnie Carol, 19??
no info Welcome To Galax, Mike Fenton and The Bill Sky Family, 19??
no info Kentucky Mountain Songs, Jean Ritchie, 19??
no info Sings Traditional Songs Of Her Kentucky Mountain Family, Jean Ritchie, 19??
no info Singing Family Of The Cumberlands, Jean Ritchie, 19??
no info Folk Go-Go, Various Artists, 19??
no info The Complete Kelly Harrell, Vol. 2, Kelly Harrell, 19??
info Holly Ding, Tom, Brad & Alice, 2000
info Reggaebilly, Peter Rowan, 2001
info Greenback Dollar: 1929-1933, Clarence Ashley, 2001
info Blue Horse, Be Good Tanyas, 2001
info Blue Ridge Legacy: The Alan Lomax Portait Series, Hobart Smith, 2001
info Songcatcher, Various Artists (Deanna Carler), 2001
info Patchworks, Linn Barnes and Allison Hampton, 2002
info In the Willow Garden, Acie Cargill, 2002
info Classic Mountain Songs, Various Artists (Clarence Ashley), 2002
no info Songcatcher II: The Tradition That Inspired the Movie, Various Artists (Hobart Smith), 2002
info True Vine, Mike Seeger, 2003
info Beginner's Guide to Folk Music, Various Artists (Doc Watson), 2003
info Smokey Mountain Bluegrass: 24 Traditional Favorites, Various Artists (Red White), 2003
info American Folk and Country Music Festival, Various Artists (New Lost_City Ramblers), 2003
info Cold Mountain Soundtrack, Various Artists (Riley Baugus and Tim Eriksen), 2003
info The Lost Broadcasts: 1968-1972, Pentangle, 2004
info The Rose and the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in American Ballads, Various Artists (Clarence Ashley), 2004
info In Sacred Trust: The 1963 Fleming Brown Tapes, Hobart Smith, 2005 info Live at the Gaslight 1962, Bob Dylan, 2005
info Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest (DVD), New Lost City Ramblers/Greenbriar Boys, 2005
info Friends of Old Time Music: The Folk Arrival, Various Artists (Clarence Ashley), 2006
info The Harry Smith Project: Anthology of American Folk Music Revisited, Various Artists (Eliza Carthy/Richard Thompson), 2006
info This World Is Not My Home, Nobody's Darlin', 2007
info Comanche Boots, Terry And The Pirates, 2008
info Retrospective 2001-2009, Railroad Earth, 2010

Notes

Played by Garcia and Nelson at the College of San Mateo in San Mateo on November 10th 1962. Also performed in the 1980's by Robert Hunter. Sometimes occurs on Hunter setlists as Jack Of Diamonds or Rye Whiskey.

This traditional British song has a variety of titles; The Coo-Coo, The Coo-Coo Bird, The Cuckoo Bird, and The Cuckoo Is A Pretty Bird are all used. All forms usually incorporate the text

The cuckoo is a pretty bird, she sings as she flies; she brings us glad tidings, and she tells us no lies.
But many variations occur and verses from other songs are often incorporated.

Garcia introduces the version played on 11/10/62 by saying it's a Clarence Ashley song - and the version performed is fairly similar to that given in the New Lost City Ramblers Songbook which originated from Clarence Ashley version;

Oh the cuckoo she'a pretty bird,
She wobbles as she flies,
She don't never holler cuckoo,
'Til the fourth day of July.

Gonna build me log cabin,
On the mountain so high,
So that I can see Willie,
As he goes on by.

Jack of Diamonds, Jack of Diamonds,
I know you of old,
You done robbed my poor pockets,
Of my silver and gold.

I've played cards in England,
I've played cards in Spain,
I bet you ten dollars,
I'll beat you again

Oh the cuckoo she'a pretty bird,
She wobbles as she flies,
She don't never holler cuckoo,
'Til the fourth day of July.

Widely collected in Britain and the United States. A good example is given in Sharp's English Folk Songs;
O the cuckoo she's a pretty bird,
She singeth as she flies,
She bringeth good tidings,
She telleth no lies.

She sucketh white flowers,
For to keep her voice clear,
And the more she singeth cuckoo
The summer draweth near.

As I was a walking,
And a talking one day,
I met my own true love,
As he came that way.

Oh to meet him was a pleasure,
Though courting was a woe,
For I found him false hearted,
He would kiss me and go.

I wish I were a scholar,
And could handle the pen,
I would write to my lover,
And to all roving men.

I would tell them of the grief and woe,
That attend on their lies,
I would wish them have pity,
On the flower when it dies.

Related songs include The Unconstant Lover (also known as the Forsaken Lover), A Meeting Is A Pleasure, A Walking And A' Talking and On Top Of Old Smokey.