Jimmy Crack Corn (Blue Tail Fly) - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Recorded by Burl Ives, Pete Seeger and others, Jimmy Crack Corn was certainly a blackface minstrel song, and dates from at least as far back as the 1840s.  Unlike many songs performed by blackface minstrels, however, Jimmy Crack Corn - or, 'The Blue Tail Fly' as it is sometimes known - was also popular among African Americans.  Big Bill Broonzy recorded it for example.  And this might point to a genuine African-American lineage.  The lyrics tell the semi-humorous story of a slave-master's demise, told from the point of view of his slave.  There is quite a lot of debate about the meaning of the line, 'Jimmy crack corn'.  It could, for example, refer to the master cracking his head open, or to the slave being fed on a reduced diet of corn as punishment for his master's death.  See this Wikipedia article for a fuller discussion.  Jimmy Crack Corn remains a popular children's song.

Chords

Capo at 4th Fret

Verse

G                                  D

When I was young I used to wait

                                 G
On the master and hand him his plate,

G7                                         C
And Pass the bottle when he got dry,

        D                        G
And brush away the blue tail fly.




Chorus

G                                   D
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,

                                      G
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,

G7                                 C
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,

       D                       G
My master's gone away.

Lyrics

When I was young I used to wait
On the master and hand him his plate,
And Pass the bottle when he got dry,
And brush away the blue tail fly.

Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
My master's gone away.

And when he ride in the afternoon,
I follow with a hickory broom;
The poney being very shy,
When bitten by the blue tail fly.

Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
My master's gone away.

One day he rode around the farm,
The flies so numerous they did swarm;
One chanced to bite him on the thigh.
The devil take that blue tail fly.

Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
My master's gone away.

The pony run, he jump and pitch,
And tumble mater in the ditch;
He died, and the jury wondered why;
The verdict was the blue tail fly.

Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
My master's gone away.

They buried him 'neath the sycamore tree - 
His epitaph there for to see:
"Beneath this stone I'm forced to lie,
The victim of a blue-tailed Fly."


Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
My master's gone away.

Other American Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs