The Swapping Song

This appalachian song has versions going back many generations in England and Scotland. I got it from the singing of Paul Clayton on 'American Folk Tales and Songs' on Tradition records. Thanks to my brother Chris for giving it to me. It is a jewel of an album featuring the singing of Paul Clayton and Jean Ritchie as well as story telling by Richard Chase. I've watched Chris scare the pants of many innocent little children with the story of 'The Big Toe', which I think he learned from Chase.

Anyway, this song is never dated. Consider all those esteemed traders on Wall street whose good sense almost rivals the hero of our tale.


My father died but I don’t know how
He left me a horse to hitch to the plow

To me wing wong waddle
To me jack straw saddle
And Johnny’s got his fiddle and he’s gone on home

I swapped my horse and I got me a cow
And in that trade I just learned how

I swapped my cow and a got me a calf
And in that trade I just lost half

I swapped my calf and I got me a pig
The poor little thing could never grow big

I swapped my pig and I got me a hen
To lay me an egg ever now and then

I swapped my hen and I got me a cat
The pretty little thing but the chimney sat

I swapped my cat and I got me a mouse
His tail caught fire and burned down the house

I swapped my mouse and I got me mole
The dad burned thing went straight down his hole.

C standard