As with all the versions, Tyree begins with a variation on the “bird call” motive. Tyree’s variation is very similar to Clarence Ashley’s–it shares the same contour, note choice, and even meter. In this version, the bird call motive begins the song and then appears twice more during the tune to break up the disjunct lyrics Tyree sings.

 

Lyrics for “Cuckoo Bird” by John Lawson Tyree:

 

Cuckoo bird / she warble / when she fly /

[she] never holler / fourth July

 

where were you / last sat’day night /

you didn’t come home / ‘til sunshine bright

cuckoo bird / he warble / he warble / when he fly

he never / fourth o July

where were you / last sat’day night /

you didn’t come home / sunshine bright

 

Cuckoo bird / he warble / he warble /

never holler / fourth July

 

Transcription of John Lawson Tyree’s banjo performance on Black Banjo Songsters of North Carolina and Virginia Click on the link to preview or purchase the song on the Folkways website. Note: I have done my best to transcribe the performance accurately, but of course I am sure there are errors!

Click here to listen to the full audio of Tyree’s performance through the Digital Library of Appalachia’s website.

Click here for the pdf version of the transcription.

Cuckoo Bird-JLTyree with Tab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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