Cluck Old Hen

From Vol. 1
Traditional Treasures

SUGGESTED KEY: A modal

CAPO: None

CHORD FAMILY: A

TIME SIGNATURE: 3/4

SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate

A Little About This Song…

This comical old tune brings some mighty funny images to mind. The singer appears to be a determined old woman chasing down an aging hen that’s quit laying eggs. She goes from sweet talking the bird to warning it and back again. By the last verse, we realize that the situation is driving this woman to drink.

Cluck Old Hen is heard in most Bluegrass and Old Time circles as a lively instrumental. It’s reported to be an Appalachian American fiddle tune from the mid-1800’s; lyrics were added at some point. The earliest occurrence of anything remotely related to what we know as “Cluck Old Hen” in print is found in Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise and Otherwise, compiled by Thomas W. Talley and published in 1922. The first recording was made by Fiddlin’ Powers & Family in 1926.

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