“The Arkansas Traveler (fiddle recitation)”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1847
Keywords: fiddle recitation nonsense humorous
Found in: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE,So)


A series of remarks between a traveller and an Arkansas farmer, interspersed with fiddle playing. The traveller will ask a question (e.g. "Say, farmer, where does this road lead?"), the farmer will answer unhelpfully ("to the end") and fiddle


Randolph says "Both words and music are usually credited to Colonel Sandford C. Faulkner [d. 1875]"; Allsop mentions Faulkner's name but also mentions other possibilites. The sheet music in Jackson is credited to one Mose Case, but we know how reliable such claims are. - RBW

Usually the fiddler only plays the "A" part of the tune; at the end of a few versions the traveller plays the "B" part, and the two become friends.

This was a popular minstrel-show sketch in the 1900s, pitting the smart country man against the city slicker.

The [Folksinger's Wordbook] text turns one of the classic jokes from the spoken skit into sung verses. Frustratingly, they give no sources, so the origins of this version are unknown. The chords given are not the usual chords played with the tune. - PJS

Same tune



  1. Randolph 346, "The Arkansas Traveler" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 284-287, "The Arkansas Traveler" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 346)
  3. BrownIII 330, "Arkansas Traveler (I)" (1 fragment)
  4. FSCatskills 90, "The Arkansas Traveller" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  5. JHCox 179, "The Arkansaw Traveller" (1 text)
  6. JHCoxIIB, #34, p. 210, "The Arkansaw Traveler" (1 tune with a description of the conversation between fiddler and traveler but no actual text)
  7. RJackson-19CPop, pp. 10-13, "The Arkansas Traveller" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 267-271, "The Arkansas Traveller" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Cohen/Seeger/Wood, pp. 216-219, "Arkansas Traveler" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Silber-FSWB, p. 33, "The Arkansas Traveller" (1 text)
  11. Fuld-WFM, pp. 107-108, "Arkansas Traveler"
  12. ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), pp. 46-53, texts of both "The Arkansas Traveler" and "The State of Arkansas," with folktale variants, a reproduction of a painting of the fiddler and traveler, and background information
  13. Roud #3756
  14. BI, FSC090