“The Boll Weevil”

Author: possibly Postal McCurdy & Emabel Palmer
Earliest date: 1921 (recordings, Al Bernard & Ernest Hare)
Keywords: animal bug poverty farming
Found in: US(Ap,So,SE)


The boll weevil, which is just "a-lookin' for a home," inevitably comes in conflict with the cotton farmer. The farmer tries many techniques to drive the weevil out; the weevil, far from being inconvenienced, is often represented as thanking the farmer


Sandburg reports collections of Boll Weevil verses dating back to 1897, but it is not clear in context whether these are actually part of this song. - RBW, PJS

And indeed, the origins of the song are obscure, or at least messy. The Bernard, Hare & Arkansas Trio recordings credit the authorship to McCurdy & Palmer, as does a regional guide to the town of Fakes Chapel [state unknown] which claims that McCurdy wrote the "'well-known' folk song" there in 1923. The recordings, of course, make this date impossible, but he seems to have had a hand in the creation of some well-known verses. Fiddlin' John Carson copyrighted his version in 1924, and it certainly contains some of the classic lines. - PJS

Historical references

Cross references



  1. Laws I17, "The Boll Weevil"
  2. BrownIII 214, "Boll Weevil Blues" (2 texts)
  3. Hudson 72, pp. 199-200, "Mister Boll Weevil" (1 text)
  4. Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 66, (no title) (1 excerpt, probably of this song); pp. 77-79, "Mr. Boll Weevil" (plus other versions with no title) (2 texts plus 3 excerpts, 1 tune)
  5. Friedman, p. 319, "The Ballet of the Boll Weevil" (2 texts+1 fragment, 1 tune)
  6. Sandburg, pp. 8-10, "Boll Weevil Song"; 252-253, "De Ballet of de Boll Weevil" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  7. Scott-BoA, pp. 316-318, "The Ballad of the Boll Weevil" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  8. Lomax-FSUSA 69, "The Boll Weevil" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 112-117, "De Ballit of de Boll Weevil" (1 text, 1 tune, composite)
  10. Lomax-FSNA 285, "The Boll Weevil Holler" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 916-918, "Boll Weevil Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Arnett, pp. 140-141, "Boll Weevil" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. Botkin-SoFolklr, p. 751, "Boll Weevil" (1 text, 1 tune)
  14. Darling-NAS, pp. 244-246, "Mississippi Bo Weavil Blues"; "The Boll Weevil" (2 texts)
  15. Silber-FSWB, p. 118, "Ballad Of The Boll Weevil" (1 text)
  17. ADDITIONAL: Fred W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II (1931), p. 163, (no title) (1 fragment)
  18. Roud #3124
  19. BI, LI17