Jimmy Crack Corn (Blue Tail Fly)

This song is considered sensitive and contains lyrics that may be offensive to some people. Please speak to a parent or guardian for further help.

Song Video

Information About Jimmy Crack Corn (Blue Tail Fly)

Appears to have been first published in 1846; attributed to an outfit called the Virginia Minstrels. The Virginia Minstrels helped originate the blackface minstrel show. The author of the song, though not definitely known, was probably a Virginia Minstrel named Daniel Emmett, a popular songwriter and musician whose best-known composition was the southern anthem "Dixie" (1859). Like his contemporary Stephen Foster, Emmett was a northerner who wrote sentimental songs about the south in black dialect.

This song was a favorite of President Lincoln's.

There is a general perception that this song represents a slave rejoicing his master's death. "Cracked corn,' was dry corn that a slave was forced to eat as punishment and that was all that he or she was given as food for an extended period of time. This slave was so happy when his master died that he was saying "Gimme cracked corn and I don't care my master's gone away". As time went on, people changed the lyrics to Jimmy crack corn.

Autumn, a fellow BusSongs fan, wrote in to explain some of the history of the song. Here's her thoughts: "Jimmy Crack Corn is not a silly song. Cracking corn refers to distilled whiskey. The slaves "cracked corn", or got inebriated, while the slave owners were gone. "Bluefly ' is "Shoo Fly". During the mistral to blackface era, white racists were turning the old slave songs into parodies, hence "Bluefly" became "Shoo Fly". Being white, or any color for that matter, I would never sing this song to a group of children without explaining it's rich, African-American, racist origin. Songs have a very rich history which is being lost. Thanks".

Alternative Lyrics & Related Songs

Though it's the same chorus, the other parts differ and can be more descriptive at times

Here a Jimmy, there a Jimmy everywhere a Jimmy Jimmy.
Hey Jimmy ho Jimmy everywhere you go Jimmy.
Jimmy crack corn, Jimmy crack corn,
Jimmy crack, Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy crack corn.

Jimmy crack corn and i don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and i don't care,
My masters gone away. (piano)

My master was a nasty dude,
He had a real bad attitude,
I followed him around like a hickory broom,
Chasing blue tail flys out of the room. (piano)

The pony he began to twitch,
He threw my master in a ditch,
Under this tree i'm forced to lie,
A victim of that blue tail fly.

Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care
Jimmy crack corn and i don't care,
My masters gone away. (piano)

When he was riding around the farm,
The blue tail flys began to swarm,
He moaned and he groaned and he up and died,
The cause of the death was the blue tail fly.

Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
Jimmy crack corn and i don't care,
My masters gone aw---ay! (clapping)

Here a jimmy, there a jimmy, everywhere a jimmy jimmy.
Hey Jimmy. ho Jimmy everywhere you go
Jimmy Jimmy crack corn Jimmy crack corn
Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy crac corn!

Here's a version with a bit of attitude and a slight change in accent

When I was young a us'd to wait
On Massa and hand him de plate;
Pass down the bottle when he git dry,
And bresh away de blue tail fly.

CHORUS: Jim crack corn I don't care,
Jim crack corn I don't care,
Jim crack corn I don't care,
Old Massa gone away.

Den arter dinner massa sleep,
He bid dis niggar vigil keep;
An' when he gwine to shut his eye,
He tell me watch de blue tail fly.

(CHORUS).

An' when he ride in de arternoon,
I foiler wid a hickory broom;
De poney being berry shy,
When bitten by de blue tail fly.

(CHORUS).

One day he rode aroun' de farm,
De flies so numerous dey did swarm;
One chance to bite 'im on the thigh,
De debble take dat blu tail fly.

(CHORUS).

De poney run, he jump an' pitch,
An' tumble massa in de ditch;
He died, an' de jury wonder'd why
De verdic was de blue tail fly.

(CHORUS).

Dey laid 'im under a 'simmon tree,
His epitaph am dar to see:
'Beneath did stone I'm forced to lie,
All by means ob de blue tail fly. '.

(CHORUS).

Ole massa gone, now let 'im rest,
Dey say all tings am for the best;
I nebber forget till de day I die,
Ole massa an' dat blue tail fly.

Listen to this song's music

23 Comments

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JohnC, New Zealand

14 June 2014 at 7:31am

One person has claimed that the song is "completely insensitive to a race of people". Also that "Only ignorant and closed minded people would try to justify this as a simple kids song". Lighten up people. And go back to basics. This is a song about a farm worker (employee, freedman or slave, it matters not) lamenting that his master has been killed by the blue tailed fly. As is noted, there is a "general perception that this song represents a slave rejoicing his master's death". Not so fast, if there is an element of rejoicing it is well hidden. A discovery of such a meaning requires a understanding that he don't care that his master's gone away because he is happy about it. He could equally be saddened. For me the words "The devil take the blue-tail fly" is determinative; for he would not curse the fly if he was happy at the outcome! There has been some discussion that the reference to a jury wanting to know why he died, as suggesting criminal charges. It is equally or more likely to be a reference to a coroners jury and verdict.

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Alan, United States

1 September 2012 at 12:05am

Sorry that was Paul Bunyun,..not just any giant..but still a Giant in my books...good ole paul Bunyun and Babe the Blue Oxen...now that is another story~! LOL~!

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Alan, United States

1 September 2012 at 11:58pm

I remember Buggs Bunny singing this song as he was Mining in the Giants garden and when he would push his miners cart down the Rail Road Track his voice would ecko like in a canyon throug the huge Carrots he was mining...id like to hear ole bugs sing that again..or see that cartoon.

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Shavezoveth, Ecuador

2 May 2012 at 10:11pm

in my country we have some thing called a vavoushi and something called a vavou.this song was deffinettly a vavou,which means it sucks.

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Shhavvath, Botswana

2 May 2012 at 10:06pm

me oh ma la voo dae.

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Sdada, Burundi

2 May 2012 at 10:04pm

i really love this song.my babudi would sing it to me when i go baba.

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Lahiru Yasintha From Nalanda College, Sri Lanka

30 April 2012 at 4:56pm

this is a grate song and I love its music

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Lahiru, Sri Lanka

30 April 2012 at 4:54pm

graet song

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Ron, United States

1 April 2012 at 10:20am

I am now 71 and at one time in my younger days I had a 45 with Burl Ives singing the blue tail fly, wish I could find it today.

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Caliegh, Bahamas

23 February 2012 at 9:06pm

love this song i sing it to babys who are 3weeks old

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Joe Hill, United States

30 January 2012 at 8:41pm

This is a great song, one I love to perform. It is perfect for a bottle neck in standard tuning. As for the sensitivity, it is one for the slave as he was for once getting even. It was tongue and cheek and mostly likely a joy to sing. I can't perceive it any other way. I love to explain the song before performing and plan to continue. I prefer the "gimme cracked corn" lyric as it seems to make much more sense.

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Kevin, Canada

25 May 2011 at 3:29am

I was at this internet I love hearing old song yet I never heard this oh so long until I start sing the song I sing this song every day I sing this song every day I sing this song every day this song bring back memory

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Ashley, United States

7 April 2011 at 11:32pm

I'm glad there is a warning on this song because once you learn the true meaning it is completely insensitive to a race of people. I learned this song in elementary school and never knew what it was about until I was older. Only ignorant and closed minded people would try to justify this as a simple kids song. The warning was the best thing the site could do.

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Rob, United States

14 January 2011 at 12:17am

This was a fun song as a kid i was just watching bill schustic on the edcational channel he is called the american troubador and he related the history of this song what an interesting history

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Charles, United States

13 January 2011 at 5:51pm

I'm 84 and I still liketo listen to these old songs of yesteryear

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Chick, United States

24 November 2010 at 11:32pm

When I was 5, my one of my Dad's friends put me on his knee and let me sit up there, while he played guitar and sang to his guests. I was thrilled by the way everyone was watching and singing along. From that experience I yearned for a guitar. Dad finally bought me one when I was seventeen. I now play most of the string instruments and teach children the joys of social music. I owe it all to that spark I recieved when I was young, the only song I remember from that night is "Blue-Tailed Fly". Thanks for the memories!

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Carl, Canada

15 November 2010 at 3:13am

I must be the worse Dad in the world. I still let my kids....Play with a Golliwog doll, Watch "Un-cut" looney tunes cartoons, watch the 3 stooge shorts, read Mark Twain, read the original Noddy in Toyland books. Watch the Al Jolson story (Great Songs), and much, much more. I'm not going to hide true history from my children for any politically correct bleeding hearts. It was good enough for us baby boomers then and it's good enough for them today. In fact the sex, violence, drug use etc...etc...the young people of today see on TV and on the streets in real life is much worse then the things we experienced when I was a kid!

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Jd, Birmingham, Usa

13 April 2010 at 6:25pm

Come on with the "sensitive lyrics" warning. Have we become so freakin politically correct that a kids song, regardless of its origins, has to have a warning on it? Get over it already. It's history. Why deny?

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Kent, Columbus Usa

23 October 2009 at 12:26am

Eminem has a version of this song, also.

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Brian, Monroe Township Middlesex County

4 September 2009 at 2:33am

My feonse's 9 Year old enjoyed listening to this songand I am 50 and heard the whole song for the first time...

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This song has been printed from the BusSongs.com website.