2020-04 Tune: Shove That Pig's Foot A Little Further in the Fire

  1. HonketyHank
    Talk about a tune that is crying out for lyrics! If we had lyrics, perhaps we could understand what this tune is REALLY all about. I mean, "Shove That Pig's Foot A Little Further into the Fire" raises all kinds of questions. If this is about cooking pig's feet, then why put them INTO the fire? Maybe it IS about cooking pig's feet because one less common variant of the title is "Shove That Pig's Foot A Little Closer to the Fire". But I thought one eats pickled pig's feet, not burnt or bbq-ed pig's feet.

    There are a few other explanations which center around certain pieces of hardware that have one end shaped something like the cloven hoof of a hog. These are usually used to pry up nails or spikes or dogs. Yeah, dogs. A dog is a very large spike that holds a railroad rail down to the cross ties (sleepers). Think of the relatively straight end of a crowbar. It looks kinda like a pig's foot, right? Anything with one end shaped like that could conceivably be called a pig's foot, either colloquially, or maybe some specialized jargon. Google "pig's foot" and click on "images" and after you look at a lot of actual pigs' actual feet, you will start seeing some of those tools. But I can't imagine why you would want to stick one of these into a fire.

    Some folks say that the pig's foot in the title is a blacksmith's tool used to manipulate the big steel castings called "pigs". Maybe so, but I really scoured the internet and I could find no blacksmithing reference to any such tool except from musicians. Blacksmithing is a craft, an art, and a trade; and blacksmiths do have informational websites, but I can't find any pig's feet in them. The only blacksmithing I am aware of by musicians is doing a clawhammer on the banjo (or on the banjo player). Oh, I take that back. There is Handel and his Harmonious Blacksmith and Verdi and his Anvil Chorus. No pig's feet, though.

    So, where did this tune come from? The earliest references to it that I found were relatively recent. It is classed as an "old time" tune, but ibiblio.org says "The tune was originally recorded by western North Carolina fiddler Martin Marcus on an LP ...". No date was given but the "LP" is a giveaway -- that would indicate 1950s at the earliest, right? That's "old time"? The same source actually presents us with a verse (really just half a verse):

    Shove that pig's foot into the fire,
    Do it now, Miss Liza,
    Shove that pig's foot into the fire,
    Do it now, Miss Liza.

    Doesn't help much does it? Maybe Miss Liza is an animal crematorium operator.

    So there you have the sum total of what I know about this tune. The Song A Week thread for this tune can be found here: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...#gmessage14720 . There are quite a few nice videos in that thread.

    Another video that I like is one by Baron Collins-Hill, MandolinCafe member and proprietor of www.mandolessons.com. This video appears to have been made prior to the commencement of his MandoLessons site. He runs through the tune four or five times with various interpretations. There are lots of interesting ideas in it.


    In addition Baron has a lesson on this tune at his website, with sheet music and videos. If you haven't visited his site, you really are missing out. And it's all free.

    Here's an ABC of one version I found at http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/cgi/abc/findtune .

    X: 1
    T: Shove That Pig's Foot a Little Further in the Fire
    R: reel
    Z: 2009 John Chambers <jc:trillian.mit.edu>
    N: A "pig's foot" supposedly refers to a fireplace tool for manipulating the wood.
    S: printed MS from Debbie Knight
    M: C|
    L: 1/8
    K: G
    GA \
    | "G"BdBA G2E2 | "C"GAGE "D7"D4 | "G"DEG2 "Em"B3d | "Am"B2A2- "D7"A2GA \
    | "G"BdBA G2E2 | "C"GAGE "D7"D4 | "G"DEG2 "D7"B3G | "G"A2 G4 :|
    |: GA \
    | "G"Bd2B dBdg | "C"edBc "D7"d4 | "C"g4 g3d | "D7"e2d2- d2dd \
    | "G"Bd2B dBdg | "C"edBc "D7"d4 | "G"BABd "D7"BAGB | "G"A2 G4 :|

    Sheesh, there is another theory on what is a "pig's foot".
  2. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    This was one of the first tunes I learned on the mandolin, from Baron's site. I like the sound of it.
  3. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    I like this tune more than I thought I might. The title is . . . odd, and the lyrics, "Do it now Miss Liza," are redolent of women and/or servants being ordered around. Neither was a good advertisement. The tune itself, though, turned out to be kind of catchy. I like the syncopations in the B part, and I like that it ranges over all four strings—most don't. So, Miss Liza, you go ahead and do what ever you wish with the pig's foot, and here's the tune.

  4. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Bravo Louise NM, sounds awesome. I still love hearing your oval hole buddy.
  5. HonketyHank
    Nice job, Louise! Your picking is very precise. And I too am impressed with your oval mando. I think you said it is a Kentucky, didn't you?

    I have been neglecting this the last couple of days. My wife has organized a neighborhood one-tune jam session every evening. We all stand at the end of our driveways and play or sing or just laugh at those of us trying to play or sing. Different song each night. Tonight is Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Last night was This Land Is Your Land. One guy has a melodica (I think that is what it is - a keyboard you blow into). One trumpet across the street. Bev and I have mandolins. Another guy brought out a karaoke machine to sing into. The session usually lasts about 10 minutes then everybody decides on the tune for next time. We sound awful! No, correction, we ARE awful. But we are all laughing by the time we go back inside.

    I spent some time figuring out how I want to play this tune (Pig Foot Fire Doodah). Now I gotta practice enough to be able to play it. In between performances out in our street.
  6. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Thanks, Mark and Henry. This instrument is a Pava that showed up at my door last week. Now how did that happen???

    Henry, your neighborhood knows how to get through a rough time! Do you decide on a key beforehand, or does each person just play it in any key they choose? Have the grumpy couple around the corner (every neighborhood has one) called the authorities yet?
  7. HonketyHank
    We did the first 2 in C because, well, some folks don't like sharps and flats. We do When You Wish Upon A Star tomorrow and they decided G because C went to high for Bev and G is only one sharp.

    Truth be told, I don't think it matters if we are not all in the same key.

    A Pava, eh? Woo woo! Happy NMD!
  8. bbcee
    Louise, it's a known fact that self-isolation increases MAS by a factor of 10 That is one nice-sounding instrument, you two sound like you were made for each other. Love the arrangement as well!

    Here's mine, with lotsa warts, based on Tristan Scroggins version from his new Old-Time fiddle tune book (NFI, of course!), then made mandola-centric. I just learned Dry & Dusty, so I tacked that on to the end. Such a pretty tune.

  9. MikeZito
    Louise and BB - keep up the good work . . . I just wonder how the both of you manage to play the mandolin so well, despite the fact that neither of you have heads!
  10. HonketyHank
    bbcee, I like it! Two octaves, too. Sounds fine on a mandola. I don't think I had heard Dry and Dusty before.
  11. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Love the mandola sound on that tune, bbcee. Funny how different that version is from the one I used.

    The Pava came from a once-in-a-blue-moon confluence of too much free time, the appearance of some cash I wasn't expecting, the weather being good for shipping, and a desire to toss some money at the music industry during dark times. I'm loving it, but will admit it is a steep learning curve.

    Henry, you said something in the main forum not long ago about waiting for the big brown delivery truck. What did it bring you? And, can someone take video of the neighborhood jamboree? We need to see this!

    And Mike, getting your head out of the way is often a recipe for success.
  12. HonketyHank
    The big square brown delivery van brought me a barely used 5 year old Eastman mda 815 mandola. I have been hearing bbcee's Eastman mandola and remarking on how nice it sounds for quite a while. I saw this one was available at a very good price, so I snatched it. Beautiful instrument. Mine sounds a little brighter than bbcee's videos of his. Which is probably good because my Weber has the mellowness I like and the Eastman now gives me a different dimension.

    The sing along tonight was When You Wish Upon A Star. Four or five families this time. Our melodica player was absent and the trumpet player didn't have his horn. So the band was just me and Bev on two mandolins, picking out the melody. Sorta. No chords - the only chords I had were probably for a guitar chord melody jazz arrangement and were all those weird chords that nobody ever heard of and are found way in the back of the chord encyclopedia.

    I got cold and left before I found out what is tomorrow's tune. It might be Home Sweet Home. At least I know that one.
  13. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    I hope you and the Eastman are getting along well. Sounds like it was a good find, and if it's been sitting for five years the sound is probably still developing. I'm anxious to hear it!
  14. bbcee
    I'm looking forward to hearing it as well Hank!

    Funnily enough, I'm using a D'Andrea ProPlec 1.5 with mine, which I don't like at all for my mandolins - it's muffled and feels slow with them - but it seems to be the one the mandola likes. Go figure!
  15. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Nice performance on that oversized mandolin, Bruce!
  16. HonketyHank
    After almost a month, I remain unconvinced that this is truly an "old time" tune. It is certainly not Scottish or Irish, but thesession.org member "BillScates" noted that his jam group almost always plays it in a medley with "Nail That Catfish to a Tree" and they call it "Surf n' Turf".


  17. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Nice pig's foot, Henry! It sounds good with a bit of a swing to it. So you're thinking that this is more of a "new time" tune?
  18. bbcee
    Sounding good, Henry, and a nice arrangement. I can't read the headstock to know which mando that is ... Weber?? but it's got that lovely bell tone in the mid-lower register.
  19. HonketyHank
    Louise, I really think I hear echos of some kind of jazz in this tune, even though I know nothing about jazz. Maybe that NC fiddler was a Scott Joplin fan.

    bbcee, that is a Weber Rawhide -- one of my absolute keepers. Maybe my favoritest stringeddy thing.

    Thanks for the comments.
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