Old, Old Witch
Old, old witch
Believe me, if you can
Jumped on her broomstick
And ran, ran, ran
Ran willy nilly with her toes in the air
Corn silk flyin from the old witch’s hair
Swoosh! went the broomstick!
Meow! Went the cat!
Plop! went the hopped toad
Sittin on her hat
Whee! Chuckled I
What fun! What fun!
ON THE WITCHES RUN!
This is one of Lois favorite songs, which she learned from her grandmother and grandfather when she was a child. Her grandparents lived in the Appalachian hills of Kentucky in cabin surrounded by the forest and removed from any neighbors. The only entrance to their property was across the “crik,” which during the spring rains and winter snows made the farm inaccessible, at best. She would visit their small farm each summer for a few weeks, and it was always a highlight of her summer vacation. One of her favorite childhood memories was the stories and music her grandparents would perform at night, on the porch, with the fireflies flashing in the dark sky. This song was one of the most memorable one that she learned, due to its theatric performance. Being a Kindergarten teacher, Lois passes this song on to her students around Halloween, and it is always one of their favorites.
Lois mentioned that it had been published by Bill Wallace and John Archaumbaut under the title “Old, Old Witch,” however, when I was searching for some sort of version of the song on the internet, I was not able to find any similar lyrics or any recordings of the song.
While the exact origins of this rather obscure song are not known, it is possible that it was originally an English ballad, as many of the first settlers in the Appalachian Mountains were peasants that came to America from England. In fact, there has been much documentation of Appalachian music, especially at the turn of the 20th century, when famous folklorists such as Cecil Sharp started documenting the music. This drive to document what had previously been thought of as hill billy music can be in part attributed to the recent development of the American Folklore Society in 1888 (which undoubtedly took some time to catch on and become a well known establishment). Sharp noted that the Appalachian songs had a force and ethereal intensity that the mellow, sweeter versions often lacked, and the mountain people improvised with a skill that Sharp found amazing. (Langrall). These two factors combined may account for why it is so difficult to find a similar version of the song.
Langrall, Peggy. Appalachian Folk Music: From Foothills to Footlights. Music
Educators Journal. Vol. 72, No. 7, (Mar., 1986): 37-39. JSTOR. 23 April 2008. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3396598>