Jenny Get Your Hoe Cake Done

Crooked tune in A. Works up to A7 in the first part and to D in the second part.

  • The band New Mules has this on their Pride of America CD [page]. Here are lyrics from New Mules [page].
  • Grandpa Jones [link]
  • Field recording, 1974, almost a different tune [DLA, click "access"]
  • Civil War style by 2nd South Carolina String Band [Utoob] [amazon]


This song was written in 1840 by Joel Walker Sweeney. It was published with the title, "Jenny Get Your Hoe Cake Done, the Celebrated banjo song, as sung with great Applause at the Broadway Circus" [US Library of Congress].

Are these the orignal lyrics? [link] They have that offensive "slave accent" of minstrel songs. Minstrel was very popular in mid-1800s America but it was intertwined with racism. The irrefutable connection was detailed by UCLA historian Alexander Saxton ["Blackface Minstrelsy and Jacksonian Ideology", American Quarterly, Johns Hopkins Press, 1975] who had been called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and blacklisted [obituary, Washington Post].

The sailors sing this song in Moby Dick, the 1851 whaling novel by Herman Melville. See Power Moby-Dick, chapter XCIX; scroll down to the last note on the page. Like the song, this book includes plenty of racism.