Cripple Creek (folk song)

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"Cripple Creek"
PublishedMid 19th Century
Cripple Creek, performed by Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers (1929)

"Cripple Creek" is an Appalachian-style folk song, often in old time arrangement for the fiddle, although it is played on stringed instruments such as the banjo. It has become a standard among bluegrass musicians and is often one of the first songs a banjo picker learns.[1] Its time of composition is unknown, and there are theories supporting that the song is either about Cripple Creek, Virginia or Cripple Creek, Colorado during the gold rush.[specify] It was frequently recorded by early country musicians in the 1920s.[2]


Simplified version of the basic melody (A part followed by B part).

\new ChordNames {
  \set chordChanges = ##t
  a4 a4|%1
  a4 a4|%2
  a4 a4|%3

  e4 a4|%4
  e4 a4|%5

  a4 a4|%6
  a4 a4|%7
  a4 a4|%8
  e4 a4|%9
  e4 a4|%10
\new Staff \relative c'' {
  \key a \major \time 2/4
  \repeat volta 2 { %start repeat
  a'8 a16 a e8 cis          | %1
  d8 fis e a,16 b           | %2
  cis8 cis16 cis b8 a       | %3
  }%end repeat
  {e8 fis16 e  a8 a16 a |}    %4
  {e8 fis16 e a4 |}           %5
  \repeat volta 2
  { %start repeat
    cis8 cis16 cis b8 a      |%6
    cis8 cis16 cis e8 a,16 b |%7
    cis8 cis16 cis b8 a      |%8
  } %end repeat
  {e8 fis16 e a8 a16 b  |}       %9
  {e,8 fis16 e a4  \bar "|."  |} %10



The following are lyrics from a 1909 version included in the Journal of American Folklore, 1915.[4]

  • A. "(From East Tennessee; mountain whites; from memory; 1909)"
Goin' to Cripple Creek, goin' ter Rome (roam),
Goin' ter Cripple Creek, goin' back home.
See them women layin' in the shade,
Waitin' fer the money them men have made.
Roll my breeches ter my knees
En wade ol' Cripple Creek when I please.
  • B. "(From South Carolina; country whites, MS. of Mr. Bryan; 1909)"
Goin' to Cripple Creek, going in a run;
Goin' to Cripple Creek to have my fun.

When Cecil Sharp collected folksongs in the Appalachian Mountains in 1917 he found one version of "Cripple Creek":[2]

  • "Gone to Cripple Creek" sung by Mrs. Wilson Pineville, Kentucky, August 27, 1917.
Gone to Cripple Creek, gone in a run,
Gone to Cripple Creek to have some fun.
Gone to Cripple Creek, gone in a run,
Gone to Cripple Creek to have some fun.
"Gone" is probably a mishearing of- goin'.
  • C. A discussion of the trends among variations in lyrics to this song is given by renowned culture critic Peter Viney,[5] as well as the song's relationship to fiddle and mouthbow.


  • Luther Strong - recorded in 1937 by the Library of Congress; "Cripple Creek" is one of the songs recorded.[1]
  • "Uncle" Homer Walker for Virginia Traditions - Non-Blues Secular Black Music (Smithsonian Folkways)
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie recorded "Cripple Creek" on her 1964 Album It's My Way!
  • Leo Kottke performed a fingerpicked acoustic guitar arrangement on the 1974 compilation LP "John Fahey/Leo Kottke/Peter Lang".
  • U.S. Senator Robert Byrd recorded the song on his album Mountain Fiddler.


  1. ^ a b "Cripple Creek". Archived from the original on 2014-03-27. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
  2. ^ a b Cripple Creek Song History
  3. ^ Rogers, Austin. "Cripple Creek" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  4. ^ American Folklore Society (1915). Journal of American Folklore. Published for the American Folk-lore Society by Houghton, Mifflin, and Co. pp. 180–1. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  5. ^