Old Folks
Charlie Parker Lyrics


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Everyone knows him as Old Folks
Like the seasons, he'll come and he'll go
Just as free as a bird and as good as his word
That's why everybody loves him so

Always leaving his spoon in his coffee
Tucks his napkin up under his chin
And that yellow cow-pie is so mellow it's ripe
But you needn't be ashamed of him
Every Friday he'll go fishing, down on his favorite lake
But he only hooks a perch or two, the whale got away
Looks like we warm the steak

Someday there'll be no more Old Folks
What a lonesome old town this will be




Children's voice at play, will be still for a day
The day they take the Old Folks away

Overall Meaning

In Charlie Parker's song Old Folks, the singer refers to a beloved elderly person, known as Old Folks, who is a free spirit and loved by everyone around him. He is compared to the changing of seasons, coming and going just like the tides. The lyrics suggest that Old Folks is someone who is honest, trustworthy, and genuine, and that is why everyone loves him. Despite his age, Old Folks still enjoys the simple pleasures of life, like fishing, and he takes pride in eating his meals with proper table etiquette - tucking his napkin up under his chin and even leaving his spoon in his coffee.


The third verse carries a bittersweet message as the singer describes the inevitable and impending loss of Old Folks. When he is gone, the streets of the town will be empty, the laughter of children will pause for a day, and the town will feel lonesome without him. It's a sentiment that resonates with anyone who has experienced the loss of a beloved elder in their community. Overall, the song is a heartfelt tribute to a kind and vibrant spirit, and it leaves the listener with a sense of nostalgia and respect for the elderly.


Line by Line Meaning

Everyone knows him as Old Folks
Old Folks is a well-known person in the community


Like the seasons, he'll come and he'll go
Old Folks is a transient person who appears and disappears like the seasons


Just as free as a bird and as good as his word
Old Folks is a free-spirited and dependable person


That's why everybody loves him so
Old Folks is a beloved member of the community because of his nature


Always leaving his spoon in his coffee
Old Folks is forgetful and often leaves his spoon in his coffee


Tucks his napkin up under his chin
Old Folks tucks his napkin under his chin while eating


And that yellow cow-pie is so mellow it's ripe
Old Folks likes to eat cow-pie which is ripe and yellow


But you needn't be ashamed of him
People shouldn't shame Old Folks for his habits and preferences


Every Friday he'll go fishing, down on his favorite lake
Old Folks fishes every Friday at his favorite lake


But he only hooks a perch or two, the whale got away
Old Folks only catches a few perch while fishing but misses the big fish


Looks like we warm the steak
The steak will need to be warmed up since Old Folks only caught a few fish


Someday there'll be no more Old Folks
Old Folks will not be around forever and someday will pass away


What a lonesome old town this will be
The town will be lonely when Old Folks is no longer there


Children's voice at play, will be still for a day
The sounds of children playing will cease for a day when Old Folks passes away


The day they take the Old Folks away
The day Old Folks is taken away will be a sad day for the community




Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Written by: DEDETTE LEE HILL, WILLARD ROBISON

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Comments from YouTube:

@boomerang905

I just have loved the way this man "flew" through notes - Since l was like maybe 5 years old.

@FelixScottJr

They were recording 78 RPM records in those days and they were breakable like acetates. Bird played with perfect time so he could come in anywhere and it would fit. I sat on several records which were on a bed I was setting on and broke them accidentally. Yardbird was playing very well on this recording. I can hear him experimenting as he became bolder in his tensions and releases. His harmonic and rhythmic concept were expanding on every round of his choruses. He was surprising himself. LOL

@johnhemphill1938

I love this song, love it. Reminds me of my childhood

@aridecompany

Sweet genius great from the soul of a beautiful human being!

@Supercraptastic007

Charlie.....nuff said

@stefanobonoli8783

Everything he played is full of love. And if I am not mistaken I think I hear Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross mixed in the choir. ❤️

@kempfkempfkempf

It was Dave Lambert's arrangement.

@spiritualphysics

Sweet and Powerful. Yes Love

@AlfaAxel

I would like to hear the other takes - I guess I heard the second or LP published version 40+ years ago :)

@djandersonny

Marc Myers, on his JazzWax blog, http://www.jazzwax.com/2008/01/charlie-parker.html, has a discussion/interview on this recording session, with Hal McKusick, who played clarinet on the date. Very revealing and kind words for all the participants, even though the recordings fell short of expectations.

Charlie Parker, alto; Gil Evans, instrumental arranger; Tony Aless, piano; Charles Mingus, bass; Max Roach, drums; w/woodwind quintet: Hal McKusick, clarinet; unidentified flute, oboe, bassoon, French horn; and the Dave Lambert Choir, Dave Lambert, vocal arranger. May 25, 1953 @ Fulton Recording Studios, NYC, Norman Granz, producer.

Old Folks [Dedette Lee Hill / Willard Robinson] Charlie Parker Big Band CD, [featuring the Dave Lambert Choir]. iTunes & http://www.amazon.com/Big-Band-Charlie-Parker/dp/B00002DDQO/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1201653630&sr=8-1

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