“The Swapping Song” as recorded by May Justus is a folk song in which the speaker
goes to London to get a wife and takes her home in a wheelbarrow. When he falls, he
swaps the wheelbarrow for a horse, then swaps it for a series of animals until he has a
mole—”And the silly thing ran into a hole!” Justus included the song in several of her
children’s books set in the Smoky Mountains in the first half of the twentieth century. The
traditional refrain is “To my wing wong waddle! To my Jack Straw straddle! / To my John
Fair faddle! / To my long way home.
When I was a little boy I lived by myself;
All the bread and cheese I had, I put it on the shelf.
To My Wing wong waddle, to my jack straw saddle,
To my John fair faddle, to my long ways home.
Rats and the mice, they led me such a life,
I had to go to London to get myself a wife.
Roads were so long and the lanes were so narrow,
I had to bring her home in an old wheel-barrow.
Wheel-barrow broke and my wife got a fall,
Down came the wheel-barrow wife and all.
Swapped my wheel-barrow and got me a horse;
Then I rode from cross to cross.
Swapped my horse and got me a mare;
Then I rode from fair to fair.
Swapped my mare and got me a mule;
Then I rode like a doggone fool.
Swapped my mule and got me a goat;
When I got on him, he wouldn’t tote.
Swapped my goat and got me a sheep;
Then I rode myself to sleep.
Swapped my sheep and got me a cow;
And in that trade I just learned how.
Swapped my cow and got me a calf;