Boil Them Cabbage Down

This is an online fiddle lesson for the tune "Boil Them Cabbage Down." is your best source for Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!

Genre: Old Time, Bluegrass
Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Key of A

This lesson is free!

You may download and use any of the MP3s and tablature for your personal use. However, please do not make them available online or otherwise distribute them.

NOTE: If multiple videos and MP3s are loading at once, this page will get slow! I recommend that you refresh the page each time you open a new video or MP3.

Video #1: Here is a video of me performing the fiddle tune "Boil Them Cabbage Down."


Tablature Part 1 (1 page, PDF)
Notation and Tablature Part 1 (2 pages, PDF)

Tablature Part 2 (1 page, PDF)
Notation and Tablature Part 2 (2 pages, PDF)

Tablature Part 3 (1 page, PDF)
Notation and Tablature Part 3 (2 pages, PDF)

Video #2: Here is a measure-by-measure fiddle lesson of "Boil Them Cabbage Down" Part 1.

Video #3: Here is a measure-by-measure fiddle lesson of "Boil Them Cabbage Down" Part 2.

Video #4: Here is a measure-by-measure fiddle lesson of "Boil Them Cabbage Down" Part 3.

Video #5: Here is "Boil Them Cabbage Down" Part 1 with the metronome.

Video #6: Here is "Boil Them Cabbage Down" Part 2 with the metronome.

Video #7: Here is "Boil Them Cabbage Down" Part 3 with the metronome.

Video #8: Here is "Boil Them Cabbage Down" at 65 BPM.


To download an MP3 to your computer, simply right-click the link above the player, then choose "save link as." The MP3 will then be sent to your downloads folder.

Performance track with fiddle and vocal:

MP3 #1: "Boil Them Cabbage Down," 115 bpm with fiddle and vocal

MP3 #2: "Boil Them Cabbage Down," 65 bpm with fiddle

Jam tracks at different speeds:

MP3 #3: "Boil Them Cabbage Down," 65 bpm jam track

MP3 #4: "Boil Them Cabbage Down," 115 bpm jam track


"Boil Them Cabbage Down", also know as "Bile Them Cabbage Down", "Bile 'Em Cabbage", etc., supposedly can be traced to an an English country dance called Smiling Polly, first printed in 1765.  “Bile” is a phonetic writing of the word “boil.” A hoecake is a thin, flat cake made from cornmeal, originally baked on a hoe.  As it has been played and sung throughout the South, the song integrates African and European musical elements: banjo and fiddle – slave, minstrel and mountaineer. (Ballad of America)

Boil Them Cabbage Down

Possum in a 'simmon tree,
Raccoon on the ground.
Raccoon says to possum,
Please shake some 'simmons down.

Boil them cabbage down, down.
Turn them hoecakes 'round, 'round.
The only song that I can sing is
Boil them cabbage down.

Raccoon has a bushy tail,
Possum's tail is bare.
Rabbits got no tail at all but a little
Bunch o' hair.


Someone stole my old coon dog.
Wish they'd bring him back.
He chased the big hogs through the fence,
And the little ones through the crack.


Met a possum in the road,
Blind as he could be.
Jumped the fence and whipped my dog
And bristled up at me.


Heard my dog the other night,
Though he'd treed a coon
Saw them walking paw in paw
Later by the light of the moon


Raccoon and the Possum,
Walking on the prairie
Raccoon says to Possum;
Would you like to marry?


Raccoon died of the whoopin' cough,
Possum died of the colic.
'Long come a frog with a fiddle on his back
Inquirin' his way to the frolic.



Online Fiddle Lessons Forums Boil Them Cabbage Down

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Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 20 total)
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  • #7011

    Hi John,
    The new website looks great!! The video that includes how to hold the bow correctly is great!!! Well.. I have to admit, I did watch all the videos from beginning to end.. and they were all great!!!
    We have talked before through email and as I said, you are pretty much my mentor.. I just hope I can someday get at least half as good as you are 🙂 All I have to learn from are your videos I found on youtube as well as a few other ones but in my honest opinion, there isn’t anyone at least that I’ve seen that knows how to teach in such an easy to understand way as you do!! I really appreciate everything you are doing to keep the music we so dearly love alive. Kind Regards, Jerry


    Hi John,

    This new site is great! Our family has enjoyed your fiddle instruction videos on youtube, and we are glad to find this upgrade to your fantastic service which helps our 3 girls (and boy!) learn to fiddle. Thanks for all the care and attention to the instructions for each song!


    I wanted to let you know I follow and download your Vids on Youtube and have learned many of the tunes you teach and because of you I play the Fiddle today.

    I will join very very soon and just wanted to let you know you have a great site and can’t wait to access your materials as a member.


    John (BGD)

    Hi Terry! I’m so glad to be of help to you. I’m excited about building this site into a fantastic resource, and you are helping me to accomplish that.

    John (BGD)

    Hi Jerry, thank you for the kind words. Keep fiddling! I hope to hear you play one day.


    Hey !
    I’m a guitar and piano player since a bunch of year and I recently broke a part of my favorite guitar, I was surfing on Ebay to look for spare parts and I saw a 50$ wooden violin and I was like “Woah how ? It must sucks a lot !” but I was curious and I typed something like “cheap violin” on Youtube to see how it sounds.
    Doing so, I found your videos on how to set up a violin and it reaaaaaally got me interested in purchasing this 50$ violin, but I was not wuite sure, and then, I saw THIS freakin’ video on Youtube and WOH now I definitly want to play violin ! ahah
    This is amazing you’re making a greeeaaat work and now i’m totally excited about getting my first violin !
    Anyway, keep up the good work, you rocks ! kisses from France !

    John (BGD)

    Thanks for the great comment! If you enjoy fiddling you can always get a more expensive fiddle later 🙂 best of luck! John


    This is amazing. Very clear and great to follow along with the music sheets. Thank you so much for your excellent work. With your patience and the way you take the time to teach the basics, you truly are a blessing for beginners like me!

    John (BGD)

    Thank you so much! I hope to add a lot more -getting started- content in the next few months. John


    Hi John!

    What happened to the link to Video #7: Here is “Boil Them Cabbage Down” Part 3 with the metronome.

    If you follow the link it says “Page Not Found”.


    John (BGD)

    Charly, that is just an unexplained mystery. I have no idea how that number got changed. Unless Vimeo changed its number for some reason. At any rate, it is fixed now!


    Thanks John!


    This is the song i have been practicing. I thought i was ready for the metronome at 65 bpm. I can play parts with it, but i need to keep trying. When i put it on 115 bpm…wow…i had no luck at all. I’ve been trying to play 2 yrs now. I learned mostly by watching you tube and learning by ear. I seem to be developing a need for the tablature. I wonder if the lessons will become memorized in time. Thanks for your lessons. This is my first month here and plan to join for another.
    Fiddler of the future, Donna.

    John (BGD)

    Hi Donna, I’m so glad you are here! Yes, this song ranges from beginner to intermediate (even advanced, at the higher speeds), and so it is a tough one, but definitely worth learning if only for the exercise. Don’t let the tablature become a crutch! Commit phrases to memory until you can play entire parts by ear. The tablature is a huge help, but you don’t necessarily want to pull out your tabs at a jam session. The idea is to put these songs to heart, internalize the techniques you learn in each, and then make them your own!

    By the way, the monthly option is a recurring subscription. You don’t have to sign up for a new month. However, if you want to opt out, you do have to go to the login page and click “unsubscribe.” But I am glad that you are planning to stay at least another month!



    I can’t remember who asked about a song to learn after Twinkle. But, this might be a good one to try next for a little more zip.

    Great Scott

    Hey Charly! I hope you are doing well! Keep smiling! 🙂

    Kind regards,



    Hi Dr. John,

    Saw Andy Griffith playing this w/ the Darling family decades back and have loved it ever since.  The double stops are a bit difficult but am plugging away and even get them to sound okay …but only occasionally.

    Thank you for providing tabulature for those of us that can’t read notes.  Tho’t that I’d had Bile Them Cabbage  in my memory from my five string banjo days but it was totally wrong.   Your methods are supior!    Ralph

    John (BGD)

    🙂 Thank you!


    Hello Dr. John,

    After spending the past couple months on the mysteries of ASHOKEN FAREWLL, I attempted Boil them Cabbage again and will see if that can’t be a suitable # 2 song for me.  Haven’t added vibrato, or ornaments of any kind yet but a experimenting with that too.  Review your helpful early violin lessons frequently and try to get as much of the early teachings stuck into my memory.   Haven’t gotten the courage to be entering Lions’ Den yet as I was well into my mid seventies before  attempting the violin but am enjoying every practice.   Still have many extra sounds slipping into the music at the wrong times.  Your encouraging words are very meaningful to your many students and thank you for that.

    John (BGD)

    Hi Ralph, I’m glad to hear you are progressing and enjoying the ride! Boil Them Cabbage is a great second tune. It was actually the first tune I ever learned, and it really got me off to a great start in learning how to play bluegrass music.

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