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"Mary had a little lamb" had long been a popular choice for blues musicians to jam and solo on stage. Ever since watching the rendition by Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan, it also had been one of my favorites to solo blues on.

Just recently I though about this: it makes sense to me that songs with context and lyrics like "Crossroad", "Johnny B. Good", "Sky is crying", "Sweet home Chicago" etc. are blues.

But I do not get why "Mary had a little lamb", supposedly a 19th century nursery rhyme, was taken and rendered by blues musicians. Does anyone know the history or background of how this transformation is made?

I would assume there is a story behind or else many of its likes such as "London bridge is falling down" or "Twinkle twinkle little star" would also be re-rendered as blues songs (but they don't, at least to my knowledge), and these are certainly more well-known than "Mary had a little lamb".

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Well, just a hunch but looking at the form of blues (AAB), Mary Had a Little Lamb seems to fit that quite well. Mary had a little lamb, mary had a little lamb, who's fleece was white as snow. – MGZero Jan 11 '12 at 21:33
This may not exactly answer your question, but I found it an interesting read on the subject. EDIT: Check this out as well. :) – cornbread ninja Jan 27 '12 at 15:01
I don't know if this is what started it, but it's the song the teacher assigns in Chubby Checker's 1959 novelty record "The Class". – Mark Lutton Oct 6 '14 at 1:26
up vote 5 down vote accepted

A friend and I have beat this subject to death over the years... The consensus in our crowd is that Buddy Guy most likely did it

1) as a goof which worked too well to leave off his record or

2) BG was looking for a way to hide what he stole from Freddy King/Earl Hooker :)

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+1 that was what I also though. Haven't heard of rendition ahead of BG. May be BG himself has the answer. – KMC Feb 2 '12 at 3:53

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