From the recording The Road Out of Town
A cockade is a rosette ribbon used as a decoration on hats. They were often used as military decorations, and various colors came to designate different troops or loyalties during the many political conflicts of the 18th century. A white cockade was worn by the Jacobite rebels in 1715 and also by the Scottish and Irish supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. It was these same Scots-Irish immigrants who brought the tune to North America and who likely influenced the wearing of a white cockade by the American troops during Revolutionary War.
"The Cuckoo's Nest" is an enduringly popular example of the type of hornpipes that were all the rage in the 18th century English dance theatre. The dances were often associated with sailors, and keeping with that theme, this tune was also known as "Come Ashore Jolly Tar And Your Trousers On."
We first chose "Forked Deer" for this set because of a rumor that Thomas Jefferson had referred to the tune in his Notes on Virginia. Unfortunately, we were unable to verify that rumor and now doubt that Jefferson ever mentioned it. The tune first appeared in print in Knauff's Virginia Reels in 1834. Given the lag time which it often took for tunes to be published, we figure that could easily put it within Jefferson's era. The tune has remained as a staple of Appalachian and Old-time music.