ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS

A Collection Of Negro Traditional & Folk Songs with Sheet Music Lyrics & Commentaries - online book

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lead John to become a rich farmer and a leader in the Texas agrarian movement.
In this work folklore abounds, creating a background for this All-American folk love story. The courting takes place at the social occasions of the times: dances, play-parties, and at church, and these are described fully. Folk life is the setting of this piece, and naturally folk-speech abounds, especially the intensive kind of which Texans are so fond.
Her most renowned book, The Wind (1925), later made into a MGM film tragedy with Lillian Gish, utilized such folkloric leit­motifs even more extensively. The story concerns a tender Virginia girl who is orphaned and forced to go to live with her cousin in the flatlands around Sweetwater, Texas. There, under the winter's blast of wind, she slowly withers, falls into a loveless mar­riage because of it, later commits adultery because of it and finally walks out onto the prairies to be devoured by it. The man with whom she commits adultery appears early in the book, warning her of the effects of the wind and ironically singing the first verse of "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie" (pp. 23, 213, 328). He re­appears two or three times in the story, still singing the song, and in the end she kills him for his act of fornication and buries him in the sands, which promptly shift and uncover him so that the buzzards can get at him.
Similarly ironic, her lover has sung:
"As I walked out on the streets of Laredo, As I walked out in Laredo one day, I spied a poor cowboy wrapped up in white linen, Wrapped up in white linen, as cold as the clay.
Oh, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
Play the dead march as you bear me along, Take me to the green valley and lay the sod over me,
For Tm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong!" (page 251)
The songs which the heroine keeps repeating to herself throughout the story are ones taught to her by her Negro mammy back in Virginia:
Lord, I don't want to die in a storm, in a storm, Lord, I don't want to die in a storm, in a storm! When the wind blows east, an' the wind blows west, Lord, I don't want to die in a storm!6 (pages 156, 173)
6I have been unable to locate this song elsewhere, but judging by Scarborough's other quotations, I am confident that it is traditional.
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