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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14
NEGRO FOLK-SONGS
Old grey horse come a-tearin' out o' de wilderness,
Tearin' out o' de wilderness,
Tearin' out o' de wilderness; Old grey horse come a-tearin' out o' de wilderness,
Down in Alabam!
Memory flashed me back to* my childhood, and I heard my mother sing that rollicking old song:
Old grey horse, he come from Jerusalem,
Come from Jerusalem,
Come from Jerusalem; Old grey horse he come from Jerusalem,
Down in Alabam I
If my wife dies, I'll get me another one,
Get me another one,
Get me another one. If my wife dies, I'll get me another one,
Down in Alabam!
I followed the cart down the crowded street, the small boys following me, and I felt a home-sick pang to hear the last lines as the cart turned round the corner and out of sight.
Great big fat one, just like t'other one,
Just like t'other one,
Just like t'other one; Great big fat one, just like t'other one,
Down in Alabam!
I remember many experiences I met in search of Negro folk-songs, each with its own interest for me. There was a baptizing that I went to in Natchez, Mississippi, for example, where I heard many of the genuine old songs. It was an impressive occasion. The immersions took place in a pond near the outskirts of town, on the grounds of what had once been the home of the first Spanish governor of Missis­sippi. The fine old house had been burned down, but the great marble stairway was still standing, and I stood for a while on the top steps to watch the services — though I presently moved down to be nearer the crowd.
The candidates for baptism met by appointment at a house some distance away; and when the crowd had gathered at the pond, they came in solemn file, robed in white, men and women alike, their robes tied about their knees by cords so that the skirts would not float in