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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66
NEGRO FOLK-SONGS
traditional ballads learned generations ago from his white masters, which does not mean that he is claiming authorship of the ballad, but merely that he thinks it more dramatic, more instant in its effect if it is put in that form.
For example, the version of Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight which an aged Negro woman in Waco, Texas, gave me, as learned from her mother, uses the first person. And the Negro version of The Jew's Daughter', reported by Professor Alphonso Smith, uses the same per­son — a quaint device in this case, where the narrator is made to re­count his own murder! That illogic evidently gave no offence to Negro singers or hearers.
John A. Lomax quotes a version of a Negro ballad, The BoU Weevil, where the singer (not necessarily the one who originated the song) felt impelled to afEx his identification mark in the final stanza.
If anybody axes you who writ this song, Tell 'em it was a dark-skinned Nigger Wid a pair of blue-duckins on, A-lookin' fur a home, Jes' a-lookin' fur a home.
A song of slavery times, which is still widely current in the South, varying somewhat in different localities, is concerned with a "yaller gal" that somebody's "ole mars'r " had. This version was given me by Dr. Charles Carroll, of New Orleans,
Ole Mars'r Had a Yaller Gal
Ole Mars'r had a yaller gal,
He brought her from the South; Her hair it curled so very tight
She could n't shut her mouth.
Her eyes they were so very small
They both ran into one, And when a fly got in her eye,
'T was like a June-bug in the sun.
Her nose it was so very long
It turned up like a squash, And when she got her dander up,
It made me laugh, by gosh!
Ole Mars'r had no hooks or nails,
Nor anything like that, So on this darling's nose he used
To hang his coat and hat.