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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NEGRO BALLADS
79
Said the merchant to the farmer,
"We're in an awful fix! If things go on in this way,
You'll have me in the sticks,
Without a home, without a home!"
"Oh, Wine!" said Honey,
"I don't know where we're at. If the Boll Weevil goes on like this, We'll all be busted flat,
We'll have no home, we'll have no home!"
Mabel Cranfill, also of Dallas, recalls a form of the ballad that has the refrain:
Boll Weevil's got a home, Babe, Boll Weevil-'s got a home.
Lizzie Coleman, principal of a Negro school in Greenville, Mis­sissippi, writes: "The Boll Weevil was composed by a man in Meri-vale, I believe. It is like many other ballads written by men ^n this state. The tune is made, the writer sings it and sells his song, His hearers catch the sound — and on it goes."
The boll weevil is a promising subject for balladry, since he fur­nishes many romantic motifs. He is an outlaw, hunted in every field. IJe has apparently superhuman powers of resistance to hard­ship, exposure, and attacks from man, the individual, and from or­ganized spciety. He has an extraordinary cunning and trickery, can outwit and flout man, and go his way despite all human efforts to stop him. He is coming to be a beloved rascal likeBre'r Rabbit, his exploits and cunning joyed in even by those he defies; a picaresque hero with an international reputation for evil; a Robin Hood of the cotton-patch, admired while he is hunted dpwn.
Doubtless in time a cycle of ballads will spring up with him as central character, a compensation in song for the economic ruin he has brought. Some of the versions of the ballad now in existence are said to have the mythical "hundred stanzas," so that already con­temporary legendry is playing with this tiny, powerful villain. One correspondent writes, "I wish you could see the Negroes' faces light up when I mention The Boll Weevil, and they all say they could think of many stanzas if they had time."
Another ballad which appears in various sections of the South and is widely current among the Negroes, one of their most popular songs, relates the misadventures of a Negro woman and her faithless spouse. The title varies, being called in different versions Franky,