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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WORK-SONGS
213
A very little Nigger boy down on the bayou, Scrubbing underclothes, oh, papa! Oh, man, the washerman! Oh, man, the washerman!
There are various occupational songs that interest the collector and reveal the Negro's habit of making his work something more than mere machine movements — characterizing it, so to speak, giv­ing it dramatic values./If that spirit could be carried over into all in­dustry and even professional work, perhaps there would be less labor unrest than at present. Work is dignified when it is shown to be im­portant enough to have a song addressed to it, when it is lyrically apostrophized. The Negro has little of the detached, impersonal attitude toward life or any aspect of it, but thinks and speaks sub­jectively. Even the street cries in the South are musical, as Harriet Kershaw Leiding has shown in her interesting booklet about Charleston, "Street Cries of an Old City." So, in New Orleans, the chimney-sweep announces himself by a weird cry, half wail and half chant, which can scarcely be imitated, but which is very impressive: Ramonee la chemine latannier! And Miss Emilie Walter has given me the cry of the watermelon vendor in South Carolina: "Barka-lingo, watermelon! Barka-lingo, watermelon!" with its musical in­tonations and echoing fall.
In Texas, especially at Waco, I am told, the bootblacks sing at their work, songs passed from one to another, or improvisations, which they call "shine reels," and which serve not only to entertain the customer whose shoes are being polished, but to make less weary the waiting time for those who have not yet ascended the throne. The boys who black the shoes of the Baylor University students are, or used to be several years ago (I left Waco some years ago and cannot speak definitely now), adept at remembering or im­provising these reels. Early Busby gave me one recently that he recalled having heard sung at these bootblack establishments.
SHINE REEL







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III