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
231
WORK-SONG
Six months in jail ain't so long, baby,
It's workin' on the county farm.
Got my pick an' shovel now, baby,
Yo' true lub is gone.
Who's gwine to be yo' true lub, baby,
When I 'm gone?
Who gwine to bring you chickens, honey,
When I'm workin' on the county farm?
Mr. Jack Busby, in North Carolina, overheard another songster singing, as he ploughed, a ditty concerning the contrasts of his life:
Hardest work I ever done
Was ploughin' round a pine; Easiest work I ever done
Was h'uggin' dat gal o' mine.
J. E. Morrow, of Texas, says of another work-song he sends: "A convict was riding one of the mules to a road-grader. As he moved along he would burst into song:
"I'se gwine to stan' In my back do', An' I'se gwine ter hab — Let deDebbil blab! — Dat gal wid de blue dress on.
Oh, swing dat gal wid de blue dress on,
Swing, you Niggers, swing!
"As he sang the last line, the team turned about, and I could not decide whether he was giving instructions to other drivers or whether that was the last of his song. Anyway, it came in with the tune and he sang no more."
The tendency of workers to loaf on the job when the boss is not by is revealed in their song. The Negroes dearly love moments of re­laxation, and snatch them regardless of regulations. For example, Elsie Brown reports a chant which workers in Tennessee used to sing when — lounging idly, in the absence of the foreman — they would see him coming and pass the word along musically:
Boss am coming Boss am cornin', Boss am comin*.







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