A Collection Of Negro Traditional & Folk Songs with Sheet Music Lyrics & Commentaries - online book

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Steam from the whistle, Smoke from the stack, Going to the graveyard To bring my baby back. Oh, my li'l baby, Why don't you come back?
Professor Howard W- Odum, in an illuminating article on "Folk­song and Folk-poetry as Found in the Secular Songs of the Southern Negro " (in the Journal of American Folk-lore, volume xxiv), gives a pathetic ditty.
Thought I heard dat K. C. whistle blow, Blow lak. she never blow before.
How long has 'Frisco train been gone? Dat's train carried my baby home.
Look down de Southern road an' cry, Babe, look down de Southern road an' cry.
The train may on occasion serve as witness of the grief of a folk-songster—may not be responsible for it, perhaps unsympathetic to­ward it, but be an observer of it. The headlight of an engine can see a great deal — has looked down on many griefs. If it wept over all the woes it witnesses, the tracks would be flooded. One must concede that a railroad track is not a soft pillow, as doubtless the "maker" of a song sent from New Orleans decided. Gladys Torregano, of Straight College, contributed this, through the courtesy of Worth Tuttle Hedden.
Sweet Mama
Sweet Mama, treetop tall,
Won't you please turn your damper down?
I smell hoecake burning,
Dey done burnt some brown.
I'm laid mah head
On de railroad track.
I t'ought about Mama
An' I drugged it back.
Sweet Mama, treetop tall,
Won't you please turn your damper down?
Sweet Mama is a term addressed to a lover, not a maternal parent, and the oblique reference to a damper doubtless comments on the dark lady's warm temper.

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