ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS

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

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Easter Hymns



Share page  Visit Us On FB


Previous Contents Next
BLUES
267
vas pursuing him. Bloodhounds were on his trail and were coming perilously close, while he was dodging and doubling on his tracks in i desperate effort to elude them. At last he ran into an empty barrel that chanced to be lying on its side in his path, but quickly sprang mt and away again. When the bloodhounds a few seconds later trailed him into the barrel, they were nonplussed for a while, and by the time they had picked up the scent again, the darky had escaped.
The theme as treated in the blues is shown on the following page, where I reproduce by permission the sheet, like a broadside, on which it appears. It is interesting to note that the chorus varies with some verses, while it remains the same for others.
Handy said that his blues were folk-songs also in that they have their origin in folk-sayings and express the racial life of the Negroes. "For example," he said, "the Yellow Dog Blues takes its name from the term the Negroes give the Yazoo Delta Railroad. Clarkesville colored people speak of the Yellow Dog because one day when some­one asked a darky what the initials Y. D.on a freight-train stood for, he scratched his head reflectively and answered, 'I dunno, less'n it's for Yellow Dog.'" Another one of his blues came from an old mammy's mournful complaint, "I wonder whar my good ole used-to-be is!"
He says that presently he will write a blues on the idea contained in a monologue he overheard a Negro address to his mule on a South­ern street not long ago. The animal was balky, and the driver ex­postulated with him after this fashion:
"G'wan dere, you mule! You ack lack you ain' want to wuck. Well, you is a mule, an' you got to wuck. Dat's whut you git fo' bein' a mule. Ef you was a 'ooman, now, I'd be wuckin' fo' you!"              ,
The St. Louis Blues, according to its author, is a composite, made up of racial sayings in dialect. For instance, the second stanza has its origin in a Negro saying, "I've got to go to see Aunt Ca'line Dye," meaning to get his fortune told; for at Newport there was a well-known fortune-teller by that name. " Got to go to Newport to see Aunt Ca'line Dye," meant to consult the colored oracle.
Been to de Gypsy to get mah fortune tole,
To de Gypsy done got mah fortune tole,
'Cause I 'se wile about mah Jelly Roll.
Gypsy done tole me, "Don't you wear no black."
Yas, she done tole me, "Don't you wear no black.
Go to St. Louis, you can win him back."







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