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Lyr Req: Long John, Chineeman


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Lyr Req: China Trade Song for 1st graders (10) 01 Aug 99 - 09:17 PM
Joe Offer 02 Aug 99 - 04:12 AM 02 Aug 99 - 04:49 PM
dick greenhaus 02 Aug 99 - 06:03 PM
rich r 02 Aug 99 - 11:12 PM 02 Aug 99 - 11:25 PM
Joe Offer 03 Aug 99 - 04:10 AM
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Subject: old song: 'Long John was a chi-neee man'
Date: 01 Aug 99 - 09:17 PM

Am trying to find the name & additional lyrics to the following song, which my grandfather sang to my father in the 1930's:

Ching-chang, ching-chang, ching-chang-chee,
Long John was a chi-nee man.
He peddled ciga-rooties on the European plan
Way down in Califor-nye-eee.
The weather being hot he took off his coat, and he laid
his head on a rail.
Along came an injun,
With a big hawky-thomas
And cut off the end of his queue.

My grandfather was born in 1863 in Oregon, so this could have been a gold-miner song. Would be glad of any help.

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Subject: RE: old song: 'Long John was a chi-neee man'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 04:12 AM

Hmmm. I don't think you'll have much luck, Kris. It's the kind of song that makes a lot of us very uneasy. I suppose they're part of our history, but is there a value in preserving racists songs like that?
You have songs like "Old Black Joe" and others by Stephen Foster that speak in terms that are now considered racist. Those songs were not racist in their intent, and they're good music, so there's a value in preserving them. The song you cite may have sounded funny to another generation, but it's pure racism.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: old song: 'Long John was a chi-neee man'
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 04:49 PM

Joe, thanks for your comments. I do realize the lyrics are quite racist, but they are one of only a few verbal relics I have of a long-forgotten grandfather. I don't find them any more or less racist than many songs I've seen (e.g., Short'nin Bread. My intent is to learn something of my grandfather's life by the sort of songs he sang, not to injure or malign any racial group. I hope that everyone who reads the lyrics can understand this. There are only 2 people living who remember my grandfather (he died in 1945) and I am trying to write down whatever I can about his life before these last 2 people are too old or ill to remember anything about him. Thanks for everyone's understanding.

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Subject: RE: old song: 'Long John was a chi-neee man'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 06:03 PM

Joe- Racist or not, sexist or not, PC or not, they're all worth collecting. At least the DT thinks so.

I'm from an era in which S. Foster and R. Kipling were no-no's; when the Wee Cooper of Fife could beat his wife to general applause, but he couldn't have sex with her in mixed company. I sincerely hope that overt racism never returns in folksong, but I wouldn't bet on it. Three generations of avoiding non-PC contemnt will probably leave us with nothing at all, except possibly the works of Raffi.

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Subject: RE: old song: 'Long John was a chi-neee man'
From: rich r
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 11:12 PM

(Tune: Brigham Young - but it doesn't match the "Brigham Young" tunes I can find)

Big Long John was a Chineeman;
He came from the land of tea.
He peddled cigareets in the upper land,
Way out in Milwaukee;
Eat more hash at a free meal a day;
Never was late to his meals;
Had a long tail from the top of his head
That hung clear down to his heels.

Ching Ching Chow, Chingee ringee roo,
Chingeee roo was a Chineeman
He was a barber by birth and a butcher by trade.
I tell you he was oil from the can.

He went to San Francisco
For a Chinee girl to see.
Feelee very tired he lay down to sleep
In the shade of a huckleberry tree.
Feelee very tired he soon fell asleep
And laid his head on a plank.
Along came an Indian with a big tomahawk
And cut off a piece of his scalp.

And when he awoke he felt so bad
That he hollered with all his might;
Put his hand to his head and it made him so sick
That he died that very same night.
He was found next day at two P.M.
By the captain of the Hongkong crew,
And he wrote to his sweetheart Chum Chum Fee
That he died for the want of his queue.

As the Chinese arrived in America in the 19th century a number of songs were popular in the western US. Some of the early ones were derived from the comic music or minstrel type shows. These often "humorously" criticized the failure of the Chinese to adapt to western culture. As the Chinese became more numerous and started to seriously compete for jobs in the mines and on the railroads, the songs became more vicious. This song tells the tale of a Chinese man who was scalped of his long hair and died as a result. While the songs may be out of bounds and racist by today's standards, they are part of a strong tradition in some elements of society to attempt to elevate themselves by denegrating others. Through history the others have been blacks, American Indians, Irish, Germans, Italians etc. This text is printed in "Songs of the American West" by Lingenfelter, Dwyer and Cohen.. They also credit Lester Hubbard's "Ballads And Songs From Utah"

rich r

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Subject: RE: old song: 'Long John was a chi-neee man'
Date: 02 Aug 99 - 11:25 PM

Wow, Rich, thank you SO much! I am so grateful that you came up with these lyrics. I knew they were out there somewhere. My dad says that the song he gave me is slightly changed from the original as my grandfather heard it at a minstrel show, and he did the best he could at remembering it. Pretty good, for just being handed down as oral tradition. Again, I am so very appreciative. What serendipity to find this list!


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Subject: RE: old song: 'Long John was a Chinaman'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 04:10 AM

Well, I think I'd better eat crow on this one, Dick. I'm usually one to gripe about the evils of political correctness, but I guess I got swayed in the wrong direction this time. Glad you set me straight. Your Raffi threat made a believer out of me, that's for sure.
And I have to admit that if I had that Lingenfelter-Dwyer book I've been looking for for two years, I'd probably have been the first to post the lyrics. Rich R, better guard that book with your life. The only copy I've found was for sale for $150.
-Joe Offer-

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