The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #1995   Message #1125240
Posted By: GUEST,John Hall jhall@bama.ua.edu
27-Feb-04 - 12:12 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Down in the Cane Break? / ...Canebrake
Subject: Spelling and implications of Cane Break
I am researching canebrakes for a book, and would point out that the spelling of "canebrake" (a patch of cane) is a convention - correct only because the dictionary spells it that way. I suspect that the people in the South spelled it however they wanted... it is the same word, spelled "canebrake" or "canebreak", one word or two.

Point two is the implication of Nancy living down by the canebrake. Canebrakes grew in moist lowlands near the river. They were traditionally the home of fierce animals, escaped slaves, renegade Indians, outlaws and marginalized people. The singer of the song isn't courting a fine lady, he is begging a poor colored girl to get on the boat and run away with him.