The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #107128   Message #2218685
Posted By: Songster Bob
18-Dec-07 - 11:59 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Odd Minstrel Song = John Barleycorn (?)
Subject: Lyr Add: JIM JAWBONE
In going through the lyrics in Christy's Panorama Songster (1852), I came upon this interestingly supernatural story song, and it occurred to me that it includes several fascinating connections to folklore, and in particular to John Barleycorn. Does anyone else see the connection?

Here's the lyric, with two editorial changes (by me) to avoid the "N" word and all that baggage:

TUNE. "Yankee Doodle was a gentleman."

Jim Jawbone was a color'd man,
Ob de true negro blood, sa,
In old Virginny he did grow,
Among de 'bacca buds, sa.
His fader cum from Alabam,
His moder cum from Guinea,
Dey suckled little Jawbone wid
De leaf ob ole Virginny.

Success to de tobacco leaf,
An' to de Jawbone Grinny,
Sing may dey raise for our relief,
De plant ob ole Virginny.

Dey cradled in tobacco stalks,
Dis blooming infant black, sa;
An' long before he larnt to talk,
He squealed de name of "bacca."
Soon as young Jim fus' larnt to creep,
Dey missed an' thought him killed, sa,
But dey found him in de field asleep,
Upon a bacca hill, sa,


As Jim growed up, de more he show
His vegetable breed, sa;
His 'plexion from the de sable crow,
Turned like de yallar weed, sa;
His limbs growed so jist like de plant,
When cutting time come round, sa,
He took 'em for tobacco stalks,
An' cut'mself clar down, sa.


So poor Jim Jawbone had to die,
All by dis sad slipstake, sa,
He hung him up wid stalks to dry,
Upon de 'bacca brake, sa;
Dis pipe I cut out ob de bone,
Dat growed out ob his shin, sa,
An' de more I smoke de 'bacca out,
De more keeps coming in, sa,

From Christy's Panorama Songster, 1852

I also note the "never-empty purse" in the last two lines. There are probably several other folklore connections, too, but this was a song specifically written for the popular stage of the time, not one where folklore elements were a "given."

What do you think?

Bob Clayton