The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #114362   Message #2443587
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
17-Sep-08 - 08:45 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Work Gang Songs
Subject: Lyr Add: GRADE SONG

Well, I tole my captain my feet wus cold
"Po' water on fire, let wheelers roll!"

Told my captain my han's wus cold.
"God damn yo' hands, let the wheelers roll!"

Well, captain, captain, you mus' be blin';
Look at yo' watch! See ain't it quittin' time?

Well, captain, captain, how can it be?
Whistles keep a-blowin', you keep a-workin' me.

Well. captain, captain, you mus' be blin';
Keep a-hollerin' at me, skinners damn nigh flyin'.

Well, I hear mighty rumblin' at water-trough;
Well, it mus' be my captain an' water boss.

Well, de captain an' walker raise Cain all day;
Well, captain take a stick, run walker away.

Wasn't dat ter'ble time- so dey all did say-
When cap'n take hick'ry stick an' run walker away?

Well, I hear mighty rumblin' up in de sky,
Mus' be my Lord go passin' by.

Well, dey makin' dem wheelers on de Western plan,
Dey mos' too heavy for light-weight man.

"Skinner, skinner, you know yo' rule,
Den go to de stable and curry yo' mule.

"Well, curry yo' mule an' rub yo' hoss,
An' leave yo' trouble wid de stable boss."

Well, if I had my weight in lime,
I'd whip my captain till I went stone-blind.

Well, captain, captain, didn't you say
You wouldn't work me in rain all day?

Well, you can't do me like you do po' Shine,
You take Shine's money, but you can't take mine.

Well, de boats up de river an' dey won't come down,
Well, I believe, on my soul, dat dey's water-boun'.

Well, pay-day comes, and dey done paid off,
I got mo' money dan de walkin' boss.

Well, I got up on level, look as far's I can,
Nuthin' wus a-comin' but a big captain.

Well, I went to my dinner at twelve o'clock,
I looked at table; "fohty-fo's was out. (peas)

Get up in mornin' when ding-dong rings,
Look at table- see same damn things.

Oh, Captain Redman, he's mighty damn mean,
I think he come from New Orleans.   

The walker (and captain, if present) let the workmen complain or comment in their songs and talk, as long as the work goes on without pause. The captain may overrule the walker on some point, this rare occurrence is made into a big confrontation in two of the verses.
Material may come from any source, old songs, hymns, current events, work conditions or whatever comes to mind.

Odum and Johnson, 1926, "Negro Workaday Songs," Ch. 6, The Work Songs of the Negro, p. 253-254.
Previously printed in H. W. Odum, 1911, "Folk-Song and Folk-Poetry as Found in the Secular Songs of the Southern Negroes- Concluded." JAFL, vol. 24, no. XCIV, pp. 351-392.