The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #21520   Message #2469775
Posted By: Azizi
19-Oct-08 - 07:22 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: More Work for the Undertaker (F W Leigh)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: More Work for the Undertaker
I found this thread as a result of reading the Mudcat thread thread.cfm?threadid=84511#1560425 "Bang Bang Rosie".

On that thread, Sorcha had posted a link to a Google Questions & Answer discussion about "More Work For The Undertaker". I'm aware that a couple of examples from that Google thread are included either on this thread or on another Mudcat thread about this rhyme whose link is provided here. However, those examples are posted without their comments.

As a means of helping to preserve & study those examples, I'm going to post the examples in this thread along with their comments. I'll do so because I believe that not only are the comments interesting reading, but they may also be valuable to present and future folklorists and other researchers.

However, first, I feel the need to "talk" about the name "Sambo".

"Sambo" was and still is a perfectly good, non-judgmental West African word {Foulah sambo "uncle," or a similar Hausa word meaning "second son"; see Online Etymology Dictionary. "That name became "a common personal name among U.S. blacks in the slavery days (first attested 1704 in Boston)".


I'd also add that along with "Cuffee" and "Rastus" by at least the 19th century, among many White people in the USA, and the Caribbean, Europe, and elsewhere, "Sambo" was a name that capsulized White people's contempt for and derisive attitude toward Black men.

That said, although I have a considerable amount of concern about the contemporary use of these rhymes for public entertainment, I recognise the importance of preserving and studying rhymes & songs as folkloric and historical/sociological artifacts.

To that end, I believe these rhymes should be added to Mudcat's collection. I also think that the comments about those rhymes that were posted with these examples could be as important to some researchers as the lyrics themselves. For example, the comments may reflect the informants' recognition that certain words in a rhyme or the rhyme itself is racist, and the informant may reveal some concern about that fact, and desire to change the "racially offensive" referent. That is reflected in at least one of the comments about this rhyme as found in the Google Question & Answers website.

Also, with regard to folkloric research, the more I read examples of "More Work For The Undertaker", the more I think that verses of this rhyme are related to "Bang Bang Lulu". I also believe that more directly through the "Bang Bang Lulu" rhyme, versions of "More Work For The Undertaker" are related to at least two children's playground rhymes- "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat" and "Miss Lucy Had A Baby".

I'm interested in finding out if folks who are familiar with "Bang Bang Lulu" and those playground rhymes that I mentioned think that they are related to "More Work For The Undertaker" rhymes.

And with that preface, I'll post the examples and comments from that Google Q&A website in my subsequent posts to this thread.