The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #10506   Message #2657948
Posted By: GUEST,Bob Coltman
16-Jun-09 - 03:01 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req/Add: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
Subject: RE: Req/ADD: If I Had a Ribbon Bow
Peregrina above is right. The somewhat archaic "lawing" means transacting business, in which legal contracts usually figure.

In Niles' song "all the lawin'" went to Frankfort because that's where business, commerce, etc. were done. It also suggests to a country person the kind of people they noticed doing urban business and commerce: sharpsters, "fine gentlemen" and tradesmen. Men togged out and trading, and cheating where they could. Faulkner's townsmen would be a good example.

On the other hand, in the song "Jim Gunter and the Steer" as sung by Obray Ramsey is the phrase

"They lawed Jim Gunter and they brought him to trial ..."

(The crime in question was shooting a steer that Gunter falsely claimed he thought was a deer.)

In this case the lawin'clearly involves either a subpoena or an arrest warrant. And most certainly a suit—they "took him to court."

So "lawin'" can also cover court business, involving law enforcement officials. In the oldtime southern towns the courthouse was the focus of all interest, men hanging around jawing, chawing, and waiting for the latest verdict. It was the biggest thing going on, on Court Day.

In sum, lawin' refers generally to the main business of towns and cities: buying, selling, and disputing the results at law, as well as occasional shady doings.

That could look pretty sophisticated and incomprehensible from the viewpoint of a country person who either hadn't been there, or saw it only from the outside, and was in awe of all those "important folks" and their doings. I think that's the sense meant in "Ribbon Bow."