The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220 Message #2890952
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
20-Apr-10 - 07:05 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
John M. writes:
And then a reference from Solomon Northup's TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, 1855, perhaps talking about events in 1853 or earlier. He mentions some fiddle tunes and "patting juba" songs, among which are "Old Hog Eye!" and "Jim Along, Josie."
Here is the passage.
One " set" off, another takes its place, he or she remaining longest on the floor receiving the most up roarious commendation, and so the dancing continues until broad daylight. It does not cease with the sound of the fiddle, but in that case they set up a music peculiar to themselves. This is called " patting," accompanied with one of those unmeaning songs, composed rather for its adaptation to a certain tune or measure, than for the purpose of expressing any distinct idea. The patting is performed by striking the hands on the knees, then striking the hands together, then striking the right shoulder with ona hand, the left with the other—all the while keeping timo with the feet, and singing, perhaps, this song.
" Harper's creek and roarin' ribber,
Thar, my clear, we'll live forebber;
Den we'll go to de Ingin nation,
All I want in dis creation,
Is pretty little wife and big plantation.
Chorus. Up dat oak and down dat ribber,
Two overseers and one little nigger"
Or, if these words are not adapted to the tune called for, it may be that " Old Hog Eye" is—a rather solemn and startling specimen of versification, not, however, to be appreciated unless heard at the South. It runneth as follows:
"Who's been here since I've been gone?
Pretty little gal wid a josey on.
Old Hog Eye,
And Hosey too!
Never see de like since I was bom,
Here come a little gal wid a josey on.
Old Hog Eye!
And Hosey too!"
Or, may be the following, perhaps, equally nonsenaical, but full of melody, nevertheless, as it flows from the negro's mouth :
"Ebo Dick and Jurdan's Jo,
Them two niggers stole my yo'
Chorus. Hop Jim along,
Walk Jim along,
Talk Jim along. &c.
Old black Dan, as black as tar,
He dam glad he was not dar.
Hop Jim along," &c
It's not *quite* "Jim along Josey" as we know it. One could say that, whether the minstrel song was based in a slave song or whether it was original in 1840, it did also have a life by this time as a folk song among Blacks. I would reason that, since the form of this does not match that of the minstrel version, that a folk version existed before and alongside the minstrel version. That is somewhat dodgy reasoning, however.
Was a version "Hog Eye" also a minstrel song? The "typical" lyrics appear in minstrelsy, I know, being floating verses. But the chorus?