The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #168763   Message #4076436
Posted By: cnd
22-Oct-20 - 09:17 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Monsieur Banjo
Subject: RE: Origins: Monsieur Banjo
Here's some interesting information on the background of the song:
This song has been well known as a children's song in Creole Louisiana since the nineteenth century. It comes from a song sung by enslaved people and has a distinctly Caribbean feeling. ...

It is not at all uncommon that songs of enslaved people turn out to be coded messages. Scratch the surface and you find deeper meaning. In a 1925 manuscript, Ruth Harrison discusses what is clearly an early version of Monsieur Banjo in which the banjo itself becomes complicit in a discussion of the politics of color and class in the city. Harrison says, “When the negro sang, and had something to say of a confidential nature, he always addressed a banjo, real or imaginary, as if it were some comfort to be certain of an unprotesting and ... sympathetic audience." This version of the song begins; "“Getee’ ce mu-le la ‘tit banjo", or "Look at that mulatto there, my Banjo" and protests that this proud banjo denies the singer to be his cousin.


His website also has some additional lyrics he sings from a sort of combined set of Pete Seeger's and the the Magnolia Sisters