The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #37834   Message #539759
Posted By: Charley Noble
01-Sep-01 - 03:25 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown
Sorcha, I didn't find as much stuff as I have on the threads so I'm dumping what I have here for all to admire:

What You Goin' Do When the Rent Comes 'Round?

This rent lament is a classic from the late 19th century minstrel song school, and is also known by the compound name of its protagonist, Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown. Music historian Sigmund Spaeth describes how the author became inspired to write this song:

Harry Von Tilzer was standing on the platform of the railway station at Miami listening to the conversation of two negroes. The woman was berating the man, and after using every possible adjective to describe his low-down shiftlessness, she worked up to a climax with the question, "What you goin' to do when de rent comes 'round?" The rest was easy.

Words, Andrew B. Sterling. Music, Harry Von Tilzer.
Publication: New York: Harry Von Tilzer Music Pub. Co., 1905.

1. Who dat a-knockin' at the door below?
Who dat a-shiv'rin' in the hail and snow?
I can hear you grumblin', Mister Rufus Brown.
Just keep on a-knockin', Babe. I won't come down.
I wants to tell you that you can't get in.
Have you been a-gamblin', Honey? Did you win?
What's that you tell me, coon? You lost your breath?
I hopes you freezes to death!

CHORUS: Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown,
What you goin' to do when the rent comes 'round?
What you goin' to say? How you goin' to pay?
You'll never have a bit of sense till Judgment Day.
You know, I know, rent means dough.
Landlord's goin' put us out in the snow.
Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown,
What you goin' to do when the rent comes 'round?

2. Keep on a-bangin' on the old front door.
In just a minute, Babe, you'll hear me snore.
If I goes to bed without a bite or sup,
You will be an icicle when I wakes up.
Where's all the money that you said you'd bring?
Melted all away just like the snow last spring.
Rufus, I loves you but this serves you right.
Guess that's sufficient. Good night!

Hope this is helpful!

Landlady's Daughter, not to be confused with Charley Noble
Click for sheet music at The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music.