The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #17760   Message #562795
Posted By: McGrath of Harlow
01-Oct-01 - 04:21 PM
Thread Name: Origins/Meaning: Follow the Drinking Gourd
Subject: RE: Help: Follow the Drinking Gourd meanings
That was great Masato - and prompt. That bit Harold Courlander said about how "the song is not couched in traditional Negro images or vernacular and that the entire effect is literary and contrived" falls away when you see the collected versions, compared to the smoothed down and reconstructed version we know.

I was looking around on the net at anti-slavery sites, and at sites relating to this song, all of which, so far as I could see, seem just to retell and elaborate that story from Parks. I wonder if anyone has ever done any proper research on the anti-slavery records and such, to find out what lies behind the story.

I mean, is there a real Peg-Leg Joe at the back of it, or was that made up retrospectively to tie in with the words, with them maybe having some other meaning to them? And why did does it seem to have taken half a century for the song to get collected in any version. I noticed in "Slave Songs" from 1867 that the authors specifically said that they hadn't managed to get by any means all the songs, which isn't surprising. But even so, a song with a story attached like that, I'd have thought it might have turned up sooner. So maybe it did, in some dusty archive somewhere.

If there was a real Peg Leg Joe it'd really be good to find out more about him.