The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #48893   Message #747690
Posted By: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
13-Jul-02 - 12:34 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Limber Jim
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Limber Jim: History & Lyrics
"Away Down Yonder" verses are so common that they could make up a song together, and probably did. Turtle Old Man quoted a number of them from different sources, and there are many more. Many are floatng. Our first verses come from the minstrel song books of the mid-19th century.

The jaybird was equally popular. The earliest verses perhaps are in the song "JIM ALONG JOSEY," p. 286 of "Negro Singers Own Book," ca. 1846 (Ref. in White, p. 242):

The Old Cow also showed up frequently:
'Way down yonder in de growin' corn
De old cow died wid de holler horn.
(Again from White)
'Way down yonder, in de forks o' de creek,
De old cow died in de middle o' next week.
(From VA, 1913 and later).
There are several verses about the cow's death, perhaps originating with "CHRISTY'S NIGGA SONGSTER," p. 239. (Ref. again White)

Buckeye Jim and Limber Jim seem to have originated in the minstrel songs of the 19th century, but it turn these could have their origin in the fiddle, dance and play songs of the time.

Burl Ives, the Lomaxes and others in the 1960s selected from among these verses, and gave us our popular versions, as Turtle Old Man has shown. A good book could be written about all of these verses and the evolution of the song. The old minstrel song books, however, are hard to find and consult-

Where did the tune come from? Is it Irish (They claim most folk songs, why not that one? Snort!) It may be from two tunes put together- those of the 'Way Down Yonder type, and the differently accented Weave and Spin-Can't Go chorus.

Lots of fun trying to work it out, anyway!