The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #48893   Message #748191
Posted By: John Minear
15-Jul-02 - 06:35 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Limber Jim
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Limber Jim: History & Lyrics
Dicho, I really appreciate the stuff from White. Along with Talley, he's a great source. I have been looking some more at the contemporary "growth" of the "Buckeye Jim" tradition, and would mention two songs that have already shown up in other threads and received some discussion there.

First of all is Howie Mitchell's beautiful song Kitty Alone. I suspect that "And a cat spinning toe..." has something to do with "Wake up, snakes, and come to taw". And he has two "way up yonder" verses:

Way up yonder above the moon...
Bluebird sleeps in a silver spoon...

Way up yonder above the sun...
Eagle flies when his work is done...

Howie Mitchell's "Kitty Alone" is haunting in the same way that Alan Lomax describes "Buckeye Jim". And it is a wonderful example of how these verses continue to float and get tweaked in new directions.

The other example that comes to mind is Jody Stecher and Kate Brislin's Old Country Stomp. In this case, we not only have the use of lyrics from "Buckeye Jim"

Way down yonder above the moon,
bluebird nest in a silver spoon.

Way down yonder above the sky,
redbird nest in the bluebird's eye.

Way down yonder in a hollow log,
redbird danced with a green bullfrog

but floater verses from a number of other places, and a tune that reminds me of the "Limber Jim"(Collins) tune in the way it sort of flatens out. It's interesting how they increase the tension with the juxtaposition of "way down yonder" with "above". One of the really nice things about the "Buckeye Jim" tradition is the juxtaposition of images. They are very vivid in my mind's eye and have been so since I first heard this song forty years ago. And I think they invite playfulness, imagination, and new additions.