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Lyr Add: If I Can (Keep Skillet Greasy)

Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Jan 09 - 06:04 PM
Joe_F 02 Jan 09 - 08:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Jan 09 - 09:18 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: If I Can (Keep Skillet Greasy)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 06:04 PM

Lyr. Add: I'M GONNA MAKE IT TO MY SHANTY EF I KIN

1
I've been workin' all the week,
Now I've stole a ham of meat.
I'm gonna make it to my shanty
Ef I kin, ef I kin;
Don't care where nor when;
I'm gonna make it to my shanty ef I kin.
2
Now I've stole me a bucket of lard,
Gonna keep my feet outa w'ite folks yards.
I'm gonna keep my skillit greasy
Ef I kin, ef I kin;
Don't care where nor when;
I'm gonna keep my skillit greasy ef I kin.
3
I walked all the way to New Orleans
Just to steal a sack of greens.
I'm gonna keep my pot a-bilin'
Ef I kin, ef I kin;
Don't care where nor when;
I'm gonna keep my pot a-bilin' ef I kin.
4
All them chickens up dat tree;
'Tain't nobody here but me.
Gonna ketch me some chickens
Ef I kin, ef I kin.
Don't care where nor when;
Gonna ketch me some chickens ef I kin.
5
All them rabbits up dat log,
An' I ain't got no rabbit dog.
Gonna ketch me some rabbits
Ef I kin, ef I kin;
Don't care where nor when;
Gonna ketch me some rabbits ef I kin.
6
I went all the way to Tennessee
Jest to ketch a bumblebee.
I'm gonna tote him in my pocket
Ef I kin, ef I kin;
Don't care where nor when;
Gonna tote him in my pocket ef I kin.

Panola County, Mississippi. Sung by a student at Courtland Public School (Black).
Arthur P. Hudson, "Ballads and Songs from Mississippi," AJFL vol. 39, no. 152, pp. 187-188, Apr.-June, 1926 (date of collection not stated).
---------------------------------------------

Fragments from Perrow, Songs and Rhymes from the South II, AJFL vol. 26, 1913

11. WITH A CHICKEN ON MY BACK
East Tennessee, mountain Whites, 1909

A
With a chicken on my back,
I'm goin' to my shack,
En' it's nobody's business but mine.
Lord! Lord!
En it's nobody's business but mine
(AJFL vol. 24, p. 357); reprinted in E. C. Perrow, vol. 26, pp. 123-173, V. Songs Connected with the Railroad.

B
Mississippi, Negroes; MS of M. F. Rubel, 1909

With them bloodhounds on my track,
And a chicken on my back,
I'se gwine to make it to my shanty, if I can.

If I can, can, can,
If I can, can, can,
I'se gwine to make it to my shanty, if I can.

With a ham-bone on my back,
And them bloodhounds on my back (track?)
I'se gwine to keep my skillet greasy, if I can.

C
Mississippi; Negroes; MS of A. B. Pitts

Chickens on my back, and bloodhounds on my track,
I've got to make it to my shanty, if I can.

Rabbit on the log, got no rabbit dog,
Shoot him with my pistol forty-four.

Uncle Dave Mason first recorded "I'll Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy" in 1924. In a note with thread 31041, Songs by Uncle Dave Macon, Macon apparently said he 'got it from an old colored man.'
Macon

These songs collected from 1909-1926 have the line 'I'm going to keep my skillet greasy.'
They may have been the precursors or contributors to Macon's song.

Keep my skillet greasy has two meanings in the South, both still heard:
Be ready to do what is necessary (to get away, take action, etc.).
Keep the stove (skillet) ready for cooking.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: If I Can (Keep Skillet Greasy)
From: Joe_F
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 08:37 PM

Here's how I remember it from Putney School, early 1950s -- astonishingly, I have not copy of it in my file:

I'm a-goin' downtown,
Gonna buy my a sack of flour,
Gonna cook it every hour,
Keep my skillet good and greasy
All the time, time, time,
Keep my skillet good and greasy
All the time.

I'm a-goin' downtown,
Gonna buy me a bottle of whisky,
Gonna give it to my Susie,
Keep her good and drunk and goosy...

Well, if you say so,
I'll never work no more,
Just lay around your shanty
All the time, time, time,...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: If I Can (Keep Skillet Greasy)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 09:18 PM

Two versions posted in the Digitrad; the Putney is close to one of them, sung by Pete Seeger.


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