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Lyr Add: Poontang Little Poontang Small (Strothers

GUEST,Bob Coltman 20 Aug 09 - 09:52 AM
Amos 20 Aug 09 - 10:13 AM
Azizi 20 Aug 09 - 10:38 AM
Barry Finn 20 Aug 09 - 10:53 AM
Lighter 20 Aug 09 - 11:38 AM
Gibb Sahib 20 Aug 09 - 11:39 AM
Lighter 20 Aug 09 - 11:40 AM
wysiwyg 20 Aug 09 - 12:20 PM
bobad 20 Aug 09 - 12:32 PM
Lighter 20 Aug 09 - 12:57 PM
Lighter 20 Aug 09 - 01:01 PM
wysiwyg 20 Aug 09 - 01:12 PM
Gibb Sahib 20 Aug 09 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 20 Aug 09 - 04:18 PM
wysiwyg 20 Aug 09 - 05:51 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 20 Aug 09 - 05:56 PM
Azizi 21 Aug 09 - 12:36 AM
Azizi 21 Aug 09 - 12:40 AM
JJ 21 Aug 09 - 08:30 AM
Lighter 21 Aug 09 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 21 Aug 09 - 09:56 AM
wysiwyg 21 Aug 09 - 10:03 AM
Azizi 22 Aug 09 - 03:46 AM
Azizi 22 Aug 09 - 04:16 AM
Azizi 22 Aug 09 - 04:58 AM
Azizi 22 Aug 09 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 22 Aug 09 - 08:45 AM
Azizi 22 Aug 09 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 22 Aug 09 - 09:00 AM
Lighter 22 Aug 09 - 09:11 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 22 Aug 09 - 09:12 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 22 Aug 09 - 09:17 AM
Azizi 22 Aug 09 - 09:37 AM
Azizi 22 Aug 09 - 10:12 AM
Lighter 22 Aug 09 - 10:49 AM
John Minear 23 Aug 09 - 06:49 AM
Azizi 23 Aug 09 - 09:07 AM
Azizi 23 Aug 09 - 09:08 AM
Jeri 23 Aug 09 - 10:02 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 23 Aug 09 - 10:49 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 23 Aug 09 - 10:51 AM
bobad 23 Aug 09 - 11:08 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 23 Aug 09 - 11:26 AM
bobad 23 Aug 09 - 11:35 AM
wysiwyg 23 Aug 09 - 12:47 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 23 Aug 09 - 01:00 PM
bobad 23 Aug 09 - 02:02 PM
Azizi 23 Aug 09 - 02:49 PM
Azizi 23 Aug 09 - 02:59 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 23 Aug 09 - 03:21 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 23 Aug 09 - 03:23 PM
Gibb Sahib 23 Aug 09 - 11:59 PM
Gibb Sahib 24 Aug 09 - 10:46 AM
wysiwyg 24 Aug 09 - 10:50 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 24 Aug 09 - 11:00 AM
bobad 24 Aug 09 - 11:02 AM
Azizi 24 Aug 09 - 11:31 AM
wysiwyg 24 Aug 09 - 11:41 AM
Gibb Sahib 24 Aug 09 - 11:50 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 24 Aug 09 - 11:53 AM
wysiwyg 24 Aug 09 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,NICKNAME 25 Jul 12 - 04:29 PM
Azizi 21 May 13 - 08:22 AM
Azizi 21 May 13 - 08:26 AM
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Subject: Lyr help: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 09:52 AM

Can any of you help me understand a lyric from a field recording?

The Virginia singer Jimmie Strothers, recorded by the Library of Congress in 1936, sings an interesting bawdy song I haven't heard elsewhere. It can be found on Rounder's Alan Lomax collection, CD Rounder 1823-2, "Black Appalachia." It could to be a distant relative of "Salty Dog," but that's uncertain.

I'm posting it below. I'm hoping by listening to the words you may be able to figure out the phrases I haven't been able to get.

(Better still, if any of you have the notes to the CD, the lyrics may be printed there ? I'd be grateful if you'd copy them out.)

For your analysis, a complete cut of the song with excellent fidelity can be heard at
http://www.philxmilstein.com/probe/05.htm
(search "poontang" on this page to find the song cut)

Now, here's my best take on the lyrics, with gaps indicated.

==========
READER WARNING: X-RATED LYRICS AHEAD
==========

POONTANG LITTLE, POONTANG SMALL
As sung by Jimmie Strothers

Poontang little an' poontang small,
Poontang threaded like a rubber ball,

Cho:   Oh my babe, oh [or got, or took] my salty thing.

Hung my poontang from the wire,
[Wrist?] come down like the hottest fire,

Gonna hang my poontang from the fence,
Oh, the man come an' git it ain't got no sense,

Oh, when I'm gone an' go to my rest
[?Gone tell them some for the women out west,]

Got a humpback little that a-couldn't ( ? ),
Got a ( ? ) shake it ( ? ) you gotta see?   [or: shaggy]

Oh, b'lieve to my soul she had a lucky hand,
'Cause the little give the thing to the peacock man, [or: big cock, or shiek-a]

Poontang little and poontang small,
Poontang twisted like a rubber ball,

[Oh, cry-a, cry-a, little lark,
(    ?    )   [clark?]

Oh, one flew east and a-one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest,

Hung my poontang from the wire,
[Wrist?] come down like the hottest fire,

Put my dress above my knees,
I'm gonna give my poontang to who I please,

My man has gone to the ( ? )
Gonna ( ? ) my husband till my man come,

===

Good luck! And thanks! Bob

P.S.
For background, note also the discussion of "poontang" and the possibly not related "puddin' tane" on another DT thread:

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=104417#2138343


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Amos
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 10:13 AM

I hear "fiddle" where you write "threaded". And "flock" where you write "clark". OTherwise not much more luck!


A


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 10:38 AM

Bob, I'd love to spend some time trying to suss out the words you've noted as question marks, but I've got to leave shortly.

For what it's worth, there are several lines that you've already transcribed which are found as floating verses in contemporary African American children's playground rhymes...-

For those interested in finding that song on the page you've given, here's the hyperlink:

http://www.philxmilstein.com/probe/05.htm

That song is kinda mid way down the page, #7 of
session 240 -- ham sandwich Dec. 24 '08   

**

Here's the other hyperlink that you posted in your initial comment:

thread.cfm?threadid=104417#2138343

I didn't know that led to a post I wrote until I checked out that link.

But I wrote that comment mostly to share this hyperlink:

http://www.peterme.com/poontang/ which includes the lyrics to another song: "Oh! Mister Mitchell", as transcribed by BJ Merholz. Song recorded between 1927 and 1929... "Oh, oh, Mr. Mitchell, I'm crazy about your sweet poontang" . The writer of that article maintains that "Puddin Tane" (What's your name/Puddin Tane) comes from the word "poontang".

It's interesting. But I'm not totally convinced.

Gotta run. Hopefully, there will be some interesting comments on this thread when I return later today.

-Azizi


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Barry Finn
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 10:53 AM

"poontang". Growing up in a mixed neighborhood, this word meant a woman's virgina, to everybody.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 11:38 AM

This recording is another remonder of just how questionable a transcription can be. The sound quality in this case is excellent, but many of the words sound nearly incomprehensible.

Here's what I'm pretty sure I hear:

Poontang little and poontang small,
Poontang threaded [shredded?] like a rubber ball,

Oh, my babe,
Be my salty thing!

Oh, sir, hung my poontang from the wire,
[Rest?] come down just hot as fire.

Oh, my babe,
Oh, my salty thing!

Gonna hang my poontang a-from the fence,
Oh, the man come and get it ain't got no sense.

Oh, my babe,
Oh, my salty thing!

Oh, then I'm gon', I'm gonna do my best,
I'm gonna [sell?] them women the rest.

Got a humpback a-[littles?] and a-kidney feet,
Oh,    shackles that you sure gotta see.

Oh, my babe,
Oh, my salty thing!

I b'lieve to my soul she had a lucky hand,
'Cause she said she give a chancre to the street-car man.

Oh, my babe,
You're my salty thing!

Poontang little and a poontang small,
Poontang twisted like a rubber ball.

O, my babe,
Oh, my salty thing!

...all on fire....

Oh, crier, crier, [limb? a lock,
How many geese is in our flock?

Oh, my baby,
Oh. my salty thing!

One flew east and one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 11:39 AM

We know, Barry :)


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 11:40 AM

I hit the wrong button. Ignore that for now!


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Subject: ADD: Poontang
From: wysiwyg
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 12:20 PM

There's another Poontang on that page.

~S~

==========================

POONTANG
As sung by The Treniers
Okeh 6932, 1953; wr. Richard Adler & Jerry Ross


Poontang! Poontang!
Poon is a hug! Tang is a kiss!


I been marooned on an island in the South pacific
Missing my loving each night.
Now that I'm home I'll go right out
And get me some POONTANG!
Tired of talking to tigers and kangaroos,
Or singing a song to a goose.
Now that I'm home on the loose,
Gonna get me some POONTANG!


Now Poon is a hug. I wanted a hug so badly
I was Blowing my tropical top.
A Tang is a kiss, I wanted a kiss so badly
Wanted Poontang never to stop.

I don't want to eat And I don't want to sleep;
I've got a yen that I'm trying to please.
Till I get weak in the knees,
Gonna get me that Poontang.


Poontang! Poontang! Poontang!
Poontang! Poontang! Poontang!

A-huggin' and a-kissin', that's Poontang!
A-huggin' and a-kissin', that's Poontang!
A-huggin' and a-kissin', that's Poontang!
A-huggin' and a-kissin', that's Poontang!
A-huggin' and a-kissin', that's Poontang! Poontang! Hey-yah!

(instrumental break)


A Poon is a hug. I wanted a hug so badly
I was blowin' my tropical top.
A Tang is a kiss, I wanted a kiss so badly
Want-a-Poontang never to stop.


I don't want to eat and I don't want to sleep;
I've got a yen that I'm dying to please
Till I get weak in the knees,
Gonna get me that Poontang.

Pooontang! Pooontang! Pooontang!
Gonna get me some, gonna get me some-- Pooontang!


SOURCE; http://www.philxmilstein.com/probe/05.htm


SH
@bawdy


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: bobad
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 12:32 PM

This recording http://philxmilstein.com/probe/tracks/JimmieStrothers-PoontangLittlePoontangSmall.mp3 sounds a bit clearer to my ears, see what you can do with it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 12:57 PM

Best I can do. (the "doop!" near the end sounds like euphemistic sound instead than a word):

Poontang little an' poontang small,
Poontang shredded [threaded?] like a rubber ball.

Oh, my babe,
Took my salty thing!

Oh, sir, hung my poontang from the wire,
Rush [?] come down jus' hot as fire.

Oh, my babe,
Oh, my salty thing!

Gonna hang my poontang a-from the fence,
Oh, the man come and git it ain't got no sense.

Oh, my babe,
Oh, my salty thing!

Oh, then I'm gon', I'm gonna do my best,
I'm gonna tell them some for the [?] women to rest.

It's oh, my babe,
Oh, my salty thing!

Got a hump back, the littles, and the kidney feet,
Oh, the big-booty shackles an' the sure-gotta-see [?].

Oh, my babe,
Took my salty thing!

Oh, I b'lieve t'my soul she had a lucky hand,
'Cause she set to give the chancre to the street-car man.

Oh, my babe,
You're my salty thing!

Poontang little and a poontang small,
Poontang twist just like a rubber ball.

O, my babe,
You're my salty thing!

[Plays line of melody]
Well, is all on fire.

Oh, my babe,
Oh, my salty thing!

Oh, crier, crier, [libb or lark? ol' Ark?]
How many geese is in our flock?

Oh, my baby,
Took my salty thing!

Oh, one flew east and-a one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest.

Oh, my babe,
Took my salty thing!

Hung my poontang from the wire,
Rush [?] come down jes' as hot as fire.

Oh, my baby,
Be my salty thing!

My dress come up 'bove my knees,
Gon' give my poontang who I please.

Oh, my babe,
Took my salty thing!

Oh, poon I want, tang I crave,
Tang gonna carry to my lovin' grave.

Oh, my baby,
Do [?] my salty thing!

My man has gone to [Tell-me-once?]
I'm gonna (doop!) my husband till my man comes.

Oh, my babe,
Took my salty thing!


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 01:01 PM

Shoulda mentioned that the tune is pretty much "Railroad Bill" or "Mr. McKinley."


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: wysiwyg
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 01:12 PM

From http://philxmilstein.com/probe/tracks/JimmieStrothers-PoontangLittlePoontangSmall.mp3. (I slowed it down.)


POONTANG LITTLE, POONTANG SMALL
As sung by Jimmie Strothers

Poontang little an' poontang small,
Poontang shredded like a rubber ball,

Cho:   Oh my babe, oh my salty thing.

Hung my poontang from the wire,
Presents come down till the hottest fire,

Gonna hang my poontang from the fence,
Oh, the man come an' git it ain't got no sense,

Oh, until I'm gone I'm gonna do my best
I'm gonna --- that some for the women out west

Got a humpback little dirty [Christian?] [piece? key?]
--- she stagger --- she gotta see

Oh, I b'lieve my --- she had a lucky hand,
'Cause she said to give this thing to the sweet-cock man,

Poontang little and a-poontang small,
Poontang twisted like a rubber ball,

[mumbled words]
[chorus]

[Oh, cry-a, cry-a, little more lark,
[I may leave [since an hour 'fore dark?]

Oh, one flew east and a-one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest,

Hung my poontang from the wire,
... come down till the hottest fire,

.... my dress up 'bove my knees,
I'm gonna give my poontang to who I please,

Oh poon I want, tang I crave
How I'm gonna carry it to my lovin' grave

My man has gone for the ---- once [or ones],
I'm gonna (guitar plunk) my husband till my man comes,


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 01:58 PM

Poontang little an' poontang small,
Poontang stretch it like a rubber ball.


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Subject: ADD: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 04:18 PM

Thanks, all, for the heroic efforts, and for supplying a verse I inadvertently dropped. You've improved mightily on my original guesses.

Let me try out the following revision on you as a strawman. It includes much of what you suggested. For brevity I've printed out the chorus only once, though it varies at least as indicated. I grant my suggested 5th verse is very shaky, as are some of the later lines. Have at it all you like.

POONTANG LITTLE, POONTANG SMALL
(As sung by Jimmie Strothers)

Poontang little an' poontang small,
Poontang stretches like a rubber ball,

Cho:   Oh my babe, took [got, oh,] my salty thing.

Hung my poontang from the wire,
Rest [rush?] come down like the hottest fire,

Gonna hang my poontang from the fence,
Oh, the man come an' git it ain't got no sense,

Oh, when I'm gone an' go to my rest
[?Gone tell / sell them some for the women out west,]
......... [could be something like "give the women my best," but doesn't sound like it]

Got a humpback little [an' a fat coozie].
[Oh, the big beater shaggy like a chimpanzee]

Oh, b'lieve to my soul she had a lucky hand,
'Cause the little give the chancre to the sweet-cock man,

Poontang little and poontang small,
Poontang twisted like a rubber ball,

        Spoken:   ?it's all on fire.

[Oh, cry-a, cry-a, little mo' lark,]
[Been headin' east since an hour 'fo dark,]

Oh, one flew east and a-one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest,

Hung my poontang from the wire,
Rest [rush] come down like the hottest fire,

Put my dress above my knees,
I'm gonna give my poontang to who I please,

Oh poon I want, tang I crave,
Tang gonna carr' me to my lovin' grave,

My man has gone to the "tell-me-one,"
Gonna dupe my husband till my man come,


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: wysiwyg
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 05:51 PM

Nix on chimps. Think about it. (PM if not sure what I mean.)

The other issue with this song is that to me it is clearly alternating in the original from the woman's view to the man's. Not necessarily verse for verse, but some. It sounds to me like a man singing what a girl on the corner might call to passers-by, but then he goes and sings how he feels about it too. Solve that issue and one can make singable words-- who is portraying whom, in other words.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 05:56 PM

See what you mean. Yeah, chimp was a bad guess in a wild moment ...

Definitely the point of view moves between the genders. Thus though the song gives the impression poontang is sometimes male, it's mostly female after all.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 12:36 AM

I've listened to this song over and over again. And I agree with some of the unclear lyrics given above, don't agree with some of those lyrics, and can't figure out others.

Here's what I think about some of these lines:

I agree with the view that he's singing "Poontang stretches like a rubber ball". I'm not sure if he says "twisted" like a rubber ball later in the song. I think he repeats the word "stretches".

**

I think the chorus is "Oh my babe, oh my salty thing."

**

Instead of "hung my poontang from the wire/Rest [rush?] come down like the hottest fire", I think I hear "hung my poontang from the wire/where it come down like the hottest fire.

**
This is minor, but instead of "Gonna hang my poontang from the fence/
Oh, the man come an' git it ain't got no sense", I think he's singing "Ooh, the man come an' get it ain't got no sense".

("Ooh" rhyming with "to" and not "oh" rhyming with "low")

**

Instead of "I'm gonna tell them some for the [?] women to rest.", I think he's singing "I'm gon' do it once, gonna do my best". I'm not sure if this is correct. And I'm not sure about the rest of that verse.

**

Instead of "Oh, cry-a, cry-a, little mo' lark,]/
[Been headin' east since an hour 'fo dark,]", I think he's reciting a rhyming riddle that he may have made up or maybe it's traditional, I think he's singing "cry o' cry o' lemo lark", how many gueese are in a flock." I think the first part of this verse may be alliterative words that have no real meaning. And I think the "how many gueese are in a flock" carries the bragging message that he is far from monogomous.

**

I think the word "I gotta hump back" is correct, but I can't figure out what else he's singing, but I'm wondering if he's listing some gris gris (or whatever hoodoo items are called that are believed to make a person's sexuality more potent.   

**

Though it's kinda off-topic, here's some information about that "hump back" line that may be of interest to folks reading this thread:

I believe that "I got a hump in my back" is a line from a song found in Step It Down Bessie Jones/Bess Lomax Hawes' children's book of African American songs from the Georgia Sea Isle. If I recall correctly, that song and accompanying movement was considered to be risque.

While I couldn't find that particular song, I did find this very brief sound clip from Jesse Fuller from a song entitled "Hump In My Back". Here's one line: "ya got a hump in your back/you know you been ballin the jack".

And I found this YouTube listing for a hip-hop song from DJ Smurf called "Put A Hump In Your Back":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xnqt8RFCfPk

Also, in the 1990s or so, the rap group Digital Underground had a hit record called "The Humpty Dance".

Here's a relatively 'clean' definition for "humping" from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=humping :

"humping - the act of rubbing on or against another person's body."

-snip-

In case it needs to be clarified, this definition means rubbing sexually.

**

Back to the transcription of "Poontang Little, Poontang Small", I was interested in reading the transcription of "wear (put) my dress above my knees, because that is a rather widely known floating line in a children's playground rhyme, and a variant of that rhyme was immortalized because it was sung by gay men during the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

However, I've listened to that portion over and over again and I don't think that's what the singing is singing. (Could it be that that people think they are hearing that "wear our dress above our knees" because they are familiar with it, and because the singer is singing something similar to it?

Instead of that line, I think he's singing something like "Watch me sitt up on my knees, I'm gonna give my poontang to whoever I please".

**

That's as far as I got before my energy and concentration ran out. I admit I got sidetracked and started looking up examples of that "wear our dresses up above my knees" children's rhyme & adult variants. I intend to start a thread about that rhyme tomorrow.

**

Of course, I'm not going to swear on a stack of Bibles that any of this is absolutely correct.

I wish that all of the song was as clear as the lines "One flew, east, one flew west/ one flew over the cuckoo's nest". But, still, it's good to hear this song. It has a catchy tune, though it's a little too "salty" for my taste-in a manner of speaking. ;O)

Thanks for sharing this song with us, Bob!


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 12:40 AM

Spelling correction: "how many geese are in a flock?"


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: JJ
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 08:30 AM

WYSIWIG -- you mean Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, the guys who wrote the musicals THE PAJAMA GAME and DAMN YANKEES, also wrote this poontang song?

One learns something new every day!


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 09:19 AM

Maybe "lame ol' lark"? Weird, but maybe not too weird.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 09:56 AM

Hi Azizi,

Thanks! Your readings, whether tentative or not, help a lot. (Oops, now I'm rhyming too.) :-)

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: wysiwyg
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 10:03 AM

Is the lark one of the birds that feigns lameness to pull predators away from her young?

JJ, that would be the OTHER song. I posted it here because most days, Joe Offer likes songs grouped instead of in separate threads. A searcher later will find all the Poontang they want in the one thread. (Musically of course.)

Great stuff, Azizi.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 03:46 AM

I remain unsure if the line " oh cry oh cry oh lemon lark" is the correct transcription for that line in "Pootang Little, Poontang Small". I wrote that maybe that line was a nonsense alliteration but that I thought the "how many geese are in your flock?" struck me as male braggadocio". I return to these lines because for some reason I woke up in the early morning dark with the name "Meadowlark Lemon" in my head. "Meadowlark Lemon" is a former player with the African American exhibition basketball tean, the Harlem Globetrotters. See this information:

"MEADOWLARK LEMON

"As the "Clown Prince" of the Harlem Globetrotters for 24 seasons, Meadowlark Lemon played in more than 7,500 consecutive games for the red, white, and blue. He played before popes, kings, queens and presidents in more than 94 countries around the world and in more than 1,500 North American cities.

In April 1952, the Globetrotters received a letter from Lemon requesting a tryout. He was given a look, and after serving two years in the Army, was signed to a contract. Lemon played his first season with one of the Globetrotter developmental teams, the Kansas City Stars. He played his first season full season with the Globetrotters in 1954.

Lemon was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, three years after receiving the John W. Bunn Award, named in honor of the Hall of Fame's first executive director, recognizing outstanding lifetime contributions to basketball.

A native of Wilmington, N.C., Lemon received his Globetrotters "Legends" Ring and had his jersey (#36) retired as part of a 75th Anniversary black tie charity fund-raiser on Jan. 5, 2001, at Chicago's Fairmont Hotel. He joined Marques Haynes, Reece "Goose" Tatum and Wilt Chamberlain as the only four players in the history of the Harlem Globetrotters to have their jersey retired. Lemon now resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he serves as an ordained minister".

http://harlemglobetrotters.com.ismmedia.com/ISM3/std-content/repos/Top/Team/Legends/Meadowlark%20Lemon.html

-snip-

Note that "Meadowlark" appears to be Mr. Lemon's real name.

In the context of trying to decipher that (possible) line in the text of the "Pootang Little, Poontang Small" song, note that the article about Meadowlark Lemon mentions the name of another Harlem Globetrotter player Reece "Goose"* Tatum. Furthermore, at least one other Harlem Globetrotter had a similar nickname, Hubert "Geese" Ausbie". Biographical information on these two men and other Harlem Globetrotters "Legends" is found by clicking on there names listed on http://harlemglobetrotters.com.ismmedia.com/ISM3/std-content/repos/Top/Team/Legends/Legends%20Ring.html.


**

It seems to me that familiarity with the cultures from which old songs come would be helpful in transcription fforts, particularly when for various reasons, the lyrics in those songs are unclear to listeners. In addition knowlege about those cultures is important and helpful in decoding the meanings of song lyrics, whether the lyrics are clearly articulated or not.

Although I'm African American, I don't know much about the African American culture which produced this "Poontage Little, Poontang Small" song -partly because this was before my time :o), but also because that culture is usually not formally taught in public schcools and I haven't focused on it informally.

But I know that choosing personal names for children and conferring nicknames are part of people's cultural traditions. And I don't think that it's a coincidence that two Harlem Globetrotter Legends were given the nickname "Goose" and "Geese". I think those particular nicknames meant something postitive in African American culture. I think that the meaning was positive as it seems unlikely to me that either of them would have kept that nickname if the meaning was negative. I used past tense in that sentence because I don't think "goose" means anything now in African American culture/s other than its meaning in Anglo-American culture (as in the sentence "You silly goose".)

Also-if indeed "Meadowlark" is Mr. Lemon's real name, as it appears to be since it's not written as a nickname in his bio article- it seems to me that there must have been some cultural meaning in the name "Meadowlark"-other than a reference to a type of bird. Was there, for instance, any (other?) songs of Poontang Little, Poontang Small" which mentions a meadow lark and geese? And if so, in what context/s were these names used?

Unfortunately, we may never know.


* I used italics in this post for emphasis.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 04:16 AM

I meant to write "Were there, for instance, any (other?) songs of that era or before other than "Poontang Little, Poontang Small" which mention larks and/or geese?


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 04:58 AM

Mention has been made in this discussion that gender referenced in the song "Poontang Little, Poontang Small" shifts from a woman to a man. An article that was previously mentioned in this discussion addresses that question:

"The Genderless Tangent
As stated previously, the song [Oh! Mister Mitchell] uses "poontang" to talk about something a man has. Other than "gonads," I couldn't think of any other gender neutral term for sex organs...In an email discussion with Laura Kehoe, she reminded me of "pud," which is slang for penis, and "pudendum" which is a gender neutral term for genital organs, and whose Latin meaning was "to be ashamed." "


http://www.peterme.com/poontang/

For the purpose of helping to ensure the preservation of those lyrics, I'm reposting the lyrics to that song on this thread to help ensure their preservation. Note that the peterme.com website [what a name!] has a MP3 sound clip of a woman singing that song.

Oh! Mister Mitchell

[transcribed by BJ Merholz. Song recorded between 1927 and 1929. Found on Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 5 (1927-1929)]

Oh, oh, Mr. Mitchell, I'm crazy about your sweet poontang.
Oh, oh, Mr. Mitchell, I'll tell the world that it's a wang.

I like your (gooey parfait - ?) and your apple pie,
But when I get your poontang you will hear me cry:

Oh, oh, Mr. Mitchell, I'm crazy about your sweet poontang

Mr. Mitchell owned a sweet confectionery stand
Way down south in Loosiana.
Mr. Mitchell always had his pies and cake on hand
Served in a pleasing manner.

Miss Lindy Lou she tasted his brand new confection
Mr Mitchell called his sweet poontang.

And when Miss Lindy Lou with it made good connection This is what she yelled before the gang.

Oh, oh, Mr. Mitchell, I'm crazy about your sweet poontang.
Oh, oh, Mr. Mitchell, it's got me going with a bang

Your cherry pie is juicy, so is your jelly roll
But when you give me poontang I just lose control

Oh, oh, Mr. Mitchell, I'm crazy about your sweet poontang
Give me lots of poontang

Please don't make me plead
Can't you see you've really got just what I need?

Oh, oh, Mr. Michell, I'm wild about your sweet poontang!

-snip-

The writer of that particular article notes that "poontang" in this song "supposedly refer[s] to a dessert Mister Mitchell has baked" but is a "double entendre at play". And that same writer indicated noted that "My dad is tracking down a lead with a chef in a Southern restaurant, about a dessert called "pudding tang." The idea being it could have been contracted as "pu'n tang."

-snip-

Apparently the writer's father was unsuccessful in finding information about such a recipe. The writer notes that "...if "pudding tang" were some kind of traditional Southern dessert, I find it odd you can't find any recipes for it online."

-snip-

Personally, I don't think that a recipe for "puddin tang" would be found in the culinary section of any book.

,


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 07:55 AM

I need to move back from the implied assumption in my 22 Aug 09 - 03:46 AM statement that only an African American could be knowledgable about or have a better understanding of certain aspects of African American culture. I don't think this is true, and particularly don't think it's true in reference to Blues music (or Jazz music).

I specifically focused on Blues and Jazz-both of which are musical genres that originated from African Americans and were influenced by African Americans more than people of any other race. However, for a host of reasons, many African Americans have turned their backs on these two musical genres and a number of non-Black musicologists and other non-White researchers have studied those genres.

Besides that point, it seems to me that non-Black people might be able to correctly suss out the meaning of words in old Blues songs like "Poontang Little, Poontang Small" (and not just figure out the unclear words that a vocalist is singing) because of the nature of African American music & other indices of African American culture.

African American culture is largely open to many influences and adaptive of those influences. If we (African Americans) like it, we'll take it, and may use it "as is" or may re-work it till it fits our aesthetics even better than it originally did.

**

More information on "Meadowlark Lemon":

[I admit that this is a tangent, but it came about because both Amos and I think the last word of one of the verses to "Poontang Little, Poontang Small" is "flock". My rough transcription of that verse is:

"cry o' cry o' lemo lark", how many geese are in a flock."

-snip-

That "lemo lark" caused me to think of the former Harlem Globetrotter "Meadowlark Lemon".

I've reviewed a number of online websites on former basketball player, now ordained minister Meadowlark Lemon. It's clear from those sites that "Meadowlark" is Mr. (Reverend) Lemon's "real" name. Given that "Meadowlark" is such a unique personal name, it's interesting that none of these websites include any information about why he was given that name. Perhaps it has something to do with the actual meadowlark bird, for instance, I wouldn't be at all surprised if his name was given in commemoration of the meadowlark's singing:

"An abundant and familiar bird of open country across the western two-thirds of the continent, the Western Meadowlark is beloved for its melodic song. It is frequently seen singing atop fenceposts along roadsides in native grassland and agricultural areas."

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/western_meadowlark/id

-snip-

Maybe the meadowlark's singing used to mean good luck in Southern African American culture* but that is just an (uneducated) guess.

* Meadowlark Lemon was borh on April 25, 1932. His place of birth is given on one site as Wilmington, North Carolina and as Lexington, South Carolina on another site.

**

By the way, I doubt whether the Broadway song "Meadowlark" has anything to do with why Meadowlark Lemon was given his name. But for the record, here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia article about that song:

"Meadowlark is a song from the [1976] musical The Baker's Wife, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. It has been performed by several famous Broadway singers such as Patti LuPone, Betty Buckley, Liz Callaway, Alice Ripley, and Sarah Brightman.

In the musical, it is sung by the character Geneviève, trying to decide whether she should stay with her husband or run off with a younger man. She likens her situation to a story about a meadowlark who lived with a king who adored her. One day, the sun god approached the meadowlark and urged her to come with him. The meadowlark refused and perished. At the end of the song, Geneviève decides to leave with the younger man".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meadowlark_(song)


-snip-

Note that in this story (a fable from an unnamed country?) the meadowlark is female. For that and other reasons, I repeat that I'm not suggesting that this uncredited fable is the source of former basketball player, now minister Meadowlark Lemon's name.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 08:45 AM

Hi Azizi,

Great work. If that line is "Oh cry, oh cry, oh meadowlark," that makes a lot of sense, and helps put the second line in perspective. Wouldn't a meadowlark keeping geese have a connotation, sexual or otherwise, of a little bird either gaining big power, or reaching way too high, depending on your viewpoint?

By the way I remember seeing Meadowlark Lemon play with the Globetrotters on TV in the 1950s. I was also lucky enough to catch a TV glimpse of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson dancing before his retirement. I treasure those memories. Both were astonishing?men of grace, character and the kind of performance that just dazzles you to watch. Meadowlark, if I recall correctly (always an issue at my age), was said to be so deft nobody could lay a hand on him while he had the ball.

Larks and geese both occur quite frequently in Anglo-American folksong. Om African-American folksong and folklore geese are common, but offhand I don't recall any occurrence of larks there. The lark does occur in "Leatherwing Bat," also known as ""Hi, Said the Redbird" and "The Bird Song," which was sung by both races but probably white in origin. That's the only instance I can think of at the moment. There may be others, but not many, I think.

Dorothy Scarborough's "On the Trail of Negro Folk Songs" (1925) usefully has a whole chapter on songs about animals. Fox, dog, terrapin, toad, frog, horse, pony, mule, goat, snake, cat, alligator, bee, raccoon, possum, rabbit and so on are regularly sung about. Among birds, the jaybird and rooster / hen are most frequent, I think, also hawk, buzzard, woodpecker, mockingbird, redbird (cardinal) and certainly goose. Though Scarborough mentions a lark in the text, it doesn't seem to occur in any of the songs.

By the way, listening to "Mr. Mitchell," the "gooey parfait" line sounds quite clearly to me like:

I like your peach cobbler and your apple pie ...

Which makes sense in the context of his being a confectionery man.

Thanks for all your excellent work on this. (And extra thanks for bringing yourself to deal with it, because I know the material is not to your taste.)

I think we're getting there.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 08:50 AM

Also somewhat off-topic...okay really off-topic:

I think the nickname "Goose" or "Geese" (when it is given to African Americans) doesn't refer to the bird (are geese birds?) but is a clip of the word "gooseberry".

The gooseberry plant is "a straggling bush growing to 1-3 meters (3-10 feet) tall...[The] berries' colour is usually green, but there are red variants and occasionally deep purple berries occur."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gooseberry

-snip-

If indeed the name "goose" or "geese" derives from the gooseberry plant I think it's more likely because of that plant's height. But it also may have been because of the "deep purple berries", meaning it would have been an indirect, and not necessarily negative comment about the person's darker than average [among African Americans] dark skin color.

I fully admit that this guess would have more substance if I knew whether the nickname "Goose" or "Geese" was only given to African American males or African American females for that matter who were either tall or who had dark skin. I don't think that these nicknames are still bestowed on any African Americans. I've known some tall Black people and I've known some darker skinned Black people. But none of them were called "Goose" or "Geese". However, this custom of giving somewhat humorous nicknames based on a person's physical appearance is still a part of contemporary African American culture.

**

In which I bring this back to the topic of this discussion:

As to the possible transcription of a line in "Poontang Little, Poontang Small" -"how many geese are in your flock?" Here's an interesting but brief article:

"Why do geese fly in a V? Because it would be too hard to fly in an S! Just kidding. Scientists have determined that the V-shaped formation that geese use when migrating serves two important purposes:

First, it conserves their energy. Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of him, resulting in a reduction of wind resistance. The birds take turns being in the front, falling back when they get tired. In this way, the geese can fly for a long time before they must stop for rest.

The second benefit to the V formation is that it is easy to keep track of every bird in the group. Fighter pilots often use this formation for the same reason."

http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/geese.html


-snip-

I'm focusing on the "follow the leader" aspect of migratory geese. I'm also focusing on the second to the last sentence of that article quoted above.

I think that if my transcription is correct, when the "Poontang Little, Poontang Small" vocalist asks "How many geese are in your flock?", he is really bragging "I've have more than you do"-meaning I have more people following after me. And that means "I have more women* following after me because they want to be my lovers".

*I'm assuming that the singing is heterosexual and therefore the male singer is bragging that he has more women following after him. Yet in that song the male singer sometimes sings from a woman's perspective so the woman could be saying the same thing.

And obviously, those lyrics could be sung from perspectives other than heterosexuals.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 09:00 AM

A text search of Thomas W. Talley's "Negro Folk Rhymes" does yield one, and only one lark reference, but it's an interesting one, either a song or a spoken rhyme. He fancifully calls it "Antebellum Courtship Inquiry," but it might, to the singer(s), have been known as something like "Flyin' Lark, Settin' Dove":

    (He) Is you a flyin' lark or a settin' dove?
    (She) I'se a flyin' lark, my honey Love.
    (He) Is you a bird o' one fedder, or a bird o' two?
    (She) I'se a bird o' one fedder, w'en it comes to you.
    (He) Den, Mam:
            I has desire, an' quick temptation,
            To jine my fence to y[o]' plantation.

Here the lark is the woman, apparently more exciting and adventurous than the domestic dove, but since she's a bird of one feather, she'll be faithful all the same, so he elects to choose her.

In the "Poontang Little" context it's not clear who the lark is, the man or the woman, but I think it may be the man. (Geese are female, of course, vs. ganders, but the word is also used for both sexes.) It might even be an implied "other man," I'm not sure.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 09:11 AM

Bob,

No way is Strothers singing "meadowlark." The word or phrase starts clearly with an L, and there's no D in the middle; it sounds like there's a P or a B.

>>Wouldn't a meadowlark keeping geese have a connotation, sexual or otherwise, of a little bird either gaining big power, or reaching way too high, depending on your viewpoint?<<

Maybe, but there's not much reason to think that's what the stanza's about. "How many geese is in a flock?" sounds like a catch-question: there's no specific numerical answer (unless "more than two" counts as numerical).

Not every verse has to have a sexual reference.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 09:12 AM

The name or epithet "goose" is of course also a famous putdown. A goose is a fool, goofy, silly, etc. Webster says "simpleton, dolt."

It's sometimes given to white men, for example the oldtime baseball player "Goose" Goslin. Also in baseball, a goose egg is a score of zero. Seems as if geese don't come off very well in the human context! Goose step, etc.

Going well back into English tradition, an anxious woman may be called a "silly goose," though I think that usage is fading out.

Certainly in African-American folksong the goose is often just a goose ("Hunting for the Grey Goose," "Aunt Rhody / The old grey goose Is dead,", etc.). But the "gooseberry" naming is interesting. The gooseberry is both prickly and sour tasting; I leave to the reader any conclusions about that ...

And there's the verb, too....! Gives me goosebumps. Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 09:17 AM

Hi Lighter,

OK. Getting playful perhaps.

"Oh cry, oh cry, oh little lark," as I earlier seemed to hear it, would work fine.

In haste,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 09:37 AM

Hi, Bob.

I posted my comment about geese before singing your post. The more I think about it, I don't believe that the meadowlark line is just alliterative nonsense. I think that usually the lines in songs and rhymes mean something. They're not just placed willy nilly out of the blue in those compositions. (I rather like the coded meanings in that sentence. I promise it wasn't purposeful).

I'm wondering what I heard as "lemo lark" was really "meadow" lark" but the vocalist garbled the first part of the word "meadow".

Also I'm starting to believe that the song that the meadowlark was singing was the bragging line that immediately follows "How many geese are in your flock".

I think this line can be interpreted to mean "I've got more birds [admirers; "people with their nose opened" meaning people who are really in to me-or who want to get into me (if you'll pardon that expression...Oh nevermind. After all, this is a bawdy song).

**

Bob, it's interesting that you mentioned Dorothy Scarborough's "On the Trail of Negro Folk Songs" because I looked through my copy of that book and my cooy of Thomas W. Talley's "On the Trail Of Negro Folksongs" to see if I could find any songs/rhymes that have that "wear her dress up above her knees" line. I couldn't find any in either book. It didn't occur for me to look for any examples that feature "larks". I know there are at least two songs about "geese"-the one which includes the line "John, John, the gray goose is gone/the fox is on the prowl-o" and the older one about the invincible goose, which is a symbol of Black resiliency.

As to my posting on this thread, I've missed these types of discussions on Mudcat. Though bawdy songs and rhymes aren't my cup of tea, this one isn't that racy (no pun intended). LOL!

Besides, I like learning about the etymology of specific words, I like the cultural puzzle pieces nature of the search for meaning in old songs, and I like learning about and sharing information about "my" culture and learning about other people's culture. Even if the lines of that song that I transcribed turn out to incorrect, that song provided me with the opportunity to learn more about the subjects that range from naming & nicknaming practices to the migratory flights of birds.

And-as an extra bonus-the tune of the song, plus some of the lines that I could understand, were catchy.

As I mentioned earlier, I intend to start a thread about the "wear our hair in curls/wear dresses above our knees line" that you and others think are in that "Poontang Little, Poontang Small" song-though I didn't hear those words.

But I'm going to delay that thread until tomorrow since life apart from the Internet is calling.

I wish that someone could find an old transcription of the Poontang Little, Poontang Small". But even if one should pop up, that doesn't mean that it's any more accurate than the transcription of the song that we are doing. BTW, that title itself is interesting. I suppose in this instance, smaller is better than larger. The Blues song "It's Tight Like That" comes to mind...but I'll not say anything more about that.. that song or the subject of that Poontang Little/Small title.

I'll end this post by saying that I really like this transcription/decoding type of discussion thread about Blues songs.
Unfortunately, lately there haven't been many of this type of thread on Mudcat.


Best wishes,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 10:12 AM

Ah, blogging mistakes...Some are more interesting than othes.

Bob, instead of singing your post, I meant seeing your post.

Also, the nickname "Goose" for a White man might also be because he is tall.

And given the example of the faithful lark that you gave from Tally's collection, I'm wondering if the name "Meadowlark" might have been given to signify [in the standard meaning of that word]that this child was a tribute to the mother's faithfulness (or the father's, or to signify that the child would be faithful to those he loved].

If I had an address for Meadowlark Lemon I'd ask him if he's share what-if anything-he was told about why he was given that name. If he learns about this discussion, I hope he knows that I mean him absolutely no disrespect.

And with that, I'm outta here for a while at least.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 10:49 AM

Maybe we've gotten to the bottom of it:

From Louisiana Writers' Project, "Mother Wit: Ex-Slave Narratives," 1990, p. 160:

"Wire, brier, limber, lock,
How many geese are in a flock?"

I can find 70,000 refs. to this nursery rhyme on the Web! (How come we've never heard it?) The earliest ex. I can find was in print in England in 1843, as a counting-out rhyme. Usually it seems to go with the "One flew east...cuckoo's nest" lines.

"Limber, lock," seems to be unexplained, but that's what I hear Strother singing - unless it's "lark," which still doesn't explain "limber." (And JS does sing "Crier/ cry-a," not "Wire, brier," as in most other versions.

The noun "limber" seems to be connected with "limb," so that line at least may be centuries old - unless it began as "limb or lark." I dunno.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: John Minear
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 06:49 AM

The meaning of "limber" had some good discussion in the "Limber Jim" thread: thread.cfm?threadid=48893 .


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 09:07 AM

Lighter, thanks for posting that information about "Wire, brier, limber, lock". I had no knowledge of that line until reading your post and then reading other examples online. I think that line may not have survived in contemporary African American children's playground rhymes because the words "brier" and "limber" aren't familiar to most AA children (or American children of other races/ethnicities, for that matter).

**

John Minear, thanks for your great work on the song "Limber Jim". I just read that interesting & informative thread.

For what it's worth, I quoted several definitions of "limber" in this Mudcat thread thread.cfm?threadid=82051#1853483 "Dance To The Music" and related those definitions to the Afro-Caribbean dance the "Limbo". Here is one of those definitions:

limber:

Verb
S: (v) limber, limber up (attach the limber) "limber a cannon"
S: (v) limber (cause to become limber) "The violist limbered her wrists before the concert"

Adjective
S: (adj) limber, supple ((used of e.g. personality traits) readily adaptable) "a supple mind"; "a limber imagination"
S: (adj) limber ((used of artifacts) easily bent)
S: (adj) limber, supple ((used of persons' bodies) capable of moving or bending freely)

http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=limber

**

In that "Dance To The Music" thread I shared my view that the Limbo dance was more than just a test of how agile (limbo) a person was. In addition to that, I think the movement of that dance originally was meant to symbolize moving from one state of being (existence) to another. One clue regarding this is that the Limbo was traditionally performed during the Caribbean day funeral wakes called "Dinkies".


I'm not suggesting that the word "limber" as used in that old (I believe British origin) line "wire, brier, limber lock" has anything to do with the Limbo dance.

However, maybe that line means that people should strive to be in good physical condition. They should not only be alert not to get into any wire (something that ties them up) or brier {a tangled mass of prickly plants), but if they get so entangled, they should be agile (limber) enough to get out of (escape from) whatever is locking them up or impeding their freedom of movement.

I'm not implying that this "wire, brier, limber lock" line was ever used by enslaved African Americans as a coded signal that a person or several people were planning to escape from slavery. However, I suppose such a use was possible-sometimes. I just doubt that that was that line's meaning all of the time (the same way that I doubt that the African American spiritual "Steal Away" was always used as a coded song).

But that's moving to a whole nuther subject so I'll end my post before I get carried away.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 09:08 AM

Correction:

In that "Dance To The Music" thread I shared my view that the Limbo dance was more than just a test of how agile (limber) a person was.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Jeri
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 10:02 AM

You've heard the rhyme. I pasted/posted/poasted some versions in the Counting Songs thread.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 10:49 AM

Here's my current reading. This is after crackle removal/noise reduction/eq/time stretching. There are still some bits not clear:


POONTANG LITTLE, POONTANG SMALL

1.Poontang little an' poontang small,
Poontang stretches like a rubber ball

Cho:   Oh my babe, OH my salty thing.

2.OH MA, Hung my poontang from the wire,
RUSH come down TO the hottest fire.

3.Gonna hang my poontang UPON the fence,
Oh, the man come an' git it ain't got no sense,

4.Oh, when/WHERE I'M GOIN', I'M GONNA DO MY BEST
I'M Gone tell A LITTLE SOMETHING for the women out west

5.Got a humpback a-little THAT COULDN'T NEAR BEAT
[Oh, the big beater shaggy like a chimpanzee]

6.Oh, I b'lieve to my soul she had a lucky HEN
'Cause the LADY GAVE A THING to the sweet-cock man,

7.Poontang little and a-poontang small,
Poontang twisted like a rubber ball,

       Spoken:   ?it's all on fire.

8.O WIRE, BRIER, LIMBER, lark (pron [waio,braio,limo])
HOW MANY GEESE IS IN A/OUR FLOCK

9.Oh, one flew east and a-one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest,

10.Hung my poontang from the wire,
<?> come down TO the hottest fire,

11.Put my dress above my knees,
I'm gonna give my poontang to who I please,

12.Oh poon I want, tang I crave,
Tang gonna CARRY to my lovin' grave,

13. My man has GO ON TO "tell-me-one,"/ONCE?
I'M Gonna <dup>> my husband till my man come,


Source: Jimmy Strothers


v2 start may be just an interjection. RUSH I'm still not certain about. TO is definite (and in later verse).

v3. UPON is definite

v4 1st half line is still unclear, but the 2nd half is pretty clear. 2nd line tell is unclear; could still be sell

v5. 2nd half of 1st line is fairly clear. 2nd line totally unclear; I'll try and go back to that.

v6. I think last word on 1st line is HEN viz cock in 2nd line. 2nd line is fairly clear as I have it (though I did wonder about peacock man for a time).

v8. Is definitely the wire/brier as discussed above. He pronounces it as [waio, braio, limo..]. 2nd line I'm not sure it it's A flock or OUR flock. (I suspect A).

v10. The inital word of 2nd line is omitted (rush 1st time round).

v12. CARRY rather then CARRY ME I think

v13. Sounds like GO ON rathe than gone, but that might be just the way he sang it. 2nd half of 1st line still unclear, though the last word may be ONCE rather than one. 2nd line starts I'M. What's being done to the husband appears to be just a sound rather than a definite word!.


Hope this is some help. I'll try and come back to the unclear bits when it's quieter around here!.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 10:51 AM

Just a little afterthought - that's probably The lady gave HER thing...


Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: bobad
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 11:08 AM

in v4.Oh, when/WHERE I'M GOIN', I'M GONNA DO MY BEST

I hear 'Til I'm gone, I'm gonna do my best


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 11:26 AM

bobad - It could be that!

Also, back to v8, I wrote lark above and it should be lock (to rhyme with flock), pronounced [lark].

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: bobad
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 11:35 AM

Also at v.2 RUSH come down TO the hottest fire.

I hear [RISK?] come down jes' as hot as fire


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: wysiwyg
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 12:47 PM

Couple of points in respoinse to several upthread ideas.

1. African American singers are/were just as capable of "mondgreening" a lyric as anyone else. Much of AA music was and still is transmitted orally/aurally. in the spirituals, this mondegreening often happened as songs moved from plantation to plantation. It also happened as child-aged slaves hearing a song while in the cradle grew to be (freed or still-enlaved) grandmothers and grandfathers passing songs on AT the cradle. So the "wire/brier" / "cry-a, cry-a" may have been the way it HAD BEEN sung but then in this version it's shifted pretty far from there.

1a. "Cry-a" is possibly not how the "a" sound really fits. There is at least one AA spiritual that makes no sense textually unless the "A" is understood to go not with the word the usual transcriptions indicate, but with the word that FOLLOWS the "a" insertion. Think about it-- and about the effort to fit the syllable to the tune. And/or the singer's effort to make sense out of a mondegreened phrase.


2. Then there's the folk process. In a way you could say we're all, in this thread, trying to reverse-folk-process this song back to what we might suppose is the original wording/meaning.

3. There's no need to say anything in an old AA song (old = that with which I am familiar-- could be as applicable to NEW ones) is nonsense. In the spirituals, for example, there might be 3 distinct. apparent textual themes in a piece. It might be as in (1) above, or (2) above, but more often (with a little Scripture familiarity) they seem to have been ways of elegantly linking concepts that, with a little reflection (particularly prayerful reflection), are quite logically related. In fact is is a characteristic of how many of them are performed (nowadays as well as documentedly in earlier times) that they DO so elegantly combine and contrast complex concepts in just a few words sketching an idea that opens the mind to long, fruitful thought/prayer/additional reflection.

3a. Floating/zipper verses in ANY of these songs need not have been just any old verse getting tossed in to exend the time singing the song for work or for entertainment. Going back again to the spirituals, as one verse's significance is sung through the Spirit, themes are suggested to the mind that follow the singer's meditation-- while still singing it. So you zip in and/or "float" (make up) a verse.

4. There is no reason to suppose that complexity of thought (2, 3, 3a above) wouldn't be equally present in secular songs as in religious or quasi-religious songs. In fact to ignore that complexity is to assume the Black mind is simplistic, and I would hope we know nowadays that this just ain't so, and most likely never WAS so.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 01:00 PM

Listened to it again - you could be right about jes' as hot. That first word still eludes me; none of them sound right!

I've also just had another listen to v6 and I think I was wrong about hen. I now think the verse could be:

6.Oh, I b'lieve to my soul she had a lucky HAND
'Cause the lady gave HER thing to the sweet-TALK' man.

(On this verse I realised as I was half-way down the towpath walking the dog that I'd written viz in my notes, when I'd meant to write vide - strange how things come to you. That's also when I thought it could be a sweet-talking man).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: bobad
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 02:02 PM

I find the second lines in v.5 and 6 troublesome.

In the second line of v.5 I hear something like "__ __ __ __ stagger like a streetcar seat"

In the second line of v.6 I hear "'Cause the LADY GAVE A THING to the streetcar man"

I realize it doesn't make much sense but that's what it sounds like to me. What do you think?


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 02:49 PM

Here's a link to the thread that I decided to start as a result of reading 11."Put my dress above my knees"

thread.cfm?threadid=123101&messages=14

We Wear Our Hair In Curls

I still can't hear that singer saying "Put my dress above my knees". He sounds more like he's singing "Whilst I sit up on my knees, I'm gonna give my poontang to who'ever I please." The words "sit up" are slurred together.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 02:59 PM

With regard to the "a" as in "cry-a" in this song, that letter is pronounced in this song-and usually pronounced in African American songs and rhymes as "ah".

**
I think I'm also hearing:

6.Oh, I b'lieve to my soul she had a lucky HAND
'Cause the lady gave HER thing to the street car man.

But it could be "sweet talk man" (a man who talks sweet, "gives a lot of compliments, flirts, says "sweet nothings")

"Lucky hand" could mean cards, or it could mean being generally lucky in life, or it could mean something else.

As to her "thing", well you know what that means.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 03:21 PM

bobad - I like streetcar man in v6. I'll have to wait for things to quiet down to listen to the other.

Azizi - still not sure about that last. Definitely not put - that was an error in my transcription above. It sounds like:

My dress above my knees, or possibly, White dress above my knees,

but above could easily be upon (consonants in both are in similar articulation positions b/p, v/n, so it's difficult to tell).

I agree your reading would be possible, but that sit up doesn't sound convincing to me yet.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 03:23 PM

Sorry Azizi, overlapped your last post. last in my last post referred to your previous of course: 02:49PM.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 11:59 PM

2.OH MA, Hung my poontang from the wire,

I hear that start as "I'm-a," as in "I'ma go to the store in a few minutes. Wanna come?"


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 10:46 AM

I can't get this song out my head now! But the verses I hear are:

Poontang made me pawn my clothes
Poontang gave me this red hose

If poontang was a river and I was a duck
Gonna dive right in and suck it all up

I wish I knew where poontang grew
I'd (guitar thump) the leaves and the branches, too


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: wysiwyg
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 10:50 AM

Uh, just wondering-- does anyone in this thread really think it matters how "faithfully" the "original" text "needs" to be followed?

~S~


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 11:00 AM

When it comes to singing the song, no. I change and adapt all the time to make things singable for me. And if I can't make out the words I make up something suitable. Even then I try to keep as much as possible of the source.

However, that shouldn't stop us from trying to record what the singer originally sang, as near as we can find it. (In this case it may not be totally possible; v5 2nd line may prove elusive to the end!). We document what is. What we do with it afterwards is another matter.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: bobad
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 11:02 AM

Bob Coltman asked if we could give him a hand in figuring out the lyrics and that's what we are doing.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Azizi
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 11:31 AM

I co-sign what bobad wrote.

Besides, I think it's fun to try to figure out what the singer is saying, in a solve the puzzle kind of way.

**

Gibb Sahib, would you please give the numbers (as listed above) for the verse transcriptions you listed in your 24 Aug 09 - 10:46 AM post?

Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: wysiwyg
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 11:41 AM

We document what is. What we do with it afterwards is another matter.

Oh, I agree! I just was asking.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 11:50 AM

Dear Azizi,

That's the continuation of the song in my head!!! :)


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 11:53 AM

I agree with Azizi too, that there's an element of fun in this. I've been involved in a few of these collaborations (with Roberto especially), and generally a concensus can be reached for even the trickiest recordings. It's very satisfying!

It's also what the internet is good for. Having a bunch of people all over the world listening is so much better than the days I sat with my ear to a record player, replaying bits of a song to try and decipher it!. Digital electronics has also helped - I can remove noise and crackles, slow things down, try a bunch of different eq settings. Still no guarantee of success, but it helps. (Sometimes there may just not be enough information left in the recording to decide - 2nd line v5 here has very loud, emphatic guitar over the vocal and it's not clear if there's enough of the vocal left to make out what he's singing; still we try!).

I'll have some quiet time later this evening (UK) and I'll try and have another listen to the hard bits then.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr add: Poontang Little, Poontang Small
From: wysiwyg
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 11:56 AM

I think in some of those spots there IS no vocal-- that the singer is pausing/glossing over forgotten bits of wording and doing the same thing most of us would do-- keeping going anyway. with or without syllables to fill in the verse. We're trying to hear what he's thinking but he's not sure what he's singing in several spots.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poontang Little Poontang Small (Strothers
From: GUEST,NICKNAME
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 04:29 PM

Stop hack the program!!!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poontang Little Poontang Small (Strothers
From: Azizi
Date: 21 May 13 - 08:22 AM

Greetings.

I'm returning to this post to pay my respects to the musical legacy of Jimmie Strothers as well as the musical legacy of Barry Finn, one member of the informal group of Mudcat posters who shared our ideas about the lyrics to this song & who is no longer on this earth today.

Somehow we never did get around to posting a "completed" transcription of this song.

I found a sound file of this song on YouTube and posted it along with that transcription, and some notes about Jimmie Strothers and about that song on my cultural blog at http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/05/jimmie-strothers-poontang-little.html

I also posted a sound file, transcription, and notes of another song performed by Jimmie Strothers "Going To Richmond". The link for that post is http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/05/jimmie-stouthers-going-to-richmond-with.html

Additions and corrections to each of these transcriptions & to my notes are welcome.

I'll post what I think was the agreed upon lyrics to Jimmie Strother's "Poontang Little, Poontang Small" in my next comment to this thread.

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Poontang Little Poontang Small (Strothers
From: Azizi
Date: 21 May 13 - 08:26 AM

Here's what I think is the agreed upon lyrics that the group sussed out those four days in August 2009:

POONTANG LITTLE, POONTANG SMALL
(as sung by Jimmy Strothers, 1936)

1.Poontang little an' poontang small,
Poontang stretches like a rubber ball

Chorus: Oh my babe, Oh my salty thing.

2.I'mma hung my poontang from the wire,
Rush come down to the hottest fire.

3.Gonna hang my poontang upon the fence,
Oh, the man come an' git it ain't got no sense,

4. 'Til I'm gone, I'm gonna do my best
I'm gone tell a little something for the women out west

5.Got a humpback a-little that couldn't near beat
????

6.Oh, I b'lieve to my soul she had a lucky hand
'Cause the lady gave her thing to the sweet-car man,

7.Poontang little and a-poontang small,
Poontang twisted like a rubber ball,

[Spoken]: ...It's all on fire.

8.Oh wire, brier, limber, lock
How many geese is in our flock

9. Oh, one flew east and a-one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest,

10.Hung my poontang from the wire,
come down jes as hot as fire,

11.Put my dress above my knees,
I'm gonna give my poontang to who I please,

12.Oh poon I want, tang I crave,
Tang gonna carry to my lovin' grave,

13. My man has go on to "tell-me-once
I'm gonna dup my husband till my man come,


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