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Lyr Add: The Moanish Lady

Joe Offer 19 Jun 10 - 11:52 PM
Joe Offer 20 Jun 10 - 12:02 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Jun 10 - 02:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Jun 10 - 03:27 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Jun 10 - 04:58 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: The Moanish Lady/You Shall Be Free
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jun 10 - 11:52 PM

I found this at the archive of the Immortalia Website. Much seems to be taken from the Journal of American Folk-Lore (1912-1913)

31. YOU SHALL BE FREE

A
(From South Carolina; negroes; MS. of South Carolina lady; 1909) There was a moanish lady Lived in a moanish land, And she had a moanish daughter, Who could moan at de Lord's command.
Chorus
   Moanish lady, an' you shall be free!
   Oh! moanish honey, an' you shall be free!
   Oh! moanish nigger, an' you shall be free,
   W'en de good Lord calls you home.

With this chorus, cf. Journal of American Folk-Lore, vol. xxlv, p. 376.

Oh! warn't Mr. Noah de foolish man
To build his house on de sinking of de san';
Along come de rain, an' den come de hail,
And den come de elephant widout any tail.

Funny animal, an' you shall be free, etc.
Oh! my gal Sal, she am de card!
She wark right out in de white folks yard;
She cook de goose, and she gib me de stuffing,
An" she think I'm a-wukkin'
Wen I ain't a-doin' nuffin'.
Lazy nigger, an' you shall be free, etc.

Ef you want to go to Heben, an' you don' know what to do,
Jes' grease yourself wif a mutton stew;
Along come de Debbil, an' he take you by de ban',
But you slip right thru to the Promise' Lan'.
Slippery nigger, an' you shall be free, etc.

B
(From Mississippi; negroes; MS. of Ben Bell; 1909)
If you want to go to Heaven, I'll tell you what to do:
Just grease all over with a mutton soo.
Then if the Devil gets after you with his greasy hand,
Just slide right over into the Promised Land.


The Bluegrass Messengers havwe quite a lot of information about this song:

Shout Mourner- Version 3
"You Shall Be Free Monah"
Arranged by Bill Boyd 1936

You Shall be Free Monah/Shout Mourner/ Shout Mona/ Oh Monah/You Shall Be Free/ Mourner You Shall Be Free/ Po' Mourner/ Poor Mourner 

Old-Time Song, Spiritual, Jazz Standard, and Bluegrass Song; widely known US and worldwide.

ARTIST: "You Shall Be Free, Monah" Source: transcription of Bill Boyd and His Cowboy Ramblers 'You shall be free, Monah', recorded in San Antonio, Texas, on 27 October 1936 and issued as Bluebird B6694 in February 1937.

CATEGORY: Fiddle and Instrumental Tunes

DATE: 1800s;  First recording 1926 by Uncle Dave Macon

RECORDING INFO: The Blue Chips, "Oh! Monah!" (ARC 6-09-55, 1936)
Bill Boyd & his Cowboy Ramblers, "You Shall Be Free, Monah" (Bluebird B-6694, 1936)
Carolina Tar Heels, "When the Good Lord Sets You Free" (Victor 20931, 1927)
Four Dusty Travelers, "Po' Mourner" (Columbia 14477-D, 1929; on VocalQ2)
Lions Quartet, "Moanin' Lady" (Columbia 1167-D, 1927)
Uncle Dave Macon, "Shout Mourner, You Shall Be Free" (Vocalion 5007, 1926)
Bill & Belle Reed, "You Shall Be Free" (Columbia 15336-D, 1928)
Frank Stokes & Dan Sane, "You Shall" (Paramount 12518, 1927; on Cornshuckers2)
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan -13 "I Shall Be Free"

Shout Monah, You Shall Be Free [Me II-Z 1]
Rt - Moanish Lady; Old Marse John; Oh Monah/Monoh; Talking Blues

Spaeth, Sigmund / Read 'Em and Weep, Arco, Sof (1959/1926), p110 (Mona (You Shall Be Free))
Allen-Ward Trio. Allen-Ward Trio, Vanguard VRS 9189, LP (1965), trk# B.02 (Poor Mourner)
Boyd, Bill;'s Cowboy Ramblers. Bill Boyd's Cowboy Ramblers, Bluebird AMX2-5503, LP (1975), trk# 17 [1936/10/27] (You Shall be Free (Monah))
Carolina Tar Heels. Mountain Frolic. Rare Old Timey Classics; 1924-37, JSP 77100A-D, CD (2007), trk# D.05 [1927/08/15] (When the Good Lord Sets You Free)
Macon, Uncle Dave. Dixie Dewdrop (Vol. 1), Vetco LP 101, LP (1963), trk# B.01b [1926/09/08]
Students at Prairie View Normal. Lomax, J. A. & A. Lomax / American Ballads and Folk Songs, MacMillan, Bk (1934), p254 [1920s?] (When the Good Lord Sets You Free)
White Sisters. Owens, William A. (ed.) / Texas Folk Songs. 2nd edition, SMU Press, Bk (1976/1950), p178 (You Shall be Free (Monah))

Ted Weems and Humphrey Washburn; 1931 jazz version titled "Oh Monah"
Bob Wills w/Tommy Duncan
Pee Wee King w/Red Stewart
Wilburn Brothers
The Blue Chips, "Oh! Monah," ARC 6-09-55,
RED SMILEY & THE BLUEGRASS CUT-UPS ~ Oh Monah
Bill and Bela Reed "You Shall be free? 
Woody Guthrie ?We Shall Be Free?
Leadbelly
Bob Dylan ?I Shall Be free?

RELATED TO: "Jenny Get Your Hoe Cake Done" (1840); Moanish Lady (Perrow, also Sandburg; parody of Romish Lady) "Po' Mourner' "Free at Last"

OTHER NAMES: Shout Mona/ Shout Monah/You Shall Be Free/Mourner You Shall Be Free/ Oh Monah 

PRINT SOURCES: Sandburg, p. 11, "Moanish Lady!" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 110-112, "Mona (You Shall Be Free)" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 254-258, "When de Good Lord Sets You Free" (1 text, 1 tune -- an immense composite containing elements of "Moanish Lady," "Talking Blues," and probably other materials, to the tune of "Mourner, You Shall Be Free")
Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 163-164, "Old Marse John" (1 text, 1 tune, with this chorus and sundry floating verses: Ole Marse John and the mule he is riding till it dies; the singer standing on the corner doing no harm; the singer in the henhouse hearing the chicken sneeze); p. 172, "Po' Mournah" (1 fragment); p. 176, "Great Big Nigger Sittin' on a Log" (1 text, with this chorus and floating verses: Jakey hunting coons, the Big Nigger shooting at a hog; an humorous description of an ususual girl); p. 194, "Fragment from Pore Mournah" (1 text); p. 197, "There Was an Old Nigger, His Name Was Dr. Peck" (1 text, which uses this chorus); pp. 224-225, (no title), with this chorus and the "My old mistus promised me" and "Some folks say a nigger won't steal" lyrics; p. 235, with a variant on "Ain't no use me working so hard"
Roud #11685

NOTES: It's rare that a song is so versatile; a minstrel song, a black gospel song, a popular jazz standard; an old-time country song; a western swing song; a country song; a bluegrass song. The song was even adapted by Otis Redding and was hit soul song for Mickey Murray. The song also was popular in the folk genre-Woody Guthrie used it and Bob Dylan did his own version.

The song, known usually as "Shout Mourner/ Shout Mona/ Shout Monah/You Shall Be Free/ Mourner You Shall Be Free" is usually thought to have originated as an African- American spiritual that dates back to the 1800s. 

In my opinion the song probably came from the minstrel era and is based on "Jenny Get Your Hoe Cake Done" (1840) The Celebrated Banjo Song, as sung with great Applause at the Broadway Circus, by Joel Walker Sweeney (ca. 1810 - 1860).

1. De hen and chickens went to roost,
De hawk flew down and hit de goose
He hit de ole hen in de back
I really believe dat am a fac,
  Oh, Jenny get de hoe cake done, my dear,
  Oh, Jenny get de hoe cake done.

2. As I was gwain lond de road,
Past a stump dar wad a toad.
De tadpole winked at Pollewog's daughter,
And kick'd de bull frog plump in de water.
  Oh, Jenny get de hoe cake done, my dear,
  Oh, Jenny get de hoe cake done, love!

"Jenny Get Your Hoe Cake Done" (1840)  is suggested as a possible source by Newman Ivey White in his American Negro Folk-Songs. The form is identical and it's easy to substitute the "Oh Monah, you shall be free" as a tag. The "shout mourner, you shall be free" tag implies that the song was religious but in general it was not. It usually is comprised of floating humorous verses with the "shout mourner" tag.

"Mourner You shall be free" is considered by some to be a parody of "Free at Last," a spiritual dating back to the same period:

Free at last, free at last
I thank God I'm free at last
Free at last, free at last
I thank God I'm free at last

Way down yonder in the graveyard walk
I thank God I'm free at last
Me and my Jesus going to meet and talk
I thank God I'm free at last

On my knees when the light pass'd by
I thank God I'm free at last
Tho't my soul would rise and fly
I thank God I'm free at last

Here's an example "Shout Mourner" from Odum collected in the early 1900s. The lyrics (edited) appear in other songs such as the Moriss Brothers' Salty Dog:

*Down in the wildwood, settin' on log,
One eye on trigger, one eye on hog.
Gun say "blop!" hog said "sip!"
An' he jumped on de hog wid all his grip,
Singin' high-stepper, Lawd, you shall be free.

Shout to glory, Lawd, you shall be free!
Shout to glory, Lawd, you shall be free!
Shout, mourner, Lawd, you shall be free!
Shout when de good Lawd set you free!

Here are excerpts of three versions collected by White:

He made his eyes to see green trees,
The next thing he made was the elephant's knees.
Oh, elephant, you shall be free,
Oh, elephant, you shall be free,
When the good Lord sets you free.

Another:
Yonder comes Noah stumbling in the dark
With hammer and nails for to build the ark.
Yonder comes the animals two by two
The hippopotamus and the kangaroo.
Shout, mourners, you shall be free
When the good Lord sets you free.

Another:
My old lady done gone and lef' me here,
An' she didn't even leave me a dime for beer.
Po' mourner, we shall be free.
Po' mourner, we shall be free.

The song was collected from African-Americans in the early 1900s by Dorothy Scarborough using "po' mourner" instead of "shout mourner" or "oh mourner":

My gal, she's de big town talk,
Her foot covers de whole sidewalk,
Her eyes like two big balls o' chalk,
Her nose is lak a long cornstalk.

Sister Mary, you shall be free,
In de mawnin' you shall be free.
Po' mourner, you shall be free,
When de good Lawd set you free.

A related version of the song is the spiritual "Poor Mourner" whch was recorded by Fisk Jubilee singers in 1919. Here's the lyrics from "American Negro Songs" by J. W. Work, 1940:

Poor mourner?s got a home at last
Poor mourner?s got a home at last

O, mourner, mourner
Ain?t you tired a-mourning

Bow down on your knees and join the band with the angels

No harm, no harm
Go tell Brother Elijah
No harm, no harm
Poor mourner?s got a home at last

O, sinner, sinner
Ain?t you tired a-singing

O, seeker, seeker
Ain?t you tired a-seeking

O, preacher, preacher
Ain?t you tired a-preaching

The tag has been changed to "Poor mourner?s got a home at last" and is related to the spiritual "Free at Last" (see above). This is close to the "poor mourner, you shall be free" tag. These tags were interchangable in the African-American tradition.

Sandburg published a version in 1927 titled "Moanish Lady" which uses a similar tag. This is a parody of Romish Lady. It was first collected by Perrow in 1909:  

A (From South Carolina; negroes; MS. of South Carolina lady; 1909)

There was a moanish lady
Lived in a moanish land,
And she had a moanish daughter,
Who could moan at de Lord's command.

Chorus: Moanish lady, an' you shall be free!
Oh! moanish honey, an' you shall be free!
Oh! moanish *woman, an' you shall be free,
W'en de good Lord calls you home.

In the 1920s with the advent of old-time country recordings the song was recorded under various titles by Uncle Dave Macon, Bill and Bella Reed; and the Carolina Tar Heels. Then in 1931 Ted Weems and Humphrey Washburn recorded a jazz version titled "Oh Monah" that became very popular during the depression era. Listen: http://www.redhotjazz.com/weems.html 

It was covered by Sons of the West featuring Roy Rogers and other western swing bands first by Bill Boyd and his Cowboy Ramblers in 1936. "Oh Monah" was covered by Bob Wills w/Tommy Duncan; then a country version was done by Pee Wee King w/Red Stewart.

Here is an excerpt from Weems recording, the song was written (arranged) by bassist Humphrey Washburn with Weems of course also getting credit: 

An old colored preacher was settin' on a log, (Oh! Monah)
Had his finger on the trigger and his eye on a hog.  (Oh! Monah)
Well, the gun said "Boom!" and the hog went zip, (Oh! Monah)
And the preacher grabbed him with all his grip.  (Oh! Monah)

CHORUS: Well, my Monah, you shall be free,
Listen here, baby, you know you shall be free,
When the good Lord sets you free.

Another version is about Noah and the ark (see also above in White's examples):

Tell me, who built that ark?
(answer) Brother Noah-e (Lead and response repeated two times)

Brother Noah-e built that ark
Brother Noah-e built that ark
Oh, Mona, you shall be free, oh, you shall be free
When the good Lord sets you free

The traditional ballad index relates this to "Raise a Ruckus" (floating lyrics)
"Uncle Eph" (floating lyrics)
"Talking Blues" (sometimes sung to a tune similar to this)
"Some Folks Say that a Preacher Won't Steal" (floating lyrics)
"The Deacon's Calf" (floating lyrics)

Traditional ballad index notes: This is a complicated group, and the problem is not lessened by the way editors have handled it. The first three text I indexed, for instance, were all messed with by editors. Sandburg, e.g., derived his "Moanish Lady" from the spiritual "Mourner, You Shall Be Free," but printed only one verse because "the music is too superbly serious to have cheap lines."

It appears, however, to be the same as Spaeth's song about a no-count who hangs around rail yards and sponges off his girl, giving us a whole family of knock-offs.
Fred W. Allsop, in Folklore of Romantic Arkansas, Volume II, p. 161, says Moanish Lady "has been heard often in negro barber shops." Whatever that tells us. - RBW

"Moanish Lady" is derived from "Mourner, You Shall Be Free," and so is "You Shall," but the latter is quite a different song, with a different melody, having in common only the derivation.... [The hymn] seems to have spawned quite a few [parodies], mostly in African-American tradition, but even Bob Dylan created one [The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan- I Shall Be Free]- PJS
 
Notes from Stewie: Paul Oliver notes in 'Screening the Blues' that 'at some indeterminate time' in the 19th century, the 'Run *Johnny Run' and 'some tell me that a *preacher won't steal' stanzas became associated with the song generally known as 'You Shall Be Free'. Odum collected a version in the early 20th century and published it in 1911. He stated that it 'was originally adapted from a religious song, "Mourner, You Shall Be Free"'. The song was widespread.

Shout to glory, Lawd, you shall be free!
Shout to glory, Lawd, you shall be free!
Shout, mourner, Lawd, you shall be free!
Shout when de good Lawd set you free!

Oliver notes its collection under titles such as 'There was an old *man, his name was Dr Peck', 'Ain't no use of my working so hard', 'Ole Marse John, Pore Mournah', 'Po' Mona' etc. The latter had the chorus:

Po' Mona you shall be free
Gooba-looba, *woman, you shall be free
Keep a-shoutin', *woman, you shall be free
When the good Lawd sets you free

Sigmund Spaeth published a version in 'Read 'Em and Weep' under the title 'Mona (You Shall Be Free) and commented that it 'represents the more sophisticated development of Negro folk music, with only a suggestion of the spiritual in the background'.

Uncle Dave Macon recorded a version in 1926 under the title of 'Shout Monah, You Shall Be Free'. Bob Hyland in his notes to 'Dixie Dewdrop' Vetco LP 101 noted that the song was of 'spiritual and minstrel popularity' and 'has had all sorts of lyrics and titles'. It was later recorded on Columbia by Bill and Belle Reed as 'You Shall Be Free', on Victor by the Carolina Tar Heels as 'When the Good Lord Sets You Free' and, as a pop song, under the title 'Oh Monah' by Weems. Uncle Dave later sang versions on radio verses that differed greatly from his 1926 recording. 

YOU SHALL BE FREE, MOURNER/SHOUT MOURNER- Boyd 1936

Bill Boyd's version is distinguished mainly by some wonderful (and wild) piano and fiddle breaks by Smokey Wood and J.R. Chatwell respectively. Here are the lyrics:

YOU SHALL BE FREE, MOURNER

Me and my gal walkin' down the street (Oh Monah)
She was nice and she was neat (Oh Monah)
She stooped over to tie her shoe (Oh Monah)
The wind blew up Fifth Avenue (Oh Monah)

(Ah Monah, you shall be free, hallelujah
Ah Monah, you shall be free, praise the Lord
When the good Lord sets you free)

Oh I'm down in the hen house on my knees (Oh Monah)
Thought I heard old Bruno sneeze (Oh Monah)
Only a rooseter saying his prayers (Oh Monah)
Tryin' to make love to the hens upstairs (Oh Monah)

(Ah Monah, you shall be free, hallelujah
Ah Monah, you shall be free, praise the Lord
When the good Lord sets you free)

I went to see my girl last night (Oh Monah)
It was dark and I had no light (Oh Monah)
Her bulldog met me at the gate (Oh Monah)
He jumped on me with all of his weight (Oh Monah)

(Ah Monah, you shall be free, hallelujah
Ah Monah, you shall be free, praise the Lord
When the good Lord sets you free)

As I was going down the road (Oh Monah)
With a hungry team and a heavy load (Oh Monah)
I cracked my whip and the lead horse sprung (Oh Monah)
The back horse broke the wagon tongue (Oh Monah)

(Ah Monah, you shall be free, hallelujah
Ah Monah, you shall be free, praise the Lord
When the good Lord sets you free)

 


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Subject: ADD Version: The Moanish Lady
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Jun 10 - 12:02 AM

MOANISH LADY!

There was a moanish lady
Lived in a moanish land,
She had a moanish daughter,
Who could moan at the Lord's command.

Chorus:
Moanish lady, and you shall be free!
Moanish honey, and you shall be free!
When the good Lord calls you home.

Source: American Songbag, by Carl Sandburg, 1927 (p. 11)

The only recording of this song that I found was by Sandburg - 43 seconds!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Moanish Lady
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Jun 10 - 02:01 PM

Notes on Joe's posts-
Sandburg's two verses, Moanish Lady are taken directly from E. C. Perrow, JAFL, 1913, vol. 26, parts IV, Religious Songs and Parodies of Religious Songs; No. 31, collected "from South Carolina Negroes, MS of South Carolina lady, 1909."

Sandburg was often careless with crediting sources.

Perrow noted that the chorus appeared in other songs, vol. xxiv, p. 376:
VII. Songs of the Plantation

OH, MOURNER!

Some folks say that a nigro (sic) won't steal;
I caught two in my corn feild (sic)
One had a shovel and the other had a hoe;
If that ain't stealing, I don't know.

Oh, Moana, you shall be free (twice)
When the good Lord sets you free.

Some folks say, .... many verses, most from other songs, including Way Down Yonder on Punkin Creek
"Mississippi Negroes, MS of F. R. Rubel; 1909."

Perrow notes that "this song shows a tendency of a large number of distinct songs to drift together into one."

More later.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Moanish Lady
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Jun 10 - 03:27 PM

"The origin of "Some Folks Say" is doubtful. It was, however, known to minstrels from the Negro Singer's Own Book c. 1846."
Some folks day a nigger won't steal, etc.

"....introduced by ante-bellum minstrels. Cf. White, 243."
Way down yonder in ......
R. D. Bass, "Negro Songs from the Pedee Country, [SC] JAFL, vol. 44, no. 174, p. 425. (1931)

When did these get tied to Mona, Moanish, etc., and to "Mourner, You Shall be Free" ?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Moanish Lady
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Jun 10 - 04:58 PM

Bill Boyd's version "You Shall be Free, Mourner," was posted in thread 44128, Thank God I'm Free at Last.
The complete "You Shall Be Free" (a portion given above) from Odum and Johnson, The Negro and his Songs, in thread 38691, Oh, Mona


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