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Folklore: Origins of Hooka-Toka/Green Rocky Road

GUEST,Jack Warshaw 25 Jun 19 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 26 Dec 10 - 08:23 PM
GUEST,Bluesman James 26 Dec 10 - 06:41 PM
Mark Ross 26 Dec 10 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,Bluesman James 26 Dec 10 - 09:32 AM
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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origins of Hooka-Toka/Green Rocky Road
From: GUEST,Jack Warshaw
Date: 25 Jun 19 - 07:38 AM

This from
Harold Courlander collected this song from the children of Lilly's Chapel School in York, Alabama. You can hear the original field recording on Smithsonian-Folkways 'Negro Folk Music of Alabama, Vol. 6: Ring Game Songs and Others.' It was a ring-game with kissing! Courlander describes it:

The children form a circle with the leader in the center, The group sings "Green, green" and the leader answers, "Rocky road, " skipping around the ring , As the chorus is sung the leader is deciding which person to choose . As he picks one, the group sings the first line of the verse, naming the child selected . The leader brings his choice to the center and kisses her at the line, "Give her a kiss and let her go."
Green Green was recorded by several of the 1960's folk revivalists, such as Dave and Len Chandler. One of these was Karen Dalton, a beautiful Cherokee woman from Oklahoma with a voice like an old lady blues singer. Karen played a haunting version on the twelve-string guitar and banjo and put it on an album titled 'Green Rocky Road.'

The children at Lilly's Chapel School only sang two verses. I wondered where lines like "Hooka dooka soda cracker" came from. In an interview, now on YouTube, Dave Van Ronk said that he and Len Chandler learned the song from beat poet Bob Kaufman one night at a coffee house. Maybe Kaufman wrote the words or perhaps he remembered them from his childhood in New Orleans.

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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origins of Hooka-Toka/Green Rocky Road
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 26 Dec 10 - 08:23 PM

I've always loved the song. I first heard it about 1964, it was on an album that Dave Van Ronk did. I'm not sure of the title, (Dave Van Ronk Folksinger...?)but I remember that track and St Louis Tickle and several of the tracks had the Red Onions Jazz Band on - a sort of revivalist trad jazz outfit.

There was some speculation with us that it had some spiritual meaning - that line about 'Come along and follow me, we'll go down to Galillee'.

I remember it was in Sing Out magazine at the time.

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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origins of Hooka-Toka/Green Rocky Road
From: GUEST,Bluesman James
Date: 26 Dec 10 - 06:41 PM

Mark Thank you. Did you hear that youtube video that i linked to?Have you heard that version before?
Judy Henske and The Chambers Brothers have a song called "Hooka Tooka" and its almost the same song

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Subject: RE: Folklore: Origins of Hooka-Toka/Green Rocky Road
From: Mark Ross
Date: 26 Dec 10 - 05:15 PM

The version of GREEN GREEN ROCKY ROAD that most of us are familiar with comes a recording Harold Courlander did of young African-American girls playing a line game

"Hey Miss Mary you're names been called,
Come and take a seat besides the wall,
Give her a kiss and let her go,
She'll never sit by the wall no more.

It's a Green Green rocky Road......."

A poet by the name of Bob Kaufman reworked the lyrics, and Van Ronk and Len Chandler set the arrangement,

I heard the original on the Elektra/Folkways release the FOLK BOX back in the '60's.

Mark Ross

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Subject: Folklore: Origins of Hooka-Toka/Green Rocky Road
From: GUEST,Bluesman James
Date: 26 Dec 10 - 09:32 AM

Greetings and Happy Holidays Folks:
I found a new version of a song I have been playing with and its very disturbing:
I knew this song as "Green Rocky Road" and I learned it from Danny Kalb who learned it from Dave Van Ronk who learned it from - whoever:
To me Green Rocky Road was a great finger picking exercies in alternating bass. Played by both in "Dropped D Tuning" you play this melody against an alternating bass. "When I go by Baltimore, paint' no carpet on my floor." and the chorus "Green Green Rocky Road. Promenade in Green" and of cours4e "Hooka Tooka, does your mama chew tobacco"
I should point out Tim Hardin had a version different than the above in lyrics and guitar accompaniment. I asked Dave about Tims version and he replied "Timmy had a version as I was developing mine - its different"
As I said, I never paid the lyrics any mind I was more concerned about getting the alternating bass right as I picked the melody.
Side tracking here: Danny Kalb is an excellent finger picker who has the Merle Travis style down pat He gets little recognition for that.
On day while talking about Judy Henske (she still around in CA) I found this version on You tube:
This group and funky version = claims the song actually is a rhyme sung by Children whose mothers work in brothels
They even have this lyric which I never heard before
"Your mother is a Nig*r, your father is a Jew
Your sister is a daygo, who the hell are you"
I know from listening to Leadbelly and Robert Johnson and Josh White, many of our traditonal blues have very disturbing origins but this one. I thought is was a children's' nursery rhyme
I know there are some serious folklorist here, so I was hoping someone knows the story. Thank you for your involvement.

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