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Origins: Timber Jerry the Mule

VirginiaTam 26 Feb 11 - 11:10 AM
Lighter 26 Feb 11 - 12:52 PM
Lighter 26 Feb 11 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 26 Feb 11 - 06:06 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 26 Feb 11 - 06:11 PM
dick greenhaus 26 Feb 11 - 06:39 PM
BrooklynJay 26 Feb 11 - 08:05 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 26 Feb 11 - 08:47 PM
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Subject: Origins: Timber Jerry the Mule
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 26 Feb 11 - 11:10 AM

I have recording of me singing this and would like to submit for the new Mudcat CD that Bradfordian is putting together. But I cannot find any copyright info on it.

Does anyone know the song's history older than Josh White and Odetta recordings.

I am singing the tune Odetta used on my recording. I don't know if need to get permission for this to be published and from whom I would get it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Timber Jerry the Mule
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Feb 11 - 12:52 PM

The song "Jerry (Lord Dis Timber Gotta Roll)" seems to have been written by Josh White and Sam Gary before 1940. A choral arrangement by Leonard De Paur was published in 1954. Harry Belafonte recorded a version as "Did You Hear About Jerry?"

That doesn't answer your question, but it's safer to assume that the song is under copyright by somebody.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Timber Jerry the Mule
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Feb 11 - 01:00 PM

Pre-1978 copyrights are not online.

But the U.S. Library of Congress Copyright Office will check the copyright status for you "for a fee." (Don't know how much.) You can find out more by calling 202-707-6850. Be sure to mention all possible variant titles!

If you have access to a large library, they might have the multivolume Library of Congress Catalog of Copyright Entries, which goes back more than a century. A librarian might be willing to look up the copyright for free.

Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Timber Jerry the Mule
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 26 Feb 11 - 06:06 PM

Well, the song "Jerry" ("Mule on the Mountain") is somewhat older, a work chant. First collected I think by Zora Neale Hurston, who published it in her Mules and Men, 1935, p. 327, as "Mule On De Mount." First vrse:

Cap'n got a mule, mule on the Mount called Jerry (2)
I can ride, Lawd, Lawd, I can ride.
[OR He won't come down, Lawd, Lawd, he won't come down.]

Hurston calls it "The most widely distributed and best known of all Negro work songs." Subsequent collecting has not borne out that verdict, but the song is very widespread all the same, related to "Corn Bread and Molasses," "Coal-Black Woman" and other songs like "I Got a Bulldog." Some like the latter have penetrated into white tradition as well.

I have not heard the Josh White version, so I don't know how closely it resembles the above. But the name "Jerry" is usually associated with the above song. My guess, absent other evidence, is that Josh White may have derived his song from that source. At least it's a good place to start looking.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Timber Jerry the Mule
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 26 Feb 11 - 06:11 PM

Re copyright, Hurston quite honorably does not assert specific copyright in the song. Thank goodness for the early folklorists who knew better than to try to control traditional songs!

However her book is Mules and Men, Lippincott, Copyright 1935 by Zora Neale Hurston (my edition was reprinted 1970 by Harper Perennial paperbacks.)

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Timber Jerry the Mule
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 26 Feb 11 - 06:39 PM

You can hear Josh White Jr. sing it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB3nFYRq73U


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Subject: RE: Origins: Timber Jerry the Mule
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 26 Feb 11 - 08:05 PM

Regarding Josh White's version of "Jerry," I have two recordings.

One is a 78 on the Asch International/Stinson label (358-3B) called just "Jerry" and is a solo. No credit is given to any writer. I'm guessing this record came from the mid-to-late 1940's. Perhaps someone more knowledgable can precisely date this recording. (The "A" side is "Trouble.")

The other is on the 1956 LP "Josh At Midnight" and is called "Timber" on the record's label and "Timber (Jerry the Mule)" on the album cover. It's a duet with Sam Gary, and is sung at a faster tempo than the earlier 78. Here are the liner notes from the album:

Timber (Jerry the Mule)

When Josh and Sam Gary wrote this song over ten years ago, they had in mind the Negro convicts in country road gangs which they frequently saw in their travels. Wondering how men could take the kind of treatment at which any mule would have balked, this song was a natural expression of their feeling. It's the story of a mule who had the sense to say "Enough!".


Interesting... If the song was "written" or "adapted" over ten years before this 1956 album, then their version may date from the early 1940's.

My album is a reissue, and the only copyright information is on the label and says, "Copyright 1960 by the Elektra Corporation."

Jay


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Subject: RE: Origins: Timber Jerry the Mule
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 26 Feb 11 - 08:47 PM

Heaven Forbid





DO NOT SUBMIT IT....(you live in the UK and you recorded it in the UK....but you are not a citizen of the UK)



You might be deported back to the ... (where are you from?



Look lady, there is at least one "solicitor" registered as a Mudcat member, who has repeatedly posted about UK copyright. There is no "bridge" connecting the USA and the UK.




Sincerely,

Gargoyle



However, you might consider passing the product "across the pond" to one of your children ... and the liberal USA "fair use" might apply.


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