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Black Betty: what's a "shiv"? [Look-a Yonder]

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BLACK BETTY


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Black Betty banned! (44)


GUEST,taab7 25 Jan 13 - 05:12 AM
Roger the Skiffler 25 Jan 13 - 05:19 AM
Will Fly 25 Jan 13 - 05:20 AM
Fergie 25 Jan 13 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,kenny 25 Jan 13 - 05:40 AM
GUEST,999 25 Jan 13 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,999 25 Jan 13 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Jan 13 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,999 25 Jan 13 - 08:43 AM
Roberto 25 Jan 13 - 08:55 AM
Leadfingers 25 Jan 13 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Jan 13 - 09:06 AM
GUEST,999 25 Jan 13 - 09:11 AM
Jeri 25 Jan 13 - 09:19 AM
Will Fly 25 Jan 13 - 09:21 AM
Bobert 25 Jan 13 - 09:33 AM
Jeri 25 Jan 13 - 09:36 AM
GUEST,999 25 Jan 13 - 09:44 AM
Bobert 25 Jan 13 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,999 25 Jan 13 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,999 25 Jan 13 - 09:54 AM
Jeri 25 Jan 13 - 09:55 AM
Jeri 25 Jan 13 - 09:58 AM
Bobert 25 Jan 13 - 10:30 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 25 Jan 13 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Jan 13 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Tony 26 Jan 13 - 08:30 PM
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Subject: Black Betty lyrics
From: GUEST,taab7
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 05:12 AM

The Nick Cave version contains the lyric "The Shiv is Golden above her knees".
Is "shiv" a slang word in reference to the female genitalia and if so, from which country?


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 05:19 AM

I only know it as a cant word for knive or blade, especially in prison slang- a home-made blade.

RtS


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 05:20 AM

Razor, knife, blade...


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: Fergie
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 05:27 AM

A makeshift, easily concealed, short bladed knife.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 05:40 AM

A "shiv" is a "malky".


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 05:45 AM

"Black Betty"

Look-a look-a yonder
Look-a look-a yonder
Look-a look-a yonder
Well the sun done gone

The captain can't hold her
The captain can't hold her
The captain can't hold her
The way I do now

Ada got a gold mine
Ada got a gold mine
Ada got a gold mine
Way above her knees

The shiv is golden
The shiv is golden
The shiv is golden
Above her knees

Look-a look-a yonder
Look-a look-a yonder
Look-a look-a yonder
Well the sun done gone


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 07:51 AM

Looking at the lyrics, such as they are, I'd think shiv is a sexual reference and not a 'homemade' knife.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 08:21 AM

Nick Cave may be the only human to use the word this way - if that's really what he's singing.

I've always known it to be a knife used as a weapon (often spelled "chiv").

It's in plenty of '30s and '40s gangster movies.

"If that's really what he's singing." Could it be "sheaf"? Sounds kind of poetic, but what do I know?


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 08:43 AM

Yeah. I worked in a max for a year. However, knife in the context of the song makes no sense. Sheaf--an archer's quiver--sounds good but maybe too 'poetic'? Beats me.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: Roberto
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 08:55 AM

Looky Looky Yonder is a different song from Black Betty. True that there is a fine recording by Lead Belly where he sings both songs, but they are two different songs. No other traditional recording of Black Betty has the Looky Looky Yonder section. The title of this thread should be Looky Looky Yonder. R


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 08:58 AM

Isnt 'Knife and Sheaf' a sexual reference ??


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:06 AM

I was thinking of a sheaf of wheat, if you get my meaning.

"Sheath" is logically conceivable, but otherwise....


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:11 AM

Sheaf is also a quiver. However, I do see where you're coming from. As I said, I have no idea.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: Jeri
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:19 AM

It's misheard/modegreened from Leadbelly's, Looky Looky Yonder. I can't make it out either. It sounds a little like "Shift is talkin', talkin' all day long". Of course the previous verse about the warden is, in Leadbelly's version, "Act(?) is walkin', all day long." No warden.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:21 AM

A "shift" would make more sense - an undergarment showing above the knee.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: Bobert
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:33 AM

Because of the nature of the song, I doubt if it is "literally" a knife but seein' as it is a blues song I suspect it is a word that symbolizes Black Betty's prowess... The blues is filled with such...

B~


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: Jeri
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:36 AM

It's a work song.

It wasn't a "shiv" or a "shift" until Nick Cave misheard Leadbelly and fit in some-kinda-prison-soundin' word. Listen to Leadbelly.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:44 AM

I think both Jeri and Will have 'nailed it' (pardon me for saying). That makes sense, and many of the sites I've seen the lyrics on have shiv in quotation marks indicating the transcriber wasn't sure of the word being used.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: Bobert
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:47 AM

BTW, I like R.L. Burnside's earliest version the best... I think it's on YouTube somewhere...

B~


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:51 AM

I hear shift in Leadbelly's version of the song.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty lyrics - what's a "shiv"?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:54 AM

Burnside's 'Poor Black Mattie'


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Subject: RE: Black Betty: what's a "shiv"? [Look-a Yonder]
From: Jeri
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:55 AM

Here's R. L. Burnside, "Poor Black Mattie" which may be related to Black Betty, but not "Looky Looky Yonder", which is the song in question.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty: what's a "shiv"? [Look-a Yonder]
From: Jeri
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 09:58 AM

999, 10th degree black belt in Google Foo...
I am not worthy...


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Subject: RE: Black Betty: what's a "shiv"? [Look-a Yonder]
From: Bobert
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 10:30 AM

My bad...

The mind is a terrible thing...

Black Matte, Black Betty???

Earth to Boberdz...

B~


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Subject: RE: Black Betty: what's a "shiv"? [Look-a Yonder]
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 11:45 AM

Lyrics for Looky Looky Yonder/Black Betty were posted in a thread here: Lyr Req: Looky, Looky, Yonder (Leadbelly), though I don't agree with all of them. I'm pretty certain that the line is Shift is talking... as given above. (The transcription in the other thread gives She's been talking...).

The other thread gives the previous verse tentatively as I's just walking.., given as Act is walking... above. It still sounds like Act is to me, but the sense isn't so good. (I considered Active walking.. at one point, but I'm pretty sure it's an z sound rather than v, so I'm back with one of the others).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Black Betty: what's a "shiv"? [Look-a Yonder]
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 12:39 PM

I haven't heard the recording, but since "Act is walking" makes no sense, and "just" often comes out as "dus," "I jus' walkin'" is my best guess.


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Subject: RE: Black Betty: what's a "shiv"? [Look-a Yonder]
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 26 Jan 13 - 08:30 PM

"Shiv" is also another name for a pulley, especially in theater rigging, where it refers to the pulleys mounted on the top surface of the grid deck, with the scenery-raising cables passing over them. It's spelled "sheave," but it's pronounced "shiv."

The theatrical sheave and the sheaf of wheat have the same plural, as in "bringing in the sheaves," but in the theatrical sense it's pronounced "shivs."


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