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Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited

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MARY HAD A BABY


Related threads:
Info: Mary had a baby (people keep a-comin'/train) (14)
Lyr Add: Mary Had a Baby (7)


Dave Rado 16 Dec 16 - 09:58 PM
Dave Rado 16 Dec 16 - 10:27 PM
GUEST,pauperback 17 Dec 16 - 02:08 AM
meself 17 Dec 16 - 02:57 AM
GUEST,pauperback 17 Dec 16 - 02:59 AM
GUEST 17 Dec 16 - 03:01 AM
GUEST,pauperback 17 Dec 16 - 03:05 AM
Dave Rado 17 Dec 16 - 12:26 PM
Airymouse 18 Dec 16 - 12:38 AM
meself 18 Dec 16 - 01:14 AM
Mo the caller 18 Dec 16 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,pauperback 02 Jan 17 - 12:59 AM
wysiwyg 02 Jan 17 - 06:25 AM
GUEST,pauperback 02 Jan 17 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,pauperback 03 Jan 17 - 04:49 PM
GUEST,pauperback 12 Jan 17 - 07:32 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: Dave Rado
Date: 16 Dec 16 - 09:58 PM

I've been trying to find out what the symbolism of the last line of the chorus could be ("The people keep coming and the train done gone"), but googling hasn't got me anywhere, and none of the mudcat threads on the subject have either.

All I have found so far is that trains symbolised freedom and a way out for slaves. That doesn't explain why the author(s) of the song would want to say that the train done gone - surely the carol can't saying that it's too late to get to freedom, we've already missed the train? Does anyone have any idea what the authors could have meant to convey by those lyrics?

Dave


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: Dave Rado
Date: 16 Dec 16 - 10:27 PM

For clarification, I'm referring to the African American spiritual whose lyrics are in the DT here.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 17 Dec 16 - 02:08 AM

Shot in the dark. Camel train?

People continued coming to Bethlehem, to see, even after the flight to Egypt.

Decedents of slaves fleeing to Egypt, their old masters, for safety, may be beyond current understanding...but to someone enslaved.

Seems a flight would of been faster then a train, though.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: meself
Date: 17 Dec 16 - 02:57 AM

That's the train that's bound for glory - the people who miss the train are the sinners who are going to hell, they waited too long to think about mending their sorry ways. Admittedly, a little out of keeping with the Christmas spirit, but that's folksongs for ya!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 17 Dec 16 - 02:59 AM

Oh, okay


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Dec 16 - 03:01 AM

Amen


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 17 Dec 16 - 03:05 AM

^mine


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: Dave Rado
Date: 17 Dec 16 - 12:26 PM

Hi meself

It still seems very strange symbolism to me - if they meant what you say then that surely means they think that anyone who hasn't already "been saved" as they saw it, never can or will be "saved" - which would surely be a message of there being no hope.

I thought African American spirituals, especially the ones using train symbolism, were usually meant to offer hope of a way out of their suffering to those singing them, not to deny all hope to them! If the early singers of the song saw it that way, as a song that denied all hope, then I don't understand how it could have caught on and become so popular (despite its catchy tune and rhythm).

Dave


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: Airymouse
Date: 18 Dec 16 - 12:38 AM

Did you ever see the likes, since you been born
The people keep a comin but the train done gone
And Johnny come down to hilo
My old man
Explanation: The train is a camel train bound for glory. hilo is a poker game and my old man is a reference to Methuselah
Or possibly the line about the train is just part of a travelling verse, put there for the rhythm, and asking what it means is like asking what "strata-latta latta bob ba latta bob ba linktum" means.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: meself
Date: 18 Dec 16 - 01:14 AM

Getting back to the Christmas carol - the lines about the train are not meant to indicate that there is no hope, but rather they are giving a warning, in the form of a flash forward: there is hope still, but you better get moving, because SOON that train is going to be gone. (These are NOT just a random bunch of words that defy meaning. However, you cannot expect to always find linear, narrative logic in African-American song).

See, btw, 'This train', 'People Get Ready' - there are probably others of this ilk, if you look for them.

I think it quite likely that this carol originally had non-Christmas lyrics, and someone decided to put Christmas lyrics to it, but retained the train refrain, because - why not?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: Mo the caller
Date: 18 Dec 16 - 05:56 AM

"I think it quite likely that this carol originally had non-Christmas lyrics, and someone decided to put Christmas lyrics to it, but retained the train refrain, because - why not?"

That begins to make sense. You could even speculate that it was part of a longer song. Shortened to make a commercial Christmas song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 02 Jan 17 - 12:59 AM

Airymouse, I was just thinking outloud, but the idea of a tagging along with a camel train for safety and anonymity was fun to think about.

Apologies to all serious scholars.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: wysiwyg
Date: 02 Jan 17 - 06:25 AM

Meself has it right.

The thing about spirituals/Black lyrics in general is that there are always so many layers of meaning/nuance that it's usually best just to let them unfold in your mind and heart. For white folks, to be brief in my remarks, that's a helpful pursuit, on as many levels as we allow ourselves to welcome.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 02 Jan 17 - 03:48 PM

Camel train lead to mule train then to...

Right there under the cracker's nose, singin' 'bout the underground rr, and he never knowed it.

Must have been heartening.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 04:49 PM

Whip crackers drove mules and slaves (especially in Georgia?)

Told the local meth-dealer/chiseler Mullin about the whip cracker/cracker thing and he flashed that big Ole Georgia grin, (what ya expect from a dude who names his dog Hitler?)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Mary had a baby revisited
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 12 Jan 17 - 07:32 PM

Apparently they have Crackers in Florida too
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracker_(pejorative)


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