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Add/Origins: Hicarmichael

GUEST,Felipa 08 Jun 18 - 10:40 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 08 Jun 18 - 11:30 AM
Joe Offer 08 Jun 18 - 01:18 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jun 18 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,Felipa 10 Jun 18 - 06:17 PM
Joe Offer 10 Jun 18 - 10:25 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Hicarmichael
From: GUEST,Felipa
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 10:40 AM

"The impossibly encyclopedic website for American folk songs, Mudcat.org, has zero entries for 'Hicarmichael' – not even any forum posts (of which there are usually about a hundred for any song) have dared to mention it."
http://nodepression.com/article/unsettling-world-dillard-chandler

I dare! The reason the song is taboo is because of a racist element to it. The sheriff was white and the man who killed him was black, described in the song as "the nigger [who] shot him dead."
I only came across this due to my interest in another song in the Dillard Chandler repertoire. According to Devon Leger, "Though this song has been wiped from all folk databases, there are some strange and powerful lines in the verses. Like:

I’ll tell you boys it will not do a wrecked life to live
It will not do to take a life of any one for their life you can not give."


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Subject: ADD: Hicarmichael
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 11:30 AM

The song has only the single entry in the Roud index (Roud:6981 - Hicarmichael).

It's not a song I've come across before, but the tune is quite good. I can't see why it couldn't be sung; it's easy to change nigger to Hicarmichael in the 3 repeats of the line it appears in.

It's also incorrect to say it's wiped from all folk databases. Apart from the Roud index entry, there is an entry for the song in the Ballad index at Fresno State Hicarmichael.

I give the lyrics below. The word I've transcribed as wrec'ed, pronounced as wreck-ed, I've taken to be a form of wretched, but it may be some use of wrecked that I'm not familiar with.

Mick


HICARMICHAEL

Come all o' you young people, I'll tell you if I can.
Come all o' you young people, I'll tell you if I can.

Come all o' you young people, I'll tell you if I can,
Concerning a murder done by a coloured man.

His name was Hicarmichael, a man you all knew well.
They took him down to Knoxville and they locked him in a cell.

And the sheriff he went to arrest him all on one Sabbath day.
The sheriff he went to arrest him all on one Sabbath day.

The sheriff he went to arrest him all on one Sabbath day.
"I have a warr'nt it's for you", the sheriff unto him did say.

And as he proceeded to read, it the nigger shot him dead.
And as he proceeded to read, it the nigger shot him dead.

And as he proceeded to read it, the nigger shot him dead.
I'll tell you boys it will not do a wrec'ed life to live.

I'll tell you boys it will not do a wrec'ed life to live.
It will not do to take the life of anyone, for their life you cannot give

And money will not pay your fees when you're called before your God.
It's money will not pay your fees when you're called before your God.

It's money will not pay your fees when you're called before your God.
It's cost the many of a poor man's life, took and laid him under the sod.



Source: Dillard Chandler


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Subject: RE: Add: Hicarmichael
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 01:18 PM

Apparently, the only known source of this song is a recording by Dillard Chandler on his The End of an Old Song album. If is available with album notes from Smithsonian Folkways.

Since we have permission to post entries from the Traditional Ballad Index, I'll do that:

Hicarmichael

DESCRIPTION: The sheriff goes to arrest Hicarmichael on a Sunday; as the sheriff reads the warrant, Hicarmichael shoots him dead. Hicarmichael is arrested and taken to Knoxville. The singer warns listeners not to live a "wrecked" life
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1963 (recording, Dillard Chandler)
LONG DESCRIPTION: The sheriff goes to arrest Hicarmichael, a black man, on a Sunday; as the sheriff reads the warrant, however, Hicarmichael shoots him dead. Hicarmichael is eventually arrested and taken to Knoxville. The singer warns listeners not to live a "wrecked" life, nor to take life, for they cannot give it, and that money will not save them before God
KEYWORDS: violence warning crime homicide law prison punishment death police Black(s)
FOUND IN: US(Ap)
Roud #6981
RECORDINGS:
Dillard Chandler, "Hicarmichael" (on Chandler01)
File: RcHicarm

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Add/Origins: Hicarmichael
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 01:28 PM

Liner notes are available at Smithsonian Folkways: https://folkways-media.si.edu/liner_notes/folkways/FW02418.pdf

Here are the notes. Lyrics are the same Mick posted, but Mick did a better job of laying them out.


Folkways Notes: "Hicarmichael" is a ballad with a rather strange text and strong moral position. "It will not do to take a life of anyone for their life you can not give." There is a peculiar juxtaposition of the descriptive line, "And as' he proceeded to read it the nigger shot him dead", and the very moral line (with a sense that all men are equal), "And money will not pay your fees when you're called before your god".
Published versions of this song have been impossible to locate, and that, along with an inspection of the text, leads me to believe the song is completely local.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TjbnEYTIlg (may not play outside the U.S.)


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Subject: RE: Add/Origins: Hicarmichael
From: GUEST,Felipa
Date: 10 Jun 18 - 06:17 PM

yes, of course it is easy enough to change the chorus and avoid using "the n word" so it seems that a more likely explanation of why this song is so little known or reported is that it was only known and sung in one locality.

I was struck by Devon Leger's reference to the Mudcat site.


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Subject: RE: Add/Origins: Hicarmichael
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jun 18 - 10:25 PM

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Felipa. This was fascinating.
-Joe-


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