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Origins: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam

cnd 12 Jul 20 - 04:14 PM
cnd 12 Jul 20 - 04:33 PM
Joe_F 12 Jul 20 - 05:27 PM
cnd 12 Jul 20 - 06:39 PM
cnd 12 Jul 20 - 06:43 PM
cnd 12 Jul 20 - 06:58 PM
GUEST,Gene 01 Dec 20 - 11:04 PM
Lighter 02 Dec 20 - 08:48 PM
cnd 03 Dec 20 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,Roderick A. Warner 03 Dec 20 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,matt milton 03 Dec 20 - 03:29 PM
Lighter 03 Dec 20 - 04:35 PM
cnd 27 Sep 21 - 09:31 PM
cnd 27 Sep 21 - 09:42 PM
cnd 27 Sep 21 - 11:17 PM
cnd 28 Sep 21 - 08:28 AM
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Subject: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: cnd
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 04:14 PM

I originally was going to add this song to one of the WWI songs threads, but since I discovered there's more than one song that are related here I decided to make a thread.

After Mike Yates made his thread about the Blind Willie Johnson song "Jesus Is Coming Soon" (link), it got me thinking about WWI in other blues songs. After some searching, I couldn't find this song even mentioned on the 'cat, so I've decided to add the lyrics.

Sung by Pink Anderson, a Piedmont Blues singer who traveled around in medicine shows, is the song "The Boys of Your Uncle Sam" or "The Kaiser." Anderson was born in Laurens, SC, in the northwestern portion of the state, and grew up in nearby Greenville and Spartanburg.

Here are some notes about the song copied from a FolkWays album liner notes (link)
The song “The Boys of Your Uncle Sam,” which Anderson also recorded as “The Kaiser,” likely comes from Henry Whitter’s 1923 Okeh recording, “The Kaiser and Uncle Sam,” [instrumental song] or the Ernest V. Stoneman cover “Uncle Sam and the Kaiser,” recorded for Okeh in 1925. Songster Anderson had several pieces in his repertoire associated with these two old time country artists, including Whitter’s “Wreck of Old 97” and Stoneman’s “The Titanic.” Knowledge of such topical pieces was a necessity for the songster.

Listen to a recording of the song by Pink Anderson here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9j6hXLbzIw

THE BOYS OF YOUR UNCLE SAM

Old Kaiser said to the soldiers, "Come on, boys, and go
If we conquer Europe, this world is ours, you know
I hear them boys of your Uncle Sam"

Old Kaiser, he said to the soldiers there, "Let's go up to the front"
But the soldier, he said to Kaiser, "You will have to bear the blunt
If you wanna keep peace with your Uncle Sam"

"We have conquered little Belgium and France will soon be ours
And all the rest will surrender with all other powers
I hear the boys of your Uncle Sam"

Old Kaiser said to the President, "I'll kill your vision back"
President said to the Kaiser "You will have to ball the jack
You done gone too far with your Uncle Sam"

Old Kaiser he said to the President "Put a pad in between my knees
And call for my position, I believe I've got the heart disease
I see them lights in Paris now"

"Conquered little Belgium and France will soon be ours
All the rest will surrender with all other powers
I see them lights in Paris now"

#######################################################################################################

A few closing comments:

"Ball the jack" was a black phrase from the turn of the 20th century which originated apparently in black communities. The phrase entered popular culture from a song titled Ballin' the Jack which involved "vigorous hip movements" which was considered at the time both fast and risque (listen to a 1914 recording by the Victor Military Band here, and watch Judy Garland and Gene Kelly dance a version of it here). In reference to the rapid movements of the dance, the President is telling the Kaiser that he'll have to move quickly

The comments on the FolkWays album fail to mention what I have found to be the most likely origin of the song: Charlie Oaks' recording. I haven't been able to find a full set of lyrics or a recording online, but I have found some of it, which I'll add in a later post.


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: cnd
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 04:33 PM

Now, for Anderson's (mostly identical) song, The Kaiser. I find The Kaiser to be a lot less coherent than The Boys and Uncle Sam, but it does have one unique stanza.

Listen to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhdFn3d0XnE

THE KAISER

Old Kaiser said to the soldiers, "Come on, boys, and go
If we conquer Europe, this world is ours, you know
I hear them boys of your Uncle Sam"

"We have conquered little Belgium and France will soon be ours
And all the rest will surrender with all other powers
I hear the boys of your Uncle Sam"

Old Kaiser said to the soldiers, "Let's go up to the front"
But the soldiers said to Kaiser, "You will have to bear the blunt
You done gone to far with your Uncle Sam"

Defy the combined allies, he holds em all a-hand
But the voction from Uncle Sammy, the soldiers could not stand
The Dixie boys and the Yankees too

Old Kaiser, he said to his soldiers, put a pad in between my knees
and call for my physician I believe I've got the heart disease
I hear them boys of your Uncle Sam
I hear them boys of your Uncle Sam

#######################################################################################################

The penultimate stanza (how's that for a fancy phrase!) is definitely an uncertainty of mine.

I would also make the underlined change of the final stanza to my lyrics above as well. You know what they say about hindsight


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: Joe_F
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 05:27 PM

Surely "blunt" should be "brunt"?


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: cnd
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 06:39 PM

Joe_F, I originally had "brunt," but if you listen carefully it sounds much more like he's singing "blunt" rather than brunt. He probably meant brunt but I definitely hear an l rather than an r.



From the singing of Ernest V. Stoneman, which can be heard here, we can find another variation of this song. Note that I cannot figure out all the words Stoneman sang; corrections and second opinions are welcome.

Listen to Stoneman's recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NsRY57oSws (a version without the skip in the beginning on Spotify)

UNCLE SAM AND THE KAISER

The Kaiser started an awful war, he thought he'd whip the world
But when the guys got over there the Kaiser lost his nerve
When ????? he lost his nerve

Uncle Sam, he said to the Kaiser, come on and take your pill
For we have come to show you, no longer, Kaiser Bill
So come on Bill and take your pill

The Kaiser said to Uncle Sam "You've got to bring on your boys
When I get through with my gas bombs you'll think they're only toys
When I get through you'll have no boys"

Uncle Sam, he got his boys, he landed there in France
And when they got in action, the ???? left the train
Gonna get you Bill, gonna get you Bill

The Kaiser said to Uncle Sam, "Gonna sink you in the sea
When my U-boats get through with you, can't even get to me
Gonna sink you, Sam, in the deep blue sea"

Uncle Sam, he said to the Kaiser, "Oh now we're on our way
And if we see your old U-boats the devil will be to pay
Gonna shoot them all out of our way"

And now the war is over, the Yankee's gun is still
But when they left old Europe, there was no more Kaiser Bill
They chased him off, he's in Holland still


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: cnd
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 06:43 PM

I only have partial lyrics to the recording by Charlie Oaks.

From Country Music Goes To War by Charles K. Wolfe, they are:
The Kaiser said to his soldiers,
Come on boys, let's go,
We'll conquer all of Europe
And the world will be our foe,
But we want to keep peace with Uncle Sam.

It continues to tell the story of the war in a fairly chronological manner, referring even to the coming of unrestricted U-boat warfare on Allied shipping.

Then they began sinking.
The best of the good old USA,
Then Woodrow said to Kaiser,
This game we'll help you play,
You can't run a bluff on Uncle Sam.


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: cnd
Date: 12 Jul 20 - 06:58 PM

From the singing of J. E. Mainer on the album Fiddling With His Girl Susan comes the short song "Keep Peace With Uncle Sam."

KEEP PEACE WITH UNCLE SAM
(Arr. Uncle Jim O'Neal)

Kaiser said to a captain, let's go to the foreign land
We conquered old England and would play a win in mind
But we want to keep peace with Uncle Sam

The Kaiser said to his soldiers, "Now come on boys, let's go
We've conquered all of Europe, and the world'll be ours, you know
But we want keep peace with Uncle Sam"

Hindenburg said to the Kaiser, "You'd better get your gun"
Kaiser said to Hindenburg, "Just give me a route to run
I see the boys of Uncle Sam"

The Kaiser said to Woodrow, "I'll pay your billion back
But Woodrow said to the Kaiser "You'll have to ball the jack
For this is the guns of Uncle Sam"


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: GUEST,Gene
Date: 01 Dec 20 - 11:04 PM

I have the missing lyrics to Stoneman's version. The first one is "When they opened the guns, he lost his nerve", and the second sounds like "the bum just left the train" to my ears.


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Dec 20 - 08:48 PM

Hi, Carter.

I hear "brunt" very clearly.

"Defy the combined Allies" is the best I can do too.

I can't imagine what "voction" is.

The tune is a lot like "Battleship of Maine," "Boll Weevil," and "Frankie and Albert." It isn't too far away from "Railroad Bill" either.


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: cnd
Date: 03 Dec 20 - 10:49 AM

Gene,

That's definitely a good proposition. A better guess than I had, but I'm not sure I'm totally convinced.

After listening again more closely I'd like to suggest that the first one is maybe "When the Yanks had come(d) he lost his nerve"? My new theory on the second one is that Stoneman says "the botch had left the train" as a cleaner way of saying "the bitch had left the train."



Thanks for that, Jonathan. For a while I tried to make sense of the word "voction" but just decided it was a nonsense word. The way Anderson used it makes me feel like it could be a corruption of "gumption" or perhaps another word, but it's hard to be certain. I can definitely hear the similarities to all of those songs.


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: GUEST,Roderick A. Warner
Date: 03 Dec 20 - 11:13 AM

Given the WW1 context, perhaps ‘the botch’ means ‘the Boche?’


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 03 Dec 20 - 03:29 PM

I had a conversation on the blues website Weenie Campbell about the lyrics to this same Pink Anderson song a few years ago. We all agreed it was 'bear the blunt'. And I heard 'vuction' and I think Pink's just singing a nonsense word. I always thought Pink was thinking something inbetween 'eruption', 'ruckus' and 'action'.


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Subject: RE: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Dec 20 - 04:35 PM

Yes, "botch" is really "Boche," a common word at the time. "Bitch" applied to men was not.

Don't know about the rest of the line.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: cnd
Date: 27 Sep 21 - 09:31 PM

I finally found a copy of the Charlie Oaks recording at a reasonable price. I'll make an attempt at a transcription and post it later tonight. I also just found the sheet music of a song the folks at secondhandsongs (click) say the song may be based on -- it's similar enough I'm inclined to agree to some extent; I'll transcribe and post the lyrics in a second message. It's the 1918 date.

So here's the chronology of songs and texts, by recording dates if possible. Release date is noted if it is significantly different.

1918 - We'll Swat the Kaiser for Uncle Sam by Alfred Danieux
circa December 10th, 1923 - The Kaiser and Uncle Sam by Henry Whitter (instrumental) [1]
May 27th, 1925 - Uncle Sam and the Kaiser by Ernest V. Stoneman [2]
1961 - The Kaiser by Pink Anderson (released 1963) [3]
1962 - The Boys of Your Uncle Sam by Pink Anderson (released 1984) [4]
circa 1969 - Keep Peace With Uncle Sam by J. E. Mainer [5]


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: cnd
Date: 27 Sep 21 - 09:42 PM

WE'LL SWAT THE KAISER
(Words & Music by Alfred Danieux, copyright 1918 E. A. Bertrand)

Old "Bill" tho't he could rule the world by stirring up a fight,
And all the German people tho't him surely in the right;
For "Gott mit uns" is a mighty phrase with ev'ry warring Hun;
So calling on old Hindenburg the battle was begun.
But we'll

REFRAIN
swat, swat, swat the Kaiser for Uncle Sam!
We'll swat the Hun who thinks he's the great "I Am!"
We'll swat him back into Old Berlin,
And there we'll get him and swat him again!
We'll swat, swat, swat the Kaiser for Uncle Sam.

He thought he'd crush poor Belgium first and walk right into France,
Then onto British soil before old England had a chance,
Then far away over sea's he'd come to get the U.S.A.
But Uncle Sammy saw him and got busy right away.
And we'll

REFRAIN

Bill Kaiser said "we couldn't fight, our strength was all a dream,"
"He had the U.S. bottled tight," "We feared his submarine!"
But he is changing his mind a bit, we're there a million strong;
While several millions more are called and coming right along.
And we'll

REFRAIN


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Subject: Lyr Add: Kaiser and Uncle Sam (Oaks)
From: cnd
Date: 27 Sep 21 - 11:17 PM

So, first, a little context on Oaks as the performer. A basic summary from Charles K. Wolfe's Tennessee Strings, Oaks was a blind musician born (probably) in Kentucky but who lived most of his life in eastern Tennessee, playing at county fairs, political events, and street corners. He was a prolific composer, and examples of his broadsides survive from as early as 1904. Playing in east Tennessee would explain how Whitter heard the song, as he and his frequent musical partner, G. B. Grayson, were from near the east Tennessee border area and often played at fiddlers conventions and festivals in the area.

Let me also say that there are a few questionable spots in my transcription here, especially towards the end, where my recording gets pretty rough, however overall they paint a pretty good picture of the song and indicate Oaks's version is, if not the original, one of the earliest versions. I'm starting to question the relation of the sheet music due to the 4 lines per stanza, and the fairly major differences between the words of the sheet music and any of the recorded versions. The tune is, in my opinion, similar, but mostly passingly, though I'd have to sit down and play it to make totally sure of that -- 'hearing' sheet music has never been a strong suit of mine.

THE KAISER AND UNCLE SAM
(Charlie Oaks version)

Kaiser said to his counsel, "Let's go to the fighting line
We'll conquer France and England, and Europe will then be mine
But I want to keep peace with Uncle Sam"

The Kaiser said to his soldiers, "Come on boys, let's go
We'll conquer all of Europe and the world will be ours, you know
But I want to keep peace with Uncle Sam"

The Kaiser said to the Empress, "I will not say farewell
I'll never be killed by a Frenchman's gun or an English shot and steel
But I want to keep peace with Uncle Sam"

"We'll conquer little Belgium, and France will soon be ours
Then England will surrender with all the other powers
But I wanna keep peace with Uncle Sam"

The Kaiser saw the foodstuffs transported over the sea
The Kaiser said to the U-boat crew "This must no longer be
We'll have to run a bluff on Uncle Sam"

Then he began picking the vessels of a grand old U.S.A.
Then Woodrow said to the Kaiser, "This is a game we'll help you play
You can't run a bluff on Uncle Sam"

The Kaiser came to the trenches and to his great surprise
The brilliancy of our glory almost put out his eyes
If they'll keep peace with Uncle Sam

The Kaiser said to his chauffeur "Get the car up right and go home
I believe I've got the palsy my legs are trembling so
I see the flag* of Uncle Sam"

The Kaiser said to his servant "Put a pad between my knees
And then for my prescription, for I've got the heart disease
I hear the guns* of Uncle Sam"

Hindenburg said to the Kaiser, "You'd better get your guns"
The Kaiser said to Hindenburg, "Just give me room to run
I see the boys* of Uncle Sam"

"With the groups of France and England we can hold them all our hand
But the marksman tip of the Sammy we Germans cannot stand
We'll have two* from Uncle Sam"

The Kaiser said to Woodrow "I'll pay your million back"
But Woodrow said to the Kaiser "You'll have to ball the jack
You've gone too far with Uncle Sam"

* these phrases annunciated and drawn out in a sort of whinnying way, i.e. "fla-ah-ah-ag" or "gu-uh-uh-ns"


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Kaiser and Uncle Sam
From: cnd
Date: 28 Sep 21 - 08:28 AM

Two things:

1. I forgot to include the Charlie Oaks recording in my list of above versions. It was recorded August 4th, 1925.

2. The line in Charlie Oaks' version about heart disease should instead be "And then fill my prescription, for I've got the heart disease"


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