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Help: Jimmy Crack Corn

DigiTrad:
BLUE-TAIL FLY
JIM CRACK CORN


Related threads:
(origins) Origin: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care (33)
Which fly was Lincoln's 'Buzzing song'? (13)
Jimmy Crack Corn - Man or Myth (89)
Origins: Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn) (42)
What was Jimmie doing? (48)
cracking more corn (5)
Lyr Req: Blue Tail Fly/Jimmy Crack Corn (16)
Thoughts on 'The Blue-tail Fly' (31)


GUEST,suzisong@aol.com 26 Feb 00 - 09:55 AM
Amos 26 Feb 00 - 10:36 AM
GUEST,Philippa 26 Feb 00 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Linda Novick 26 Jul 00 - 11:50 AM
catspaw49 26 Jul 00 - 12:14 PM
Gary T 27 Jul 00 - 02:30 AM
GUEST,Banjo Johnny 27 Jul 00 - 11:42 AM
X 04 Mar 03 - 01:33 PM
PageOfCups 04 Mar 03 - 01:45 PM
Mark Clark 04 Mar 03 - 02:00 PM
GUEST,Q 04 Mar 03 - 02:14 PM
Mark Cohen 05 Mar 03 - 12:04 AM
GUEST,NP 31 May 03 - 05:33 PM
GUEST 17 Aug 03 - 01:24 PM
toadfrog 17 Aug 03 - 02:51 PM
toadfrog 17 Aug 03 - 02:54 PM
Mark Clark 18 Aug 03 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,Q 18 Aug 03 - 01:18 PM
Joybell 12 Sep 03 - 10:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Sep 03 - 11:33 PM
Joybell 13 Sep 03 - 08:23 AM
Joybell 13 Sep 03 - 08:34 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Sep 03 - 06:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Sep 03 - 10:47 PM
oombanjo 14 Sep 03 - 03:19 AM
Joybell 14 Sep 03 - 07:13 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Sep 03 - 08:48 PM
Joybell 15 Sep 03 - 07:14 PM
Joybell 15 Sep 03 - 07:19 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Sep 03 - 07:40 PM
Joybell 15 Sep 03 - 08:02 PM
Joybell 15 Sep 03 - 08:14 PM
Uncle_DaveO 15 Sep 03 - 10:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Sep 03 - 10:58 PM
Joybell 16 Sep 03 - 08:16 AM
Joybell 16 Sep 03 - 08:36 AM
old moose 04 Nov 03 - 03:37 AM
GUEST,Extreme Eli 23 Mar 04 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,photocurio 29 Oct 04 - 02:47 AM
GUEST,kat 04 Mar 09 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,becca 01 Feb 14 - 01:34 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Feb 14 - 04:16 PM
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Subject: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,suzisong@aol.com
Date: 26 Feb 00 - 09:55 AM

We sang the Blue Tail Fly for President's Day. My students want to know the meaning of Jimmy Crack Corn. I thought it was whiskey, but I'm not sur
Related threads:-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Amos
Date: 26 Feb 00 - 10:36 AM

There's an earlier thread on this. It refers to the practice of nipping from a jug of corn -- the point being the singer is too grief-stricken to even care that Jimmy is doing this.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 26 Feb 00 - 10:42 AM

the most recent related thread I've found is Jimmy Crack Corn
You'll find links there to previous discussion


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,Linda Novick
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 11:50 AM

Looking for all the words to Jimmy Crack Corn and I don't care, Jimmy Crack Corn and I don't Care......etc.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 12:14 PM

Hi Linda.....Its in the Digitrad database. Look under "Blue Tail Fly"........and click on the previously linked thread above in blue. You might enjoy it.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Gary T
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 02:30 AM

Amos summed it up very succinctly. To elaborate a bit, here's a copy of my post to the other current thread on this:

This came up a while ago, perhaps on one of the threads linked above. One of our Mudcatters grew up in the South, as did her mother, and she shared with us the explanation her mother gave her, to wit:

Jimmy (presumably a fellow slave to the narrator) has cracked open a jug of corn whiskey in response to the master's death. The narrator, however, is so grief-stricken at the loss of the master that he doesn't even care to have any (whereas normally, it is assumed, he'd jump at the chance).

JIMMY CRACKed open a jug of CORN whiskey, AND I DON'T CARE to have any, because THE MASTER'S GONE AWAY.

Makes sense to me.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,Banjo Johnny
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 11:42 AM

Corn liquor, corn squeezin's, mountain dew, white light'ning, ... there must be a million songs about this. I always liked "Blue Tail Fly". == Johnny
Messages from multiple threads combined. Messages below are from a new thead.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Origins: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: X
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 01:33 PM

If Jimmy cracked corn and nobody cared, why did they write a song about it?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: PageOfCups
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 01:45 PM

I suspect it was a conspiracy, headed by none other than the Blue Tail Fly. ;-)

PoC


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Mark Clark
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 02:00 PM

TB, Here is a link to another “Blue-tail Fly” thread that, in turn contains links to several others. You'll find a lot of interesting information—and perhaps the answer to your question—among them.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 02:14 PM

Speculation about meaning in thread 25188: Man or Myth
Crack corn- one meaning is idle chatter. I think that applies here.
Choose partners and lets all &rdquo.


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Subject: ADD: Gimme Jack Cohn and I don't care
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 05 Mar 03 - 12:04 AM

Oh, salesmen come and salesmen go
And my best one is gone, I know
And if he don't come back to me
I'll have to close the factory

Gimme Jack Cohn and I don't care
Gimme Jack Cohn and I don't care
Gimme Jack Cohn and I don't care
Cause the bastard's gone away

(Allan Sherman)


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,NP
Date: 31 May 03 - 05:33 PM

I'll say it again-- 'gimcrack' is slang meaning something gaudy but of little value. Ole Massa's gone away and cannot supervise his slaves, so the slaves have allowed 'gimcrack' corn to grow-- and they don't even care!


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Aug 03 - 01:24 PM

i found that jimmy is not a name in the song, it was another word for "give me" in slave times--cracked corn is bourbon (corn alcohol), so the slave is getting drunk and doesnt care. I dont know if he doesnt care that his master is dead, or if he doesnt care about anything because hes drunk.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: toadfrog
Date: 17 Aug 03 - 02:51 PM

Why do you guys keep saying stuff like "&ldquo" and "&rdquo"? Is that more in-groupie slang like "LOL" and "IMHO"? Is it the secret code of the inner circle? And how does one pronounce "&ldquo"?


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: toadfrog
Date: 17 Aug 03 - 02:54 PM

My favorite version is Mike Seeger's, which contains no "master," "boss," or "blue tail fly."


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 Aug 03 - 10:51 AM

Close, toadfrog. Actually &ldquo;, et al. are specially coded messages meaning update your antiquated browser. <g>

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 18 Aug 03 - 01:18 PM

Toadfrog, I think it is a new way of disguising cuss words.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Joybell
Date: 12 Sep 03 - 10:37 PM

The song Blue-tail'd Fly was sung by a Master Watson at the Adelphi theatre in London in 1824. Long before it became a minstrel song. Of course there are several different sets of words -- all with the same chorus though. It was spread in Australia from 1850 by a solo black-face minstrel called Robert "Billy" Barlow. It has been collected here as sung to the tune of Early in the Morning. My father learned it from his family before 1900 and he told me that "Jimmy crack corn and I don't care" was about Jimmy the crow stealing and cracking open the corn. My thinking is that it was once a crow-scaring song from the British Isles before it was a minstrel song. Little kids often had crow-scaring as their first occupation in England and in America and many of their songs have been collected. They frequently have lines like the Blue-tail Fly chorus.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Sep 03 - 11:33 PM

Joybell, any evidence other than anecdotal for your statements?


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Joybell
Date: 13 Sep 03 - 08:23 AM

The Adelphi reference comes from the programs listed at the web site for the Adelphi Theatre. Robert "Billy" Barlow's articles and advertisments are in The Creswick and Clunes Advertiser and The Gympie Times -- between 1857 and 1906. Not on-line but available at the Gympie Library and the State Library in Melbourne. In these The Blue Tail'd Fly is called "his song". Barlow's obituary in 1906, in the magazine "Theatre" calls him "The Blue Tail Fly" The National Library in Canberra has the recordings of the song collected in New South Wales about 1970 -- sung to the Early in the Morning Tune. Not any of this conclusive, I admit, but interesting.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Joybell
Date: 13 Sep 03 - 08:34 AM

Oh and The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes Edited by Iona and Peter Opie Oxford University Press 1995 has a section on crow-scaring songs. No mention of Jimmy Crack Corn alas. Similiar songs though.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Sep 03 - 06:34 PM

There are several performers who used the name "Billy Barlow." It was the stage name of Sam Cowell, 1820-1864, known for the Cutty Wren type of song. No evidence that he used De Blue Tail Fly prior to the song's introduction in the States. The stage name derived from the song "Billy Barlow," sung by a minstrel named Wills in the 1830s.

Another famous minstrel, "Billy" Barlow, (1850- 1914), performed all over the world. His home was in Arkansas.

There is no printed evidence of "De Blue Tail Fly" by C. H. Keith (?) before 1846, although it is claimed to be earlier. . There are threads on this song, and the 1846 words have been posted ("O when you come in summer time, to South Carolinar's sultry clime,..."). The chorus, "Jimmie Crack Corn," was a separate song, published in 1846, sung by the Virginia Minstrels.

I can't find a "Billy" Barlow who died in 1904.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Sep 03 - 10:47 PM

"Billy Barlow," in the song sung by "himself," published in 1836, has the verse:

10. There's been a nigger here, singing about a long tail Blue,
But he ain't a patching and that's very true,
If you want the cut of a coat or any thing so
Just look at the rigging of Billy Barlow.

Oh! Oh! raggedy oh! Isn't it hard on Billy Barlow.

Also in 1836, another version of "Billy Barlow" was published, as sung by Jack Reeve, acting as Billy Barlow. Somewhat shorter, the verse is changed:

7. There's a nigger been here, who they say was Jim Crow,
But he cleared out the moment I came, you must know;
If you doubt what I say, I can prove it is so,
Just look at the rigging of sweet Billy Barlow.

Some ten years later, the "long tail Blue" coat verse may have been changed to one about the Blue Tail Fly, borrowing that song's idea from another singer with another minstrel group and causing confusion some 150 years later. The above songs were sung by American 'Billy Barlows.'

The Bodleian has several Billy Barlow songs, probably all attributable to Samuel Houghton Cowell, who played the part in the British Isles and elsewhere for many years. One version runs some 48 verses as performed by Cowell (Harding B11 (3415), no date. Some can be dated to the late 1830s so Cowell started playing the part before he reached his twenties.
No American subjects in his verses. Some concern Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, several well-known personages of the British Isles and Europe, Jenny Lind, a trip to Paris, his breeches, etc.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: oombanjo
Date: 14 Sep 03 - 03:19 AM

Are there any links on the ganjo tab for this one. Chee3rs Oombanjo.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Joybell
Date: 14 Sep 03 - 07:13 PM

Ah!!! The amazing Billy Barlow. I became interested in him about 4 years ago and have been chasing him ever since. An article about him turned into a book as I tried to sort them out -- all of them and there are dozens if not hundreds. That's how I came across the Blue-Tail'd Fly. Robert "Billy" Barlow was born in England - 1819 where he performed from the age of 18. He came to Australia possibly via America,and settled here in 1857. He toured several times to New Zealand, China,South Africa, USA and back to England. He finally settled in Queensland where he died in 1907 (sorry) Feb. 12th. I have found a descendant of his but he knows less than I've already found - which isn't much sadly. The Billy Barlow name, the songs and the character, were spread in Australia mainly by George Coppin but Robert also played a part. In America it seems that English-born, but American-raised Cowell was the main reason for the spread of the name, the character and the songs. Better stop there for now. This is how it all began four long years ago.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Sep 03 - 08:48 PM

Joybell, you have a strange mixture of fact and fiction. The "Billy Barlow born in England in 1819 (d. 1864) was Samuel Houghton Cowell. He was performing his act by 1837-1838.
The story about going to Australia was fictional, although he may have performed there. The story is based on the verses, "Billy Barlow's Emigration to Australia, Showing How He Got There and How He Got Settled," which was actually written by a Mr. Toole (for Cowell?) and published in the 1850s.
The verses began:

Some time, you must know, I've been so out of luck,
That I'd my living to yearn by dragging a truck;
But old aunt died, and left me a thousand,- 'Oh, Oh!
I'll start on my travels,' said Billy Barlow.
Oh, dear, lackaday, oh! etc.

So off to Australia went Billy Barlow.
When to Sidney i got, there a merchant I met,
Who said he could teach me a fortune to get;
He'd cattle and sheep past the colony's bounds,
Which he sold with the station for my thousand pounds.
Oh, dear, lackaday, oh! etc.

The National Library of Australia has put their copy on line at: Billy Barlow

There are other Billy Barlows, no relation. The Billy Barlow of Banjo Paterson, the Billy Barlow of the American Civil War, the Billy Barlow who was a cowboy along with Billy the Kid. There were several others who took the part of Barlow in America.

Then there is the American-Australian performer "Billy" Barlow (Robert?) whose wife died in 1910 at age 87 in Australia. He performed mostly around the 1850s-1860s. He is probably the one that you said died in 1907. He owned a hotel in Gympie. I can't take you directly to the item, but here is the basic website: Gympie

(www.gympiefhs.egympie.com.au/Gimpie%20Families/ln%20the%20early%20days.htm) - I hope that is correct-
There are other references in papers in Australia, a couple on line, but they don't add anything.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Joybell
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 07:14 PM

Yes but Robert Barlow was born in England.(the year before Cowell) He is the one you mention. My info. on Robert Barlow comes from the Gympie library who have been very helpful. Also I have some info. from Castlemaine in Victoria. There was an early ad. in an Australian newspaper that referred to him as American. He may have promoted that idea. Anyway it caused some confusion. Sam Cowell is another Billy Barlow. My information on him comes from the book his wife wrote - The Cowells in America. John Lawrence Toole also played Billy Barlow and sang his own song as that character. He wrote his own biography and my info. for him comes from that. He toured Australia in the late 1800s and sold his sheet music here. His song is based on Cowell's which he admits. The Billy Barlow song was already in Australia. It was written in 1943 by Sydney businessman Benjamin Pitt Griffin. ref. Bagot, Alec - Coppin the Great.   Well before Toole. The other Billys you mention I have also looked into and many more.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Joybell
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 07:19 PM

And no Sam Cowell never came here, although his sheet music did. He died soon after his American tour about which his wife writes. Toole wrote his Billy Barlow song for himself but credited Cowell with the idea.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 07:40 PM

I could be getting the "Billy Barlows" mixed up.
I still would like to see some positive indication of either Blue Tail Fly, or the other minstrel song, Jimmy Crack Corn, before 1846.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Joybell
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 08:02 PM

An easy thing believe me. Are we friends again? I wish I could find the proof you want too. Oh! do I !!   I only have the clues not the answers-- so far!! I thought that posting what I had might bring a few more clues.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Joybell
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 08:14 PM

A correction -- Billy Barlow in Australia was written by Benjamin Pitt Griffin in 1843 not 1943 as I said above.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 10:34 PM

I have great fun singing the song, "Billy Barlow", found
HERE, IN THE DT . Is this song associated with the performer discussed above?

I'm starting another thread, LYR ADDing the version I know, which is clearly related to the one in the DT, but different in detail and (to my mind) superior to it.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 10:58 PM

No, the songs are about a fool, played by various performers on the stage in the British Isles, America and Australia. Click on the link above to a copy in the National Library of Australia, or enter Billy Barlow in the Bodleian Library website and get a bunch, including Billy Barlow's Marriage, his trip to Paris, etc. Comments about people of the day (Queen Vic. and Albert, Jenny Lind, Napoleon III, various lords and ladies, etc).

Confusion is rife, not only about the performers of these songs, but somehow with the American Billy Barlow of the Civil War, the bush Billy Barlow of Australia (Banjo Paterson), the cowhand Billy Barlow, the Billy Barlow shot by Pat Garrett in New Mexico, etc. as well at the Cutty Wren changling Billy Barlow which is in the DT.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Joybell
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 08:16 AM

Billy Barlow can be sorted out, to some degree at least, but not by just looking at the internet. The answers are in old biographies, newspapers, and acounts written in the 19th century. If anyone is interested I can give the books in which I've found him. I don't claim to know it all but I have 4 years of research into the Billy Barlow phenomenon under my belt. Q - I do believe I hear the echo of a familiar piece of Joy-speak that you must have discovered at Fresno ??!! I'm flattered that you believe at least one of my statements. As I mentioned before "Billy Barlow in Australia" was not written by Banjo Patterson, although he collected and published it.

Uncle DaveO what a refreshing voice. I'll be back.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Joybell
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 08:36 AM

Uncle DavO Yes me too. My husband and I sing it -- sometimes with friends taking the different parts. It is indeed superior to the many other songs all called Billy Barlow which were never meant to be other than topical satire. It seems to have a connection with The Cutty Wren. I have never been able to tie this song in with the others. It is possible to make some studied guesses but they'll upset Q who isn't even reading my references where I give them! The fascination for me, connected with the other Billy Barlow songs, was in the Billy Barlow phenomenon. I think I'll go away and sing "Let's go a-huntin'/Billy Barlow" awhile. Thank you for reminding me what's really important. Sing Sing Sing


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: old moose
Date: 04 Nov 03 - 03:37 AM

I dunno where you folks get them strangr ideas. Some's pretty close. but take it from an old bootlegger's son, Ole Jimmy crackin corn isnt openin a jug, he's makin whiskey. that is corn likker. Straight from my old man who used to sing that song befo ol Burl Ives ever sung it, cracking corn was crushing kernels of hard corn. field corn that is, to make the mash then fermented, then distilled to make whatever you wanna call it, corn squeezins, white lightnin, etc. What ever the social and life aspects of a slave, or ex slave-tennant farmer-it is certain to be a way of earning a few hard won dollars for members of the hardes worked and poorest men the nation has ever seen. They aint the only ones, my daddy was anglo saxon to the core and in times of no money and high taxes he made whiskey to get his family by. I have his recipes still (but not his still) on how to make honey brown aged corn that'll go down as smooth as butter. Bob Clark's white lightnin was varnish remover as Don Firth and I can testify.


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Subject: Remix of Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,Extreme Eli
Date: 23 Mar 04 - 04:20 AM

Can anyone tell me the name of the artist who sings the new verison of Jimmy Crack Corn or if it has another name? It's like a nightclub remix of the song with a really fast pace to it for dancing.
Thanks.
EE


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,photocurio
Date: 29 Oct 04 - 02:47 AM

Well there is another, darker interpretation to this song: its about slaves celebrating the death of a cruel master. Certainly 'jimmy crack corn' refers to maining corn whiskey. Drinking it is also implied. And why doesn't the singer care? well usually corn liquor was often forbidden to slaves, and drunk only in secret. Now that the master is dead (gone away) they can party freely.

and what then is the significance of the blue tail fly? I suggest the fly is no ordinary fly, it is a fly enchanted by a voodoo sorcerer. It is an agent of vengence sent to assasinate the master.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,kat
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 10:18 AM

it originated from john saged


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: GUEST,becca
Date: 01 Feb 14 - 01:34 AM

I think crack here means pop. Kernels not wholly popped are cracked. I think Jimmy was making pop corn.


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Subject: RE: Help: Jimmy Crack Corn
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Feb 14 - 04:16 PM

becca, cracked corn is sold at animal/poultry feed stores, it is a common feed product.
Price about $9.00/25kg in the U. S. and Canada.


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