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Help: johnny cockaroo

GUEST,earlyfloyd@yahoo.com 17 May 01 - 02:09 AM
SeanM 17 May 01 - 02:17 AM
IanC 17 May 01 - 05:54 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 17 May 01 - 05:55 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 17 May 01 - 06:04 AM
GUEST,Roger the skiffler 17 May 01 - 06:13 AM
Stevangelist 17 May 01 - 11:42 AM
GUEST 03 Jul 08 - 09:17 AM
Azizi 03 Jul 08 - 11:09 AM
Azizi 03 Jul 08 - 11:13 AM
Azizi 03 Jul 08 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,msloretta 29 Jul 09 - 07:31 PM
Darowyn 29 Jul 09 - 07:42 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Jul 09 - 09:41 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Jul 09 - 09:50 PM
Azizi 21 Sep 09 - 07:24 PM
Jack Campin 21 Sep 09 - 08:19 PM
Azizi 21 Sep 09 - 08:28 PM
Jack Campin 21 Sep 09 - 08:38 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Sep 09 - 09:00 PM
Azizi 21 Sep 09 - 09:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Sep 09 - 01:59 PM
Azizi 22 Sep 09 - 02:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Sep 09 - 02:35 PM
Azizi 22 Sep 09 - 02:40 PM
GUEST,mattcarl 03 Aug 11 - 01:33 PM
GUEST 29 Sep 11 - 01:26 PM
GUEST 20 Jan 13 - 12:22 AM
Jim Dixon 28 Dec 13 - 12:56 AM
GUEST,TheBeastNme 23 May 14 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Fatboy 18 Mar 15 - 12:30 PM
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Subject: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST,earlyfloyd@yahoo.com
Date: 17 May 01 - 02:09 AM

trying to obtain the definition and relevance of a Johnny Cockaroo..any help would be greatly appreciated!


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: SeanM
Date: 17 May 01 - 02:17 AM

Sorry... nothing on the DT. The only reference I found on Google was to an underground band of the loud alternative kind, but you can check it out http://www.truthwy.com/html/articles.htm if you have the desire.

Hope someone else can be more helpful.

M

--- Link fixed. ---


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: IanC
Date: 17 May 01 - 05:54 AM

I think it's a Cockroach.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 17 May 01 - 05:55 AM

aka Jean De Coquereau?
RtS (I'm a Hootchie Cootchie Man- in my dreams!)


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 17 May 01 - 06:04 AM

Discussion on a Southern blues site picked up via Google suggests origin: "John the Conqueror root" a Southern herbal remedy(?aphrodisiac?),but as I come from the wrong Birmingham (UK not Alabama) local experts may have a better explanation.
RtS


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST,Roger the skiffler
Date: 17 May 01 - 06:13 AM

This is the quote from Harp_L digest

I finally tracked down the novel 'Falling Angel' by William Herze...? (Sorry). It's the novel that inspired 'Angelheart' - and quite a damn good read too.

The scene where Harry Angel visits Epiphany Proudfoot he uses the excuse he came to buy some 'John the Conqueror Root' from her herbal store. From the humour between them my guess it was an aphrodisiac - Epiphany tells Harry he needs as much as he can get...

So I was pleasantly suprised ...on my Muddy Waters 'King of the Electric Blues'to hear Muddy say HE had it - or is he REALLY saying Johnny Cockeroon?' Quote ends.

RtS


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Stevangelist
Date: 17 May 01 - 11:42 AM

John The Conqueror Root. Sometimes the spelling and pronunciation are bastardized to "johnny cockeroo" or any number of other forms. OLD southern Negroes used to call it "Johnny Cockeroo" as a 'slang' replacement for the correct, scientific name because they did not have access to books on the herb. What you seek, however, is the Conqueror Root, a root used in "mojo" bags as an agent to either ward off bad luck/the devil or invite good luck/women/prosperity.

I have studied the blues and its history for years and I welcome any chance to be of help.

May The Road Rise To Meet You,

Stevangelist


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:17 AM

its from Muddy waters
his second cousin


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:09 AM

Here's another possible source for "Johnny Cockaroo":

Here Comes One Johnny Cuckoo

[African American Georgia Sea Isle Children's Game Song]


Group:
Here comes one Johnny Cuckoo,
Cuckoo, Cuckoo.
Here comes one Johnny Cuckoo,
on a cold and stormy night.

Group:
What did you come for,
come for, come for?
What did you come for,
on a cold and stormy night?

Soloist #1:
I come to be a soldier,
soldier, soldier.
I come to be a soldier,
on a cold and stormy night.

Group:
You are too black and dirty,
dirty, dirty.
You are too black and dirty
on a cold and stormy night.

Soloist #1:
I'm just as good as you are
you are, you are.
I'm just as good as you are
on a cold and stormy night.

(repeat entire song with soloist #2 etc.)

**

"Johnny Cuckoo" is a traditional game song from the Georgia Sea Isles. The song is included in a four CD collection of Southern folk songs (Alan Lomax, Sounds of the South Disc 4 Atlantic Recording Corp, 1993). The song is also included in Bess Hawes & Bess Lomax Hawes' book of Georgia Sea Isle rhymes Step It Down.

This song probably dates from the Civil War era. In my opinion, "Johnny Cuckoo" used dramatic play to teach & reinfornce self-esteem and self-confidence. Hopefully, the children internalized the affirmation that "I'm just a good as you are" for the times when they would experience put downs as children, teens, and adults.

I'm not certain if "Johnny Cuckoo" is still sung in Georgia or elsewhere. I have no knowledge of it from my childhood in New Jersey, and haven't come across anyone who knows it in my adopted city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:13 AM

That said, I think that the original poster to this thread was probably thinking of John The Conqueroo.

Here's an excerpt from that Wikipedia page whose link I've provided:

"John the Conqueroo, also known as High John the Conqueroo, John the Conqueror, or John the Conquer root, refers to a number of roots to which magical powers are ascribed in American folklore, especially among the hoodoo tradition of folk magic. The root, in turn, is named after a folk hero called High John the Conqueror.

The root and its magical uses are mentioned in a number of blues lyrics".


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:17 AM

I meant to add that the game song "Here Comes One Johnny Cuckoo" and the folk character "John The Conqueroo" could very well be related.

It's possible that the name of the character in the song could suggest to those hearing it the strength & power of John The Conqueror. The intended message of the song may have been "In order to be powerful like John The Conqueror you have to feel good about yourself".


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST,msloretta
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 07:31 PM

Johnny Cockaroo was once used to describe the red marks found around a black slave's ankles when shackles had been removed. It was a dead give-away for a man who claimed to have been born free.


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Darowyn
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 07:42 PM

If it was a mark of slavery, I don't think that the blues song would go,
"I got a black cat bone.
I got a mojo too
I got a John le Cockerou
I'm gonna mess with you"
(Hootchie Cootchie Man)
Clearly it's a list of magical charms to allow a Hootchie Cootchie man to mess with the "you" of the song.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 09:41 PM

'John the Conquerer root' is said to be Ipomoea jalapa, a plant related to the large plant family which includes bindweed, morning glory and sweet potato. It may also be something else.

The "John the Conquerer," the prince who became a slave, and is invoked by the root, who appears in folk tales, may be mythical.

"red marks around a black slave's ankles"- authority for this questionable statement? Any mention of this with regard to prisoners who were shackled?

"Johnny Cuckoo" was sung by Joan Baez at Newport, 1963-1965. I doubt any relation of this song to the mojo weed. Baez probably got it from the Smithsonian or North Carolina collections.
It is the same song as sung in the Lomax-Bess Hawes albums. An excellent version by Janie Hunter from the Sea Islands (Johns Island, South Carolina) where it was associated with a ring song. See The Southern Folklife Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina:
Carawan Coll
This is a very extensive and important collection of both Black and White materials.

Janie Hunter sings "Johnny Cuckoo" on the Smithsonian Folkways album, "Been in the Storm So Long," a Johns Island collection.
The old Carawan album of the same name has become hard to get.

There is another old song with Johnny Cuckoo, probably unrelated, called "Mulberry Hill," in which an old lady is making her will. Two couplets-

And there she sat down to make her will,
Aha, aha, to make her will.

The old grey mare to Johnny Cuckoo,
Aha, aha, to Johnny Cuckoo.

Library of Congress, Folk Songs of America: The Robert Winslow Gordon Collection, 1922-1932.
http://www.loc.gov/folklife/Gordon/sideBbandB5.html


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jul 09 - 09:50 PM

Correction, UNC Carawan Coll:
http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/c/Carawan, Guy_and_Candie.html


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 07:24 PM

Here's a hyperlink to a video of Joan Baez singing the children's song "Johnny Cuckoo":

http://www.uucast.com/Joan+Baez+Johnny+Cuckoo/joan-baez-johnny-cuckoo-2


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 08:19 PM

It seems to be a variant of a song which was adapted in Edinburgh to refer to the visit of George IV in 1822 (from my "Embro, Embro" pages):

The King's Arrival

So it predates the Civil War by at least 40 years (and probably decades more than that).


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 08:28 PM

Jack and/or anyone else, isn't "Johnny Cuckoo" recognized as a variant form of Dukes A' Riding?

@displaysong.cfm?SongID=7300

If it isn't, why not? Note the very close similarity in the beginning words, and the "They are all so black and so browsy" verse (Dukes A'Riding) and the "black and dirty" verse (Johnny Cuckoo).

**

Is the King's Arrival song older than the Duke A' Riding song?


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 08:38 PM

"The King's Arrival" was first noted down about the same time as the others, but the reference to the King dates it much earlier. The link I noticed was the "as good as you" line - which is shared by "John Cuckoo" and "The King's Arrival", but isn't in any of the DT songs.


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 09:00 PM

According to Iona and Peter Opie* the earliest the game "Duke(s) a-riding" is known to have been played is in Lancashire, 1820-1830. The Opies give several of the large number of variants. The game was popularized in the 1880s when Plunket** (1886) and others thought that the children of the "well-to-do might find pleasure for themselves and give pleasure to their elders" by learning and playing such games.

Similar games are known throughout Europe, and have been brought to the Americas.
*Iona and Peter Opie, 1985, "The Singing Game," pp. 76-92, Oxford University Press.
** E. M. Plunket, 1886, "Merrie Games in Rhyme"

According to the Opies, "The King's Arrival" is a variant of "Duke(s) a-riding."

I rather doubt that "Johnny Cuckoo" is related. "Duke(s) a-riding" is a play-marriage game.


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 09:37 PM

If no folklorist has recognized the close simularities in the text of "Johnny Cuckoo" and "Dukes A' Riding", I'm amazed.

I believe the tunes are very similar, if I correctly recall the Dukes A-Riding tune.

And the manner of playing-apart from the chasing afterwards (if there is chasing afterwards in the Dukes a'riding game song. I'm jumping ahead of myself because I want to mention yet another African American children's game song that is a variant form of Dukes a'riding.

But just because the purpose of two songs are different, you would say that one isn't a variant form of another? I'm sorry, but I find that amazing.

**

Here is a link to the words of an African American "courting" game song that I collected in 1997 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (I gave the wrong collection year in my comments in about that song in that thread). My informant was Barbara Ray, an African American woman who remember this game song from her childhood, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the early-mid 1950s.

thread.cfm?threadid=18352#2116757



Note the close similarities between Dukes a-riding (and Johnny Cuckoo) and other variant Dukes a-riding songs.

Here's the play instructions and some excerpts of that song:

Directions: The girls form a horizontal line and stand facing boys who have also formed a horizontal line. In the 1st part of this singing game, the girls sing and skip four steps for each phrase toward the boys and the boys sing while skipping four steps for each phrase toward the girls. The singing game turns into a chasing game at a specific part of the chant.

**

Girls:
We're riding here to get married
Married, Married
Riding here to get married.
Ah Rhythm Ah Diddee
Ah Diddee High Oh...

**

Boys:

You'll get all dirty and greasy
Greasy, Greasy
You'll get all dirty and greasy
Ah Rhythm Ah Diddee
Ah Diddee High Oh


-snip-

How can anyone reading these texts not recognize that they are variant forms of "Dukes a riding"?



Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 01:59 PM

Azizi, you throw too wide a loop.

"Duke(s) a-riding" certainly is a forbear of the play song in the last part of your post; "Girls, we're riding here to get married ...." a typical match-making song.

"Here Comes One Johnny Cuckoo" (earlier post), sung by Joan Baez, and in your Cocojams, seems to be a combination of a soldier play song with the 'dirty' verses from "Duke(s)..." Floaters?
It does not mention match-making. On that basis I would separate them.
The "dark and stormy night" line is one I haven't found in other play songs.

Compare with "Here's a Soldier," another match-making song:

Here's a soldier, left all alone
Wants a wife and can't get none.
...........
What's your will, mu dilcy dulcy officer? (2x)
............
My will it is to marry, my dilcy dulcy officer
..........
You're all too old and ugly, my dilcy dulcy officer (2x
etc.

or:
I am an old soldier, I come from the war,
Come from the war;
I am an old soldier, I come from the war,
And my age it is sixty and three.
...........
Son, go choose a wife of your own,
etc.
You're all too old and ugly
................
Children seem to like the dirty, greasy, blowsy, ugly comparisons.

Neither seems to have any relation to the 'Conquerer root'.

(I have found a rather good version of "Three Dukes" from Shropshire in Gomme; if I can find that thread I will post there, or will post separately).


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 02:20 PM

I appreciate your response Q.

I'm curious to know if any other folklorist have weighed in on the question of any possible relationship between "Johnny Cuckoo" and the "Dukes a' riding" song.

And as a relative newbie in the community folklorist "field", I'm also curious to know what other folklorists say about whether two songs have to have the same purpose* in order to be considered part of the same song family.


*For instance, do both or the songs have to be "courting songs" before they can be considered part of the same song family?


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 02:35 PM

Azizi, that's a greasy, slippery question. I seem to recall song relationships are argued with regard to a number of songs posted and discussed here.

How does one draw boundaries? I think the dominant purpose or intent of the song is the deciding factor for most 'folklorists'. That is not always clear-cut.


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 02:40 PM

Okay. I'll put the question aside on this forum, although I still maintain that there is a close relationship between the two songs in question.


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST,mattcarl
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 01:33 PM

John the Conqueroo: Refers to a root or tuber that possesses magical powers, popular in hoodoo tradition. The root itself is named for High John the Conqueror, an African prince that was sold into slavery and subsequently passed into folklore as a mythical trickster figure. The root is often referred to in blues songs and is sometimes carried in a mojo bag.


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Sep 11 - 01:26 PM

It could very well be St. John's Wort which is an herbal supplement that is found in most drug stores. It is used to treat depression.


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jan 13 - 12:22 AM

its an ankle holster with a .38 in it


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Subject: Lyr Add: I'M YOUR HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN (W Dixon)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Dec 13 - 12:56 AM

This seems like a good place to post these lyrics:


I'M YOUR HOOCHIE COOCHIE MAN
Written by Willie Dixon
As recorded by Muddy Waters, 1954.

1. The gypsy woman told my mother
Before I was born:
"You got a boy-child's comin'.
He gonna be a son of a gun.
He gonna make pretty womens
Jump and shout.
Then the world'll want to know
What it's all about."

CHORUS: But you know I'm here.
Everybody knows I'm here.
Well, you know I'm the hoochie-coochie man.
Everybody knows I'm here.

2. I got a black-cat bone.
I got a mojo too.
I got a john-the-cockeroo.
I'm gonna mess with you.
I'm gonna make you girls
Lead me by my hand.
Then the world'll know
I'm the hoochie-coochie man. CHORUS

3. On the seventh hour,
On the seventh day,
On the seventh month,
The seventh doctor say:
"He were born for good luck,
And that you'll see."
I got seven hundred dollars,
And don't you mess with me. CHORUS

[Lots of people have recorded this. Sometimes the title is spelled "Hoochy-Coochy" or "Hootchie-Cootchie" or "Hootchy-Cootchy" or "...-Koochy" etc.]


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST,TheBeastNme
Date: 23 May 14 - 01:59 PM

On a cold and stormy night the sounds of the storm add a bit of privacy when I come to bed with a clean soldier. That's what I'm talking 'bout.


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Subject: RE: Help: johnny cockaroo
From: GUEST,Fatboy
Date: 18 Mar 15 - 12:30 PM

I'm almost 60 and have been listening to and loving blues since I was a teen. I too long wondered what Johnny Cockaroo meant. Somewhere along the way I just assumed it was like a mojo, you know, a lucky charm or talisman of some type. A few years ago I was talking with a neighbor, an African American man in his 80s in our town of Austin Texas. He used the term Johnny Cockaroo and stunned me. I asked what he was referring to and he pointed to some flowers that I call Johnny Jump Ups. I looked up Johnny Jump Ups and found they have all sorts of medicinal uses going back centuries. In Shakespeare they show as Heartsease and can cause a person to fall madly in love.
I say, forget what else you've heard about John the Conqueror or mandrake. In Texas, for Black people, it's the Tri-color Viola commonly called Johnny Jump Ups by Whites.


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