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Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos

Related threads:
Lyr Add: Ain't No More Cane On This Brazos (CMT?) (10)
Brazos River Songs (22)
Lyr Req: No More Cane on the Brazos (from M Platt) (21)
Lyr Req: Cross the Brazos at Waco (K. C. Arnold) (11)


GUEST,swoopy 27 Sep 01 - 10:06 AM
GUEST 27 Sep 01 - 11:07 AM
GUEST,eluned 27 Sep 01 - 11:34 AM
Bat Goddess 27 Sep 01 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Steve 27 Sep 01 - 02:43 PM
Steve Latimer 27 Sep 01 - 03:28 PM
Joe Offer 27 Sep 01 - 07:45 PM
Art Thieme 27 Sep 01 - 08:24 PM
masato sakurai 27 Sep 01 - 10:24 PM
Big Red 28 Sep 01 - 12:11 AM
toadfrog 28 Sep 01 - 12:23 AM
ddw 28 Sep 01 - 12:24 AM
Big Red 28 Sep 01 - 12:25 AM
Art Thieme 28 Sep 01 - 06:11 PM
Art Thieme 28 Sep 01 - 06:14 PM
Sandy Paton 28 Sep 01 - 08:12 PM
raredance 29 Sep 01 - 01:44 AM
Bat Goddess 29 Sep 01 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,Jed Marum 29 Sep 01 - 08:57 AM
Lin in Kansas 29 Sep 01 - 01:00 PM
raredance 29 Sep 01 - 10:06 PM
Art Thieme 30 Sep 01 - 06:17 PM
Sandy Paton 30 Sep 01 - 10:01 PM
Art Thieme 30 Sep 01 - 11:43 PM
GUEST,Fred 01 Oct 01 - 12:24 AM
Sandy Paton 01 Oct 01 - 02:26 AM
Joe Offer 01 Oct 01 - 06:16 PM
raredance 01 Oct 01 - 10:56 PM
raredance 01 Oct 01 - 11:16 PM
Art Thieme 01 Oct 01 - 11:52 PM
raredance 02 Oct 01 - 12:00 AM
MAG 03 Oct 01 - 12:31 PM
Barry Finn 03 Oct 01 - 04:36 PM
chordstrangler 03 Oct 01 - 04:42 PM
wysiwyg 03 Oct 01 - 05:44 PM
raredance 03 Oct 01 - 09:09 PM
wysiwyg 04 Oct 01 - 07:54 PM
ray bucknell 05 Oct 01 - 09:06 AM
Jim Dixon 15 Jun 05 - 06:50 AM
Pete MacGregor 15 Jun 05 - 09:42 AM
WooBerry 02 Dec 05 - 11:45 PM
greg stephens 03 Dec 05 - 03:59 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 Dec 05 - 04:37 AM
Roger the Skiffler 03 Dec 05 - 06:34 AM
Roger the Skiffler 05 Dec 05 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,Lighter at work 05 Dec 05 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,Janine 05 Dec 05 - 09:25 AM
Abby Sale 05 Dec 05 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,Wooberry at work 05 Dec 05 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 05 Dec 05 - 11:03 PM
GUEST,Wooberry at work 06 Dec 05 - 10:17 AM
Abby Sale 06 Dec 05 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,Lighter 06 Dec 05 - 10:50 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Dec 05 - 12:42 PM
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mg 07 Dec 05 - 01:21 AM
Tannywheeler 07 Dec 05 - 11:39 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Jan 07 - 04:56 PM
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Subject: aint no more cane
From: GUEST,swoopy
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 10:06 AM

can someone translate please, esp whats a Brazis, also any info on its history,


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 11:07 AM

Brazos is a river in southeastern Texas. Also the site of a prison. Among other things prison work gangs tended fields of sugar cane


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: GUEST,eluned
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 11:34 AM

....which is why there ain't no more cane in the brazos?


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 12:18 PM

A million years ago in another lifetime (married to my first husband), I learned a version of the song from, I believe, a Chad Mitchell Trio LP. I have been totally unable to find this recording on any Chad Mitchell LP I've been able to lay my hands on since? Anybody recognize it?

Bat Goddess


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: GUEST,Steve
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 02:43 PM

The Band does my favorite version of this song. It's on one of thier older records, ( yep record), sorry I can't remember which one. Steve


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Subject: Lyr Add: AIN'T NO MORE CANE
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 03:28 PM

Ain't No More Cane
Leadbetter

Oct. 1962
THE GASLIGHT TAPES (T-104)

Ain't no more cane on the Brazos, oohoohooh.
They done grounded it all to molasses, mm mm mm.

Should a-been on the river in 1910, mm mm mm.
They were driving women just like men, mm mm mm.

Should a-been on the river in nineteen five, oohoohooh.
Find yourself lucky to be alive, ohoohooh.

Go down old Hannah, don't you rise no more, mm mm mm.
Don't you rise till judgement day, mm mm mm.

Ain't no more cane on the Brazos, mm mm mm.
They done grounded it all to molasses, mm mm mm.


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Subject: ADD: Ain't No More Cane on this Brazos^^
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 07:45 PM

The only songbook entry I could find was in the Mitchell Trio Songbook, of all places. I'll transcribe the tune for the Digital Tradition.
-Joe Offer-

AIN'T NO MORE CANE ON THIS BRAZOS

1. Ain't no more cane on this Brazos, my boy
Oh, oh, oh
We done ground it all into molasses,
Oh, oh, oh

2. When I come down here, had a number for my name
Oh, oh, oh
Well, they chained us together and we started cuttin' cane
Oh, oh, oh

3. I wish you was here in nineteen and ten
Oh, oh, oh
Well, they was drivin' the women just like they was men
Oh, oh, oh

4. I wish you was here when the storm winds came
Oh, oh, oh
Left a man lyin' dead and we cut him off the chain
Oh, oh, oh

5. If I had a sentence like ninety-nine and nine
Oh, oh, oh
There ain't no dogs on this Brazos could keep me on that line
Oh, oh, oh

6. Well, Alberta why don't you let your hair hang down
Oh, oh, oh
Let it hang right down till it touches the ground
Oh, oh, oh

7. Why don't you go down old Hannah, don't you rise up no more
Oh, oh, oh
Well, they work me so hard that I can't work no more
Oh, oh, oh

8. Ain't no more cane on this Brazos, my boy
Oh, oh, oh
We done ground it all into molasses
Oh, oh, oh

From "The Mitchell Trio Songbook," 1964, adaptation and new lyrics by William C. Mitchell.

Notes from Mitchell Trio Songbook: This is a song that comes from the Brazos area of Texas, around the turn of the century (The Brazos is a river that runs through the area.) It tells of a chain gang taken out into the countryside to cut sugar cane. At the time, the prisons contracted with a great many of the plantation owners - money in return for prisoners who would harvest the cane crop. Naturally, there was no profit for the prisoners, so the chain gang was a necessity.

@prison
filename[ CANEBRA2
JRO^^

MIDI file: CANEBRA2.MID

Timebase: 192

Name: Ain't No More Cane on this Brazos
Text: By (traditional)
Key: A
TimeSig: 4/4 24 8
Start
0000 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 73 110 0160 0 73 000 0032 1 73 110 0094 0 73 000 0002 1 71 110 0094 0 71 000 0002 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 64 110 0336 0 64 000 0048 1 69 110 0288 0 69 000 0000 1 68 110 0094 0 68 000 0002 1 71 110 0288 0 71 000 0000 1 68 110 0048 0 68 000 0000 1 66 110 0046 0 66 000 0002 1 64 110 0720 0 64 000 0048 1 66 110 0160 0 66 000 0032 1 66 110 0160 0 66 000 0032 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 66 110 0094 0 66 000 0002 1 61 110 0096 0 61 000 0000 1 59 110 0094 0 59 000 0002 1 57 110 0160 0 57 000 0032 1 62 110 0288 0 62 000 0000 1 61 110 0094 0 61 000 0002 1 64 110 0288 0 64 000 0000 1 61 110 0048 0 61 000 0000 1 59 110 0046 0 59 000 0002 1 57 110 0528 0 57 000
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the latest version of MIDItext and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:Ain't No More Cane on this Brazos
M:4/4
Q:1/4=120
K:A
cc2cBA2A|AA2AE4|A3GB3G/2F/2|E8|F2F2A2A2|EEEFCB,A,2|
D3CE3C/2B,/2|A,11/2||


Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    Ain't No More Cane on this Brazos

    DESCRIPTION: The singer remarks, "There ain't no more cane on this Brazos, oh-oh-oh; They done ground it all down to molasses, oh-oh-oh." He describes the dreadful conditions faced by the prisoners and wishes he could escape such horrors
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1934 (field recording)
    KEYWORDS: prison abuse punishment death
    FOUND IN: US(So)
    REFERENCES (9 citations):
    Scott-BoA, pp. 305-306, "No More Cane on this Brazos" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Lomax-FSUSA 92, "Ain't No Mo' Cane on dis Brazis" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Lomax-ABFS, pp. 58-59, "Ain' No Mo' Cane on de Brazos" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Arnett, p. 144, "No More Cane on This Brazos" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Courlander-NFM, pp. 132-133, (no title) (1 text, heavily modified to produce a blues feel)
    Jackson-DeadMan, pp. 77-75, "Should A Been on the River in 1910" (1 text, 1 tune; the first verse, about driving women and men alive, is from this song or "Go Down, Old Hannah", but the remainder is a separate piece); pp. 130-132, "No More Cane on the Brazos/Godamighty" (1 text, 1 tune, a mixture of this with another song Jackson calls "Godamighty" though it has almost no lyric elements in common with "Godalmighty Drag")
    Darling-NAS, pp. 326-327, "No More Can on this Brazos" (1 text)
    Silber-FSWB, p. 65, "Ain't No More Can On This Brazos" (1 text)
    DT, CANEBRAZ*

    Roud #10063
    RECORDINGS:
    Mose "Clear Rock" Platt, "Ain' No More Cane on the Brazos" (AFS 2643 B1, 1939)
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "Go Down, Old Hannah"
    cf. "Oughta Come on the River"
    cf. "Should A Been on the River in 1910" (lyrics)
    NOTES: The amount of common material in this song and "Go Down, Old Hannah" makes it certain they have cross-fertilized. They may be descendants of a common ancestor. But the stanzaic forms are different, so I list them separately. - RBW
    Last updated in version 2.4
    File: LxA058

    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 2013 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 08:24 PM

My personal favorite version of this song was done by BOB GIBSON with his 12-string guitar. Just very powerful. Alan Lomax also recorded his version of it on his LP for Tradition Records called Texas Folksongs.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: masato sakurai
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 10:24 PM

Lomax's Texas Folk Songs CD (Arion ARN 64173) was released in France in 1991. He sings this song, accompanied by Guy Carawan on guitar. His notes are:

AIN'T NO MORE CANE ON THIS BRAZIS [sic], from page 58, American Ballads and Folk Songs, and the singing of Ernest Williams on that same farm. This song, too, I suspect of being a survival from the days of slavery. It is one of America's "big" songs, matching the nobility of Go Down Moses. In the pen it was used as a cane-cutting song, its slow cadences puctuated with the swish and ring of the cane-knives, as the prisoners harvested the jungle of ripe-cane, ploughing along the water-filled ditches, the razor-edged cane leaves cuttting their hands and face while the fall Norther of Texas bit through their cotton clothes. The song pictures in stark and powerful language the miseries of the Texas pen, especially the old days of fifty years ago when the state leased out the prisoners to private farmers. As there was an unlimited supply of Negr prison labor, some of these managers drove their leased convicts until they dropped.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Big Red
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 12:11 AM

The Limelighters did this song on their 14 K GOLD FOLKSONGS. I'll have to look if I have it on any Chad Mitchell albums.


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: toadfrog
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 12:23 AM

Huddie Ledbetter also sang this. I will bet he sang it better than those other fellows, too. And it has to be available on one of those Smithsonian disks, or Rounder disks, because everything else is.


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: ddw
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 12:24 AM

Odetta did a great job with this song, too.

There are several tunes used for it and I used to do a version that borrowed verses and tunes that made it almost like a medley.

One verse I remember that I didn't see in the ones above was:

Shoulda come on the river back in nineteen an' fo'
oh, oh, oh
You'd find a dead body in ev'ry turn row
oh, oh, oh.

Hadn't thought of this song in a long time. Should dust it off.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Big Red
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 12:25 AM

Cane appears on the CMT album SINGIN' our minds. If anybody wants it desperately, contact me direct. Sure amglad some people remember the music from the "good old days."


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Art Thieme
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 06:11 PM

About 50% of those early Limelighter LP's songs were Bob Gibson's arrangements. This son too.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Art Thieme
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 06:14 PM

That ought to say "this one too".


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 28 Sep 01 - 08:12 PM

Okay, it's time for me to get into this one. I'm gonna be hollering down the rain barrel again, I suppose, but, please listen just this once. You don't have to listen to a bunch of city kids doing nightclub arrangements of this song. You don't even have to settle for Odetta singing it, as she was when I worked with her at the Gate of Horn in Chicago forty years ago. Odetta herself would tell you what I'm going to tell you now. Go back and listen to the source! That's where Odetta learned it.

The original 1933 recording of Ernest Williams and a group of prisoners at Central State Farm in Sugarland, Texas, is available on CD. John A. and Alan Lomax made the recording at this brutal prison farm where convicts worked the cane fields "from can to can't." These men are singing about soomething that is very real to them, with verses like:

What's the matter, something must be wrong...
Keep on a-workin', Shorty George done gone.


Shorty George was the name they gave the train that brought women visitors to the prison camp.

You ought to been on the river in nineteen ten,
They's rollin' the women like they drive the men.

"Little boy, what'd you do for to get so long?"
Said, "I killed my rider in the high sheriff's arms."


The power of the singing conveys the realism of the story as no nightclub arrangement could ever do. For God's sake, folks, get on the phone to Dick Greenhaus at Camsco (800-548-3655), or whatever source you might prefer, and order Rounder CD-1510 - Afro-American Spirituals, Work Songs, and Ballads. Give a listen to the source, to the real thing. And while you're listening, pay attention to the other songs on this great CD: "Jumpin' Judy" (refers to the whip used to punish prisoners), "Long John," "Long Hot Summer Days," "Rosie," and the incredible two-voice presentation of "Lead Me to the Rock" (a truly astounding performance).

I implore you, please, just this one time, listen to me. It might change your life! It certainly did mine. Right now, I'm reading Cleveland Benjamin's Dead!, A Struggle for Dignity in Louisiana's Cane Country, by Patsy Sims. Read it, if you can find it. It, and hearing these great field recordings, could and should inform your singing. Go on! I dare you!

Sandy^^


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Subject: ADD: AIN'T NO MORE CANE ON THE BRAZIS^^
From: raredance
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 01:44 AM

The following version is from the book "Work Songs" (in the Traditional Black Music series) by Jerry Silverman, 1994 Chelsea House Publishers)

AIN'T NO MORE CANE ON THE BRAZIS

There ain't no more cane on the Brazis, oh---
They done ground it all in mollasses, oh---

Well the captain standin' an ' lookin' an' cryin'
Well, it's gittin' so cold, my row's behin'.

Cap'n doncha do me like you did po' Shine,
You drive that bully till he went stone-blin'

Cap'n cap'n, you must be blin'
Keep on holl'in an' I'm almos' flyin'.

Ninety-nine years so jumpin' long,
To be here rollin' an' cain' go home.

If I had a sentence like ninety-nine years
All the dogs on the Brazis won' keep me here.

B'lieve I'll do like old Riley,
Ol' Riley walked the big Brazis.

Well, the dog-sergeant got worried an' couldn' go,
Ol' Rattler went to howlin' 'cause the tracks too ol'

Oughta come on the river in 1904,
You could find a dead man on every turn row.

Oughta come on the river in 1910
They was drivin' the women jes' like the men.

Wake up, dead man, an' help me drive my row,
Wake up, dead man, an' help me drive my row.

Some in the buildin' an' some on the farm,
Some in the graveyard, and some goin' home.

Wake up, lifetime, hold up yo' head,
Well, you may get a pardon an' you may drop dead.

Go down, Ol' Hannah, doncha rise no mo'
If you rise in the mornin' bring Judgment Day.^^

rich r


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 07:47 AM

After my above post, I did a little more on-line research and found that it's on the Chad Mitchel Trio LP "Singing Our Mind" (1962). Haven't been able to find it on CD and, though I have a bunch of LPs, I don' t have that one (since the aforementioned breakup of the record collection in 1979).

Bat Goddess


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: GUEST,Jed Marum
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 08:57 AM

OK Sandy - you've convinced me; I need to hear the Earnest Williams version.

I first heard this song on a Bill Staines record. He does a great job of it!


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 01:00 PM

Sandy--

Eloquent and convincing. You have a convert here. Thanks for the history and for the passion with which you tell it.

Another Rounder to add to the collection? You bet...

Lin


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane^^
From: raredance
Date: 29 Sep 01 - 10:06 PM

The version in Lomax (American Ballads and Folk Songs)is very similar to the one in the Silverman book. Lomax has the additional stanzas

2. Better git yo' overcoat ready
Well, it's comin' up a norther.

6. (after "almos' flyin'")
One o' dese mornin's, an' it won't be long,
You gonna call me an' I'll be gone.

9. (after "ninety-nine years" stanza)
I b'lieve I'll go to de Brazis line,
Ef I leave you here, gonna think I's flyin'

16. (after "some goin' home")
I looked at my Ol' Hannah, and she's turnin' red,
I looked at my podner an' he's almos' dead.

18. (after "drop dead")
Well, I wonder what's de matter, somepin' mus' be wrong
We're still here rollin', Shorty George done gone.

Maybe I should have assembled it all in one post.^^

rich r


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Art Thieme
Date: 30 Sep 01 - 06:17 PM

Sandy,

Wouldn't ya know, I was in the rain barrel when you started yelling down it! (Was just trying to get a few winks o' shut-eye.) We hear ya, guy. But Gibson did do an effective version. ;-)

Art


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 30 Sep 01 - 10:01 PM

So did Odetta, Art, and so have some others, I'm sure. I doubt the authenticity of some of the verses posted above, however. Some of them strike me as drawn from other songs and inserted into "Cane on the Brazos" as extenders. We all know that the Lomax published collections are full of such examples. I don't mean to imply that these are criminal actions, just not much good to those scholars who are trying to research various elements of our traditions. If the contrived texts make a good song, okay, sing 'em! But don't mislead people who want to know their origins. Read D. K. Wilgus' Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Art Thieme
Date: 30 Sep 01 - 11:43 PM

I most certainly was not trying to mislead.


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: GUEST,Fred
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 12:24 AM

Leadbelly sang 2 independent songs of Oh, Alberta and Go Down Old Hannah. Old Hannah was the sun, in case you didn't catch on.


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 02:26 AM

Art, my friend, I would never accuse you, of all people, of attempting to mislead any of us. I was speaking to all of us: don't misinform your audience regarding the source of your material. If any professional singer of traditional songs was ever more honest about his sources than Art Thieme, I've not met him/her. My plea for general honesty in one's presentation may have been awkwardly phrased and easily misunderstood. If so, I'm sorry. But there has been enough of what has been called "fakelore" passed around in the folk revival to last us all a lifetime. Sing 'em as you like 'em, but please be honest about where you got 'em.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 06:16 PM

I found a couple of Lomax transcriptions, one version in American Ballads and Folk Songs, and a second in Best-Loved American Folk Songs, with piano arrangement by Charles & Ruth Seeger Rich R transcribed the lyrics from Silverman and Lomax, and I think he got all the verses. Neither version of the lyrics is exactly the same as the recording on Afro-American Spirituals, Work Songs, and Ballads. Guess I'd better work on a new transcription of the tune. It wouldn't do to have just the Chad Mitchell tune in the Digital Tradition.
I've been able to get most of the Lomax recordings at my public library, although I have to travel all over town to find them.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: raredance
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 10:56 PM

Sandy is right about verses bounding around in various prison songs. What I think is harder to determine is which song had the verses first and which are derivative. There is substantial overlap in verses in "Brazos" and versions "Go Down Old Hannah". the "Go down old Hannah don't you rise no more" line spreads beyond these two songs. It is found in versions of "Shorty George" which in turn is referred to in the Lomax "Brazos" text. Bruce Jackson in "Wake Up Dead Man: Afro-American Work Songs from Texas Prisons" (1972 harvard University Press)has a song he calls "No More Cane on the Brazos/ Godamighty". Seems the convicts started singing Brazos, got tired of it and switched to another song, i.e another melody and a different refrain but some of the same verse lines. The structure of this "Brazos" is probably more like most versions of "Old Hannah".

No More Cane on the Brazos/ Godamighty

Well, 'taint no more cane on the Brazis, Well, Well, Well,
Well, 'taint no more cane on the Brazis, Well, Well, Well.

Well it's yonder comes the sergeant...(repeats like the first stanza)

Well he's ridin' in a hurry....

Well he's riding' like he's angry...
Well I wonder what's the matter...
Well I b'lieve it's coming up a norther...

(Here they switched melodies)
O yon' comes the Captain, Godamighty, God know it,
Oh Yon' come the captain, Godamighty God knows

He ridin' in a Hurry...(repeats like previous stanza)

Say you better go to rollin'...
He's ridin' like he's angry...
Go to jumpin' and dodgin'...
Well you better get you load boy...
If you don't want trouble...

'Cause the captain's a little angry...
Don't want no trouble....

rich r


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: raredance
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 11:16 PM

The "1910, driving the women like they were men" stanza also floats around in versions of "Brazos" and "Old Hannah" and is the lead in to another song collected by Bruce Jackson called "Should A Been on the River in 1910" The latter song goes off in a different direction about going home and missing his girl. As Fred pointed out above, Leadbelly sang "Alberta" as a separate song. Jackson collected several versions of the "Roberta (Alberta)" set of lyrics. The "Alberta" stanza creeps into the Chad Mitchell Trio version of "Brazos" although they also recorded "Alberta" as a separate song on an earlier album leading me to think they might have stuck it in "Brazos" just to make a tie-in to their earlier effort.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Oct 01 - 11:52 PM

Sandy, No problem. Just dealing with too much stuff here lately. You know that I agree with you.

Rich R, Gibson's arrangements showed up in the Chad M. Trio's work via Jim (Roger) McGuinn (their instrumentalist back then) who idolized Bob G. And Bob Gibson had recorded "Alberta" as an Ohio River song on his Riverside LP Bob Gibson At Carnegie Hall. (It was actually Carnegie Recital Hall and not the main place at all---but that was never mentioned.)

Alberta, let your hair hang down,
Alberta let your hair hang down,
I'll give you more gold than your apron can hold,
If you'll just let your hair hang down.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: raredance
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 12:00 AM

Art, same song on the Trio' "At the Bitter End" album that McGuinn was part of

rich r


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: MAG
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 12:31 PM

Sandy, I've got that LP. Got it for a quarter when my library was dumping all its LPs. (and about 14 more.) I had already taped it, but I wasn't going to let it go in the trash.


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: Barry Finn
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 04:36 PM

The prison network could've well lead to the many floating & swapped verses between songs as well as the many different versions. Many of the men had spent their entire adult lives in & out of different prisons & were often transfered which most likely lead (IMHO)to the songs being so widely used throught out the entire southern prison systems & the variety of versions. Ernest "Mexico" WIlliams & "Ironhead" & group can also be heard (same exact field recording) on Lomax's Deep River of Songs vol "Big Brazos" on rounder. The other recording, if it wasn't mentioned above is out, again, on Rounder #1510. In 1939 Lomax also recorded Moses Platt (Bruce Jackson doesn't say where) after he was released form Sugarland. Jackson also states "the melody of 'No More Cane on the Brazos' is complex & broad (it ranges a 10th-from B-flat to D in this (Jackson's) transcription-an interval significantly wider than almost all the other convict work songs), the song in it's older versions is complex in the relation bewteen lead singer & group. As result it is almost never sung (in 1965)anymore. I met a few men who knew it, but only 2 or 3 who could sing it now. This group (refering to his recording on Wake Up Dead Men, again on Rounder, #2018) started & very quickly decided they didn't want to stay with the song, so they shifted into 'Godamighty'." He recorded Dave Tippen & group doing this.
Sandy you got that right, no better place to hear it that in it's own enviroment & next I guess would be the field recording but hell, you've been doing that for ages so I guess my money's (two cents) not as near to my mouth as your's, Thanks for statement. Barry


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: chordstrangler
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 04:42 PM

Sandy, I'm impressed by your knowledge and your passion about the song. Can I add my 'twopence worth. The only version I ever heard of this song was done by - surprise, surprise - Lonnie Donegan. It was on an LP that must have been released sometime in the late fifties. It impressed me then and it impresses me still. Best wishes......Mickey


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 05:44 PM

Help Help Help!

I don't seem to find this wonderful song in the more than 2,100 songs included in my spiffy Excel index of spirituals and related songs; nor is it in the excellent Cleveland index of spirituals that covers more than 30 other songbooks. So in a total of over a hundred books I've got indexed, this song is missing.

THEREFORE! I am forced to conclude that some of you have songbooks that probably contain OTHER spirituals, whose indexes I have not included! Aaaarrrggghhh!

SO! If you have this song in a songbook, please, couldja get me a copy of the book's index and cover page with publisher info?

PuhLEEZE???

Best is scanned text so I can put it all in Excel.

FMI, PM.

~Susan

(PS, I am going to count this one in the spirituals project.)


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: raredance
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 09:09 PM

Susan,

That's probably because most people wouldn't classify a prison work song as a spiritual. Jackson's book that I cited above has lots of songs but despite lots of "Lordy Lordy's" and "Godamighty's" thre's not much religious sentiment. I'm guessing that Brazos doesn't show up in other collections of African American work songs because it was rather specific and limited to conditions on Texas prison farms. The Jackson book is divided up into "Cotton & Cane Songs", "Axe Songs", "Logging songs", "Flatweeding songs" etc.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: wysiwyg
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 07:54 PM

Yes, but the thing is, songs just like this ARE included in a lot of anthologies that are primaruly spirituals, but also include other material from the negro folk tradition... Since they are anthologized that way, songs like this appear in the index of spirituals in songbooks that I am working on.

My logic is that by putting it in our index of posted "spirituals" it will make it easier for someone to look up the thread and see for themselves just WHAT it is, and decide for themselves. When I am pretty sure something cannot fairly be called a spiritual, I do note that in the index thread.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Help: aint no more cane
From: ray bucknell
Date: 05 Oct 01 - 09:06 AM

Bat Goddess, the Chad Mitchell Trio's "Singin Our Mind" album has never been released on CD, nor has their version of Brazos been put on any of their CD compilations. Regardless of the "authenticity" issues, their rendition of the song has always appealed to me because it's not only powerful but the vocals are magnificent.

As for the Alberta line, I'd suspected it had something to do with the Trio's earlier recording of the song "Alberta" on their "At the Bitter End" album (which IS available on CD)!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 15 Jun 05 - 06:50 AM

allmusic lists the following variant titles, and the people who recorded them:
    AIN'T NO CANE ON THE BRAZOS – The Band

    AIN'T NO MO' CANE ON DIS BRAZOS - Linda Tillery & the Cultural Heritage Choir

    AIN'T NO MORE CANE – The Band, Rod Clements, Bert Jansch, Delbert McClinton, Son Volt

    AIN'T NO MORE CANE ON THE BRAZOS – Lonnie Donegan, Ian Gillan and the Moonshiners, Bill Staines, John Stewart, Ernest Williams

    AIN'T NO MORE CANE ON THIS BRAZIS – Alan Lomax

    AIN'T NO MORE CANE ON THIS BRAZOS – The Mitchell Trio, Ernest Williams

    CANE ON THE BRAZOS – Crowbar, Rick Shea

    NO MORE CANE ON THE BRAZOS – Eric Bibb, The Bluebirds, Tommy Elskes, Bob Gibson, Ian Gillan, Odetta, Chris Smither
Oddly, although this song is sometimes attributed to Leadbelly—when it isn't called "traditional"—I can't find any evidence that Leadbelly recorded it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: Pete MacGregor
Date: 15 Jun 05 - 09:42 AM

The Lonnie Donegan version is on his second album - entitled Lonnie - and was recorded on 11 March 1958. There are no sleeve notes about the songs.
I think this was the second LP I ever bought and it's still just about playable but I can't remember the price.

PM


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: WooBerry
Date: 02 Dec 05 - 11:45 PM

Chad Mitchell Trio Singin' Our Minds is now available on CD. I know, because I have it. I had only a scratched LP (and this song was one of the ones that was scratched!) that I had listened to as a child, was my father's.

Finally found it as a double CD on Collector's Choice Music (with Reflecting)

http://www.ccmusic.com/item.cfm?itemid=CCM03722

So what is wrong with the Chad Mitchell Trio?

Diana


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: greg stephens
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 03:59 AM

Very intrigued that nobody has found a Leadbelly version. I could have sworn this was in his repertoire.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 04:37 AM

Thank you all - a very illuminating thread.

Jumping Judy also makes an appearance in The Midnight Special of course. I had no idea of its sinister origins. It always seemed like a nonsense verse.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 03 Dec 05 - 06:34 AM

I'd alwaysd assumed St Lonnie got it from St Huddie. I'll have to look through my Leadbelly recordings again, but if the experts who've already posted haven't traced it, I doubt I will!

RtS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 05 Dec 05 - 07:54 AM

Nope, not in the Lomax Library of Congress Leadbelly LP boxed set or the CD Leadbelly last sessions set.

RtS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: GUEST,Lighter at work
Date: 05 Dec 05 - 08:57 AM

WooBerry, there's nothing "wrong" with the Chad Mitchell Trio or The Limeliters or any of those very polished and very popular nightclub acts of the late '50s and early '60s. In the words of Richard Schickele, "If it sounds good, it is good."

What seriously concerns many of us, though, is the terribly mistaken belief that the nightclub groups present authentic folk music, folksongs, and folksingers. What they offer instead are denatured, commercially processed, rewritten (and newly written) songs tailored specifically to the entertainment needs of a college-educated, middle-class, liberal white audience mostly born around 1940. The knowing, sophisticated style of their music - delivery, arrangements, instruments, and emotional effect - really doesn't have much to do with the music and song made and passed on by the original sources.

If all you've heard are groups like the Mitchell Trio, you've heard some nice pop music but you haven't heard any actual folk music. I think the best real folk performances may be described as "intriguing," "revealing," "compelling," - but only rarely as "nice."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: GUEST,Janine
Date: 05 Dec 05 - 09:25 AM

I'm sure Leadbelly never recorded Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos but he did record several versions of Old Hannah and Shorty George. Sandy is right to refer you to the wonderful 1993 version by Ernest Williams (the group also includes James 'Iron Head' Baker)who has a magnificent voice. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find anything else about him; any information anyone please?

Janine

Sandy: I like your word 'fakelore'. If it isn't in the OED, it should be! There's certainly none on the records you produce!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: Abby Sale
Date: 05 Dec 05 - 09:49 AM

Folks, Go back and read "From: Sandy Paton, Date: 28 Sep 01 - 08:12." In it he implores to to just listen to him please just this one time. (But you should always pay close attention to Sandy.)

And that's it. The skinney. The real dope. The facts. The Truth.

I still remember being stunned by that cut when I first heard it in 1959. The sainted Mac Leech, himself, pulled it out of the darkened closet in the tiny, darkened Music Department media room at U of Penn. He lovingly placed the red 78rpm disc on one of the two available turntables (if these terms are unknown to you, I'll just say nothing) and pointed to the earphones.

I was mesmerized & listened to the whole series over the next few days. Later, I bought, and still have, the red "LP." Today, it's still easily buyable with transcription and full notes from Library of Congress, Music Division on modernish media.

I can tell you with wild emphesis: There is somthing of a difference between hearing the actual chain-gang prisoners and the night club acts.

Abby


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: GUEST,Wooberry at work
Date: 05 Dec 05 - 10:50 AM

Lighter, but they are great for an intro.
I started down a long road after hearing "Fyve-o" recorded by the CMT, Fennario by Joan Baez, and Peggy-o by the Grateful Dead. My child brain recognized that they were the same song, and I started looking for others just like that. I am sure I am not alone, hence the Mudcat!

Diana


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 05 Dec 05 - 11:03 PM

I am with Abby and Sandy ALL THE WAY! Just know this. The slickened stuff ain't the roots version. I enjoyed the Gibson version of this song---but I knew it had been urbanized and sweetened like diet pop--with synthetic sugar.--- I also suspect that the Limelighters and the various different trio's versions came from Bob Gibson too. (They all used to pay him to arrange these songs for them!) The "If it sounds good, it is good" idea is like me saying, "When I was young we didn't have cholesterol, but if we had, we would've fried it." We are only trying to inform. But if you just don't wish to know, that's a different story I guess.

Again, it seems I've been pulled into one of these endless arguments. You'd think I'd learn!
It could be that I care---too much maybe?---about that evolutionary process of human intelligent design   called the oral tradition.

Art


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: GUEST,Wooberry at work
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 10:17 AM

Art said:

Again, it seems I've been pulled into one of these endless arguments. You'd think I'd learn!
It could be that I care---too much maybe?---about that evolutionary process of human intelligent design   called the oral tradition.


I agree with you Art, but I also see the value of the more polished, and/or more published versions, aside from the joy of the song.
My priest says he doesn't want churchgoers for our church, he wants disciples. I say that churchgoers are one of the biggest pools for disciples. You have to get them through the doors first!

I am not sure what the "evolutionary process of human intelligent design" is, seems an oxymoron

Diana


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: Abby Sale
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 10:19 AM

:-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 10:50 AM

Art Thieme truly identifies one of the most pernicious additives in the pop-folk mix: artificial sweetener. As I listen to many of the groups today, I so often hear that condescension of expression, the patronizing vocal tricks meant to tell the audience, "Now, this part is very, very sad," or "Be sure to listen carefully right now."   Though I'm probably overreacting, those tricks actually make my skin crawl. (Even the Clancys, one of my favorite pop-folk groups, would do this sometimes, as in "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye.")   

Traditional singing sets the tone at the start and keeps it without noticeable variation all the way through. Usually the approach is straight-ahead; sometimes it can be rollicking, or, for a tragic ballad, sometimes painfully slow. But it doesn't patronize the audience.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Dec 05 - 12:42 PM

Pop-folk sounds pretty good after a few drinks. Isn't that the way most folks took it?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 07 Dec 05 - 12:46 AM

Most likely. BTW, one of the things that made Joan Baez and Judy Collin standouts in those days(besides their fabulous voices)is that they usually sang the stuff straight, without hamming it up or adding funny contemporary verses at the end.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: mg
Date: 07 Dec 05 - 01:21 AM

well, I come I guess from what you might call folk..Irish railroad workers on my father's side and Texas sharecroppers, preachers and eventjually plumbers on my mother's. As far as I know they all sang right purty...we shouldn't think that if it isn't scratchy sounding it isn't folk. oh yes..I bet they sang music hall songs too.... mg


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Subject: RE: Origins: Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 07 Dec 05 - 11:39 AM

When I think of this song, I hear several voices in my head: Mama singing, Alan L. singing, a spoken reference by my Dad, Leadbelly singing, several of those polished pop groups(not distinguishable). I can't get specific circumstances in my head.
Once, when I'd just heard Pat Boone doing a version of "Delia's Gone", I was horrified. So much of the songstory was left out; it was a paltry, putrid representation of a song I'd heard a number of times that had weight and flavor. My stepdad pointed out to me that those who only listened to current "pop" music might have the advantage of recognizing the song if they later heard it in a more original form, and might be interested enough to listen to it because of this introduction, so cut Mr. Boone some slack. He promised never to make me a present of any of Boone's records.   Tw


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Subject: RE: ain't no more cane
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Jan 07 - 04:56 PM

Strange no one looked into the origin of this song, which originated on the Texas State Prison Farms near the Brazos.
From the 1880s to 1899, private cane fields and farms with corn and other crops were worked largely by prisoners.
Between 1899-1915, the Texas Prison System acquired a huge holding on the Brazos, a part of it over 5000 acres acquired from the Imperial Sugar Company. The total holdings of farm land were about 81,000 acres in 1921, total lands over 100,000 acres.
Women prisoners (mentioned in some versions of the song) were domiciled on the Goree Farm.
The farms were profitable only in a few years of their operation.

In 1928, the cane fields on the Brazos failed because of disease, and were not re-planted to cane. To feed the mills on the farms, raw sugar was brought in. A federal tax on cane sugar effectively ended cane sugar farming in the area.

"Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos" was the song that told of this monumental crop failure.

From various articles in The Handbook of Texas.


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Subject: RE: ain't no more cane
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 30 Jan 07 - 07:23 PM

I loved the Mitchell Trio recording of the song BUT it was only when I heard the Bill Staines recording many years later that I realized the Trio had arranged away the Brazos/molasses rhyme. The Trio sang something like,

Ain't no more cane on this Brazos, my boys
Wo-o-o-oh
We done ground it all to molasses
Wo-o-oh

while Staines was more like

Ain't no more cane on this Bra-a-a-azis
Wo-o-o-o-oh
We done ground it all into mola-a-sis
Wo-o-o-o-oh


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Subject: RE: ain't no more cane
From: GUEST,Rev
Date: 30 Jan 07 - 09:31 PM

My favorite version of "Ain't No More cane on the Brazos" is in the documentary Festival Express, which follows a 1970 (?) concert tour of Canada, by train, of The Band, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and others. The film is a great document of a legendary tour and the cameraderie of these great musicians. At one point there is a scene during which an obviously very high and drunken group led by Rick Danko, Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia sing a barely coherent version of the song that ends up coming out as "Ain't no more brain on the Cazos..." Very bittersweet, especially because all three of them have passed away.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: GUEST,J.T.Briscoe
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 10:50 PM

I hadn't thought much about this song in years.I think the first time I heard it must have been mid 60's. I do remember my Grandfather singing this song (or something very much like it) He was born in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) and moved to Texas,then New Mexico (1907) He had to do just about any kind of work to survive and I recall him talking about songs that the gandy-dancers on the railroad would sing to keep their work in rythm.I think the colored men he worked alongside on those endless rail lines,or in those Texas cottonfields would have found great sport in the notion that someone somewhere could decide that there must be an "official" or "authorized" or "pure" or "seminal" version of any of those songs.Those songs were tools, just like a gandy bar.They used them,changed them,sang new ones and never gave a thought where they had come from.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 11:19 PM

True, guest J. T. Brisco. Many of the songs just 'grew,' to fit the circumstances. Folks have their favorite versions, but I cringe when someone says so-and-so's is the best or the truest.
Some of us like to find the earliest versions, and in some cases the origin is in a composed piece, but that doesn't invalidate the variants which developed.

"Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos" is well-fixed in a time period because it commemorates a crop failure that affected many people, not just the prisoners on the Texas State Farms; but there are many other planting, harvesting and marketing songs that are, as you say, tools that changed as conditions changed.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: Peace
Date: 08 Sep 08 - 01:10 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: PoppaGator
Date: 08 Sep 08 - 01:16 PM

Thanks, Bruce. for the refresh.

I'd like to second GUEST,Rev's recommendation of the "Festival Express" rendition by the late Rick, Janis, and Jerry. Rent the DVD!

Rick Danko must have sung this song with his band The Band; I think I've heard a recording by them. I'm not sure if it's on one of their regualrly-released albums, or maybe on a bootleg of some kind. Anyone know?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: bobad
Date: 08 Sep 08 - 01:28 PM

It is on "The Basement Tapes" album.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: Mark Ross
Date: 08 Sep 08 - 01:50 PM

Best version I heard I learned from Jody Stecher. Don't know if he ever recorded it. Jody told me he learned it from John Herald.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: GUEST,Dave MacKenzie
Date: 08 Sep 08 - 07:36 PM

The Donegan version follows the Lomax field recording, pretty closely, the main difference being that it's accompanied (bowed bass and mandoline i.a) rather than unaccompanied. This side of the pond, the LP was a 10" (Pye NSPT 84000).

There's also an interesting version by Lightnin' Hopkins on "Lightnin'" Hopkins – The Roots of ...... – EMI Verve Folkways VLP 5003 (UK LP) as

        - Penitentiary Blues -

Mmmmm, Big Brazos here I come,
Mmmmm, woah Lord, have mercy, Big Brazos here I come,
You know I'm goin' to do time for another man when they haven't done a thing poor Lightnin' done.

They say you oughta been on Brazos
Nineteen an' ten,
Bud Russell drove pretty women
Just like he did ugly men;
Mmmmm, Big Brazos woah Lord just here I come,
Thinkin' to do time for another man an' ain't nothi' poor Lightnin' done.

        - Well you oughta be ashamed -

Yeah you know my mama called me,
I answered Mam,
She said, Son you tired of workin',
I said Mama, yes I am;
Papa called me,
I answered sir,
He said, Son if you tired of workin'
What the hell you gonna stay there,
I couldn't, no, I couldn't help myself;
You know a man can't help but feel bad when he's doin' time for someone else.

        - You better watch it all the time -


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 12:45 PM

I love this version

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvPw5cM0gg0


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: GUEST,c Stuart Cook
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 02:57 PM


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: Cusco
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 03:20 PM

Am I right in thinking there's a version (or rewrite) on a Si Kahn CD?
Think it may not have the 'Aint No More.........' verse.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 05:01 PM

So Long Ago (so long ago, goodbye Mississippi goodbye) by Si Kahn.

Lyle Lovett recorded No More Cane on It's Not Big, It's Large (2007).

This Old Porch (from Lyle Lovett, 1986) was written by Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen and refers to it too.

And this old porch is like a weathered, gray-haired
Seventy years of Texas
Who's doing all he can
Not to give in to the city

And he always takes the rent late
So long as I run his cattle
And he picks me up at dinnertime
And I listen to him rattle

He says the Brazos still runs muddy
Just like she's run all along
And there ain't never been no cane to grind
The cotton's all but gone

It's about Bryan, Texas, and his video (1990) was filmed there too, catching the atmosphere perfectly. See it on his website http://www.lylelovett.com/#/video/
See also Trucks, Tortillas and Tombstones (1990).


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