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Lyr Req: Pray for the Lights to Go Out

GUEST,glassworks@myexcel.com 02 Feb 02 - 10:45 PM
Sorcha 02 Feb 02 - 11:09 PM
Amos 02 Feb 02 - 11:14 PM
GUEST,MCP 03 Feb 02 - 08:07 AM
Jim Dixon 25 Apr 10 - 01:36 AM
Jack Campin 25 Apr 10 - 04:36 AM
Micca 25 Apr 10 - 04:52 AM
Jim Dixon 28 Apr 10 - 05:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Apr 10 - 05:31 PM
Tinker 28 Apr 10 - 09:11 PM
Tinker 28 Apr 10 - 09:20 PM
GUEST,The Great OZ 31 Jan 11 - 12:05 PM
GUEST 05 Apr 11 - 08:08 PM
GUEST 13 Sep 13 - 11:12 PM
GUEST,GUEST 14 Apr 14 - 10:20 PM
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Subject: Father was a deacon
From: GUEST,glassworks@myexcel.com
Date: 02 Feb 02 - 10:45 PM

Phil Harris used to sing a song and I can remember most of the first verse-

Father was a deacon in a hardshell church way down South were I was born.
The people used to come from miles around just to hear the Holy work go on.
Father grabbed a sister round the neck and said,"Sister won't you sing this song."
Sister tells the deacon that she didn't have time felt religion coming on.
Just then somebody got up turned the lights all out and you ought to heard the people shout!
O, brother, if you want to spread joy just pray for the lights to stay out.
She called on deacon for to kneel and pray you ought to heard the sister shout.
Throwed up both hands and got way back took 2 steps forward and balled the jack.
O brother, if you want to spread joy just pray for the lights to stay out!

That's what I remember. There was another verse can you find it? And was that 1st verse correct?


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Subject: RE: Father was a deacon
From: Sorcha
Date: 02 Feb 02 - 11:09 PM

No lyrics, but it looks like the title might be "Pray for the Lights to Go Out" written by Will Skidmore. Not certain about that though. Found references to it but that is all.


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Subject: RE: Father was a deacon
From: Amos
Date: 02 Feb 02 - 11:14 PM

In 1950, in January, a Brownsville resident named Glenn Oliver sang "Pray for the Lights to Stay Out" at a performance in the Brownsille Optimist's Club's "Cotton Picker's Revue", which was an unqualified success -- over 100 people had to be turned away from the standing room only community event which included variety of home grown acts as well as this one.

Aside from this historical note I find no reference on the WWW for this song. Wonder if old Glenn Oliver still lives in Brownsville?

A


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Subject: RE: Father was a deacon
From: GUEST,MCP
Date: 03 Feb 02 - 08:07 AM

The sheet music is available in the Historic American sheet music at Duke: Pray for the lights to go out; Negro shouting song; New "Ballin' the Jack" song.

Phil Harris also recorded it on the CD "My Kind Of Country" (details available at: My Kind Of Country

If you need to query Phil Harris there is a Phil Harris group Yahoo Phil Harris Group

Mick


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Subject: Lyr Add: PRAY FOR THE LIGHTS TO GO OUT
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Apr 10 - 01:36 AM

PRAY FOR THE LIGHTS TO GO OUT
(Words, Renton Tunnah. Music, Will E. Skidmore.)
Kansas City, Mo.: Skidmore Music Co., 1916.

1. Father was a deacon in a hard shell church,
Way down South where I was born.
People used to come to church from miles around,
Just to hear the holy work go on.
Father grabs a sister 'round the neck and says,
"Sister, won't you sing this song?"
The sister tells the deacon that she didn't have time,
Felt religion comin' on.
Just then somebody got up, turn'd the lights all out,
And you ought to heard that sister shout:

CHORUS: She hollered, "Brother, if you want to spread joy,
Just pray for the lights to stay* out."
She called on Deacon for to kneel and pray.
You ought to heard that sister shout.
Throw'd up both hands and got way back,
Took two steps forw'd and ball'd the Jack.
She hollered, "Brother, if you want to spread joy,
Just pray for the lights to stay* out."

2. Father tried to quieten down his lovin' flock,
Call'd on all the saints above.
All that he could hear way down there in the dark
Was, "Baby, honey, turtle dove."
Deacon grabs his bible firmly in his hand,
Pray'd to be show'd wrong from right.
Just then as if his pray'rs were answered from above,
Someone got up turn'd on the light.
He feels himself a-slippin', grabs the first gal near,
And she sings this sweet song in his ear: CHORUS

* On 2nd chorus, substitute "go."

[Recorded by Milton Brown, The Golden Gate Quartet, Phil Harris, Uncle Dave Macon, T. Texas Tyler, Bob Wills, and several others.]

Words, Renton Tunnah. Music, Will E. Skidmore.
Kansas City, Mo.: Skidmore Music Co., 1916.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pray for the Lights to Go Out
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Apr 10 - 04:36 AM

The idea of a religious gathering turning into an indiscriminate orgy when somebody puts the lights out goes WAY back - it was cited in a pagan polemic against the Christians, and St John Chrysostom said the Barbelo-gnostics did it. But it's surprising to see it surface in 20th century folk tradition 1700 years later.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pray for the Lights to Go Out
From: Micca
Date: 25 Apr 10 - 04:52 AM

Ok I;ll be the idiot that asks, What IS "Balling the Jack"???


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pray for the Lights to Go Out
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 05:06 PM

Micca: I was hoping someone else would have answered your question by now.

I don't know what "balling the jack" is/was, except that it seems to be some sort of dance step.

There is a song called BALLIN' THE JACK but I think the expression is older than the song.

You'll find some discussion in that thread, but it's not very enlightening.

I do have some thoughts on the subject, and I plan to do some research and then reopen that thread. It would probably be better to discuss it there than here.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pray for the Lights to Go Out
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 05:31 PM

J. E. Lighter, Historical Dictionary of American Slang

ball the jack1. To go fast (said esp. of a railroad train), make haste, ....

1913 Jim Burris & Chris Smith Ballin' the Jack (song) [ragtime]; Now that's what I call "Ballin' the Jack."
1914 in Handy, Blues Treasury 74: Said a black headed gal makes a freight train jump the track / But a long tall gal makes a preacher ball the jack.

1918 in Niles, Singing Soldiers 25: I come to France to make the Kaiser ball de jack.

In other words, a railroad term for traveling fast, but borrowed for other uses.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pray for the Lights to Go Out
From: Tinker
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 09:11 PM

Here is another definition
http://www.slangcity.com/ask_ac_archive/balling%20_the_%20jack.htm

Dear Slang City:

1. What does "balling the jack" mean and what is its origin? I hope it's not gross......


To answer your first question, "balling the jack" has several meanings. None of them are used much these days, but maybe the expression may become more popular because of the recent novel, Balling the Jack, by Frank Baldwin. It's being made into a movie, starring Ben Affleck as a gambler, and the expression means "risking everything on one attempt" - in this case, he bets $40,000 on a dart game.

However, that's not the original meaning of the word. It was the name of a popular dance in 1913, which goes like this:

"First you put your two knees close up tight
Then you sway them to the left, then you sway them to the right
Step around the floor kind of nice and light
Then you twist around and twist around with all your might,
Stretch your loving arms straight out into space,
Then you do the Eagle Rock with style and grace.
Swing your foot way 'round then bring it back.
Now that's what I call Ballin' the Jack."

Later, the meaning was expanded from just "dancing" to "having a great time". Around the same time the song came out, the expression was used by railroad workers to mean "going at full speed." It's not clear whether the dance or railroad reference came first. And (if that's not enough) it's also been used to describe operating a jackhammer.

So it wasn't anything gross (disgusting), though you can find later uses of the expression where it has a sexual meaning, similar to "balling" (having sex). For example, in the 1940s, blues artist Big Bill Broonzy sang:

My baby's coming home.
I hope that she won't fail because I feel so good, I feel so good.
You know I feel so good, feel like balling the jack.

Well, he could be talking about dancing… but maybe not.

6.15.04
I recently got an interesting email on this topic from a reader:

"To "ball" a "jack" refers possibly to the action of risking a shot in "Boules", or Bocce or its sister game Petanque. The jack in either case is the smaller ball for which the goal of the game is to either throw your team's ball closest to it, or to knock away your opponent's ball. To hit the target ball to another location, or to "ball the jack", is to alter the focus of the gameplay. To do so requires great accuracy, and assuming the game is scored for money instead of points (it is a drinking game, and takes skill and a bit of luck as well), takes risk as well, for in double or triple team play, you only get one shot (one ball per player). So to "ball the jack" is to risk a miss, and a wasted shot, at something that is really important to you."

Thanks to Nasmichael for this info!

11.14.05
More information on the railway origins from Steve, who says

Believe it or not I was looking for "balling the jack" after listening to my new Hobart Smith record. He sings the Broonzy tune you quoted and there's no doubt what he meant there :-). But I think the phrase has it's origins in how men worked on the railway. Hobart does another song with the lines "Balling the jack, lining track / You can't shovel no more" and the liner notes say it comes from railroad section gangs in the early 1870's. Now if you look up railway know-how on http://madisonrails.railfan.net/lewman10.html you will see that to fix a crooked rail you had one person sit on the track and site along it to see where it needed to be straightened (lining the track), then two men would put jacks at an angle against the inside ball of the rail and lever it until it was straight. Then you had to shovel ballast back in under the ties and tamp it down. The ball of the rail is the curved part going up to the flattened surface on top of the rail. The jack had a groove across the top that fit against the ball so it wouldn't slip off.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pray for the Lights to Go Out
From: Tinker
Date: 28 Apr 10 - 09:20 PM

Okay here are a few Youtube links past and present

Phil Harris


Joe Haymes Orch - Pray for the lights to go out (1932)

Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys

Elana James


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I feel so good
From: GUEST,The Great OZ
Date: 31 Jan 11 - 12:05 PM

I beleave that in the song I feel so good he is singing bailing ah jag.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pray for the Lights to Go Out
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 08:08 PM

I have the original sheet music for this song.Are you interested in buying it.The chorus is
She hollered Brother ,If you want to spread joy,Just pray for the lights to go out.She called on Deacon for to kneel and pray, You ought to hear that sister shout.Throw'd up both hands ,Took two steps forw'd and ball'in the Jack,hollered


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pray for the Lights to Go Out
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Sep 13 - 11:12 PM

Roger Starr, Winnipeg,   My brother and I had the record on 78 way back around 1950 in Winchester, England. Lost the record but always did remember most of the words.   Sure good to see the words written out. I just sang through the song with great joy. Never thought I'd find it. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pray for the Lights to Go Out
From: GUEST,GUEST
Date: 14 Apr 14 - 10:20 PM

My sister has been asking to find the lyrics to this song for a couple months now and I sure was happy to see the words all printed out here. I am going over to see her tomorrow and give it to her. It will put me in her good graces for many moons. Thank everyone so very much.


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