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Origins: Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit

Related threads:
Lyr Add: Mistah Rabbit Patting rhyme (33)
Lyr Req: Song with Rabbit's Ears - Burl Ives (4) (closed)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Cotton Field Song (Mr. Rabbit)
Mister Rabbit
Mr. Rabbit (from Burl Ives - Song in America - Our Musical Heritage)


GUEST,Charlie in Brooklyn 26 Jun 02 - 02:15 PM
MMario 26 Jun 02 - 02:23 PM
8_Pints 26 Jun 02 - 02:26 PM
Mrrzy 26 Jun 02 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Brandon in Bloomington, IN 10 Feb 03 - 11:10 PM
Night Owl 10 Feb 03 - 11:43 PM
Joe Offer 11 Feb 03 - 12:46 AM
Joe Offer 11 Feb 03 - 01:18 AM
GUEST,KentuckyPat 15 Oct 03 - 09:35 PM
freightdawg 16 Aug 04 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,Observer 16 Aug 04 - 01:12 PM
Fliss 16 Aug 04 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,Jon 16 Aug 04 - 07:31 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 17 Aug 04 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,Azizi 18 Aug 04 - 04:00 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Aug 04 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,brundog 28 Aug 04 - 11:03 PM
Joe Offer 06 Sep 04 - 06:31 PM
WooBerry 28 Nov 05 - 12:09 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 25 Jul 14 - 04:52 AM
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Subject: Mr. Rabbit
From: GUEST,Charlie in Brooklyn
Date: 26 Jun 02 - 02:15 PM

Trere's a catchy little tune that I'm told is a traditional song called "Mr. Rabbit" on the new Paul Westerberg album. I think the chorus is "Every little soul must shine". Anybody got the lyrics on this one? Thanks a bunch, ya'll.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: MMario
Date: 26 Jun 02 - 02:23 PM

Burl Ives used to sing this one. see one version at Mr. Rabbit

“Mister Rabbit”                                                      Game Song

Call:              “Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, your ears are mighty long!”
Response:     “Yes, my Lord, they put on wrong.”        
Group
:         Every little soul must shine, shine, shine

                    Every little soul must shine!
Call:            “Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, you’re in my cabbage patch!
Response:    “Yes, my Lord, I won’t come back”.
Group:        Every little soul must shine, shine, shine
             
       Every little soul must shine!
Call:            “Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, your tail’s mighty white.”
Response:    “Yes, my Lord, I’m goin’ out of sight.”
Group:        Every little soul must shine, shine, shine
             
       Every little soul must shine!

Although “Mister Rabbit” is included in several older books on American folk songs, its African American origin is rarely noted.  The song is also rarely written in a call & response style.  Yet, I think that this style fits it best.  This story song is about a rabbit who is caught by in a farmer’s vegetable garden.  How does he explain what he is doing there?  How quickly can he think up responses to the farmer’s comments?  This song is one of several rabbit songs that used to be very well known among African American children.  However, few African American children in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (or I would imagine any other urban area) know this song now.  Most urban children may have never seen a rabbit besides the Easter bunny or in the petting zoo.  Few urban children know what a cabbage patch is.  We might be more familiar with the term “small vegetable garden”, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve ever seen one.  When a song’s references become outdated or foreign to a population, people are less likely to sing the song, and may eventually forget it all together.

But, on a deeper level, this song is still relevant.  I believe that “Mister Rabbit” may have been more than entertainment.  Or, to put it another way, the type of entertainment that enslaved Africans taught their children also helped them develop the survival skill of being mentally alert and knowing how to talk their way out of trouble.  Given the oppressive nature of slavery and post slavery societies, being able to talk your way out of trouble was sometimes a matter of life and death.  “Thinking fast on your feet” was certainly a survival skill that enslaved people needed and it is still needed today.

     


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: 8_Pints
Date: 26 Jun 02 - 02:26 PM

Hi Charlie,
This is a round and goes:
Mr Rabbit, Mr Rabbit,
Your ears are mighty long,
Yes My Lord,
They're put on wro-ong,
Every little soul must shine, shine, shi-ine,
Every little soul must shi-ine,
Shine, Shine.
It is important to get the syncopated parts to get the full effect.

Have fun!

Bob vG


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: Mrrzy
Date: 26 Jun 02 - 03:21 PM

Ed McCurdy had other verses:

Your coat's mighty grey / it was made that way
You're looking mighty thin / been a-cuttin' through the wind

And he also sang Bless God, not My Lord. And I have Pete Seeger with "dontcha know" instead of either deity reference, and added verses being:

Where have you been / down at Mr. Angelo's garden

What did you eat / Carrots and cabbages from my head to my feet


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Subject: Lyr Add: MR. RABBIT (from Burl Ives)
From: GUEST,Brandon in Bloomington, IN
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 11:10 PM

I have a version of "MR. RABBIT" by Burl Ives on his album "Burl Ives Sings 'Little White Duck' and other Children's Favorites":

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Here, Here, Mr. Rabbit                         God
I wanta talk to you

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit                         God
Your coat's mighty grey

Yes, Bless God                                  Mr. Rabbit
It's made that way
Every little soul must shine, shine
Every little soul must shine, shine

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit                         God
Your ears are mighty long

Yes, Bless God                                  Mr. Rabbit
They're put on wrong
Every little soul must shine, shine
Every little soul must shine, shine

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit                         God
Your ears are mighty thin

Yes, Bless God                                  Mr. Rabbit
They're split in the wind
Every little soul must shine, shine
Every little soul must shine, shine

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit                         God
Your eyes are mighty red

Yes, Bless God                                  Mr. Rabbit
I'm almost dead
Every little soul must shine, shine
Every little soul must shine, shine


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: Night Owl
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 11:43 PM

Wondering if Guest Charlie's still with us......

Bill Staines has a wonderful version of this song (first verse is the same as 8 pints' post) on his "One More River" cd.


Bill's website


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Subject: ADD: Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 12:46 AM

Night Owl is right. Bill Staines has a terrific recording of this song on his One More River CD. It's similar to versions posted above, but humor me while I post Bill's version. I wonder how far back this song goes. Anybody know anything about its history?
-Joe Offer-

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your tail is mighty white.
Yes, my lord, I've been gettin' out of sight,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your coat is mighty gray.
Yes, my lord, it was made that way,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your ears are mighty long.
Yes, my lord, they were put on wrong,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your ears are mighty thin.
Yes, my lord, they're a-splittin' the wind,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, well, I'll bid you good day.
Yes, my lord, and I'll be on my way,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.


Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index:

Mister Rabbit

DESCRIPTION: "'Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, your tail's mighty white.' 'Yes, bless God, been gettin' out of sight...." Mister rabbit similarly explains its coat, ears, and other physical features
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1925 (Scarborough)
KEYWORDS: animal questions dialog nonballad floatingverses
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 173-174, "Mister Rabbit" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSUSA 6, "Mister Rabbit" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 240-242, "Cotton Field Song" (1 text, 1 tune, composite; the final portion goes here and the rest is largely floating verses or unidentifiable; some may go with "Fly Around, My Pretty Little Miss")
BrownIII 167, "Old Molly Hare (Mr. Rabbit)" (2 texts plus 4 fragments, 1 excerpt, and mention of 2 more; the "C," "D," and "E" fragments, plus probably "B," are "Old Molly Hare," "I" is "Mister Rabbit"; "A" and "G" mix the two)

ST LxU006 (Partial)
Roud #10058
RECORDINGS:
Horton Barker, "Hop, Old Rabbit, Hop" [with a couple of verses from "Poor Old Man"] (on Barker01)
Pete Seeger, "Mister Rabbit" (on PeteSeeger08, PeteSeegerCD02)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Rattlesnake" (theme)
NOTES: Roud links together several rabbit songs under one number: "Mister Rabbit," "Ole Mister Rabbit (I'll Get You Rabbit)," even "Rabbit Hash." All are about rabbits raiding gardens (something they certainly do) and the attempts to punish them for it (rarely successful, even with modern technology). But the forms are quite distinct, so I split them. - RBW
File: LxU006

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 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: ADD: Mister Rabbit / Cotton Field Song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 01:18 AM

Here are the two Lomax versions. As usual, Lomax and son are not very helpful about providing background information.
-Joe Offer-

COTTON FIELD SONG (a composite)

Raccoon an' de possum,
Rackin' 'cross de prairie,
Raccoon ask de possum—
Does she want to marry?

Possum in a 'simmon tree,
Raccoon on de groun',
Raccoon ask de possum
To shake dem 'simmons down.

Well, I met a possum on de road
An' ask him whar he's gwine.
He 'lowed it was his business,
But it wasn't none o' mine.

Den I see Miss Rabbit,
A-settin' in de brush,
All dressed up in her Sunday clothes,
A-lookin' sweet and fresh.

Miss Rabbit am a gay young gal,
She come to meet her beau;
Somepin's gwineter happen soon,
Ef de preacher am too slow.

I met a rabbit in de road,
I ast him whar he's gwine.
"I ain't got time to tell you now,
De ol' gray houn's behin'."

"Say, Mister Rabbit,
Your ears mighty thin."
"Yas, bless-a-God,
They been a-splittin' de win'."

"Say, Mister Rabbit,
Your fur mighty gray."
"Yes, bless-a-God,
Seen a ha'nt 'fore day."

Hog an' a sheep,
A-goin' to de paster,
Hog tol' de sheep,
"Caincha trot a little faster?"

Thousand verses to my song,
Hope I've sung 'em all.
'Fore I'd sing 'em all again,
I'd see you all in hell.

Source: American Ballads and Folk Songs, John & Alan Lomax, 1934


Click to play



MISTER RABBIT

1. "Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, your tail's mighty white."
"Yes, bless God, been gittin' outa sight."
REFRAIN:
Ev'y little soul gwine-a shine, shine,
Ev'y little soul gwine-a shine along.
2. "Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, your coat's mighty grey."
"Yes, bless God, been out 'fo' day."

3. "Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, your ears mighty long."
"Yes, bless God, been put on wrong."

4. "Mister Rabbit, Mister Rabbit, your ears mighty thin."
"Yes, bless God, been splittin' the wind."

Source: Best Loved American Folk Songs (Folk Song USA), John & Alan Lomax, 1947


Click to play


Click to play alternate tune

This tune of Mister Rabbit is slightly different: It is from "Burl Ives - Song in America - Our Musical Heritage," arrangements by Albert Hague, Wayfarer Music Co., New York, 1962, pp124-125.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: GUEST,KentuckyPat
Date: 15 Oct 03 - 09:35 PM

Here's some information on where the song, "Mister Rabbit" came from.

In the 1940s, Ruth Crawford Seeger worked on transcribing many American folk songs. "Mister Rabbit" made an appearance in her book "Animal Folk Songs for Children," but she credited it to earlier sources: Harvard University Press: "Mister Rabbit" (st.5); Library of Congress,Archive of American Folk Song (AAFS) 3044 B1, On the trail of Negro Folk Songs, Dorothy Scarborough, copyright 1925.
Messages from multiple threads combined. Messages below are from a new thread.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song with Rabbit's Ears - Burl Ives
From: freightdawg
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 10:52 AM

Mr. Rabbit Mr Rabbit, your ears are mighty long

Yes, bless God they're put on wrong,
Every little soul must shine, shine,
Every little soul must shine, shine

Mr. Rabbit Mr. Rabbit, your ears are mighty thin,

Yes, bless God they been splittin' the wind,
Every little soul must shine, shine,
Every little soul must shine, shine

Mr Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your ears are mighty red

Yes, bless God I'm almost dead,
Every little soul must shine, shine
Every little soul must shine, shine

There may be more verses, I'm thinking there are, but I'm working off of (mumble, mumble) years of memory here - don't have the record to verify the lyrics or to refresh the synapses.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song with Rabbit's Ears - Burl Ives
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 01:12 PM

A missing verse is

Mr Rabbit, Mr Rabbit your coat is mighty grey -
Yes, Bless God it's made that way
Every little soul must shine, shine,
Every little soul must shine, shine

Not sure if that's all verses but I think it is.

Will try and check the record but that won't be for a day or so.
Should have said verse fits in before your Eyes are mighty red verse


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: Fliss
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 05:50 PM

Mr Rabbit, Mr Rabbit,
You're in the mighty habbit
Of going in my garden
and cutting down my cabbage
Every little soul must shine, shine, shi-ine,
Every little soul must shi-ine,
Shine, Shine.

Was in the version I sang with my reception classes in the early 70s.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 07:31 PM

As observer seems to have raised some doubts (I think because of a duplicate thread and info getting crossed/ommitted), I have just played the Burl Ives version I have on CD (A Twinkle In You Eye - Sony 63420). It matches the version given by Brandon above perfectly.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 06:32 PM

I recorded this with a jew's harp---on a recording called Art Thieme--Live At Winfield (Kansas)


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Subject: Lyr Add: RABBIT HASH
From: GUEST,Azizi
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 04:00 PM

I've searched but can't find a 1970s or 1980s journal article about rabbit songs that I remember reading a couple of years ago. The article lamented the fact that so few African American children and adults know the words and movements to the rabbit songs that are a part of our heritage. This lamentation can be expanded to include non-African Americans.

The first example of "Every Little Soul Must Shine" is from my Cocojams website and I stand by the comments that I made two years ago.

Although they don't include the chorus "Every little soul must shine", you may be interested in the text of two other Rabbit songs, both from Thomas W. Talley's 1922 classic Negro Folk Songs:

RABBIT HASH
Dere wus a big ole rabbit
Dat had a mighty habit
A-settin' in my gyardin,
An'eatin' all my cabbith
I hit' im wid a mallet,
I tapped 'im wid a maul.
Sich anudder rabbit hash,
You's never tasted 'tall.

RABBIT SOUP
Rabbit soup! Rabbit sop!
Rabbit e't my tunnup top.

Rabbbit hop, tabbit jump,
Rabbit hide behin' dat stump.

Rabbit stop, twelve o'clock,
Killed dat rabbit wid a rock.

Rabbit's mine. Rabbit's skin.'
Dress 'im off an' take 'im in.

Rabbit's on! Dance an' whoop!
Makin' a pot o' rabbit soup!

---
It's fine to take songs out of their original context and sing them just for fun and pleasure. But I hope people are aware that these references to food and the considerable number of references to food found in other antebellum enslaved African American songs document the insufficent food rations that they were given and their need to suplement their food supply sometimes by hunting {without guns}and sometimes by "other means".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 05:50 PM

Thomas Talley refers to the rabbit and other animal stories obtained from the plantations and retold by Joel Chandler Harris. Some of these may be found at Uncle Remus, Legends of the Old Plantation (1883), at Legends
The dialect takes some getting used to, but it was well-known to children in Georgia, both white and black, since the stories were read and re-read or told and re-told to them by their parents and older relatives. I remember hearing the dialect as late as WW2, but it has now almost completely disappeared. It has no relation to, as Harris stated, the "intolerable misrepresentations of the minstrel stage."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: GUEST,brundog
Date: 28 Aug 04 - 11:03 PM

Mr Rabbit Mr Rabbit, your ears are mighty pink
Yes my Lord, they were dipped in ink


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 06:31 PM

Gargoyle sent me an alternate tune for this song. I think it's closer to the tune I usually hear.

Click to play alternate tune

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit
From: WooBerry
Date: 28 Nov 05 - 12:09 PM

This is an old favorite of mine from Burl Ives "Little White Duck."
Just yesterday I was listening to Mike, Peggy and Penny Seeger's album "American Folk Songs for Christmas" and I heard the "Every little soul must shine" refrain on a completely different song "Great Big Stars." I see that Ruth Crawford Seeger has the Mr. Rabbit song in her book American Folk Songs for animals from a post here, and wondering if there is an explanation for the refrain duplication?

Diana


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Mr. Rabbit (Burl Ives)
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 25 Jul 14 - 04:52 AM

Dan Tate from Fancy Gap VA. had a good version. It can be heard on "Far in the Mountains" volumes 1-2 (Musical Traditions MTCD 501-2).

Too many spam hits on this thread lately, so it is closed temporarily. Please contact a moderator if you wish it reopened to post something. --mudelf


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