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Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'

DigiTrad:
OLD MOKE PICKIN' ON THE BANJO


Rabbi-Sol 18 Jul 04 - 08:18 PM
dick greenhaus 18 Jul 04 - 10:06 PM
Charley Noble 18 Jul 04 - 10:07 PM
Rabbi-Sol 18 Jul 04 - 11:06 PM
Joe Offer 19 Jul 04 - 01:46 AM
radriano 19 Jul 04 - 11:19 AM
Joe Offer 19 Jul 04 - 11:43 AM
GUEST 19 Jul 04 - 01:53 PM
radriano 19 Jul 04 - 03:03 PM
GUEST 19 Jul 04 - 07:29 PM
radriano 19 Jul 04 - 08:04 PM
GUEST 19 Jul 04 - 11:15 PM
Joe Offer 19 Jul 04 - 11:29 PM
GUEST 19 Jul 04 - 11:33 PM
Jeri 20 Jul 04 - 12:39 AM
Jeri 20 Jul 04 - 12:44 AM
Joe Offer 20 Jul 04 - 12:52 AM
Jeri 20 Jul 04 - 01:29 AM
Jon Bartlett 14 Nov 07 - 02:37 AM
Charley Noble 14 Nov 07 - 06:37 PM
Greg B 14 Nov 07 - 09:46 PM
Jon Bartlett 15 Nov 07 - 01:13 AM
Desert Dancer 15 Nov 07 - 11:23 AM
Bill D 15 Nov 07 - 11:47 AM
Jon Bartlett 15 Nov 07 - 02:18 PM
Celtaddict 15 Nov 07 - 02:35 PM
Bill D 15 Nov 07 - 03:24 PM
Azizi 15 Nov 07 - 03:54 PM
Azizi 15 Nov 07 - 04:02 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 18 Jul 04 - 08:18 PM

I have heard this song sung at Mystic by Cliff Haslam among others, but have never seen it in print. The line I remember is: "We're from the railroad toor-a-loo, and the old moke is pluckin on the banjo".
Lyrics & author please.    SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Jul 04 - 10:06 PM

Rabbi-Sol-

The Digital Tradition is a good place to start looking. Try a search on "moke"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Jul 04 - 10:07 PM

Sol-

This shanty has to be in the DT in some form or other. No way it hasn't been posted. There are many idiosyncratic lines in it and the strange shift to the chorus. And there has been ample discussion of what a "moke" refers to, originally a mule but probably to a Black person in this shanty.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 18 Jul 04 - 11:06 PM

Thank You Charlie. I found it. The correct title is "Old Moke Pickin On The Banjo. SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 01:46 AM

There's an interesting entry on this song in the Traditional Ballad index. Apparently, there's another version called "Song of the Pinewoods" in Earl Clifton Beck's Songs of the Michigan Lumberjacks (1941). I wonder what else we can find out about the song, and if somebody can post the landlubber version of this song.
-Joe Offer-
Here's the Ballad Index entry:

Old Moke Pickin' on the Banjo (Song of the Pinewoods)

DESCRIPTION: Singer lands in America in 1844 and works in the pinewoods. An Irish girl offers him whiskey and looks him over. He describes the teamsters with whom he works. Song may have many floating verses and a nonsense chorus.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1941 (Beck)
KEYWORDS: lumbering work emigration floatingverses music
FOUND IN: US(MW)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Beck 22, "Song of the Pinewoods" (1 text)
DT, OLDMOKE*

Roud #862
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Whoa Back, Buck" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Shule Agra (Shool Aroo[n], Buttermilk Hill, Johnny's Gone for a Soldier)" (floating lyrics)
cf. "I'm a Rowdy Soul" (floating lyrics)
Notes: Clearly we have a muddle here. Beck notes that this song can have a huge number of verses, but he lists only four, and the song makes little sense as a result. The chorus, meanwhile, is a reworking of "Shule Agra", with a last line close to "Tighten on the Backband (Whoa Back Buck)." Ah, the folk process! - PJS
A muddle indeed, and one with bounds very hard to define. Beck's refrain for this piece runs
    Shu-li, shu-li, shula-racka-ru
    Hacka-racka, shacka-racka, shula-bobba-lu
    I'm right from the pinewoods. So are you
    Johnny, can't you pick it on your banjo?
The more common chorus to this seems to be something like
    Hooraw! What the hell's the row?
    We're all from the railroad, too-rer-loo,
    We're all from the railroad, too-rer-loo,
    Oooh! The ol' moke pickin' on the banjo!
This chorus occurs, with variations, in Hugill and Sharp. - RBW
File: Be022

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2004 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


The version in the Digital Tradition is from Shanties from the Seven Seas, Hugill


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE OLD MOKE PICKIN' ON THE BANJO
From: radriano
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 11:19 AM

THE OLD MOKE PICKIN' ON THE BANJO
[From 'Shanties of the Seven Seas', edited & collected by Stan Hugill]

He bang, she bang, daddy shot a bear
Shot it in the stern, me boys, an' never turned a hair
We're all from the railroad, to-ra-loo
Oh, the old moke pickin' on the banjo

Chorus:
Hooraw! What the hell's the row?
We're all from the railroad, to-ra-loo
We're all from the railroad, to-ra-loo
Ooch! The old moke pickin' on the banjo

Pat, get back, take in yer slack, heave away, me boys
Heave away, me bully boys, why don't you make some noise
We're all from the railroad, to-ra-loo
Oh, the old moke pickin' on the banjo

Roll her, boys, bowl her, boys, give 'er flamin' gip
Drag the anchor off the mud an' let the bastard rip
We're all from the railroad, to-ra-loo
Oh, the old moke pickin' on the banjo

Rock-a-block, chock-a-block, heave the capstan round
Fish the flamin' anchor up, for we are outward bound
We're all from the railroad, to-ra-loo
Oh, the old moke pickin' on the banjo

Out chocks, two blocks, heave away or bust
Bend yer backs, me bully boys, kick up some flamin' dust
We're all from the railroad, to-ra-loo
Oh, the old moke pickin' on the banjo

Whiskey-o, Johnny-o, the mudhook is in sight
'Tis a hell of a way to the gals that wait an' the ol' Nantucket Light
We're all from the railroad, to-ra-loo
Oh, the old moke pickin' on the banjo
^^^


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 11:43 AM

Hmmm. Can't tell if Richard or the DT is closer to Hugill's book - but I DO know that Hugill has it "Nantucket." Anybody have the lumberjack version of this song?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 01:53 PM

That's "shot it in the STERN," ye landlubber!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: radriano
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 03:03 PM

Okay, my post had some typos.

Yes, nameless Guest, it should be "stern" and yes, Joe, it should be "Nantucket."

Joe, as usual, is tactful. As for our nameless Guest, I'm sorry you are so insecure. I'm sure you will mature eventually and not jump to conclusions so quickly.

As for myself, I was hasty in posting, for which I apologize.
    Typos corrected. -Joe Landlubber-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 07:29 PM

Am sorry that you find it necessary to be sarcastic. But if I offended by use of the to me harmless and humourous word landlubber, I apologize.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: radriano
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 08:04 PM

Guest, please accept my apology as well. Your post seemed sarcastic to me, hence my reaction. From time to time, people who post as simply "Guest" want to stir things up without saying who they are.


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Subject: ADD: Song of the Pinewoods
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 11:15 PM

from:
LORE OF THE LUMBER CAMPS by E. C. Beck (1948)


SONG OF THE PINEWOODS

THE "Song of the Pinewoods" could go on forever, like "Old McDonald Had a Farm," "Sing Pollywolly Doodle," and "Goodby, Old Paint." This is one of several ballads sung by Hiram Taylor of Standish.

1. In the year of eighteen forty-four
We landed on Columbia's shore,
We landed on Columbia's shore;
To work up in the pinewoods.

Chorus
Shu-li, shu-li, shula-racka-ru,
Hacka-racka, shacka-racka, shula-bobba-Iu.
I'm right from the pinewoods. So are you.
Johnny, can't you pick it on your banjo?

2   This Irish girl, as we rode up,
She had some whisky in a cup.
She says, "Young man, won't you have a sup
While working in the pinewoods?"


3   The Irish girl as she rode by,
It was to me she cast her eye;
She says, "Young man, you can't deny
That you work up in the pinewoods,"


4   Our ox teamsters they all are Dutch,
And you must allow they don't know much.
It's a "Whoa, come haw" and a "Haw, come gee"
To wake up the oxen in the morning.
.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 11:29 PM

Oh, bless you for posting that. Is the tune similar to what we know for "Old Moke" (MIDI available in the Digital Tradition).
Thanks a lot for posting the lyrics.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jul 04 - 11:33 PM

Joe,

There is no tune printed (or mentioned). Above is the complete entry from the book


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Jul 04 - 12:39 AM

The first gut reaction I had to the lyrics tune-wise, was a 4/4 version of Paddy Works On the Railway. It's just a WAG. I'm thinking Jeff Warner might know, or George Ward, or the Patons.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Jul 04 - 12:44 AM

Then again, I don't know how much those guys know about songs from that area of the country...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Jul 04 - 12:52 AM

That's the thought I had, Jeri - "Paddy Works On the Railway." it's doesn't seem to work with the tune of "Old Moke" - although you can certainly see the parallel in the lyrics.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Jul 04 - 01:29 AM

Almost the same choruse as the one in your first post, Joe.

I still think that line "shot him in the stern, and never turned a hair" is pretty darned clever. Poor bear.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 02:37 AM

This is from the Gordon collection, c. 1923:

A boss on the section by the name of Brown
He got married to a big far down
She baked good bread and baked it brown
For the boys that worked on the railway.

Chorus
Sugar, sugar, sugar in the rue
Coffee in the tae kettle, an' how do ye do?
I'm from the railway; so are you
And Johnny kept a picking on his banjo.

and three more verses. The song has clearly been breeding with "Drill Ye Tarriers".

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 06:37 PM

Jon-

Interesting!

"He got married to a big far down"

Would this be another line mistranscribed, misunderstood, or intentionally rewritten into nonesense?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble, at large in Oz


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Greg B
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 09:46 PM

Always thought this was a wonderful chronicle of how sailors
'swallowed the anchor' to work on the Transcontinental Railroad
project. But like all good things, it ended, and back to sea they
went, the musical result being songs like these. A clear blend
of Irish and African American lyrics, melody and chords.

I've also been concerned that political correctness would eventually
catch up to the song, and objection be raised to the term 'moke'
equating a black man with a donkey.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 01:13 AM

Charley, I've heard close to this in variants of "Drill Ye Tarriers" - "He married a woman, a very far down", perhaps cleaned up in the DT version (from Dyer-Bennet) to "... married a lady, six feet round"). Is it Irish usage, perhaps?

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 11:23 AM

Related song thread: Lyr/Tune Req: Paddy works on the Railroad (version with the "siul a run" (or however you spell that) - related chorus.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 11:47 AM

I've heard someone do "Old Moke" in recent years.....Ken Shatz, maybe?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 02:18 PM

Yes, I heard him and others (Johnson Girls?) do it at the Mystic party last year.

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Celtaddict
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 02:35 PM

I have run across (and am now trying to recall just where) a usage of 'a far down' or 'waydown' as someone from islands in the south; not sure if south Pacific was meant or Caribbean, for some reason I think of it as the latter, maybe since the shanty itself sounds quite American. Does this ring a bell to anyone? It could of course be as Charley suggests misunderstood or rewritten to replace something highly non-PC, even if the geographical reference is so.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 03:24 PM

Thanks, Jon...yep, it was at Mystic in '02 or '03 that I heard it....in the big hall at the party.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Azizi
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 03:54 PM

In reference to the song "The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo", my belief is that "Moke" was either a male's personal name or nickname, probably a Black man {given the banjo reference}.

Julia Stewart's book 1,001 African Names {Carol Publishing Group, 1996}, has a listing for this the name "Moke" {moh-KAY}. That editor indicates that in northern Zaire [Congo], "Moke" is frequently attached to male names to mean "junior, little, the younger of the two". For instance, if a man called Molaili had a son named Molaili, the son would be referred to as Molali Moke, meaning "little Molali".
In that sense, "Mookie" could be said to have the same meaning as the "American" nickname "Junior" or "Junie" {a male who has the same names as his father}.

The name "Moke" may have become "Mookie" in keeping with the once ubiquitous American practice of forming male or female nicknames by adding an "ie" or a "y" to personal names {Sally, Susie, Bobbie, Johnny, Ikey, Ronnie, Mandy, Lenny, Debbie, Lindy etc}. I have found a number of Internet references for the name "Mookie" that suggests that this nickname is still given for several male personal names that begin with "M" {such as "Mike" and "Mark"}.

The nickname "Mookie" may be a form of the Hebrew male name "Moishe" or "Moses" which means "savior". "Mookie" may also be a nickname for the Arabic male name "Mustafa" {"Mustapha"} which means 'chosen'. It is also possible that for some people "Mookie" could have been created by rhyming the nicknames "Pookie" and/or "Bookie". Those affectionate nicknames are still given to males and females.

I suppose we'll never really know for sure what was the origin and meaning of the word "Moke" in that old song. But my bet is on one of these names or nicknames.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Old Moke Pluckin On The Banjo'
From: Azizi
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 04:02 PM

I should clarify that in the context of that song, the name "Moke" would not have actually needed to be the man's real name. Any Black men may have been called that name by a White person the same way that White people are said to have used the name "George" to refer to any Black man who worked as a pullman porter.


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