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Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight

Related thread:
Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus (from Uncle Earl) (9)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Raise a Ruckus Tonight (from Something to Sing About, Okun)


GUEST,.gargoyle 05 Sep 04 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,Azizi 05 Sep 04 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,Azizi 05 Sep 04 - 04:49 PM
Deckman 05 Sep 04 - 07:09 PM
Joe Offer 06 Sep 04 - 06:54 PM
masato sakurai 06 Sep 04 - 09:12 PM
katlaughing 02 Feb 05 - 04:44 PM
Azizi 03 Feb 05 - 05:40 AM
Roger the Skiffler 04 Feb 05 - 03:42 AM
chico 23 Jul 05 - 04:52 AM
Azizi 23 Jul 05 - 08:51 AM
Azizi 23 Jul 05 - 09:01 AM
Azizi 23 Jul 05 - 09:42 AM
Flash Company 23 Jul 05 - 09:44 AM
Azizi 23 Jul 05 - 09:45 AM
Deckman 28 Jul 05 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,JTT 01 May 07 - 10:45 AM
Ruth Archer 01 May 07 - 11:23 AM
BrooklynJay 07 Jan 11 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,Azizi 08 Jan 11 - 08:49 AM
BrooklynJay 09 Jan 11 - 01:03 AM
Deckman 26 Mar 11 - 05:26 AM
GUEST,Sam A. Robrin 25 Apr 11 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,justcurious 29 Apr 11 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,njplr 21 Feb 12 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,JTT 24 Jun 17 - 04:35 PM
keberoxu 24 Jun 17 - 10:03 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Raise A Ruckus Tonight
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 03:02 PM

Raise a Ruckus

(choice of Jesse Fuller in Something to Sing About! - The personal Choices of America's Folk Singers, collected and arranged by Milton Okun, McMillian, 1968, pp 63-67.)

CHORUS:
(A) Come a-long, lit-tle chil-dren come a-long
(A) While the moon is shin-ing (E) bright.
(A) Get on (A7) bo-ard,- (D7)down the ri-ver float,
(A) Raise a (E7) ruck-us to- (A) night!

VERSE:
(1) (A) Love my wife, I love my ba-baby,
Raise a (Bm) ruck-us to- (A) night.
(A) Love my bis-cuits pick-led in gra-vy,
Raise a (E) ruck-us to- (A) night.
(A) Save me the ham-burg,
give me the gra-vy, (Bm) Raise a ruck-us to- (A) night.
(A) Love my gis-cuits sopped in gra-vy,
Raise a (E7) ruck-us to- (A) night.

(2) My old master said to me,
Raise a ruckus tonight,
When he'd die he's set me free,
Raise a ruckus tonight.
He lived so long his head got bald,
Raise a ruckus tonight,
He got out o' the notion of dying at all,
Raise a ruckus tonight.

(3) Old hen sitting on a fodder stack,
Raise a ruckus tonight,
Hawk came along and struck he in the back,
Raise a ruckus tonight.
Old hen flew and the biddies too,
Raise a ruckus tonight,
What in the world is the rooster gonna do?
Raise a ruckus tonight.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


Click to play


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Subject: Lyr Add: RAISE A RUCUS TO-NIGHT (from T W Talley)
From: GUEST,Azizi
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 04:40 PM

Raise a Rucus is an opened ended dance song dating from at least 18th century Southern United States slavery. The tune makes use of a varied number of floating verses that can be found in a number of other secular slave songs.

Here is a version of Raise A "Rucus" Tonight from Thomas W. Talley's Negro Folk Rhymes, published in 1922, p. 90.

I am using N___g for you-know-which group referent since that referent is probably even less politically correct now than it was in 1922. Otherwise, this is as Talley presented it.

Two liddle N__gs all dressed in white,
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Want to get to Heaben on de tail of a kite.
(Raise a rucus to-night)
De kite string broke; dem N__gs fell;
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Wha dem N__gs go, I hain't gwineter tell.
(Raise a rucus to-night)

A N__g an' a w'ite man a playin' seven up;
(Raise a rucus to-night)
De N__g beat de w'te man, but 'e's skeered to pick it up.
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Dat N__g grabbed de money, an' de w'te man fell
(Raise a rucus to-night)
How de N__g run, I'se not gwinter tell.
(Raise a rucus to-night)

Look here, N__g! Let me tell you a naked fac':
(Raise a rucus to-night.)
You mought a been cullud widout bein' dat black;
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Dem 'ar feet look lak youse sh' walkin; back'
(Raise a rucus to-night)
An' yo' ha'r, it look lak a chyarpet tack.
(Raise a rucus to-night)

CHORUS: Oh come 'long chilluns, come 'long
W'le dat moon are shinin' bright
Let's git on board, an' float down de river,
An' raise a rucus to-night.

---
Just a couple of comments:

These floating verses are probably more suitable for historical/anthropological folk study than present day singing, particularly the last verse of "rips" (insults). At the very least, it should be stated that this dance song was not meant to be performed for audiences other than African Americans, and at that only certain groups of African Americans on certain, shall we say "informal" occasions.

I believe that the first verse of Raise A Rucus Tonight is the source for the African American children's rhyme "Ten Little Angels" (Ten little angels dressed in white/tryin' to get to heaven by the tail of a kite/but the kite string broke/and one of them fell/instead of going to heaven she when to __/nine little angels etc.)

The first verse's avoidance of the word "hell" reminds me of the children's folk rhyme "Miss Susie had a Steamboat" in which the "hell is changed to "Hello, operator"...

Also, with regard to the use of "d" in place of "th" I would like to call your attention to this excerpt from Lorenzo D. Turner's "Problems Confronting The Investigator Of Gullah", p. 132 in Mother Wit From The Laughing Barrel, edited by Alan Dundes (Prentice-Hall, 1973)

"Mr. Cleanth Brooks, in his monograph entitled 'The Relation of the Alabama-Georgia Dialect to the Provincial Dialects of Great Britain' (Baton Rouge, 1835), reveals some confusion in his discussion of the Negro's substitution of initial d for th in such words as this, that, them, then, these, etc. Assuming that all the peculiarities of the Negro's pronunciation stem from the British dialect of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, he devotes several pages (75-91, to be exact) to an attempt to show that the use of initial d for th in such words occurred in certain British dialects early enough for the white settlers in Alabama and Georgia to pass it on to the Negroes. He obviously did not realize that in NONE* of the West African languages spoken by the Negroes who were coming to Georgia direct from Africa until practically the beginning of the Civil War does the th sound occur.... Moreover, when the native West African today first encounters the th sounds, whether in the United States, the Caribbean, West Africa, or elsewhere, he substitutes for them d and t, with which he is thoroughly familiar and which he considers closer to the English th than any of the other sounds of his language. This is true whether he is literate or illiterate....

* None capitalized in place of italics, which I can't figure out how to reproduce... ;O)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise A Ruckus Tonight
From: GUEST,Azizi
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 04:49 PM

Sorry, here's a correction in the words to Ten Little Angels:
"tryin to get to heaven on the tail of a kite"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise A Ruckus Tonight
From: Deckman
Date: 05 Sep 04 - 07:09 PM

gargoyle ... thanks for this thread. I sang this song less than half an hour ago. I learned it in seattle in the late 50's from the late Mr. Keve Bray ... a wonderful man. He had another verse:

Way down yonder,
In yantky yank,
A bullfrog jumped,
from bank to bank ...(I forget the rest, but I'll bet someone else can remind me).

CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise A Ruckus Tonight
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 06:54 PM

Hi, Bob - I've usually heard the "Yankety-Yank" verse in a different song on Pete Seeger recordings - (click here). The Digital Tradition may well have the original version - (click here)
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise A Ruckus Tonight
From: masato sakurai
Date: 06 Sep 04 - 09:12 PM

Debbie Reynolds sang this in the movie How The West Was Won.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Feb 05 - 04:44 PM

Bette Davis sang this in "Jezebel" which came out in 1938. She received an Oscar for her performance.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Feb 05 - 05:40 AM

Deckman,

I just re-read your post...

I've collected a lot of variants of the Hankety Pank/Yankety Yank verse you gave from African American and non-African American children...It's used as a handclap rhyme.

Here's one sample of the rhyme:

down by the lake with the hanky panky
where the bullfrogs jump from bank to bank
singing fee fi fo fum
ure momma looks like king kong
didley dong i went to school with nothing on
i asked the teacher what to wear
polka dotted underwear
not too big not too small
just the size of dadeland mall (or w/e mall u choose)

Source: www.octopuses.chaoticinsanity.com {Wheee! Blog, "schoolyard games" thread}, posted by[no name given]at September 18, 2003 08:34 PM

That website has other variants of this rhyme [though by far the most popular rhyme that is posted there is the "Miss Susie [Miss Lucy] Had A Steam Boat" rhyme..

click here for the schoolyard games thread on that website

Also here is a post from Mudcat that speaks to a possible origin for this rhyme:

{written in response to the question is this a Pete Seeger song}

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: a big bullfrog jumped into the lake
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 06:39 PM

"Not really Pete Seeger's, though his version (as "Foolish Frog") sure is catchy. It originated back around the turn of the (19th-20th) century as "May Irwin's Frog Song," one of several of this massively built entertainer's hits— others included "Lulu" and "Bully of the Town." She had a knack of picking up song material from black sources, so it's not impossible that hers are rewrites of even earlier stuff. Irwin repays study; I only wish she'd recorded so we could hear the voice that tickled thousands in vaudeville days. --Bob Coltman "

end of quote..

Enjoy!

Ms Azizi


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 04 Feb 05 - 03:42 AM

Also done by Gus Cannon (who pronounces it "Rookus").
I've almost got it down (down and crying for mercy!).

RtS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: chico
Date: 23 Jul 05 - 04:52 AM

Non-censored chords


D                                  7                  A7
Two liddle Nigs all dressed in white, Raise a rucus to-night
Bm                         G         7      D      A7       D
Want to get to Heaben on de tail of a kite, Raise a rucus to-night
De kite string broke; dem Nigs fell, Raise a rucus to-night
Wha dem Nigs go, I hain't gwineter tell, raise a rucus to-night

    D
Oh come 'long chilluns, come 'long
          7                A7
W'le dat moon are shinin' bright
      D       7          G             7
Let's git on board, an' down de river float
    D       A7       D
An' raise a rucus to-night.

A Nigger an' a w'ite man a playin' seven up;
De Nigger beat de w'te man, but 'e's skeered to pick it up.
Dat Nigger grabbed de money, an' de w'te man fell
How de Nigger run, I'se not gwinter tell.

Look here, Nigger! Let me tell you a naked fac':
You mought a been cullud widout bein' dat black;
Dem 'ar feet look lak youse sh' walkin; back'
An' yo' ha'r, it look lak a chyarpet tack.

Love my wife, I love my baby,
Love my biscuits pickled in gravy,
Save me the ham-burg, give me the gra-vy,
Love my biscuits sopped in gravy,

My old master said to me,
When he'd die he's set me free,
He lived so long his head got bald,
He got out o' the notion of dying at all,

Old hen sitting on a fodder stack,
Hawk came along and struck he in the back,
Old hen flew and the biddies too,
What in the world is the rooster gonna do?


[Raise a Rucus is an opened ended dance song dating from at least 18th century Southern United States slavery. The tune makes use of a varied number of floating verses that can be found in a number of other secular slave songs. Thomas W. Talley's Negro Folk Rhymes, published in 1922, p. 90.]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Jul 05 - 08:51 AM

Thanks, Chico for refreshing this thread.

I had forgotten that I had started this thread on the very same day that I became a Mudcat member. That was one of the best decisions I made!

Chico, for the record, I also notice that you started another thread on a different version of this song HERE

****

One interesting feature of "Raise A Rukus Tonight", is its use of a technique that I call "profanity avoidance". The word 'hell' is never said but is suggested by the pattern used in the lines:
       De kite string broke; dem N__gs fell;
       {Raise a rucus to-night)
       Wha dem N__gs go, I hain't gwineter tell.
       Raise a rucus to-night)

-snip-

A similar pattern of profanity advoidance is used in the widely known children's rhyme, "Miss Susie had a Steamboat" {or "Miss Lucy", "Mis Lula", "Miss Molly", "Miss Mary" Had A Tugboat}. In those rhymes the last word of each line is an unspoken 'dirty' word and the same or similar word is used in a'clean' way {usually} as the first word in the next sentence. For example, see this version from Akiba {September 13, 1997}posted in a classic Mudcat thread Naughty Kids Greatest Hits

"Another version of the steamboat/bell song:
Lulu had a steamboat; steamboat had a bell;
Lulu went to heaven; steamboat went to...
Hello, operator; give me number nine;
If you don't I'll kick you, right in the ...
Behind the 'frigerator, Lulu broke a glass;
Then she slipped upon it and broke her big,fat ...
Ask me no questions; I'll tell you no lies;
If you do , I'll punch you right between the eyes!"

-snip-

Here's another profanity avoidance rhyme from that same Mudcat thread posted by Laoise on September 15, 1997 :

"Mary had a little lamb, she thought it rather silly,
She threw it up into the air and caught it by it's...
Willie was a sheep dog sitting on the ground
Along came a bee and stung him on his....
Ask no questions tell no lies,
Ever see a p'liceman doing up his....
Flies are a nuisance, bugs are worse
And this is the end of my silly little verse."

-snip-

BTW, in that same thread Barry Finn {September 14, 1997} wrote that
"These steamboat versions seem to run close to the Bang Bang Lulu genere (she was famous in the US Navy). See Bang Bang Lulu in the DT "

There is also a Naughty Kids Greatest Hits II


Enjoy!

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Jul 05 - 09:01 AM

As an aside, if you judged by the number of versions posted on the Internet {for instance on Mudcat and on the schoolyard thread in the eclectic Wheee! Blog website that I linked to earlier, "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat" seems to be a very widely known children's rhyme. However, in my 8 years of collecting children's rhymes from African Americans-mostly in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area but also elsewhere-I haven't found any evidence that "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat" is even known among African Americans children now or in the past.

My theory is that "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat" may not be widely known {or known at all} among African Americans because it emphasizes word play while we{African Americans} are far more interested in moving to the rhythm and beat of rhymes than the words of rhymes.

Two other categories of rhymes that from my research appear to be little known among African Americans but well known among European Americans are what I call 'gross out' rhymes such as "Great big gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts"} and parody teacher taunts such as Glory Glory Hallelujah/teacher hit me with a ruler/I met her at the door/with a loaded 44/and she ain't gonna teach no more.

My theory is that "Miss Lucy" may not be that popular among African Americans the words {and word play} are emphasized while we {African Americans} are far more interested in moving to the rhythm and beat of rhymes than the words of rhymes.

I think that race 'plays' a much larger part than heretofore noted in determining which rhymes or kinds of rhymes children know & recite,and the way that rhymes are performed. if it is true that these types of rhymes that I mentioned aren't recited by African American children, maybe it is because these rhymes emphasize word play and African Americans prefer rhymes that are recited with syncopated rhythms & percussive beat and performed with hip & butt shaking social dance moves, bass sounding foot stomp 'steppin' moves, and/or extricate handclap routines.

I hope someone conducts formal research on this. I think the results would be quite interesting.


Azizi


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Jul 05 - 09:42 AM

It occurs to me that there is at least one VERY popular African American rhyme which uses a form of provanity avoidance in its third verse.

"Tweedleelee" {or some approximation of that name}is a parody of Michael Jackson's version of "Rockin Robin". I have found very similar versions of this rhyme among African Americans in Pittsburgh area; Erie, PA; Philadelphia,PA; Cleveland, Ohio; Washington D.C; Crawford, Georgia. I also have a similar version from a Latino woman from New York City, and an woman of Filipino descent from Richmond, Virginia. Given this list, I would suspect that this rhyme is found elsewhere in USA, and maybe elsewhere.

Here's one version of "Tweedleelee" that I collected from girls & boys ages 5-14 years in various Pittsburgh, Penn. communities 1998-2005:

Tweedleelee
and a bumble bee
Tweedleelee
Popsicle, popsicle
Your butt stinks

He rocks in the tree top
all day long
huffin and ah puffin
and ah singin his song.
All the little birds on Jay Bird street
Loves to hear the bird go
TWEET TWEET TWEET

Rockin Robin
Tweet Tweetdalee
Rockin Robin
Tweet Tweetdalee

Mama's in the kitchen
cookin rice.
Daddy's outside
shootin dice
Brother's in jail
raisin bail
Sister's on the corner
Sellin FRUIT COCKTAIL (girls rhythmically touch their hips down to their upper legs or emphatically rock their hips in time with the beat).

I went downtown
To get ah stick of butter.
I saw James Brown
Layin in the gutter.
I saw an piece of glass
Stickin in his butt
I never saw a Black man
run so fast

-snip-

Note in that third verse that the word "ass" would be a perfect rhyme for the word "glass". However, I have never heard the word "ass" used in this rhyme {when it has been recited by children & youth, or when it has been recited by adults who remembered it from their childhood and teen years}. On some occassions, some children confessed that this rhyme had a "dirty verse" but agreed to recite the whole thing anyway. On those occassions, they still didn't use the word "ass".

On one occassion three months ago, as part of an after-school program that I conduct on children's rhymes, I asked a group of girls and boys if they knew "Tweedleelee". All of them did and began reciting it {some girls also began doing a handclap routine while reciting the words}. But Breonda, a 9 year old girl, interrupted the recitation, and said "Remember we're supposed to say:

I took a piece a piece a glass stuck it in the butter
I never saw a stick of butter run so fast"

-snip-

I asked Breonda where she had gotten those words from. She replied that she had made them up. I asked her why and she said she had done so because the other words were "bad". At least on that occassion- because of the force of Breonda's personality {even though she was younger than some of the other children}-the rest of the children recited the words as Breonda had given them.

And a good time was had by all.

****

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: Flash Company
Date: 23 Jul 05 - 09:44 AM

Also from Jesse Fuller:-

Some folk say that a preacher won' steal
Raise a ruckus tonight,
I caught two in my cornfield
Raise a ruckus tonight,
One had a bushel an'the other had a peck,
Raise a ruckus tonight
One had a roast ear roun' his neck
Raise a ruckus tonight

FC


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Jul 05 - 09:45 AM

Correction:

In the first verse of "Tweedleelee", the line should read:

Loves to hear the robin go
TWEET TWEET TWEET


Azizi


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: Deckman
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 06:12 PM


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 01 May 07 - 10:45 AM

re. raise a ruckus sung by bette davis in jezebel. does anybody know the song the slaves were singing before bette davis interrupted them to sing "raise a ruckus" ? it was called something like Susan James.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 01 May 07 - 11:23 AM

I don't know - but Old Crow Medicine Show do a great version of this song on their CD Eutaw.

Wow - that's the second time I've mentioned them on here today...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 07 Jan 11 - 05:33 AM

On the 1956 album Josh At Midnight, Josh White and Sam Gary do a version of this song (probably the first I ever heard as a young 'un). The lyrics were decidedly tamer, especially in regard to anything directly mentioning slavery, though the liner notes do address the issue.

From the liner notes:

Raise A Rukus - The spiritual and blues are the better known creative works of the American Negro, but he also created any number of delightful dance and play songs. Raise A Rukus is one of these. And, as in the spiritual and blues, the words were often complaints against the Negro's status, first as a slave, and later as a second class citizen. When he sang "raise a rukus", he wasn't just referring to having a good time.

Raise A Rukus

Chorus:
Why don't you come along,
Little children come along,
While the moon is shining bright;
Get on board,
Down by the river shore,
We're gonna raise a rukus tonight!

Old Aunt Dinah went to town,
(Raise a rukus tonight!)
Ridin' a billy-goat, leadin' a hound,
(Raise a rukus tonight!)
Hound dog barked, billy-goat jumped,
(Raise a rukus tonight!)
Threw Aunt Dinah on her rump.
(Raise a rukus tonight!)

(Chorus)

Some folks says that the preacher won't steal,
(Raise a rukus tonight!)
But, I caught two in my cornfield;
(Raise a rukus tonight!)
One had a shovel and one had a hoe,
(Raise a rukus tonight!)
And they were digging up potatoes by the row.
(Raise a rukus tonight!)

(Chorus)

Way down yonder in Chitlin' Switch,
(Raise a rukus tonight!)
Bullfrog jumped from ditch to ditch,
(Raise a rukus tonight!)
Bullfrog jumped from the bottom of the well,
(Raise a rukus tonight!)
Swore, by God, he jumped from Hell.
(Raise a rukus tonight!)

(Chorus)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: GUEST,Azizi
Date: 08 Jan 11 - 08:49 AM

NOTE: In a 2004 comment that I wrote on in the Mudcat thread http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=73087&messages=19 "Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight" , I made a mistake when I wrote that "Raise a Rucus is an opened ended dance song dating from at least 18th century Southern United States slavery. This song makes use of a varied number of floating verses that can be found in a number of other secular slave songs." end of quote. The corrected sentence is "Raise a Rucus is an opened ended dance song dating from at least the 19th century Southern United States slavery. This song makes use of a varied number of floating verses that can be found in a number of other secular slave songs."

end of quote

I believe that "Raise A Ruckus Tonight" probably predates the early 20th century as a result of reading this passage from the Thomas W Talley's 1922 book Negro Folk Rhymes:

"A few of the Rhymes bear the mark of a somewhat recent date in composition. The majority of them, however, were sung by Negro fathers and mothers in the dark days of American slavery to their children...The little songs were similar in structure to the Jubilee Songs, also of Negro Folk origin. [page 229; Kennikat edition, 1964]

I apologize for my mistakes in my previous comment which I notice is also quoted in part elsewhere on this thread, and Lord knows may be quoted elsewhere.

Best wishes,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 09 Jan 11 - 01:03 AM

The song turns up in Folk Song U.S.A. (1947) by John and Alan Lomax. Here are the full notes and lyrics from the book:

************************************

RAISE A RUKUS

The South was the meeting place of two very musical peoples. There the folk from the British Isles and the folk from the West Coast of Africa pooled their tunes, their rhythmic patterns, and their song-styles. The sharing of songs and the musical competition between these radically different groups gave rise to the most interesting things in American music -- the music of the minstrels, the spiritual, the blues, hot jazz, and, now, hillbilly.

Imagine what happened, for instance, when the fiddler who formed "Sourwood Mountain" or "Old Joe Clark" heard a Negro slave, slapping out an intricate, syncopated rhythm on his thighs and chanting --

JUba dis an' JUba dat an'
JUba killed my YALlow cat, O
JUba,
JUba, JUba, JUba, JUba, JUba....

You may be sure that fiddler slipped out back of the cowshed that night, and tried to "mock" that little song on his instrument. His "Juba" took on a character distinctly different from its original. You can think of scores of tunes that have this flavor: "Cindy," "Old Dan Tucker," "Buffalo Gals," "O Susannah," to mention only a few.

Reverse the situation. The song-leader from the slave quarters stands in the kitchen door and watches an Irish music master play his lively jig tunes, while the white folks swing and turn in a quadrille. He makes himself a one-string fiddle and practices until he can amuse his white master and his guests. Later he gets his hands on an old broken-up fiddle and works hard to learn a few tunes, because he knows that, as plantation fiddler, he can earn release from some of the harder tasks and punishments that now fall upon him.... This is precisely the story of Balaam and hundreds of other slave musicians; and we know that even in colonial times Negro fiddlers were playing for the most elegant balls, as well as for their own dances in the slave quarters.

Out of such competition and emulation came songs like "Raise A Rukus," an ante-bellum Negro hoedown or jig tune with an overlay of minstrel-show influence. In the slave quarters, where no instruments were available, the typically African song leader improvised new lines against an insistent vocal and rhythmic refrain to make dancing music. An ex-slave has described a jigging contest in "the quarters," where songs of this kind began:

Master always wanted to help his colored folks live right, and he always 'ranged for parties and such -- no foolishment, just good, clean fun. There was dancing and singing most every Saturday night. He had a little platform built for jigging contests. Colored folks came from all around to see who could jig the best.

I must tell you about the best contest we ever had. One nigger on our place was the jiggingest fellow ever was. He could put a glass of water on his head and make his feet go like trip-hammers and sound like a snare drum. Now it gets noised around a fellow been found to beat him and a contest was arranged for Saturday evening. There was a big crowd and money was bet.

So they starts jigging. Tom starts easy and gits a little faster and faster and it look like Tom done met his match, but there am one thing he ain't done -- he ain't made a whirl. Now he does it. Everybody holds he breath, and the other fellow starts to make a whirl and he makes it, but just a spoonful of water slops out of his cup, so Tom was the winner.


As background for the bitterly satirical lines of "Raise A Rukus," here is an anecdote from the childhood of Jenny Proctor, Alabama ex-slave:

I recollects once when I was tryin' to clean house like old Miss tell me, I finds a biscuit and Ize so hungry, I et it, 'cause we never see such a thing as a biscuit only sometimes on Sunday morning. Well, she come in and say, "Where's that biscuit?" I say, "Miss, I et it 'cause I'm so hungry."

Then she grab the broom and start beating me over the head with it, and I guess I clean lost my head 'cause I knowed better than to fight her if I knowed anything, but I start to fight her, and the driver comes in and starts beating me with that cat-o'-nine-tails, and he beat me till I fall to the floor. I still got those scars on my back just like my grandmother have when she die, and Ize a-carryin' mine right on to the grave just like she did.


The refrain of this ditty, "raise a rukus tonight," has two meanings: to start trouble, to have fun. This contrast in meanings aptly hits off the dual aspects of the song: a song of protest and irony -- a crazy "black-face minstrel song" which will tickle "the white folks." In this latter guise, the song is known and loved all over the South, both among Negroes and whites. Ironically enough, it is one of the few secular songs that Negro ministers will officially permit their congregations to sing at picnics and church socials.


Raise a Rukus

My ol' mistiss promise me,
Raise a rukus tonight,
When she died, she'd set me free,
Raise a rukus tonight,
Live so long twell her haid got bal',
Raise a rukus tonight,
Give up the notion of dyin' a-tall,
Raise a rukus tonight.

CHORUS:
Come along, little chillun, come along,
While the moon is shinin' bright,
Git on board, down the river float,
We gonna raise a rukus tonight.

My ol' mistiss say to me;*
"Sambo, Ize gwine ter set you free."
But when dat haid get slick and bal',
You couldn'-a killed her wid a big green maul.

My ol' mistiss never die
Wid her nose all hooked an' skin all dry.
But when ol' miss she somehow gone,
She lef' Uncle Sambo a-hillin' up de corn.

Ol' mosser likewise promise me,
When he died, he'd set me free.
But ol' mosser go an' make his will
Fer to leave me a-plowin' ol' Beck still...

All dem 'taters in dat oven,
How I wish I had some of 'em.
All dem biscuits in dat pan --
If I don't get 'em I'll raise some san'.

Way down yonder on Chit'lin' Switch
Bullfrog jumped from ditch to ditch,
Bullfrog jumped from the bottom of de well,
Swore, my Lawd, he'd jumped from Hell.

*In singing this song, be sure to repeat "Raise a rukus tonight" after every line.

**************************************

The printed music would also indicate the chorus should be sung after each verse.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: Deckman
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 05:26 AM

The "Chit'lin switch" verse is the one I've been looking for ... for many years. Thanks for reminding me! bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: GUEST,Sam A. Robrin
Date: 25 Apr 11 - 12:42 PM

Jerry Silverman's book SLAVE SONGS gives this number a twist in a final verse. After the parts about the promises of the "master" and "mistress," the story concludes:

Yes, they both done promised me
But their papers didn't set me free
A dose of [poison] helped them along
May the devil preach their funeral song

Raise a ruckus tonight!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: GUEST,justcurious
Date: 29 Apr 11 - 04:03 PM

Quick question - does the song under discussion here have the same tune as this version (at 7:50 in the video)?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: GUEST,njplr
Date: 21 Feb 12 - 01:43 PM

Guest JTT I have ALWAYS wanted to know what is that song they sing in Jezebel just prior to Raise A Ruckus Tonight too, I have looked and looked and never been able to find either the name or the words to the song (it is REALLY hard to understand). So yes, if ANYBODY knows or can help, please do so!!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 24 Jun 17 - 04:35 PM

just read your reply to my thread.any luck yet? I'm still none the wiser.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight
From: keberoxu
Date: 24 Jun 17 - 10:03 PM

Yes, Gargoyle et al., not only did Jesse Fuller contribute that song to the anthology cited in the OP, but Fuller recorded the song himself, which is where I recall hearing it. Was it a Folkways album? Fuller accompanies himself on guitar and "fotdella" or whatever he called that thing that had foot pedals.


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