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Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon

Related threads:
Essay: Zip Coon (8)
Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon (17)


02 Dec 98 - 02:58 PM
Felipa 02 Dec 98 - 03:10 PM
Ed Baker 02 Dec 98 - 03:27 PM
SteveF 02 Dec 98 - 03:41 PM
rich r 04 Dec 98 - 10:34 PM
Jim Dixon 02 Jan 04 - 01:30 PM
Charley Noble 02 Jan 04 - 04:59 PM
GUEST,takro 17 Jan 05 - 11:05 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jan 05 - 11:12 PM
Bob Bolton 18 Jan 05 - 12:08 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Jan 05 - 01:28 AM
GUEST 18 Jan 05 - 11:47 AM
Azizi 06 Oct 11 - 10:47 AM
Mo the caller 06 Oct 11 - 02:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Oct 11 - 03:30 PM
Bob the Postman 06 Oct 11 - 09:25 PM
Azizi 07 Oct 11 - 08:54 AM
Bob the Postman 07 Oct 11 - 11:55 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Oct 11 - 03:19 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Oct 11 - 03:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Oct 11 - 05:15 PM
Lighter 07 Oct 11 - 07:02 PM
Lighter 07 Oct 11 - 07:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Oct 11 - 09:03 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Oct 11 - 09:31 PM
Lighter 07 Oct 11 - 09:56 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Oct 11 - 02:01 PM
catspaw49 08 Oct 11 - 02:46 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Oct 11 - 02:56 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Oct 11 - 03:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Oct 11 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,pauperback 28 Jun 16 - 12:14 AM
Joe_F 28 Jun 16 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,pauperback 28 Jun 16 - 04:07 PM
cnd 28 Jun 16 - 08:56 PM
cnd 29 Jun 16 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,pauperback 29 Jun 16 - 03:47 PM
Lighter 29 Jun 16 - 04:12 PM
GUEST,pauperback 29 Jun 16 - 05:28 PM
cnd 29 Jun 16 - 05:58 PM
Joe Offer 29 Jun 16 - 10:50 PM
GUEST,pauperback 29 Jun 16 - 11:59 PM
DMcG 30 Jun 16 - 07:26 AM
DMcG 30 Jun 16 - 07:55 AM
Nigel Parsons 05 Jul 16 - 03:28 PM
DMcG 05 Jul 16 - 04:05 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jul 16 - 04:53 PM
Lighter 05 Jul 16 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,pauperback 06 Jul 16 - 07:01 PM
Joe Offer 20 May 17 - 06:33 PM
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Subject: Old Zip Coon
From:
Date: 02 Dec 98 - 02:58 PM

Anyone know the full lyrics and perhaps history of this song?


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD ZIP COON
From: Felipa
Date: 02 Dec 98 - 03:10 PM

I don't, but I remember some verses - I may jumble them up a bit. It's sort of mouth music, sung to a popular fiddle tune

OLD ZIP COON

Oh, there once was a man with a double chin
Who performed with skill on the violin
And he played in step and he played in tune
But he never played anything but Old Zip Coon
-Old Zip Coon he played all day
Till the neighbours ran away
He played all night by the light of the moon
But he never played anything
But old Zip Coon.

So they took this man, with his double chin
All his worldly goods and his violin
And they shipped him off to a foreign shore
Where the natives had never heard the tune before.
- Old Zip Coon he played all night,
Till the natives all took fright
They begged and begged for a different tune
But he never played anything but Old Zip Coon.

Now he lives alone in a hollow tree...[memory lapse]...
And he plays that tune and it never ends
And it isn't surprising that he has no friends.
-Old Zip Coon....

Another ditty to the same air goes:

Oh I had a little chicken and he wouldn't lay an egg
So I put him in the water boiling in the keg
And the little chicken hollered
And the little chicken begged
And the little chicken laid a hard-boiled egg.

[Inappropriate gender used deliberately]

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 31-Jul-02.


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD ZIP COON
From: Ed Baker
Date: 02 Dec 98 - 03:27 PM

I started the thread, and appreciate the help. My father remembers my grandfather singing a second verse, something along these lines:

So his neighbors said, "Would you kindly play
Nellie Bly or Where are the Flowers of May?
Any tune will do so it's not that tune."
But he wouldn't play anything but Old Zip Coon.

Old Zip Coon he played all night
Till all the birds and owls took flight.
He played and he played by the light of the moon
But he wouldn't play anything but Old Zip Coon.

Ed Baker

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 31-Jul-02.


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Subject: RE: Old Zip Coon
From: SteveF
Date: 02 Dec 98 - 03:41 PM

Someone should mention that the tune to "Old Zip Coon" is now known as "Turkey in the Straw."

I've heard that President Lincoln, whenever he heard Old Zip Coon being played, would automatically break into a jig.


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD ZIP COON
From: rich r
Date: 04 Dec 98 - 10:34 PM

"Zip Coon" which was popular in the 1830's was one of the earliest pieces of music used extensively by black-face singers before the advent of the minstrel shows. The Zip Coon character was an urban dandy, the complete opposite of the Jim Crow character who was depicted as rural. The unofficial garb for Zip Coon included a blue long-tailed jacket, a frilly lacey front shirt, watch fob and jewelry. At least 3 different performers claimed to have written the song. George Washington Dixon who is mentioned on the cover of sheet music published by J.L. Hewitt & Co. sometime between 1830 and 1835 ( a reprint of this sheet music can be found in: Popular Songs of Nineteenth-Century America by Richard Jackson, Dover Publications 1976). George Nichols who was an early blackface clown in circuses. Bob Farrell, who was actually known as "Zip Coon", and is known to have performed it in New York in 1834. Below are the lyrics as contained in the sheet music. Most of the odd spellings are in the original and I will try not to add too many new ones.

OLD ZIP COON

Oh, ole Zip Coon he is a larned skolar,
Oh ole Zip Coon he is a larned skolar,
Oh, ole Zip Coon he is a larned skolar,
Sings posum up a gum tree an' coony in a holler.
Posum up a gum tree, Coony on a stump,
Posum up a gum tree, Coony on a stump,
Posum up a gum tree, Coony on a stump,
Den over dubble trubble Zip Coon will jump.

CHORUS: (To the first part of the tune)
O Zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day.
O Zip a duden duden duden duden duden day.
O Zip a duden duden duden duden duden day.
O Zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day.

O it's old Suky blue skin, she is in lub wid me,
I went the udder arternoon to take a dish ob tea;
What do you tink now, Suky hab for supper,
Why chicken foot an posum heel, widout any butter.

Did you eber see the wild goose, sailing on de ocean,
O de wild goose motion is a bery pretty notion;
Ebry time de wild goose beckons to de swaller,
You hear him google google google google gollar.

I went down to Sandy Hollar tother arternoon
And the first man I chanced to meet war ole Zip Coon;
Ole Zip Coon he is a natty skolar,
For he plays upon de banjo "Cooney in de hollar."

My old Missus she's mad wid me,
Kase I wouldn't go wid her into Tennessee,
Mass build him barn and put in de fodder,
'Twas dis ting and dat ting, one ting or odder.

I pose you heard ob de battle New Orleans
Whar ole Gineral Jackson gib de British beans;
Dare de Yankee boys do de job so slick,
For dey cotch old Packenham and rowed him up de creek.

I hab many tings to tork about, but don't know wich come fust,
So here de toast to old Zip Coon before he gin to rust;
May he hab de pretty girls, like de King ob ole,
To sing dis song so many times, fore he turns to mole.

rich r


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Subject: Lyr Add: ZIP COON (1834)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Jan 04 - 01:30 PM

Here's another version similar to what rich r posted above, but with some different verses:

Transcribed from the sheet music images at the Library of Congress American Memory Collection:

ZIP COON
[1834]

1. O ole Zip Coon he is a larned skoler
O ole Zip Coon he is a larned skoler
O ole Zip Coon he is a larned skoler
Sings possum up a gum tree an coony in a holler
Possum up a gum tree, coony on a stump
Possum up a gum tree, coony on a stump
Possum up a gum tree, coony on a stump
Den over dubble trubble, Zip Coon will jump.

CHORUS: O zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day.
O zip a duden duden duden duden duden day.
O zip a duden duden duden duden duden day.
O zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day.

2. O its old Suky blue skin, she is in lub wid me,
I went the udder arter noon to take a dish ob tea;
What do you tink now, Suky hab for supper,
Why chicken foot an possum heel, widout any butter.

3. Did you eber see the wild goose, sailing on de ocean,
O de wild goose motion is a bery pretty notion;
Ebry time de wild goose, beckens to de swaller,
You hear him google google google google goller.

4. I tell you what will happin den, now bery soon,
De Nited States Bank will be blone to de moon;
Dare General Jackson, will him lampoon,
An de bery nex President, will be Zip Coon.

5. An wen Zip Coon our President shall be,
He make all de little Coons sing posum up a tree;
O how de little Coons, will dance an sing,
Wen he tie dare tails togedder, cross de lim dey swing.

6. Now mind wat you arter, you tarnel kritter Crocket,
You shant go head widout old Zip, he is de boy to block it,
Zip shall be President, Crocket shall be vice,
An den dey two togedder, will hab de tings nice.

7. I hab many tings to tork about, but don't know wich come first,
So here de toast to old Zip Coon, before he gin to rust;
May he hab de pretty girls, like de King ob ole,
To sing dis song so many times, fore he turn to mole.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Jan 04 - 04:59 PM

Jim-

Verse No. 3 is fascinating to me because of the line:

"Did you eber see the wild goose, sailing on de ocean,"

which is identical to the first line in the "Wild Goose Shanty" which has little to do with the rest of the lines but was probably the starting point for the shanty. It's not unusual that minstrel type verses were brought aboard ship and incorporated into shanties.This seems to be another case in point.

The "Wild Goose Shanty" can be found in the DT under "Wild Goose (Ranzo)."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: Lyr Req: old zip coon
From: GUEST,takro
Date: 17 Jan 05 - 11:05 PM

Does anyone know the rest of this song-
"old Zip Coon was a very fine feller
With his head upstairs
And his feet down cellar"?
The tune is not the same as Turkey in the Straw-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: old zip coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jan 05 - 11:12 PM

See thread 7876: Zip Coon

Why didn't you use the Lyrics and Knowledge Search blank?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: old zip coon
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 18 Jan 05 - 12:08 AM

G'day takro ... and Q,

I don't see takro's lyrics in the linked thread ...

If "... The tune is not the same as Turkey in the Straw ..." - perhaps it is a completely different song.

I just tried "his head upstairs" in the search box - and go no results. I think we have a different song ... or, at least, a significant variation to chase!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: old zip coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jan 05 - 01:28 AM

There is a broadside with 150 verses to Zip Coon. I'm sure there are many more, sung by the various minstrel troupes. Although the partial verse could be one of those, the verse suggests one based on Old Dan Tucker- which I think is the song guest Takro really is after.

The verse appears to be a politically correct version of a variant called "Cappun Dime" (Captain Dime).

Cappun Dime is a mighty fine feller,
An' he sho' play kyards wid de Niggers in the cellar,
But he will get drunk an' he won't smoke a pipe,
Den he will pull de watermillions 'fore dey gets ripe.

Thomas W. Talley's "Negro Folk Rhymes," ed. C. K. Wolfe, "Captain Dime," p. 5.
Talley remarks that there are similar versions in Brown, "North Carolina Folklore."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: old zip coon
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jan 05 - 11:47 AM

If you use Linux, it's Old Tar.Gz Coon


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 10:47 AM

For those here who may be interested, here's a link to a post on my pancocojams blog entitled "Deconstructing The Caricature of Zip Coon & Other Minstrel Black Dandies"

http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2011/10/deconstructing-caricature-of-zip-coon.html

In that post I present my opinions about the reasons for the creation & the performances of the minstrel caricature Zip Coon and other Black dandies caricatures.

I also present my theory about the meaning of the name "Zip" in the name "Zip Coon". Briefly, I believe that name is from the Hebrew male name "Zippor". Based on the meaning and Biblical associations of that name, I believe that "Zip" in "Zip Coon" was in & of itself a put-down of urban, free Black men.

If you visit that blog, your comments are welcome.

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Mo the caller
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 02:01 PM

Seems like 'dandies' were objects for mockery whatever their colour.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 03:30 PM

University of Akron Fight Song

We cheer the Akron blue and gold,
We cheer as the colors unfold,
We pledge anew we're all for you,
As the team goes crashing through.
Fight! Fight!

We cheer the Akron warriors bold,
For a fight that's a sight to behold,,
So we stand up and cheer and shout,
For the Ajkron Blue and Gold.
Zzzip! Zip go the Zi-ips!
Zzzip! Zip go the Zi-ips!
Akron true Gold and Blue,
All for fou and the Zi-ips too!

Among the worst school songs.

Zip commonly used as a nickname; equivalent to Speedy, etc.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 06 Oct 11 - 09:25 PM

Somewhere or other I picked up the notion that "Zip Coon" was a humourous mispronunciation of the name "Scipio Africanus". It was not uncommon for slaves to be given pretentious classical names as a kind of ironic joke--"Pompey" for example. And the misunderstanding of high-falutin language was a standard minstrel show gag.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 08:54 AM

Regarding the word "zip" or "zippy" as a source of the name "Zip" in the song & character "Old Zip Coon", and the University of Akron Fight Song, when was that fight song first written and sung? I doubt that it was before the mid 1830s, so couldn't be a source of the name Zip Coon.

According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zip, "[the] Origin of ZIP

imitative of the sound of a speeding object
First Known Use: 1852"

-snip-

The onomatopoeia word "zip" is the source for the USA mail "zip codes".

However, my alternative theory for the source of the word "zip", note that the chorus of the song "Zip Coon" includes the word "zip":

O zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day.
O zip a duden duden duden duden duden day.
O zip a duden duden duden duden duden day.
O zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day.

-snip-

It seems obvious to me that this chorus is the source of the song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" which first appeared in the Walt Disney 1946 live action and animated movie "Song of the South". However, I'm not sure if the 1834 date for that version of the song "Zip Coon" is correct. If so, then I would probably revise my thinking about the Hebrew name "Zippor" being the source of the name & song title "Zip Coon".

I think that "zip" in that Zip Coon chorus and in the Disney song conveys a spirit of zest, carefree energy, and enjoyment, but not necessarily speed. As such that word would be a good fit for the White crafted character of the Black urban dandy- a person who wasn't a threat to the White status quo because he was just carefree and only interested in making music, and courting (if not marrying) Black women.

Also, to those who may have wondered, according to http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa082497.htm, the word "zipper" for a Separable Fastener' wasn't in popular use until the 1930s. So the word "zipper" isn't a source of the name "Zip" in Zip Coon".

-snip-

In response to Bob the Postman's comment about the "humorous" use of classic names for enslaved Black people, Biblical names were also given to or chosen by enslaved African Americans. Some of those names (or some versions of those names) aren't commonly used in the 20th/21st century USA, but may have been more commonly used in the 19th century. Be that as it may, I think my two theories for the source of the name "Zip" are much more plausible than a mispronunciation of "Scipio Africanus" as the source of part or the entire name "Zip Coon".

**

In conclusion, if I had to choose which one of my theories about the name "Zip Coon" I think is the most plausible, I'd go with door number #2- the word "zip" in the chorus of the Zip Coon song is the source for the name "Zip Coon". It's probable that the similarly spelled and pronounced Hebrew male name "Zippor" is nothing more than a coincidence.

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 11:55 AM

This essay by Jim Comer alludes to "Scipio Africanus" as the original of "Zip Coon" but does not cite a reference for the claim.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 03:19 PM

Azizi is correct that "zip" = speedy first appeared in print in 1852: in the Knickerbocker, vol. XL, p. 182; "How did we z-i-p! Seven miles at one time, in less than seven minutes." OEL, 1987 Supplement.

When the term was first used, of course, is open to question.

Zip Coon seems to have been sung first by Thomas Birch at Atwill's Music Saloon, New York, 1834.

1st verse-
O ole Zip Coon he is a larned skoler,
O ole Zip Coon he is a larned skoler,
O ole Zip Coon he is a larned skoler,
*Sings posum up a gum tree an coony in a holler,
Posum up a gum tree, coony on a stump,
Posum up a gum tree, coony on a stump,
Den over dubble trubble, Zip Coon will jump.

* reference to another song of the time.

(Chorus as Azizi has posted).

"Zip" is used as a name; nothing in the song equates it with speed. Whether it is a name or nickname (Scipio) or was just used as a handy name by the composer - ?

I believe this American music hall song already is posted, but too lazy to look it up.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 03:26 PM

Yep, writ rite heah in dis tred by rich r and Jim Dixon.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 05:15 PM

The Disappointment, 1767, a play produced by Andrew Barton (pseud.), featured the comic character "Raccoon," described as an "old debauchee," speaking a "proto-American Negro dialect."
He was vain and very superstitious.
In 1775, in The Candidates, Robert Munford, the comic Negro character, Ralpho, appeared. He was foppish, spoke a peculiar dialect.

In character, Ralpho is a step toward "Zip Coon."
"Zip Coon" seems to be a revision of the name Raccoon.

Alan W. C. Green, 1970, "Jim Crow,": The Northern Origins of Negro Minstrelsy," The Massachusetts Review, vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 385-397.

Only the first page is on line, provided by JSTOR.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 07:02 PM

G. W. Dixon was credited, many years later, with having written "Zip Coon" in 1829. There was an anonymous sheet music publication in 1834, and the song does not appear in Dixon's 1842 songster, "Dixon's Oddities." That makes it seem unlikely that Dixon was really the writer/composer of "Zip Coon."

"Zip Coon" is advertised, apparently as a new song, in the Hagerstown, Md., "Torch Light" (Aug. 28, 1834). That's the earliest reference to it I can find. No author is mentioned.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 07:28 PM

Other databases come through with important information.

A letter writer to the (Macon) Georgia Telegraph (July 31, 1833), p. 3, signs his name "Zip Coon."

The Globe (Washington, D.C.) (Sept. 14, 1833), notes the song's performance at Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 4.

The Eastern Argus Tri-Weekly, of Portland, Me., (Nov. 1, 1833), notes (p. 2) that "Jim Crow has a rival at the South, in the person of one Zip Coon."

The Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.) (Nov. 12, 1833), notes the singing of "Zip Coon" by "Mr.[Bob] Farrell" on stage in Nashville. David Crockett was in attendance, and there were verses of the song in praise of him.

A ca1835 publication of "Old Zip Coon" is touted as being "Sung by G. W. Dixon." Farrell, however, is often given credit as the song's originator. At the moment, he seems to have the stronger claim.

There are many newspaper references to the song in the mid-1830s.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 09:03 PM

One printing of the sheet music in 1834 notes that it was sung by several comic singers. One of the leads being dug up by Lighter may note a performance before 1833.

I wonder if "The Disappointment," 1767, with the comic character "Raccoon," had any performances in the years between 1770-1830, thus bringing it closer to the origin of Zip Coon.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 09:31 PM

Azizi, I posted that Akron school song tongue-in-cheek (I think it dates from the 1930s).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Oct 11 - 09:56 PM

"The Disappointment" was revised and expanded in 1796. I haven't found any references to performances at that late date, however.

In "Disappointment Revisited," American Music (Spring, 1983 & Spring, 1984), Carolyn Rabsen argues persuasively that "Raccoon" was intended to be a Pennsylvania German rather than an African American.

Raccoon's ethnicity is not identified in the play.

When compared with other examples of stage dialect of the period, including African, Raccoon's appears to be decidedly European. Moreover, he appears to have served in the British Army's Royal American Regiment, which included Pennsylvania Germans commanded by German-speaking officers "especially imported from Switzerland for the purpose."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Oct 11 - 02:01 PM

Rabson !983) and Green (1970) seem to disagree on the racial characteristics of "Raccoon;" without seeing the text of the play, it is hard to judge which interpretation is correct (if either is clearly defined).

Neither article seems to be fully available on the net.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: catspaw49
Date: 08 Oct 11 - 02:46 PM

BTW.......The Akron Zips came from the name of a rubber overshoe that was made by B F Goodrich, one of the many Akron tire and rubber companies. Even as late as the 1950's in east Ohio where I grew up, Zips or Zippers was a common name for that type of overshoe.

You may file the above under "Who Could Possibly Give A Shit"



Spaw


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Oct 11 - 02:56 PM

Akronites are after you, Spaw.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Oct 11 - 03:34 PM

I was interested to note that in the words from 1834 that rich gave, the term "Yankee boys" was used, referring to Americans at the Battle of New Orleans.

Does this indicate that at that time the term "Yankee" was used to refer to Americans in general, rather than implying Northernliness?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Oct 11 - 03:52 PM

Yankee seems to have been a general term, "Yankee Doodle Dandy" dating to before 1800. However, by 1834, its use in the South may have diminished.
It was used as a general term by Europeans.
Good question- !


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 28 Jun 16 - 12:14 AM

Joe Offer -

"PC pressures would make this quite a difficult song to sing at a club these days, which is a pity as there is actually nothing in the song itself that could offend. If only it had been called 'Old Racoon'!"

http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/547.html

BS

Ken


    Don't blame me. That comment came from an Englishman (a very nice Englishman, but an Englishman nonetheless). I just host the folkinfo archive. But I think I agree that people get nervous about the word "coon" nowadays. -Joe, whose grandfather was Charles Coon-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Joe_F
Date: 28 Jun 16 - 03:16 PM

It would be a pity if "Coon" per se became taboo, as there are a fair number of people who bear that surname (Wikipedia lists 10 prominent ones). Some of them are Jews, "Coon" being one of the many forms that "Cohen" has taken in various dialects.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 28 Jun 16 - 04:07 PM

I always figured the expression may have come from
coon hunting which is a nighttime hunt involving dogs,
torches and treeing the prey.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: cnd
Date: 28 Jun 16 - 08:56 PM

I'm going to side with Joe here; there's nothing racist about the song itself. The name may have the word "coon," but the song isn't racist. It's important to know the history. The song's name is credited with possibly helping give rise to the term "coon" in its pejorative context because it was originally performed as a blackface act. But if it's performed in a normal, not-blackface way, then it's not racist. Think about songs like Camptown Races or My Old Kentucky Home which were originally blackface songs but have since become common stock for folk musicians. Even though the name is possibly creditable to helping make the term coon racist, I don't think the song itself is racist; its original usage was.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: cnd
Date: 29 Jun 16 - 01:43 PM

The word "coon" can be used in a derogatory way, yes, no one is disagreeing with that. But when the song was made, it was just some random word or phrase the guy said to be funny, like Yakety Yak or Do-Wacka-Do.

"'coon' was originally a short form for raccoon in 1741... then by 1832 meant a frontier rustic (a white person from the country), and by 1840 a Whig. The 1834 song 'Zip Coon' (better known today as 'Turkey in the Straw') didn't refer specifically to either a White or a Black and the 'coon songs' of the 1840s and 50s were Whig political songs. By 1862, however, coon had come to mean a Black and this use was made very common by the popular 1896 song 'All Coons Look Alike to Me,' written by Ernest Hogan, a Black who didn't consider the word derogatory at the time."
Extract from 'I Hear America Talking' by Stuart Berg Flexner:


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 29 Jun 16 - 03:47 PM

Indifference is a pet peeve of mine. I try to follow the rule - would you say that sitting at a table (whatever particular type, race or reglion) to the person you were sitting across from. Language is changing fast now days so usage does change in your lifetime (the old Philolgical rule was that no man can change the language in his lifetime). Follow your heart.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Lighter
Date: 29 Jun 16 - 04:12 PM

The relevant question isn't the word's history. It's what people will think or feel if you sing the song now - with or without a schoolmasterish explanation.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 29 Jun 16 - 05:28 PM

Requiem for Philology

This guy has added a lot to this paper since i first saw it 15 years ago. Maybe it's not dead just evolving.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: cnd
Date: 29 Jun 16 - 05:58 PM

I know the word's history, I was just explaining why it isn't bad because of the song. It's not called Zip Coon because it's a racist song, it was just a random, made-up word. I think most people would find it disagreeable if the song's title was something racist, but it's just a stupid, made-up word.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Jun 16 - 10:50 PM

Up above, pauperback questions a line from the folkinfo.org archive that I host at my Website: http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/547.html
    "PC pressures would make this quite a difficult song to sing at a club these days, which is a pity as there is actually nothing in the song itself that could offend. If only it had been called 'Old Racoon'!"


To which, pauperback says, "BS."
To which, Joe Offer heartily agrees.

Except that the "Old Raccoon" suggestion didn't come from me. It came from a 2008 post by dmcg at folkinfo.org. -and it's unclear whether the "Old Racoon" suggestion came from dmcg, or from the Autumn 1960 BBC Singing Together booklet he was quoting.

I'll see if I can get dmcg to come by this thread and put the blame squarely on BBC. Let's chalk it up to British humour, perhaps?

I live in Politically Correct California, and I have to admit that I don't sing "Old Zip Coon," partly because I get enough flak as it is for singing the Stephen C. Foster songs that I have sung and loved all my life.

-Joe-

P.S. I have ancestors with the name "Coon." My sister and I suspect it came from "Cohen," but no one in my parents' generation would admit to having Jewish ancestry.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 29 Jun 16 - 11:59 PM

Sheesh, BBC, figures.

Ken


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: DMcG
Date: 30 Jun 16 - 07:26 AM

I will have to look back to where the remark came from. It is difficult to be certain. To be honest, I can't see the BBC making it, whereas I can imagine myself saying there is nothing in the lyrics as posted in the second item on this thread (From: Felipa - PM
Date: 02 Dec 98 - 03:10 PM) that is itself racist apart from that word itself. Try substituting anything else of one syllable - 'Soup' for example - and see if you think the lyrics are themselves racist. When I do that, I don't see any racism. So as far as the words are concerned, the racism that is there is all tied up in that one word (or perhaps pair of words). So I can imagine myself saying it would be a pity it wasn't called something else.

Now, it is also true that racism is more than the words: something that is inherently neutral can become a racist taunt quite easily. And that may be the case here. Ditto the tune.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: DMcG
Date: 30 Jun 16 - 07:55 AM

I should have said 'racism in a song is more than the words', but I hope everyone appreciates that's what I meant.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 05 Jul 16 - 03:28 PM

From: Joe Offer - PM
Date: 29 Jun 16 - 10:50 PM
Up above, pauperback questions a line from the folkinfo.org archive that I host at my Website: http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/547.html"PC pressures would make this quite

Except that the "Old Raccoon" suggestion didn't come from me. It came from a 2008 post by dmcg at folkinfo.org. -and it's unclear whether the "Old Racoon" suggestion came from dmcg, or from the Autumn 1960 BBC Singing Together booklet he was quoting.

I'll see if I can get dmcg to come by this thread and put the blame squarely on BBC. Let's chalk it up to British humour, perhaps?

Just to clear that one up.
The line about "Old Racoon" being more PC didn't originate in the 1960 "Singing Together". I've just referred to my copy.

Also (as I'm not signed in at JoeOffer.com,) The 3rd verse there quotes "He played until the natives ran away" and it spoils the scansion. Singing Together just has that line as "Until the natives ran away"

My "Singing Together" library is now up to 70+ different issues, but I still have gaps!
"Time & Tune" is slowly catching up.

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: DMcG
Date: 05 Jul 16 - 04:05 PM

Thanks for looking it up, Nigel. So it seems I must take full responsibility for the comment, as I suspected. I still feel that if the song as in the first posts had had a different name from the outset it could have avoided all the racism, though I accept my suggested name was a bit unimaginative.

That is not the case, though, for some of the other versions in this thread, where the racism can't be avoided by just changing to a different word here and there. I don't know which is the older version but would not be surprised if the more extreme song was the older.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 16 - 04:53 PM

It's okay, Dave. No matter what you said in 2008, we still like you... ;-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Jul 16 - 08:41 PM

People seem to be assuming that because a word is historically inoffensive, it should logically be inoffensive now, and people who "illogically" find it offensive should be ignored.

Language is only partly logical. It is also psychological. People who find the name "Zip Coon" offensive - and my impression is that there are millions and millions of them - find it so regardless of history.

The fact that the song was associated with blackface minstrelsy doesn't help.

Anyone (especially a white person) who wants to sing "Old Zip Coon" in a public performance should be prepared for harsh criticism - whether historically justified or not.

That's just the real world. People know what "coon" sometimes means, and that's enough for them to reject the word altogether.

When I was in college long ago, I knew people who would fly into a rage at the innocent phrase, "The jig's up!" They insisted (in spite of historical records to the contrary) that it refers to lynching.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: GUEST,pauperback
Date: 06 Jul 16 - 07:01 PM

Well, jigger me giblets n stab me vitals... I never knew that!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Zip Coon
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 May 17 - 06:33 PM

Here is the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song. I don't see lyrics in the Digital Tradition.

Old Zip Coon

DESCRIPTION: "Ole Zip Coon he is a larned scholar (x3), Sings possum up a gum tree an coony in a holler." Chorus: "O Zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day (x4)." The remaining verses are quatrains about the people and animals of the south
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1834 (five different sheet music editions)
KEYWORDS: animal humorous nonballad
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Jan 8, 1815 - Battle of New Orleans. Americans under Andrew Jackson defeat British troops under Pakenham (the event is referred to obliquely in stanza 6 of the sheet music)
FOUND IN: US(NE,SE,So)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 258-260, "Zip Coon" (1 text, 1 tune)
Linscott, pp. 101-103, "Old Zip Coon" (1 tune plus dance instructions)
BrownIII 418, "Old Zip Coon" (1 text plus mention of 1 more)
Belden, pp. 505-506, "Zip Coon" (1 text, minus the chorus but with the other characteristics of the piece)
Lomax-FSNA 49, "Turkey in the Straw" (2 text, 1 tune, the second being "Zip Coon")
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 17-19, "Zip Coon" (1 text, 1 tune)
Emerson, pp. 30-32, "Zip Coon" (1 text, credited to George Washington Dixon)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 591-592, "Turkey in the Straw (Zip Coon)"

ST RJ19258 (Full)
Roud #4358
RECORDINGS:
Arkansas Charlie [pseud. for Charlie Craver], "Old Zip Coon (Vocalion 5384, c. 1930)
Hindermyer & Tuckerman [Goldy & Dusty], "Zip Coon" (Edison 51830, 1926)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Turkey in the Straw" (tune & meter) and references there
cf. "The Old Tobacco Box (There Was an Old Soldier)" (tune, floating lyrics)
cf. "The Ould Bog Hole" (tune)
SAME TUNE:
The Buckeye Song (Lawrence, p. 275; the tune is not listed but is clearly this)
NOTES: Generally regarded as a the forerunner of "Turkey in the Straw." And its lyrics are absurd enough to make "Turkey" seem eminently sensible.
At least three people have claimed authorship of the song: George Washington Dixon (mentioned but not credited on the earliest sheet music), George Nichols, and Bob Farrell. All three were early blackface performers of the piece (Farrell was actually called "Zip Coon," and is reported to have sung the song in 1834). The dispute over authorship probably cannot be settled at this time. For a description of what is believed to be the first publication (by G. Willig Jr. of Baltimore), which lists it as sung by "Mr. Dixon," see Harry Dichter and Elliott Shapiro, Early American Sheet Music: Its Lure and Its Lore, 1768-1889, R. R. Bowker, 1941, p. 53.
Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 170 says that Dixon began his career in 1828, and also played as "Coal Black Rose," and possibly originated another character whose song went into tradition, "Long Tail Blue."
Finson suggests that one line in this song, the claim that Old Zip "he is a larned skolar" came out of the controversies surrounding Andrew Jackson. Harvard in 1833 gave him an honorary law doctorate -- something they did regularly for president -- but the Whigs objected that he was just barely literate. So it was declared that Jackson was an "L. K. D. and an A. S. S." Some wit cracked that A. S. S. stood for "Amazin' Smart Skoller." The insult obviously did Jackson no harm, and the wisecrack at some point went into this song. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: RJ19258

Old Zip Coon (II)

DESCRIPTION: "White man in his cotton field, doin' pretty well; Nigger in his melon patch, givin' his melons -- Hallelujah, Old Zip Coon, keep singin'...." "Lord made Adam and Eve, An' they done pretty well, Soon as he turned his back on Eve, she gave them apples --"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1942 (Randolph)
KEYWORDS: nonballad animal religious wordplay
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Randolph 293, "Old Zip Coon" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud #4358
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Hallelujah" (technique)
File: R293

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

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