Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


music in Ralph Ellison's 'Invisible Man'

warhaftig@alumni.stanford.org 16 Dec 98 - 02:20 AM
Joe Offer 17 Dec 98 - 01:05 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 25 Sep 04 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 25 Sep 04 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 25 Sep 04 - 05:09 PM
Azizi 26 Sep 04 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 27 Sep 04 - 04:25 AM
PoppaGator 28 Sep 04 - 01:01 AM
GUEST 15 Oct 04 - 03:23 PM
PoppaGator 15 Oct 04 - 03:42 PM
GUEST 01 Oct 09 - 02:04 PM
GUEST,Guest 10 Jan 10 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,Even more years... 06 Oct 13 - 07:38 PM
Stilly River Sage 07 Oct 13 - 01:20 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: warhaftig@alumni.stanford.org
Date: 16 Dec 98 - 02:20 AM

I am gathering as much of the music referenced in this novel as I can. Two songs are eluding me at the moment. I assume that they are from actual songs rather than invented by Ellison. The first lyric is:

"Godamighty made a monkey
Godamighty made a whale
And Godamighty made a 'gator
With hickeys all over his tail..."

The second lyric is:

"Did you ever see Miss Margaret boil water?
Man, she hisses a wonderful stream,
Seventeen miles and a quarter,
Man, and you can't see her pot for the steam..."

Ellison also uses "Boogie Woogie Blues," which I believe was by Count Basie and Jimmy Rushing. I'd appreciate any recommendations of good recordings (including the words, not just instrumental) I might find.

Thank you. It's best to reach me via e-mail.

Alan Warhaftig
warhaftig@alumni.stanford.org


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Dec 98 - 01:05 AM

Interesting question, Alan. I checked my resources and couldn't find the songs, but at least my response will move your question to the top of the list.
-Joe Offer-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 25 Sep 04 - 09:48 AM

Quite a lapse of time since you posted, but I just found yours...hope you're still listening.

Mysteriously, Josh White did a brief snatch of song using the Godalmighty made a monkey lyrics, on either his first or second Decca LP circa 1950.

But being Josh and as eclectic as he was, it's a tossup whether Ellison got the song from him or he read it in Ellison and put a tune to it.

Minky little tune, too. Deserves to be a complete song. Hmmm.

Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 25 Sep 04 - 10:15 AM

just an aside comment:

Bob, sure do wish I'd met you down the folkie road somewhere. I do hope you are well!! --- "Web Of Birdsong" as done by Dodi Kallick, and, now, by her daughter, Kathy (a fine bluegrass singer) has always been a favorite of mine. Thanks for that one, and so many others: including the John Kennedy song with Joe Bussard that I posted here in a Songs Of J.F.K. thread.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 25 Sep 04 - 05:09 PM

From memory:

Did you ever see Nelly make Water?
She pisses a beautiful stream
It runs for a mile and a quarter
And you can't se her Asshole for steam

I'm sure this must be one of your threads somewhere

Doesn't Ellison have a character Peatie Wheatstraw, the High Sheriff from hell in the book, and a reference to the song Pick Poor Robin Clean.

I've sung this on the odd occasion for years and have it on record by a couple of people but have never been exactly sure what it refers too.I assume it to be about gambling and taking some sucker to the cleaners.

Anybody out there can clarify ???


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Sep 04 - 10:44 AM

I can't locate my copy of Ellison's "Invisible Man" to check on his mention of Peetie Wheatstraw... But, here some information from Paul Oliver's "The Story of the Blues":

"William Bunch, who called himself 'Peetie Wheatstraw, the Devil's Son-in-Law and the High Sherrif of Hell..was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1905 but after a period playing in the Arkansas saw-mill towns moved up to St. Louis. He played both piano and guitar with equal aptitude, although his guitar was seldom recorded. Peetie had a blurred, indistinct voice and a lazie arrogant delivery:
       Don't tell all your women what Peetie Wheatstraw
       can do (2)
       That will cause them to be suspicious and you know
       they will try him too

       I am Peetie Wheatstraw the High Sherrif from Hell {2)
       The way I strut my stuff - well you never can tell."
----

From these sample lyrics it's easy to see how hip-hop carries on the sexual bragging tradition of country Blues. Only now, men don't talk about 'struttin their stuff'. This phrase is still used, but now only for females...

Personally, I like the idea of men struttin their stuff.

Exercise is good for the heart and the soul...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 27 Sep 04 - 04:25 AM

Thanks Azizi

I am familiar with Peetie Wheatraw's life and recordings sorry if I didn't make it clear but my real question was the song "Pick Poor Robin Clean" and the meaning of the phrase. I mentioned the Peter (Peetie) Wheatstraw character from Ellison's book as I believe that he is the character that sings thie song.

Anybody have any suggestions ?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 Sep 04 - 01:01 AM

The "pisses/hisses a wonderful/powerful stream/steam"
verse is also mentioned in another old thread also resurrected on this date (Sept 27, 04), one entitled "If I Had the Wings of an Angel -- Parodies"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 04 - 03:23 PM

I happened across my old post and was surprised and pleased to see responses.

A couple of clarifications. When the Invisible Man first arrives in New York, he runs across a man pushing a cart full of blueprints. He communicates in large part through song lyrics. He is not Peetie Wheatstraw, but he does sing the line "I am Peetie Wheatstraw, the devil's son-in-law."

About "Pick Poor Robin Clean," this is the song the Invisible Man things of when he leaves Mr. Emerson's office after learning the contents of Dr. Bledsoe's letter of introduction. He sees himself as a bird being plucked of his feathers.

I will look into the references that people were kind enough to provide.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 Oct 04 - 03:42 PM

One thing I've always wondered about the psuedonym Peetie Wheatstraw: what does he mean by "wheatstraw"? I realize that the basic/original meaning of the word is simply an unprocessed stalk or stem of the wheat plant, but the term is also used to describe unbleached yellow/tan cigarette rolling papers, which were popular (in the '60's, at least) for use with marijuana.

If these wheatstraw papers were also marketed a couple of decades earlier, and commonly used for the same purpose, Peetie's surname may well have identified him as a reefer smoker -- not at all improbable, given his self-described reputation as a badass as well as a musician.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Oct 09 - 02:04 PM

Hey i realize this is old news but i'm doing a paper on blues and the invisible man and you guys helped me so...

http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/american-ballads-and%20folk-songs/american-ballads-&-folk-songs%20-%200119.htm

That has the complete lyrics of that first lyric in the original poster's message.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 10 Jan 10 - 01:49 PM

This is Alan, the original poster, astonished that my question was finally answered, just over 11 years later!

Thank you!

If you'd like to talk further about music in Invisible Man, write to me at the address in the original post.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: music in Ralph Ellison's 'Invisible Man'
From: GUEST,Even more years...
Date: 06 Oct 13 - 07:38 PM

Did you ever make a list of all the music referenced?

I would love it if you would share it with me!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: music in Ralph Ellison's 'Invisible Man'
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 07 Oct 13 - 01:20 AM

I wish I'd seen this before. Invisible Man is an astonishing novel, and this sounds like a great topic. It's the kind of thing that can be an interesting scholarly paper (and be interesting to look for in MLA and other not-quite overlapping indexes.)

SRS


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 19 November 12:21 AM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.