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Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'

GUEST,Art Thieme 03 Apr 06 - 10:32 AM
Midchuck 03 Apr 06 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,thurg 03 Apr 06 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,jim 03 Apr 06 - 04:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Apr 06 - 04:06 PM
Bob the Postman 03 Apr 06 - 08:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Apr 06 - 08:32 PM
Azizi 03 Apr 06 - 09:10 PM
Stewie 03 Apr 06 - 09:40 PM
Azizi 03 Apr 06 - 09:42 PM
Azizi 03 Apr 06 - 09:56 PM
GUEST 03 Apr 06 - 10:38 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 03 Apr 06 - 11:23 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme again... 03 Apr 06 - 11:34 PM
Flash Company 04 Apr 06 - 05:25 AM
Azizi 04 Apr 06 - 08:07 AM
Bob the Postman 04 Apr 06 - 08:24 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 04 Apr 06 - 11:42 AM
GUEST,Deiphage 05 Sep 10 - 12:42 AM
GUEST,Jeff 05 Sep 10 - 02:27 AM
beeliner 05 Sep 10 - 09:25 PM
Jim Dixon 07 Sep 10 - 10:11 PM
GUEST,Michael Dukeminer 15 Oct 10 - 10:03 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a beatnik won't steal'
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 10:32 AM

This bit I remember John Hartford dong one day out on the Mississippi River:

"Some folks say that a beatnik won't steal,
But I caught 3 in my pot field,
One had a flag and the other had a bomb,
And the other ol' boy was a-goin' on home..."


I thought of it after a long time--maybe 'cause I recently heard of an almost long lost book by Jack Kerouac that just came out. It's supposed to be a great one---after all this time! The name of it is "The Book Of Sketches" --- circa 1952 to 1954. Said to be prose---but sings like the best poetry. I'm looking forward to finding this one!! Published by: Penguin-413 pages-paper-$18.00

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: Midchuck
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 10:47 AM

This is another example of folkies denying history because it isn't politically correct.

Was originally:

"Some folks say that a n***** won't steal,
but I saw a n***** in my cornfield..."


which goes way back, I don't know any more of it, I only know this much because my wife heard my late father-in-law singing it in her childhood.

Interesting that I feel compelled to use asterisks in the word above, but have no problem with spelling out "fuck" or "shit" in plain text. In my childhood it would have been the other way around. I suppose that's progress of a sort, but it would be better if no words were taboo - only the use of them with the intention to inflict gratuitious pain.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 02:13 PM

John Hartford was not necessarily bowing to political correctness - the lyric in question came from a song call Back Up on the Hill (I think), off the Aereoplane album, put out in the heart of the hippy era, and popular among hippies. His lyric fits in better with his song than the older one preferred by Midchuck.

By the way, I have more often seen/heard "a preacher won't steal", which actually makes a little more sense, so I'm not convinced that that's a case of political correctness either.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: GUEST,jim
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 04:00 PM

John used "hippie" rather than "beatnick" on Areoplane. The tune was "UP ON THE HILL WHERE THEY DO THE BOOGIE". I love Vassar's flat-picked fiddle on this tune.

The second two lines of the origional were:
One half black, the other half brown
And the third old boy was gettin' on home.

It was a great record. One of my favourites, second only to MORNING BUGLE.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 04:06 PM

"Preacher" makes sense. I suspect the "nigger" version, which in context doesn't, was substituted because it was felt to be less offensive. Or at least was offensive to different people, whom it didn't matter too much about offending.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 08:24 PM

Hartford made a lot of minstrel-era songs singable by replacing the word "darkie" with the word "hippie". Another example is "Farm In Louisiana (On The Old Red River Shore)" with the line about "you could hear them hippies singin soft and low".

Woody Guthrie recorded the "preacher won't steal" lyric with Sonny Terry (and maybe Leadbelly?) in the mid-40s in the song called "You Shall Be Free (When The Good Lord Sets You Free)". Can anyone cite an earlier use of this particular bowdlerisation?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 08:32 PM

I think it's maybe more likely that the bowdlersition might have been the other way round, with the "stealing preacher" being the idea that was seen as offensive enough to require substitution.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 09:10 PM

See this poem [song?] that is an old time example of a folks exchanging "rip" [insults] that {given the 2nd verse} is probably immediately after the Civil War:

"THEY STEAL" GOSSIP
You know:
Some folks say da a N----r won't steal,
But Mosser cotch six in the watermellon fiel';
A-cuttin' and a-pluggin' an' a-tearin' up
de vines,
A-eatin' all de watermillions, an' a stackin' up
de rinds.

Uh-huh! Yes, I learned dat:
Ole Mosser stole a middlin' of meat,
Ole Missus stole a ham;
Dey sent 'em bofe to de Wuk-house,
An' dey had to leave de land.


Source: Thomas W. Talley's "Negro Folk Rhymes" {Kennikat Press, 1968, p. 110; originally published in 1922 by The Macmillan Company}


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: Stewie
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 09:40 PM

McGrath,

Paul Oliver, the blues scholar, would disagree with your version of the substitution. See 'Screening the Blues: Aspects of the Blues Tradition'. In chapter two, 'Preaching the Blues', he writes:


But it seems likely also that as a butt of folk humour the preacher has been substituted for the 'nigger' of the minstrel show, whose cunning, artfulness and unreliability were age-old stereotypes of the Negro. Especially in those songs and stories which have been absorbed or borrowed from the white traditions, the transfer of the butt from the 'nigger' to the 'preacher' seems a natural one

Some folks say that a nigger won't steal
But I caught two in my cornfield

ran a familiar, frequently cited verse. More than a hundred years ago it was collected in the Georgia Sea Islands as part of a slave song giving warning to the 'paddy rollers', the patrols who curtailed the movements of Negroes in the South:

O some tell you that a nigger won't steal
But I've seen a nigger in my cornfield,
O run, nigger, run, for the patrol will catch you
O run, nigger, run, for 'tis almost day

A characteristic shift had already taken place when Lafcadio Hearn collected the words from a Negro roustabout on the Cincinatti levee some fifteen years later in 1876:

Some folks say that a rebel can't steal
I found twenty in my cornfiel'
Sich pullin' of shucks an' tearin' of corn!
Nebber saw the like since I was born
[From Paul Oliver 'Screening the Blues' p56 Da Capo Paperback ed 1968].


--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 09:42 PM

Also, see versions of "Brother Ephus" discussed on various Mudcat threads, including this one: "Background of Brother Ephus"
thread.cfm?threadid=48470

I'm taking the liberty of quoting excerpts of lyrics and commentary posted in that thread by Dicho - PM
Date: 11 Jun 02 - 09:53 PM:

BROTHER EBEN'S GOT A COON

Brother Eban's got a coon,
And gone on, gone on,
Brother Eban's got a coon,
And gone on, gone on.

Also reported by [Newman L. White, 1928, American Negro Folk Songs], Durham, NC, 1919 from Ms. [Mississippi?]
White comments that "While hunting coon is almost unknown in the Negro folk songs of today, it was a commonplace in the old minstrel song books of the 1840s and 1850s," p. 223, 1965, reprinted by facsimile from the edition of 1928.
As already pointed out, the verse about stealing watermelon appears commonly:

Some folks say dat er preacher won't steal,
But I caught one in my cornfield.
He had er bushel, his wife had er peck,
De baby had a roastin' ear hung er round his neck.
Reported from Alabama, 1915-1918, "sung by cornfield Negroes." From White, (see above), p. 372.
An older one:
Some folks say dat niggers won't steal,
I kotch one in my cornfield.
I ax him 'bout de corn, he call me a liar,
I up wid a chunk and knock him in de fiar.

White says that the version possibly came from the tidewater region of VA or NC, where "chunk" means to throw. The verse above is from "Negro Singers' Own Book, 1846(?), p. 411, in 'Whar You Cum From', by J. B. Harper, the "Celebrated Delineator of Comic and Aethiopian characters." It is probable that this song is "responsible for many others, including numerous blues, beginning 'What Some Folks Say.'" Quoted from White, p. 270, reference given above.
The last three lines of another:
But I caught three in my cornfield.
I ran dem through a pine thicket,
Stove my head in a yellow jacket nest.

and:
I caught two in my tater fiel',
One had a shovel and the other had a hoe,
If that ain't stealin' I don't know.
(The first from NC, the second from AL).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 09:56 PM

On the subject of the Black preacher as a butt of jokes, see this poem from Talley's 1922 book "Negro Folk Rhymes" [p. 108, Kennikat Press edition} :

THIS SUN IS HOT
Dis sun is hot,
Dis hoe is heavy,
Dis grass grow furder dan I can reach;
An' as I looks
At dis Cotton fiel',
I thinks I mus' 'a' been called to preach.

-snip-
Also, see this poem from that same book {p. 117}

HOW TO PLEASE A PREACHER
If you wants to see dat Preachah laugh,
Jes change up a dollar, an' give 'im a half.
If you wants to make dat Preachah sing,
Kill dat tucky an' give him a wing.
If you wants to see dat Preachah cry,
Kill dat chicken an' give him a thigh.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BROTHER EPHUS (Hedy West)
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 10:38 PM

I like how hedy sang it...



BROTHER EPHUS

Brothers and sisters one and all
Ain't you gonna listen to the giver's call
The giver's call on the Judgment Day
Poor little Moses goin' away

Say, where you goin', Moses
None o' your business
Come here, Moses
I ain't a-gonna do it
Brother Ephus got a coon and gone on, gone on, gone on
Brother Ephus got a coon and gone on, left me barking up a tree

Boil my coffee good and strong
Bake my hoecakes good and done
Make me a feather bed and make it up right
Old brother Johnson coming here tonight

Oh, what kind of slippers do the angels wear
Golden slippers to skate on air
They wear fine slippers and they wear fine socks
Drop every nickel in the missionary's box

Now, some folks say that a preacher won't steal
But I caught two in my watermelon field
The were preaching and a-praying and a-singing all the time
Slipping them watermelons off the vine


from the DT


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 11:23 PM

WOW! I didn't mean to start a discussion of racism. I meant absolutely NOTHING racial at all by quoting John's song! I'm just looking forward to Kerouac's "new" book---the same way I hope some of you might be looking forward to my "new" CD even though I can't pick any more.

That, folks, was simply the way he sang it one day on the Str. Julia Belle Swain after we'd had lunch and talked all through it about Jack Kerouac and that I considered myself to be a beatnik and not a hippy. I've been into folk music too long to not know that some people sang Nigger in there. Knowing John, he could've easily sung it with the word that is now a racial slur. That's just the way he was. But I never heard him do any song at all with that word in there---or anywhere.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: GUEST,Art Thieme again...
Date: 03 Apr 06 - 11:34 PM

Also, I recorded "Uncle Eph Got The Coon" along with a great tall tale about a fantastic racoon hunt. I knew of the racial term "coon"----but that never stopped me from doing the song I'd learned from Grandpa Louis Jones. I told that tale and sang that song in kid's shows for over twenty years---and I was never called on the carpet for it--because it wasn't about race. The song was comletely about hunting for a racoon in order to provide the protein part of folks' diet.

Art


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: Flash Company
Date: 04 Apr 06 - 05:25 AM

Jesse Fuller in 'Raise a Ruckus'....

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 and the other had a peck, raise a ruckus tonight,
One had a roast ear roun' his neck, rais a ruckus tonight.

Leadbelly in 'Tight Like That'....

If you want to see a preacher laugh,
Change a dollar an' give him a half'
It tight like that....

Woody in 'So Long'....

The preacher could not read a word of his text,
So he folded his specs, took up the collection, said
So long, it's been good to know you.....

Them preachers sure got a bad press in folk song!

FC


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Apr 06 - 08:07 AM

Art Thieme,

One of the things I like about Mudcat threads is their tendency to drift to sidebar discussions because of posters' inclusions of "by the way" topics and "this makes me think of" bits of information.

Art, I didn't think you meant anything racial and certainly nothing racist in starting this thread. But it's both informative and interesting to see where this thread has gone.

I am an African American who never uses the word "nigger". Nor do I write that word out unless I'm quoting someone, and sometimes not even then. But I understand from reading books like Talley's
"Negro Folk Rhymes" that everyone who used the term "N----r" in those days weren't racist. And, though I don't approve of it, given the current use of "N----r" by African American rappers and Black comics, as well as by non-Black people, it's also possible that individuals-Black, White, or otherwise-who use that referent today aren't necesarily racists.

Selections from Talley's book document that among some -but definitely not all pre-Civil War, and late 19th, and early 20th century African Americans the referent "N----r" was commonly used as a general, non-pejorative referent for Black people. However, these same people might also use "N----r" as a highly insulting term for a dark skin Black person. It's also possible-like today- that this referent could be used for a Black person who acts in insulting, negatively stereotypical fashion, however that particular usage of "N---r" doesn't appear to be documented in Talley's 1922 collection.

It has been enlightening {no pun intended] for me to find out that Talley's collection includes a number of poems [chants/songs]that are insulting rips by light skinned Black people about dark skin Black people. Many of these poems use the referent "N----r". There are also rips from dark skinned Black people against "yella" 'blue vein' people-meaning very light skinned Black people. Talley's collection also includes affirmations of the beauty of dark skin color such as the still commonly known saying among African Americans that "the blacker the berry/the sweeter the juice". In addition, Taley's "Negro Folk Rhymes" also includes examples of both pointed & coded putdowns of Massa and Missus and other White people, but that's another subject.

Hmmm, I started to go off on a tangent and post examples of these different types of rhymes, but caught myself before doing so!

My point in writing this post is that it's interesting to me [and I presume to others] to see the different ways that this line "____ won't steal" has been used.

No harm intended. No harm received.

Best wishes,

Azizi
[who definitely intends to add some Art Thieme's CDs to her music collection]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 04 Apr 06 - 08:24 AM

Okay, so how about that Kerouac guy, eh? Did he ever meet Woody, do you think? Or read "Bound For Glory"? I don't recall ever hearing of a Guthrie/Kerouac connection, yet Woody's prose style eerily prefigures Jack's, and Woody's "peripatetic bard" life-style was exactly what Jack was to emulate. Furthermore, they share the same grand themes of the full-to-bursting potential of America and the saint-like sufferings of the ordinary American "fellahin".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 04 Apr 06 - 11:42 AM

Azizi,

Seeing that I saw more here than was intended by you and other posters, I must tell you I'm sincerely sorry for seeing the "tangents" for more than they were worth. I admit to being out of sorts over the recent news that our hospital is shutting down the very badly needed psychiatric ward. ---- This state, Illinois, is 48th in the entire USA for funding mental health and substance rehab. So very many here need this to be fully funded. Our county, La Salle, has the highest per-capita rate of alcoholism of ANY county in these United States.---- And for what reason are the cutbacks taking place? To subsidize this war we're in and the paranoid excesses of national security!

More tangeants. I'm done now.

With great appreciation of, and for, your posts in this forum,

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: GUEST,Deiphage
Date: 05 Sep 10 - 12:42 AM

ask this guy...if he's still alve
grimriper2u@yahoo.com

but he has a 30s or 40s version of it.
the version about the preacher, i thought the song was rather interesting and took a liking to it
Leadbelly i think was the name on the artist portion

p.s.

i don't know the guy personally, so i don't know how he'd react to a blind sudden email asking about a song he may not remember


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 05 Sep 10 - 02:27 AM

Would like to correct a mistake by an ealier poster, Guest/jim. Vassar didn't play 'flat-picked' fiddle on Up On The Hill Where They Do Do The Boogie he did it on Holding. Not a big deal.

That album changed my musical life. It's still in the top five faves of my life: Meet The Beatles, Cry Of Love, Aero-plain, High Tides, Green Grass; Andy M. Stewart's Donegal Rain.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: beeliner
Date: 05 Sep 10 - 09:25 PM

In the album notes for the Folkways LP (FA 2483) featuring the song in question, The lyrics are given as:

Some people say a preacher won't steal
But I caught two (sic) down in my corn field.
One had a bushel, the other had a peck
The other had a ROSE NEAR down his neck.
(my emphasis)

New Yahkers are apparently not familiar with the term "roastin' ear".


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Subject: Lyr Add: WHAR DID YOU COME FROM?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 10:11 PM

From The New Negro Forget-Me-Not Songster (Cincinnati: U. P. James, 185?), page 84:


WHAR DID YOU COME FROM?
The celebrated banjo song, as sung by J. W. Sweeny.

1. Some folks say a nigger won't steal,
But I cotch one in my corn field,
So I ax him about dat corn and he call me a liar,
So I up wid my foot and I kick him in de fire.

CHORUS: Oh, whar did you cum from, knock a nigger down,
Oh, whar did you cum from, etc.

2. I went for to mow down in de field.
A black snake bit me 'pon my heel.
To cut my dirt den I tought it best,
So I run slap up 'gainst a hornet's nest.

3. Oh, my red striped shirt, and red cravat,
Oh, hand me down my leghorn hat.
I was asked out one night for to dine,
But done come back till de clock strike nine.

4. I cum from ole Wirginny one bery fine day.
De riber was froze and I skate all de way.
I hab de banjo under my arm playin dis tune,
Dat de niggas used to dance by de light ob de moon.

5. As your young Wag'ner jis begun,
You'll quickly find you'll hab no fun.
Den you crack de whip and you crack so loud,
Dat you jar de nigger's head like a thunder cloud.

6. As I look'd ober on yonder hill,
Dare I saw my uncle Bill.
Says I, "Uncle Bill, how does you do?"
Says he, "I'm well, and how is you?"

7. Wid a stiff shirt collar, wid three rows of stitches,
Tight kneed boots and square toe breeches,
De rain cum wet, de sun cum dry me.
Go 'way, black man. Don't come nigh me.

8. De alligator cum from Tuscaloo,
All for to figlit de Kangaroo.
Dey fight till dey smash their nose down,
Den up agin and take anoder round.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: fragment: '..a hippy won't steal'
From: GUEST,Michael Dukeminer
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 10:03 AM

My grandfather Ray Dukeminier grew up in the Texas/New Mexico area and was a champion fiddle player. I remember the family getting together at my grandparents house and nearly everybody playing some sort of instrument as they had a jam-session or "hoedown". Amoung the songs that were sung during those howdowns as well as times where Grandpa would play his fiddle and sing alone was a tune that has been discussed here. Although I'm sure that I have some lyrics wrong since this is a childhood memory I believe it is mostly correct.
Interestingly enough, however, I have not seen on this blog the number being three nor what those folks in the cornfield had in their possession or what they were doing.

This is what I remember:

Some people say that a Preacher don't steal,
But I caught three in my cornfield.
One had an axe and one had a bell,
The other little preacher was a runnin' like hell.
Say to Moses - whatcha doin'? I'm agoin' on, I'm agoin' on, I'm agoin' on
Say to Moses - whatcha doin'? I'm agoin' on, I'm agoin' on, I'm agoin' on


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