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

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


What was Jimmie doing?

DigiTrad:
BLUE-TAIL FLY
JIM CRACK CORN


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn) (55)
Origin: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care (59)
Help: Jimmy Crack Corn (42)
Which fly was Lincoln's 'Buzzing song'? (13)
Jimmy Crack Corn - Man or Myth (89)
cracking more corn (5)
Lyr Req: Blue Tail Fly/Jimmy Crack Corn (16)
Thoughts on 'The Blue-tail Fly' (31)


JVZ 06 Mar 99 - 07:42 PM
06 Mar 99 - 09:26 PM
Barry Finn 06 Mar 99 - 09:36 PM
catspaw49 07 Mar 99 - 12:10 AM
Banjer 07 Mar 99 - 06:03 PM
Art Thieme 09 Mar 99 - 09:33 PM
Barbara 10 Mar 99 - 02:41 AM
j0_77 10 Mar 99 - 03:00 AM
Art Thieme 10 Mar 99 - 07:45 AM
catspaw49 10 Mar 99 - 08:53 AM
Art Thieme 10 Mar 99 - 09:15 AM
Banjer 10 Mar 99 - 05:57 PM
catspaw49 10 Mar 99 - 07:36 PM
Willie-O 10 Mar 99 - 07:51 PM
Martin _Ryan 10 Mar 99 - 08:01 PM
marlor, Canada 10 Mar 99 - 08:32 PM
Banjer 10 Mar 99 - 10:22 PM
katlaughing 11 Mar 99 - 12:58 AM
Banjer 11 Mar 99 - 07:10 AM
Willie-O 11 Mar 99 - 09:22 AM
katlaughing 11 Mar 99 - 09:32 AM
Pete M 11 Mar 99 - 03:19 PM
Bert 11 Mar 99 - 04:41 PM
Lonesome EJ 11 Mar 99 - 05:13 PM
Banjer 11 Mar 99 - 06:20 PM
Bud Savoie 08 Sep 00 - 09:47 PM
Banjer 09 Sep 00 - 12:58 AM
CamiSu 09 Sep 00 - 01:53 AM
Bud Savoie 09 Sep 00 - 06:06 AM
Banjer 09 Sep 00 - 12:47 PM
Bud Savoie 09 Sep 00 - 12:55 PM
GUEST,Uncle Remus Lover 23 Oct 03 - 09:37 PM
LadyJean 24 Oct 03 - 12:25 AM
Liz the Squeak 24 Oct 03 - 03:19 AM
Amos 24 Oct 03 - 08:41 AM
Willie-O 24 Oct 03 - 09:09 AM
Liz the Squeak 24 Oct 03 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Honest e 09 Feb 04 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,kharrod1@ec.rr.com 09 Feb 04 - 05:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Feb 04 - 05:40 PM
Joybell 09 Feb 04 - 05:58 PM
GUEST,Handsaw 26 Jan 05 - 05:33 PM
GUEST,Southern Gentleman 07 Dec 06 - 04:53 AM
GUEST,L THOMAS 19 Nov 07 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Marcy 25 Nov 07 - 06:53 PM
GUEST,Marcy, again 25 Nov 07 - 06:56 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 Nov 07 - 08:50 PM
Ferrara 26 Nov 07 - 01:15 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum Child
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:













Subject: What was Jimmie doing?
From: JVZ
Date: 06 Mar 99 - 07:42 PM

My wife and I were singing a rousing rendition of "The Blue Tail Fly" when she raised the question as to what Jimmie was doing whe he "crack corn". I suggested that perhaps it was an early version of popcorn and she thought maybe he was cracking open a jug of "corn". Would one of you wise old folksters please enlighten us. Thanks.
Related threads:-Joe Offer-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From:
Date: 06 Mar 99 - 09:26 PM

I always thought it was "Gimme cracked-corn!" My master's gone away

Like in:
when the cat's [old man] away
The mice [kids] will play!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 06 Mar 99 - 09:36 PM

Do a forum search for Blue-Tail Lyrics 3/26/97 for some info. Barry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: catspaw49
Date: 07 Mar 99 - 12:10 AM

Mountain Tyme recently suggested I was the resident wise ass...(_^o^_)...and so I feel it incumbent on me to point something out.

Most of us have done a fair share of reading about song histories and in another thread we discussed at length the folk process and political correctness. "Blue Tail Fly" may not be the most significant song of it's time, but it showed a piece of the sociology and history of the culture. We all agreed that we don't want to directly offend, but through years of the folk process combined with a huge shot of P.C. in recent years, we have reduced this tune to a position alongside "99 Bottles of Beer." In a school edition songbook I noticed that the pony threw his "friend" in a ditch for gawdsake! Gimme' a break! If some modern songs aren't dumb enough ("Someone left the cake out in the rain"...yeah, right) then let's mess with the old ones to the point where they make no sense at all!!!

As a personal suggestion, we might acquire a large box. Inside we place Jimmie, his corn crackin' whatever, 99 bottles of beer, a soggy ass cake, and Bob Dole waxing poetic about having the courage to face Erectile Dysfunction. We seal the box up and on a sleepy, dusty, delta day in June chuck the entire mess off the Tallahatchie Bridge. NOW THAT will give all them busybodies something to talk about!

catspaw, R.W.A. (_^o^_)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Banjer
Date: 07 Mar 99 - 06:03 PM

Catspaw, you hit the nail square on the head, my friend. I am still railling (a combination of ranting and raving, I think) and sending letters to all that I even remotely think can read about one Wayne Erbsen. He has a "Backpocket Old Time Songbook" out that goes on and on in its' introduction about how we should all"sing the old songs, play them, don't worry about what kind of voice you have because the people that origianlly sang these songs were plain folks just like you and I",& "if we don't carry on the old traditions they will all be lost to future generations":... and then.....several pages into the book one finds the Civil War song, Kingdom Coming (aka JUBILO) and it begins, "Say workers have you seen the master", instead of the traditional version. I feel it is folks like him that are destroying our beloved folk traditions with this PC (Putrid Crap) If anyone would like further info about this "Enemy of Folk" let me know and I will furnish what I can.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 09:33 PM

I'm not sure what Jimmy was a-doin', but it's a darn good thing that sheep can't talk!!

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Barbara
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 02:41 AM

Oh, Art, they can, but sheep lie.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: j0_77
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 03:00 AM

Dysfunctional - viagra - corn crackin - Wayne Erbsen song books - Bob Dole - Sheep - now bout Bo Peep goes to Washington. 'Scuse me Sir where is the sheep pen' Is'nt this suppose to be in the lighten up thread? Cmon guys have mercy on me I only come out at night so nobody sees me falling on the floor in pain - I can't believe this site - you are all nutzzz - but I love ya


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 07:45 AM

Lets let sleeping sheep lie!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 08:53 AM

Or not...Perhaps that's how Dole would like them to test out his cures for E.D. I feel blessed to know that he's had the courage to face it.

catspaw

P.S. Just occurs to me that the Dole/ED thing originally came up on the lighten up thread...Sorry, never mind.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 09:15 AM

Wasn't Dole "facing it". It was Monica.

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Banjer
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 05:57 PM

Why is anywhere I go I hear about Monica? I thought it was safe here, but no, the name still crops up. My personal opinion is Monica sucks.....(sorry 'bout that, just hadda do it!) I'll go to my room and be good now.....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 07:36 PM

Banjer me boy...What fun would that be???

catspaw


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Willie-O
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 07:51 PM

Banjer, I met Wayne Erbsen about twenty years ago (at the Augusta Heritage Workshops in Elkins WV) and he's one of the best pickers & fiddlers I've ever encountered. And a real nice guy. So maybe I wouldn't mess with old lyrics the way he did--what was the original line that he changed anyway?--but my favourite quote source, Dick Gaughan, is worth hearing on this: "I believe traditional music is strong enough to be able to absorb successful experiments and reject those which are unsuccessful. Traditional Irish music survived Cromwell, it survived the famine, it survived mass emigration, and it's capable of surviving anything I, as an individual, can do to it." (Sing Out! Vol 30 #2)

All the good songs are somewhere in the middle of the moral scale that has "sickeningly sweet" at one end and "vile & hateful" way at the other. If a song is too close to the latter end, I'm just not going to sing it. If there's something that feels worthwhile about it, but there's a line or two I'm not comfortable singing I have no compunctions about changing a line or stitching in a verse from another version, or dropping one--IF it works poetically. If Wayne Erbsen or anyone else does this clumsily, well, that version isn't likely to stick around. Meanwhile, better that folks are learning the tune and some of a song--when they chance to hear a better variant, many will switch to singing it.

Bill


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Martin _Ryan
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 08:01 PM

Sheep may safely craze!

Goodnight

Regards


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: marlor, Canada
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 08:32 PM

You forgot one song for your box. "Achy Breaky Heart." It was taht song that caused me to switch off the country station, and discover folk mufis.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Banjer
Date: 10 Mar 99 - 10:22 PM

Bill C, The line in "Kingdom Coming" that fell to the PC axe originally read "Say darkies hab you seed the massa wif de mufstache on his face?" It now reads "Say, workers have you seen the master with the moustache on his face?" The song was originaly written in 1861 by Henry Clay Work. It was performed in 1862 by Christy's Minstrels and became one of the more popular songs of the 19th Century. After Lee's surrender it became known as "The Year of Jubilo" and was sung by Union soldiers as they marched into Richmond. It is more than a song, it is a piece of our history and heritage and I feel it should not be rewritten to please those closed minded few who would rewrite history to suit their own purpose. It is indeed history and part of our heritage, neither of which CAN be changed! It would be as ridiculous as rewriting our state song here in Florida which, as you probably know, is Fosters "Suwannee River" aka: "Old Folks at Home" and also has the word darkies in it. In fact a few years ago there was a movement to change our state song. Suggestions were asked for and I couldn't help myself, I suggested that given the average age of the citizens of Florida (the average age is Very Old), they should adopt "Stairway to Heaven" I think what irks me the most about Mr. Erbsen is the fact that he makes great to-do in his book about how the minstrel tunes, of which "Kingdom Coming" is one, are "cherished memories, handed down from the past" and then goes changing words. Add to that the fact that I have written several letters to him and his publishers and no one has bothered to offer an explanation for the rewrite. I attend many Civir War reenactments and make my feelings known to as many as will listen. I'm sure Mr Erbsen is probably a very wonderful player, (I have some of his tapes)but that still does not excuse his rewriting history! I will now vacate my soapbox and allow some other e-mail orator to take my place......


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Mar 99 - 12:58 AM

I've had really mixed emotions about this. With relatives on both sides of the Civil War and now, a son-in-law who is from Antigua and a beautiful dark mahogany, and twin grandsons who are of mixed race, I'm even more conflicted.

We thought nothing of singing those songs while growing up. I am not comfortable singing them now. I wouldn't do anything in this world to hurt another peron's feeling esp. by using a derogatory term for their ethnic background. The struggle has been too longand too hard to overcome the stereotypes and even them we're still battling them.

Personally, I am glad some people change the lyrics to some of the whaling songs, so that the whale gets away.

I know this was all our history and I suppose it can be valuable to use them as a teaching tool and in actual reenactments, but I don't think I'd ever feel that completely sure of an audience that I wouldn't worry about giving the impression that it was oay to still refer to others in that manner.

Maybe I'm blowing a lot of hot air, here. I really think I'm trying to figure out how I would compromise, because I can see both sides. I think Bill C. has it right and that's probably all I needed to say in the first place. Thanks for letting me ramble. Bottom line is I'd never want my grandbabies to hear those sogs until they were old enough to understand their historical context and no that what they say is not a reflection on them nor most of present day society.

I'm to start up my op/ed columns again next week for the Liberal Opinion. Perhaps I'll explore this more and write my first one on this subject. If you'd like to know more about the LOW it is at liberalopinion.com.

Inconclusively Yours,

katlaughing aka Katey LaFrance


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Banjer
Date: 11 Mar 99 - 07:10 AM

Katlaughing, Thank you for your views, I understand and respect your thoughts. While embracing much of the Southern ideals such as the right of a state to govern itself without major intervention of the Federal Government, I am opposed to and ashamed of the way some of our forefathers acted towards others in terms of enslavement. I won't get into all the issues, this is not the forum for this, but I will make one point. None of the ships that brought captives from other parts of the world to the southern docks was registered in the South. All were of Northern or foreign registry. Many upstanding Northerners made their fortune from the slave trade. There was also slavery in the North. Many people came to this country as indentured servants and worked for no pay for seven to ten years. In our reenacting we portray both sides. We are an artillery unit and are equipped for both a Union and Confederate impression. For the past two years we have done mostly Union impressions. I will not allow a person to join our unit that harbors any bigotry. I have friends in the black community. I do not imply that we should continue the Civil War, but I do believe that to avoid mistakes in the future we must learn from our past. The songs written by H.C. Work, Stephen Foster, Dan Emmet and others during the 19th century are part of our heritage and should be preserved as such. I would hope that future generations view what is being done in our times as we meant it to be and not as they would like to see it. Thanks again for your views......


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Willie-O
Date: 11 Mar 99 - 09:22 AM

Well, the thing is, there's a difference between singing songs in a historical re-enactment context where you're putting yourself forward as a character of a hundred and forty years ago, and performing old songs as a 1990's version folksinger to a modern audience. The singer has the moral right to adapt the song to circumstances.

For the sake of historical accuracy, I agree with you that when republishing a song with a known author and a verifiably "authentic" text, the original lyrics should be presented if legally and ethically possible, and suggested changes or additions should be marked as such. (yup, as in the much-reviled Rise Up Singing). But insisting that the only right way to perform a song is "like it was wrote, boys", including terms that are now offensive, is realistically to condemn it to non-performable artifact status instead of living song.

Kat, thanks for your comments, but I gotta say changing whaling songs is going too far. it would be easy enough to fool a gullible audience into believing a "Nantucket sleighride" is a pleasant social activity held on an island in winter ...though as a class-conscious person I've always wondered the captain really said

"To lose four men of my gallant crew,
It grieves me ten times more, brave boys...

or if it was:

"To lose that whale, the captain cried,
it grieves me ten times more brave boys..."

Now that I have as usual carefully staked myself out in the middle of the field, please take turns attacking... or better yet, truce? I think all our minds are made up pretty firmly.

Bill


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Mar 99 - 09:32 AM

***smiling*** kat says "Agreed". Thank you both for upholding my high opinion of Mudcatters, good and decent folk. (I'm still on the side of the big fishie**grinning now**).

kat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Pete M
Date: 11 Mar 99 - 03:19 PM

Very interesting discussion Kat, I must admit I err on the side of historical accuracy. Of course we are all agreed that we should not seek to offend, but there are many variables to be considered, for example I suspect that songs and terms that are quite acceptable in the UK and NZ would not be in parts of the US, and vice versa.

From a purely artistic point of view, I don't think anyone has the right not to be offended. I'm not talking about obvious incompatibilities, it may not be prudent to sing "Marching through Georgia" at the local KKK convention, but as someone pointed out in another thread, if you go along to see a performance from a band that advertises themselves as "Irish Republican" you should not be offended if they sing songs supporting the PIRA. Similarly if someone promotes themselves as a Traditional shantyman, then don't be surprised by references to "black sheep", violence against authority, and tales of loose morals. Again it comes down to both tolerance and intelligence on both sides. "Offence" is, in the cases we are discussing (ie not the "vile and hateful" ones that Bill cameron refers to), I believe derived from the attitude of the performer and audience, not the intrinsic content of the song.

Having said all that, even if I am completely wrong, that does not excuse the stupidity that Banjer described of lamenting the loss of part of your cultural heritage in one breath, and then participating in that process the next. In fairness to the gentleman in question, I would suggest that the latter may have been forced on him by his publisher, but again a footnote to that effect and reference to where the original text could be found would have solved the problem.

Pete M


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Bert
Date: 11 Mar 99 - 04:41 PM

How you sing a song depends on the audience. I would never sing a 'true' version of Liverpool Judies if my neighbors kids were present. But for an adult audience I give it all the words it's got.

Also, I doubt if anyone would have learned 'The Nightingale' if the purists insisted on tellin EXACTLY what it was they were doing ...in the valley below...

I agree with Katlaughing that you shouldn't offend anyone personally with a song.

I won't sing any of the songs on 'The exit Visa' even though some of them are very funny.

Bert.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 11 Mar 99 - 05:13 PM

The line we tread between reasonable senitivity and censorship is a fine one. Like many other Kentuckians, (both the ones that wandered and the ones that stayed put) I would not miss the Kentucky Derby the first Saturday in May. Before the big race, everyone at Churchill Downs rises to sing "My Old Kentucky Home", and wherever I am I sing right along. At a party several years ago, I heartily belted forth "...in summer the Darkies are gay!" My wife had to nudge me to the realization that we had several black friends in attendance, one of whom showed shocked surprise at my obvious racism. I was doing no more than singing the song the way Steph wrote it, and the way I learned to sing it in elementary school. I never even thought about that lyric. I have sung "the young folks are gay" ever since, and I believe the song has not suffered from that change. On the other hand, when I read about "Huckleberry Finn" being dropped from reading programs I become extremely irate.I would also never stand for editing of the book that reflects our "more enlightened time." If there is a character that Twain calls Nigger Jim, then one should understand that it makes sense in both a historical and thematic context for him to be named that.He is , aside from Huck, the only ethical character in the novel. His actions transcend both his name and his cicumstance, and I believe that is the way Clemens meant it.

Apart from the artist's intent,perhaps the primary difference in these two examples is in the relative nature of the two experiences :a novel is a private and personal experience subject to individual response, while a popular song is a shared experience where singers and listeners participate together...LEJ


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Banjer
Date: 11 Mar 99 - 06:20 PM

Oh my! Where do I begin? I am relatively new to the Mudcat and I am very pleased at the path this dicussion has taken. Somewhere back there Bill C asked for a "truce". I think we are in a state of "truce" if that is what you want to call it. We are a group of folks that, because of our locality, upbringing and other various factors, have different opinions and beliefs. This is GOOD, this is what makes life interesting. I think we all agree that slavery is something that should not ever have happened, but it did, and like all human experiences someone wrote a song about it. What is enlightening here and a very pleasant, and welcome surprise is that we can all express our feelings and concerns without someone else stooping to placing labels or calling names...Refreshing indeed...I still intend to support anti-PC where and when ever I can, but probably partly because of this discussion will not intentionaly step on anyones' toes. If it does occur, it will be purely accidental and I will be the first to apologize. But we cannot, and should not attempt, to ignore our cultural past. To do that is to open the door for history to repeat itself. Boy can I get longwinded or what?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Bud Savoie
Date: 08 Sep 00 - 09:47 PM

Um, yeah. But What was Jimmie doing?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Banjer
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 12:58 AM

Bud, you obviously haven't been paying attention, have you? Jimmie was crackin' corn!!!

Having given it a little thought, very little in fact, I would go with the thought that he was opening a jug of corn whiskey. The line, as I recall goes, "Jimmie crack corn and I don't care, the master's gone away" Given that the slaves were probably not allowed to drink, other than what they secretly brewed for themselves, we find Jimmie, after the master's demise "cracking corn" and the narrator of the story doesn't care because nobody's around to punish Jimmie in mourning his master.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: CamiSu
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 01:53 AM

And here I had always thought he was cracking corn! As in breaking up dried corn, maybe for grits. This may underscore why we need to preserve SOMEWHERE the original lyrics to unPC songs and stories. If we don't understand what has gonr before and why it was a problem we leave the path open to repeat the offense, or worse. Ditto I would never sing something offensive just cold, but with explanation so we understand the history, and maybe even educate some people who may still hold these views, we might even cause some progress toward the time when we truly do not comprehend predjudice and bigotry.

WHen I hear some of the things being bandied about as 'facts' about the civil unions business here in Vermont, I KNOW we need to educate ourselves! And yet one of our AFS students almost literally crawls out of his skin to even think about homosexuality, and the other, who says he's quite liberal, blithely assured me that most of the trouble in his country was caused by 'foreigns'. So we keep at it, by example. (I don't rub their noses in my rainbow-colored stickers, or my 'Love the bigot, hate the bigotry' bumper slogans...)

Great civilised discussion!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Bud Savoie
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 06:06 AM

And by the way, "Blue-tail Fly" was reportedly Abraham Lincoln's favorite song. He must have played it often on the harmonica he always carried in his pocket.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Banjer
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 12:47 PM

Ya know Bud, I think maybe old Abe had a lot of the Southerner in him. I too had heard that he carried a harmonica with him and that Blue Tail Fly was one of his favorites. It is also reported that when news of Lee's surrender reached him he asked the White House band to strike up Dixie, saying that he liked the song and since the South had surrendered, it now belonged to the North.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Bud Savoie
Date: 09 Sep 00 - 12:55 PM

Heck, Banjer, Dan Emmett, the author of "Dixie", was a northerner. And Abe was born in Kentucky, which certainly gave him some southern roots and sympathies.

Bet Abe cracked some corn to celebrate the surrender.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: GUEST,Uncle Remus Lover
Date: 23 Oct 03 - 09:37 PM

I don't know what Jimmie was doing...I just came here to try to find out. My wife and I were singing the song on our way home tonight. I had no idea any of this could possibly be offensive to anyone. I am still pissed off that "Song of the South" cannot be purchased on vhs or dvd. It is one of the great stories of my 54 year lifetime. I don't see these old stories of Uncle Remus, brer rabbit, bear and fox offensive. The fact that slavery existed in our past cannot be expunged from history. I do not see these items of history differently from the fact that the holocost happened. We do not try to bury that, but we do not celebrate it either. PC sometimes just "gaps my crack". By the way, who ever heard of "off-loading"???
If anyone knows where I can get a dvd of "Song of the South" let me know.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: LadyJean
Date: 24 Oct 03 - 12:25 AM

A young Confederate lady, in her diary, remarks that her dress, "like Jim Crack Corn's coat, is 'made of mammy's old one'." She attributes Jim Crack Corn, and his coat to Mother Goose.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 24 Oct 03 - 03:19 AM

Uncle Remus Lover - Re: Song of the South on VHS/DVD - this being a Disney release, it only gets let out occasionally. Bratling and I have an ancient copy on VHS, she played it practically non-stop for a month. We found it in the remainder bin for some stupid price, so they are out there. Ex rental or second hand copies are probably your best bet.

Katlaughing - "big fishie"... If we're going to be pedantic - the whale is not a fish, it's a mammal. However, I will allow you poetic licence because 'big mammie' has entirely different connotations although not unconnected with this subject.

I heard an argument on the radio yesterday (Radio 2, Jeremy Vine show, 12.00 midday) the crux of which was that Britain should 'compensate' Africa for the slave trade. Oddly enough, it was the African gentleman (sorry, was at work so couldn't take note of names) who was confirming that it was 2 way traffic and that it was an empty argument. It was the (unspecified ethnicity) woolly Liberal woman who was insisting that we send lots of money to Africa to say sorry. His argument was: it was the corrupt and greedy chiefs who sold their people into slavery in the first place and the regime hasn't really changed. Any 'compensation' would go straight to the pockets of the same corrupt and greedy chiefs rather than to those who need it. Her reply was to bluster and try to insist that it would not be so, that the money would be 'managed' by Britain. Anyone spot the fly (blue tailed or otherwise)in that ointment?

And who else chooses to forget that many of the signatories of the Declaration of Independance owned slaves?

LTS


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Amos
Date: 24 Oct 03 - 08:41 AM

Willie-O:

Re: Whale

I have always sung the verse with both sentiments:

To lose those men, our Captain cried,
It grieves my heart full sore.
But to lose that goddamned twenty-ton whale,
Does grieve it ten times more, brave boys!
Does grieve it ten times more.


A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Willie-O
Date: 24 Oct 03 - 09:09 AM

Whoa, blast from the past. I'd totally forgotten this thread--or at least that it started with Jimmie.

Amos, yup, that verse always has both sentiments, but the kicker is which loss takes precedence--and I've heard it both ways, I think. Which heavily affects the meaning of the verse.

W-O


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 24 Oct 03 - 05:55 PM

Handsome cabin boys are ten a penny, cash crops (i.e., whales) take a bit more finding.....

LTS


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: GUEST,Honest e
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 02:19 PM

I don't think it had anything to do with being homo. The idea of homosexuality was to repulsive to be the object of a popular song. It had to have been somethig less offensive.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: GUEST,kharrod1@ec.rr.com
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 05:32 PM

Jimmy Cracked corn. Actually Jimmy Stole some corn - an extra ration of corn , if you will. The person singing is the person in charge or responsible. Because the Master is "Gone Away," "He don't care" that Jimmy got a little extra corn. Cracked has the same origin as "Safe cracking." In the era that this song was written, the term "to crack" meant to steal.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 05:40 PM

I rather assume that the whalefish forebitter would have been sung both ways, according, maybe, to how much of a bastard the captain was.

..........................

So far as the other stuff goes, it strikes me there are three sorts of reasons that people go changing the words.

The first is to do with the fact that words change meanings, and that words that at one time were neutral can take on a different connotation, so that using them gives a false impression of what the song is saying.

The second is to do with not wishing needlessly to offend people who might take a particular expression as intended to hurt, because it often has been used with that intention.

And the third one is different, it's to do with trying to pretty up the past, and pretend that it was better than it was - so a song involving slavery might be prettied up to suggest it was about something else entirely. Or you get those modern TV Westerns where the black characters sail through being everyone's best buddies, and never running up against any problems of that sort, because there aren't any racists around. Which would have been great, but it wasn't so.

The first two can make a lot of sense. The third is to my mind very unfortunate.

But objecting to a change like "massa" to "master " seems a bit silly to me. That's just the same word, spelt two ways.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Joybell
Date: 09 Feb 04 - 05:58 PM

I've said this before - but briefly again. My father, who learned the "Blue-tail'd Fly" before the end of the 19th Century - in Victoria, Australia explained it this way. Note that other theories about it, as far as I've seen, date from after Burl Ives recorded it in the 1930s.
My Dad said that Jimmy is the name for the Crow. The little boy who waits on his master is also responsible for shooing the crows (and other birds) away from the corn (corn = grain not necessarily cob-corn) Now that the "Master's gone away" he doesn't care if Jimmy cracks (and eats) the corn.
There are several "Crow-scaring" songs collected from The British Isles that express similar sentiments.
I have yet to see an explaination that fits as well as this one, anecdotal and unpublished as it may be. Joy


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: GUEST,Handsaw
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:33 PM

I had always heard that Jimmy was the name used for crows too, but I don't remember where I heard that. I think our whole family just accepted it as fact. Any of my family that would remember where that came from have been dead a long time already.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: GUEST,Southern Gentleman
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:53 AM

This song actually pre-dates its know performance by decades. You have to explore several songs of that genre to fully understand what is really going on. One must also posses a more complete knowledge of the culture of the south, and the relationship between most slaves and their owners.

Contrary to the popular belief of most people today, thanks to movies like roots, and the rantings of those leading up to and even after the civil war, most slaves were in fact treated as valuable assets. This in no way is meant to take away from the fact that slavery is wrong. Nor is this intended to say that 'some' slave owners were not brutal. It is to say that brutality was actually rare. Any businessman fully understands the need to take proper care of equipment, or treat it right. Slaves were mentally considered property, or equipment.

Just as "Follow the Drinking Gourd" was an instruction to follow the Big Dipper north to freedom, this song too told of one method to avoid being tracked by hounds.

Jimmy was in fact a direct reference to the crow. The reference is deliberately intended to mask the instruction in the song. The crow is also black. Cracking Corn was, and in some remote areas of the south, a term for pulling the cork on corn mash whiskey.

Because the massa is gone, the farm is likely to be sold off, if the widow is unable to remarry and keep the farm intact. That meant all the land and its assets would be auctioned at the courthouse. This was a perfect opportunity to slaves to leave, before taking the chance of being sold off to one of the very few, but notoriously cruel plantations. Not to mention the very real possibility of families being separated.

Pouring the pure grain alcohol on ones feet was a sure fire way to cover the scent of your tracks. The narrator is saying, the other slaves, "Blacks - Crows" are running away, but he's too upset to care and leave with them.

This is what I was told by a 98 year old black woman when I was just a kid living in Arkansas. I was fifteen at the time, 41 now, and I was working with my pops. We were remodeling her house under a HUD program. 26 years ago, a white doing something kind and good for a black was still a bit new in the middle south. My respect for her opened her up to tell me many things. I shall never forget Ole Miss Mary Foster.

I trust her version, as she was the daughter of a share cropper, a very common practice after abolition. The very home we were fixing up was the same share cropper's shack her daddy purchased through years of service. Her daddy was a slave as a boy. She was born in 1882.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: GUEST,L THOMAS
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 11:46 AM

I once had the great pleasure of working with Burl Ives. I recall him saying that it was he who turned the phrase "Jimmie crack'd corn ..." According to Mr. Ives, he was just goofing around with the original lyric, "Gimmie crack'd corn ... " His nonsense adaptation stuck, and the rest is history.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: GUEST,Marcy
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 06:53 PM

Actually, according to actual former slaves interviewed during WPA times, in the 1930s, it wasn't "massa" or "master" but "marster" or "marse." At least in the deep South. As someone else said, what difference does it make, really? it's the same word with the same uderlying meaning, which is that the slave is speaking of someone who owns him/her.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: GUEST,Marcy, again
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 06:56 PM

And I believe that Burl Ives was having L THOMAS on ... unless he was so puffed up as to believe that he actually had anything to do with writing the words of a very old slave song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 08:50 PM

GUEST,Kharrod asserted:

In the era that this song was written, the term "to crack" meant to steal.

That's interesting. Where does that knowledge (if knowledge it be) come from? I'm skeptical, but could be convinced if shown an authoritative source.

Dave Oesterreich


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What was Jimmie doing?
From: Ferrara
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 01:15 AM

I can't believe "Jimmy Cracked Corn" was ever a slave song! It's much more likely it was a minstrel song.

My mom (born in Georgia around 1913) told me it meant to open a jug of whiskey. I guess that's what she was told. I love the story about it being used as an "escape" song. There is no way to check these things out but I think it's important to document any oral history so people can draw their own conclusions as to what a song really meant. The thing is though, as I say, my own conclusion is that it was originally a minstrel song.

About Year of Jubilo, and other songs that use the word darky or darkies, my 2 cents is that it's a word that can be used in an appropriate setting only. For example, Rhiannon Giddens used the N-word in her class on 19th Century Black String Band Music at Augusta Heritage Center. Absolutely appropriate in that context. Also at re-enactments.

Absolutely inappropriate IMO to use it in a public concert or songbook in this day and age. I know someone who sings "the slaves they stay" rather than "the darkies stay" in Year of Jubilo. I can't see anything wrong with that substitution and lots that is right. I sing "My Old Kentucky Home" and have spent a lot of time choosing substitutes for the word darky that keep the feeling and sentiment of the line intact. For example, "The time has come when the darkies have to part" becomes "The time has come when dear friends will have to part" and "wherever the darky may go" becomes "wherever the poor man may go" or "Wherever the laborer may go." The original was stronger but the word darky held so many connotations of contempt and patronizing condescension that it just isn't acceptable in a public setting IMO.

We were taught (in 1947 or so) to sing "Oh brothers how my heart grows weary" in Old Folks at Home. I sang it for a lovely group of older folks and one woman sang out with "Oh darkies ... etc." Then she clapped her hand over her mouth and said, "Oh my, that's how we learned it when I was young but it does need to be changed, doesn't it?"

Rita F


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: 4 February 3:22 AM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 2022 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation. 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.