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Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song

DigiTrad:
FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD


Related threads:
(origins) Origins/Meaning: Follow the Drinking Gourd (132)
Scholastic/Folkways Recordings-We shall overcome (5)
(origins) Origin: Follow the Drinking Gourd (Burl Ives?) (17)
Chords Req: Follow the Drinking Gourd (7)
Chords Req: Follow the Drinking Gourd (11)
Follow The Drinking Gourd: 2001 (6)
Story: Follow The Drinking Gourd II (64)
Story: The Drinking Gourd I (62)
(origins) Origin: Follow the Drinking Gourd (5)
Tune Req: Follow the Drinking Gourd (9) (closed)


GUEST,Joel Bresler 18 Jan 07 - 04:53 PM
Azizi 18 Jan 07 - 04:59 PM
Azizi 18 Jan 07 - 05:00 PM
Azizi 18 Jan 07 - 05:12 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Jan 07 - 06:12 PM
dick greenhaus 18 Jan 07 - 06:27 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Jan 07 - 08:32 PM
wysiwyg 18 Jan 07 - 10:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Jan 07 - 02:45 PM
Lighter 19 Jan 07 - 02:58 PM
wysiwyg 19 Jan 07 - 03:14 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Jan 07 - 06:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Jan 07 - 10:32 PM
wysiwyg 19 Jan 07 - 10:48 PM
wysiwyg 19 Jan 07 - 10:51 PM
Azizi 19 Jan 07 - 11:15 PM
Azizi 19 Jan 07 - 11:33 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Jan 07 - 11:52 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Jan 07 - 12:00 AM
wysiwyg 20 Jan 07 - 10:20 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Jan 07 - 01:24 PM
wysiwyg 20 Jan 07 - 02:01 PM
Lighter 05 Sep 08 - 10:23 PM
Amos 05 Sep 08 - 11:43 PM
GUEST,Joel Bresler 06 Sep 08 - 05:46 PM
Lighter 06 Sep 08 - 07:12 PM
GUEST,Joel Bresler 11 Sep 08 - 09:28 PM
Lonesome EJ 02 Mar 11 - 04:35 PM
GUEST 05 Aug 13 - 04:27 AM
GUEST 05 Aug 13 - 05:18 AM
Amos 05 Aug 13 - 10:38 AM
bet 05 Aug 13 - 10:44 AM
Desert Dancer 05 Aug 13 - 04:32 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Aug 13 - 04:53 PM
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Subject: Folklore: 'Drinking Gourd' website
From: GUEST,Joel Bresler
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 04:53 PM

Dear friends:

A draft version of my website on the song, "Follow the Drinking Gourd" is now live.

The blue clicky link didn't seem to work (sorry, I am a newbie!!) but please try

www.followthedrinkinggourd.org

I welcome your questions and comments.

Sincerely,

Joel Bresler

link added
joe clone


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 04:59 PM

Joel, here's the blue clicky to your website:

www.followthedrinkinggourd.org


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 05:00 PM

Hmm, maybe not... Well it worked for me once, so let me try again.

http://www.followthedrinkinggourd.org/the_song_as_history.htm


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 05:12 PM

Well, alright now! I think that last hyperlink works.

**

Joel, I'm an African American who doesn't believe that spirituals were always coded messages that individuals or groups were getting ready to try to escape to freedom. And even before I read the history section in your website, I was one of those people who don't believe in the historiosity of the Drinking Gourd song.

I can see that you've done extensive research on this song and I will be interested in learning more about it.

I intend to be a regular visitor to your site and will certainly tell others about it.


Best wishes, and welcome to Mudcat!

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 06:12 PM

My views are spelled out in thread 17760 here a Mudcat. I do not believe that the song fragments (not the embroidered fictional texts like those in the textbook "America's Past and Promise," 1998, McDougal Littel, etc.), which do not hang together, qualify as code song used by any slave in escape.
Rather than repeat my arguments, please refer to the comments in this thread.
Origins follow drinking gourd

Your article spells out the conclusions I arrived at, after reading not only the information on the song, but many reports in American Memory and elsewhere on the people and operation of the 'underground railway'.

The idea of code songs leading to escape is rather silly.
The directionality of the great bear, big dipper, gourd, wagon, whatever you call it, would be well-known, and not explicit enough to be of any help.
Explicit directions to safe houses, routes, helpful people and hiding places would be transmited by word-of-mouth or diagrams in the dirt and changed depending on circumstances.
There are records written by escaped slaves and 'conductors,' and none involve such nebulous means.

There are enough myths about the Underground Railroad in schoolbooks and other popular treatments of slavery days.
The article by Michael B. Chesson in "The Textbook Letter," vol. 12 no. 1, "Schoolbooks Teach Falsehoods and Feel-Good Myths about the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman," discusses fake 'facts' and bogus maps in American-history texts. Prof. Chesson is a Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts. His article also details the nonsense about "The Drinking Gourd" and the imaginary pegleg.

Schoolbooks Teach Falsehoods

Thanks for bringing your website to Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' son
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 06:27 PM

well, it doen't have to have been directions; it makes at least as much sense to view it as a coded celebration of someone escaping.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 08:32 PM

Examining both fragments, speculation suggests that they are a verse from a lost spiritual or gospel song. Briefly:

1.
Coll. in NC-TN border area 1912-
Foller the drinkin' gou'd,
Foller the drinkin' gourd;
No one know, the wise man say,
Foller the drinkin' gou'd.

2.
Coll. Weller, TX 1918-
Foller the Risen Lawd,
Foller the Risen Lawd;
The bes' thing the Wise Man say,
Foller the Risen Lawd.

The "Negro at College Station" (site of a large University, Texas A&M- some now doubt whether he was real or a Parks invention)- may have invented the folk legend, with the encouragement of Parks.

H. B. Parks, 1928, Follow de Drinkin' Gou'd, Publ. Texas Folk-Lore
Society, No. VII, ed. J. Frank Dobie, III, pp. 81-84.

Joel Bresler has tried to trace a hymn with those lines, so far unsuccessfully. It is not unlikely; if of African-American origin, it could well have been lost. "Follow the Risen Lord" is often preached in Easter sermons. 'Risen Lord' appears in the title of a number of hymns, but none so far seems to fit well. There are pages of 'risen Lord' songs in the Cyberhymnal alone; I presume Joel has looked at them all.

http://www.thehymnsociety.org/bbs/index.cgi?noframes;read=197.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: wysiwyg
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 10:23 PM

Note to self: the above submitted to the African-American Spirituals Permathread index.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 02:45 PM

More speculation-
The song also could have concerned the star 'that rose in the east' and was followed by the wise men.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 02:58 PM

To Joel and Q, great work both.

Q's suggestion that both "Drinkin' Gou'd" fragments may belong to a lost spiritual is quite brilliant. It sensibly links both - which may be what Parks intended to do, though with an unrestrained Romantic imagination. Romantics sometimes found it easy to fool themselves.

A fuller text could conceivably be in the Archives at the Library of Congress. Few besides the Lomaxes were situated to publicize such a spiritual, if it existed.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 03:14 PM

Q and I have combed through the Lomax LOC material pretty extensively; I've personally listened to every one of their apparently-religious sound files at LOC many times. I don't recall ever coming across a song in their corpus to which I reacted, "Oh, THERE's the Drinking Gourd connection." ANd I look for connections, or maybe I should say I'm sensitive to and intruitive about them-- I've spotted many a connection across time and culture that link specific spirituals and other material.

So-- given all that, if anyone wants to look in that corpus, I can save you some time and say to look at what seems strictly secular among their material,, cuz I bneen there, done that in the reliegious vein.

At the same time, I'm aware of what I believe was written about extensively and evocatively in the Allen Slave Songs prefatory material, about how quickly and prolifically songs were created in that time, how some of them spread and some did not, and how many never found their way to preservation except in individuals' memories which they may have passed down through their own succeeding generations. Songs (spirituals) that are TOTALLY new to me keep cropping up that can only be explained by that mode of travel along the route of the folk proceess.

I think, in a way, Drinking Gourd can be a metaphor FOR the folk process-- an image of cultural diffusion, if you will. (I mean that we can take it that way, not that it was meant to be taken that way.)

Fascinated,

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 06:06 PM

I have picked up several 19th c. hymn books when I found them cheap (most are), and have not spotted a connection. But even so, as WYSIWYG says about how prolifically these songs were written, and how many different volumes of them were printed (as well as very poorly printed pamphlets to be given away or sold for a few pennies)- the task is formidable.
My main interest is in western esp. secular and building a collection of religious themes is beyond my means. Accident may be the discoverer (if there is the song), so spreading the word to anyone who might check sources is about all we can do.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 10:32 PM

In the DT and listed in the African-American Spirituals Permathread is the spiritual, "Rise Up Shepherd and Follow."
This is the only older spiritual I have found which has a star being followed.
It was printed in Dett, R. Nathaniel, 1927, "Religious Folk-Songs of the Negro," page 79, as "Rise Up, Shepherd, an' Foller," with score.
In error, "The Cleveland Index" cites the song in Fenner, p. 173, but that refers to Rise and Shine. I don't know when the spiritual was added to the Hampton Institute Collection.

There is no thread on the spiritual, so I place the text from Dett here:

Lyr. Add: RISE UP, SHEPHERD, AN' FOLLER

1.
Dere's a Star in de Eas' on Christmas morn,
Rise up, shepherd, an' foller;
It'll lead to de place where de Saviour's born,
Rise up, shepherd, an' foller!
Refrain
Foller, foller,
Rise up, shepherd, an' foller;
Foller de Star of Bethlehem,
Rise up, shepherd, an' foller.
2.
If you take good heed to de angel's words,
Rise up, shepherd, an' foller;
Yo'll forget yo' flocks, yo'll forget yo' herds,
Rise up, shepherd, an' foller.


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Subject: ADD: Rise Up Shepherd and Follow
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 10:48 PM

Thanks, Q!

~S~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 10:51 PM

It's also in the DT:

http://www.mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?songid=8442

But now we have a place where it can be discussed. Q, could you do a little Mudcat search to see if it's discussed in any other thread and if so, put a link to it here?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 11:15 PM

Somewhat off topic:

For those who can get YouTube and who want to hear a contemporary version of the African American spiritual "Rise Up Shepherd and Follow" {and two other Christmas spirituals}, click this link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5KIv6SFFqw


[FAMU concert choir -singing a medley of songs:"What Ya Gonna Name Your Baby Boy?", "Sweet Little Jesus Boy", "Rise Up Shepherd and Follow"]


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 11:33 PM

Here's a Mudcat thread for discussion of that song:

thread.cfm?threadid=28709#358325
"Lyr Req: Rise up, shepherd"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 11:52 PM

Contemporary versions of "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow," both spiritual (212) and gospel (213), are included in Carpenter, Delores, General Ed., "African-American Heritage Hymnal," GIA Publications, Inc.

Johnson and Johnson, 1925-1926, "The Book of American Negro Spirituals," have an extended refrain in vol. 2, pp. 66-67, with score.

Leave yo' flocks an' leave yo' lam's,
Rise up Shepherd an' foller, foller,
Leave yo' sheep an' leave yo' rams,
Rise up Shepherd and foller, yes, foller,
Foller, foller, rise up Shepherd an' foller, foller,
Foller de star of Bethlehem,
Rise up Shepherd an' foller.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Jan 07 - 12:00 AM

I see that Azizi found the thread on "Rise Up,..."
28709: Rise Up, Shepherd">

I was correct about it not being in Fenner, but apparently it was in the 1909 edition, prefaced by Robert R. Moton.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: wysiwyg
Date: 20 Jan 07 - 10:20 AM

Yes, and please go there to see how I handled that. Will that work for the future?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Jan 07 - 01:24 PM

Thanks, WYSIWYG. I plead old age bumbling for missing the Rise Up, Shepherd thread. It would be nice to all the texts in that thread, and clear Joel Bresler's thread for comments on his website.
If I find more texts, I will post them there.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: wysiwyg
Date: 20 Jan 07 - 02:01 PM

Well, they are linked back and forth now, Q, and IMO that isn't a bad thing. As long as people can FIND the whole, I don't mind so much when it's split into pieces. I may go through more of the recent threads where Azizi has added important new knowledge (or where her points have sparked others' contributions) that might relate to older threads, and make an informal crosslink like I did in this case.

My interest is in functionality, more than anything else. I'm hearing now from potential new volunteers, so the job of linking it all up seems more do-able now that it has in the past.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Sep 08 - 10:23 PM

I don't expect anyone to believe me - in fact, I hardly believe it myself - but if you listen carefully to the soundtrack of a famous Hollywood film released in 1939, you will hear repeatedly a dramatic version of something very close to the most popular tune of "Follow the Drinking Gourd."

The name of the movie?

This is not a joke:

"Gunga Din."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' son
From: Amos
Date: 05 Sep 08 - 11:43 PM

There's also a wonderful fiction thread that treats this theme as its core. The story begins here...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: GUEST,Joel Bresler
Date: 06 Sep 08 - 05:46 PM

OK, Lighter, I'll bite...Roughly where in "Gunga Din" is this refrain?

The most popular version of "Drinking Gourd" was arranged by Lee Hays, who of course really knew how to set a tune. Others have heard echoes of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" in his version. The original sounds fairly different. While there is no recorded rendition of the original melody, first published in 1928, check out the Leon Bibb track on my page here, it comes the closest:

Recordings Appendix

Thanks very much,

Joel


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 08 - 07:12 PM

You'll hear it. It's in the background, notably perhaps at the conclusion as Gunga is buried. Nobody sings the words or anything, but the tune's the tune. It took me a while to place it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: GUEST,Joel Bresler
Date: 11 Sep 08 - 09:28 PM

OK, I've listened. The part that sounds a bit like the Gourd is NOT the signature melody that goes with the "Follow the Drinking Gourd" lyrics. Rather, it is the snippet paired with "For the old man is awaiting for to carry you to freedom". Both this lyric and melodic snippet were written by Lee Hays, they are not original.

One expert I checked with said, "The song (my note: as arranged by Hays) has a northern states Protestant march cum hymnbook sound, like "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" or "Battlefield o/t Republic." And others have heard the same dotted note/descending scale pattern of "Johnny Comes Marching Home" in the Hays arrangement as well.

My $.02, anyway.

Thanks for the pointer!

Joel


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 04:35 PM

Auspicious of you to stop by! Continued prospicuity in the future!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Aug 13 - 04:27 AM

I was told that the drinking gourd was another name for the star constellation the Big Dipper which they would use to navigate on their escapes at night. Possible?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Aug 13 - 05:18 AM

What exactly was the The Underground Railroad?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Amos
Date: 05 Aug 13 - 10:38 AM

Guest: ABsolutely possible. Wikipedia can answer your question about the Underground Railroad. .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: bet
Date: 05 Aug 13 - 10:44 AM

There is a young readers book out that has the history of this great song. I used it some while teaching music. I think it was published my Scholastic Books and sold for about 5-6 dollars. Once again, all my things are in storage when I need them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 05 Aug 13 - 04:32 PM

Amos, Bet, and recent Guest: the website linked in the original post to this thread and and the discussion following throw substantial doubt on the story that any such song existed as an actual coded message for escaping slaves.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Website on the 'Drinking Gourd' song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Aug 13 - 04:53 PM

Mostly fictional information.

See thread 17760, linked earlier in this thread.


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