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Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?

20 Dec 06 - 07:24 PM (#1915227)
Subject: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: michaelr

He appears in "Muleskinner Blues", "No More Cane on the Brazos", even Janis Joplin's "Piece of my Heart". Can anyone shed light on the meaning?


20 Dec 06 - 07:40 PM (#1915230)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: bobad

Some info here

20 Dec 06 - 07:41 PM (#1915231)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: pdq

Norman Blake, back in his manic picking days, did a tune with the line "...can't do me like you done poor Shine, took Shine's woman...". Can't recall the name of the song but may have been his version of "Railroad Blues".

20 Dec 06 - 10:35 PM (#1915342)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Cecil Mack (R. C. McPherson) was an African-American songwriter and music publisher, born 1883. Gotham-Attucks Publishing was the first Af-Am owned publishing company in New York. Mack wrote the words and Ford Dabney composed the music for "That's Why They Call Me 'Shine.'
The Miller and Lyle's show, "Runnin' Wild," featured the music of Cecil Mack and James P. Johnson. Johnson had composed the "Charleston" in 1913, and this was the hit of the show, starting the "Charleston" craze. Mack was one of the first Black members of ASCAP.

20 Dec 06 - 11:45 PM (#1915384)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

"Shine" is a prominent character in African American "toasts".

See this excerpt from

The African American Toast Tradition by Mona Lisa Saloy

"As evidenced in print and music, African Americans boast a lively verbal art tradition that includes tales, toasts, and adventures of bad guys who confront and vanquish any adversary instantly and guiltlessly. From Reconstruction to the jazz age through today, this boasting tradition has been a uniquely urban phenomenon.

"Toasts" are performed narratives of often urban but always heroic events. For many Blacks, both performers and audience, hearing about or performing the winning ways of the central character becomes as creative a release as Black music. Toasting is today's continuance of an oral tradition, but many contemporary toasters read their complicated and elaborate versions from a text. As with any oral tradition, many versions of the same toast exist. The toast is a dynamic performance within the Black community of recognizable and popular central characters. They are performed in bars, libraries, community centers, and even college campuses. However, less explicit toasts are performed by anyone at any time for entertainment...

A toast well known in any large American city with a significant Black population is "Shine and the Titanic." This toast relates the heroic efforts of an old Black stoker to warn of the ship's impending disaster, but when ignored, he strives to save himself. The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, during the Jim Crow days when Blacks were not allowed as passengers.

Toasts are typical of other Black traditions, such as quilting and gospel, in that improvisation is highly valued. Therefore, one will find many different versions of any toast; many use profane street speech. This version of "Shine and the Titanic" heard by the author in Oakland, California, has been edited for publication...

Shine and the Titanic

It was a hell of a day in the merry month of May
When the great Titanic was sailing away.
The captain and his daughter was there, too,
And old black Shine, he didn't need no crew.
Shine was downstairs eating his peas
When the . . .water come up to his knees.
He said, "Captain, Captain, I was downstairs eating my peas When the water come up to my knees."
He said, "Shine, Shine, set your black self down.
I got ninety-nine pumps to pump the water down."

Shine went downstairs looking through space.
That's when the water came up to his waist.
He said, "Captain, Captain, I was downstairs looking through space,
That's when the water came up to my waist."
He said, "Shine, Shine, set your black self down.
I got ninety-nine pumps to pump the water down."

Shine went downstairs, he ate a piece of bread.
That's when the water came above his head.
He said, "Captain, Captain, I was downstairs eating my bread
And the . . .water came above my head."
He said, "Shine, Shine, set your black self down.
I got ninety-nine pumps to pump the water down."

Shine took off his shirt, took a dive. He took one stroke
And the water pushed him like it pushed a motorboat.
I'll give you more money than any black man see."
Shine said, "Money is good on land or sea.
Take off your shirt and swim like me."
And Shine Swam on.

Shine met up with the whale.
The whale said, "Shine, Shine, you swim mighty fine,
But if you miss one stroke, your black self is mine."
Shine said, "You may be the king of the ocean, king of the sea,
But you got to be a swimming son-of-a-gun to out-swim me."
And Shine swam on.

Now when the news got to the port, the great Titanic has sunk,
You won't believe this, but old Shine was on the corner damn near drunk..."

20 Dec 06 - 11:55 PM (#1915388)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Seamus Kennedy

Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli recorded a song called Shine with the Quintet of the Hot Club of Paris and an African American singer back in 1936.

Just because my teeth are pearly,
Just because my hair is curly,
Just because I always wear a smile,
Like to dress up in the latest style,
'Cause I'm glad I'm livin',
Take my troubles all with a smile,
Because my color's shady, baby,
That's why they call me Shine.

I think it's from the days of the shoeshine boys
when men would say "Boy, shine!"

Just one man's opinion of course.


21 Dec 06 - 12:05 AM (#1915392)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Also, see this excerpt from
[I added spacings to enhance reading clarity]

"The Toast of the Titanic Oral Tradition Carries On Legend of Lone African American By Dana Hull, Washington Post, December 20, 1997; Page F01 - Titanic hoopla is upon us: the documentary, the musical, now the movie. Yet buried deep in the mythology of the doomed voyage is the story of Shine, a fictional character who lives on through the folk traditions of the African American community. Legend has it that the only black man on board the Titanic was a laborer called Shine -- "shine" being a derogatory term for blacks. Because he worked below deck, Shine was the first to realize that the Titanic was sinking, and thus was able to escape while more than 1,500 passengers perished in the April 14, 1912, disaster.

Most stories about Shine take place in the form of "toasts," an improvisational oral narrative popular in black communities from the 1920s to the early 1960s. A form of street poetry, toasts were usually performed in the male provinces of pool halls and street corners, and were passed on from friend to friend. Often as profane as they were misogynistic, the raplike verses reveal a different perspective of the event that currently is being celebrated in the Hollywood blockbuster starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

The Shine toast revels in sharing a smug satisfaction that the Titanic -- a symbol of white European arrogance and affluence -- sank on its maiden voyage. The irony that African Americans were not allowed to make the crossing -- thus sparing their lives -- inspired a wealth of jokes, toasts and ballads. Numerous verses of the various Shine toasts, particularly those that refer to the female anatomy, are not suitable for a family newspaper. But the rhyming verses, which could last for up to 10 minutes, go something like this:

Up stepped a black man from the deck below that they called Shine.Hollerin, "Captain! Captain! Don't you know? There's forty feet of water on the boiler room flo'." The captain said, "Go back, you dirty black! We got a thousand pumps to keep this water back." Because Shine exists solely in the oral tradition, verses would vary from teller to teller. Roger Abrahams, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, was one of the few folklorists to record them. "Most versions of the Titanic fit into the same general pattern," he wrote in his 1963 book "Deep Down in the Jungle: Negro Narrative Folklore From the Streets of Philadelphia." There's a "prologue about the terrible day on which the ship sank; the introduction of Shine, the mythical Negro stoker on board the ship; a description of his argument with the captain about whether the ship was sinking; his jumping into the water and his amazing swimming ability described; the captain's offer of money to save him, which he refuses; the offer of the captain's wife and/or daughter of sexual relations with him, which he likewise refuses; a conversation with the shark and/or whale where he claims to be able to out-swim them (which he apparently does); and a final ironic twist in which it is mentioned that Shine swam so fast that by the time news of the sea tragedy arrived, Shine was already inebriated in some specific location." When the news got around the world that the great Titanic had sunk, Shine was in Harlem on 125th street, damn near drunk. Or: When all them white folks went to Heaven, Shine was in Sugar Ray's Bar drinking Seagram's Seven.

"Shine is the clever black," says Bruce Jackson, a professor of American culture at SUNY-Buffalo who traveled around the country recording toasts in the 1960s and '70s. "He's the only one on board smart enough to save his life, and he's the only one strong enough to physically swim to shore." Other toasts include stories about a barroom brawl involving Stagger Lee, or tales of the Signifying Monkey, an animal fable in which a clever monkey outwits a lion. "There are a number of toasts," Jackson says of his field recordings. "But I heard the most toasts about the Titanic. It made an enormous impact on the popular imagination of the time. People knew in the black community that it was an all-white ship -- it was part of the White Star Line. When it went down, that was not lost on the community."

But the sinking of the Titanic was not solely the province of toasts. Numerous musicians, from guitarist Blind Willie Johnson to the New Lost City Ramblers, recorded songs that told the Titanic tale. Some versions, recorded as "God Moves on the Water," were widely circulated in the 1920s and focused on the spiritual aspects of the accident. The Titanic was a symbol of technological prowess, and some people saw the disaster as divine intervention. It's possible to spend hours listening to Titanic tunes in the majestically dusty archives of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies. Ask archivist Jeff Place for Titanic songs, and he'll pull out album after album: Pink Anderson's Carolina Medicine Show Hokum & Blues, Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers, Mance Lipscomb. Others recall singing a song about "When That Great Ship Went Down" at summer camp.

The famed blues guitarist Leadbelly also recorded a Titanic song. His lyrics included the common folklore that Jack Johnson, the black man who was world heavyweight boxing champion at the time, was denied passage on the boat. Jack Johnson wanted to get on board Captain, he said, "I ain't hauling no coal" Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well. "There are a lot of songs about the Titanic, in part because the story itself is so dramatic," says Anthony Seeger, curator of the Folkways Recordings archives. "Versions of songs about the Titanic have been done with rock, gospel and blues. The clarity in which class distinctions were made on the voyage really resonated in folk culture, and by singing about it Americans were able to comment on their feelings." As Leadbelly sang it: When he heard that mighty shock, Mighta seen that man doin' the Eagle Rock Fare thee, Titanic, fare thee well."

21 Dec 06 - 12:25 AM (#1915401)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

The referent "shine" for Black people comes from the fact that some people feel that some Black people have skin so dark that it shines. The blue black skin was said to shine as much as polished black shoes.

I hasten to say that to call a Black person "Shine" was
[and among some people still is] considered to be very insulting [even post the "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud" 1970s.

Because some Black and non-Black people considered and still consider very dark skin to be a negative, to name a hero
[anti-hero?] "Shine" is to turn what some might consider a negative into a positive.

See these relevant definitions of 'shine' from

"1. shine

A derogitory word for an African American


5. Shine   

1. A shortened term for moonshine or whiskey.
2. To give off or reflect light.
3. To excel in something.
4. A shortened term for shoeshine.
5. A disparaging term used for a person of the African race.


23. shine

A racist (pejorative) word for black people. Every bit as offensive as "nigger."

'After calling that black dude a "shine," I think he's going to have to go back to Alabama to pick up the remainder of his teeth.' "

21 Dec 06 - 12:43 AM (#1915411)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Btw, the contemporary Caribbean definition of 'toasting" is different from the African American definition of that word, although I think that both definitions are expressions of the
appreciation and respect Africans had [have] for verbal communication skills.

See these excerpts from

"Traditional African American toasting
"Toasting has been part of African American urban tradition since Reconstruction as part of a verbal art tradition, dating back to the griots of Africa. African American stories usually lauds the exploits of the clever and not entirely law-abiding trickster hero (not always human) who uses his wits to defeat his opponents...

Jamaican toasting
In the late 1960s and early 1970s a strain of Jamaican music called DJ Toasting was developed. DJs working for producers would play the latest hits on traveling sound systems at parties and add their "toasts" or vocals to the music. These "toasts" consisted of boastful commentaries, chants, half-sung rhymes, rhythmic chants, squeals, screams, and rhymed storytelling.

Osbourne Ruddock (aka King Tubby) was a Jamaican sound recording engineer who created vocal-less rhythm backing tracks that were used by DJs doing "toasting" by creating one-off vinyl discs (also known as dub plates) of songs without the vocals and adding echo and sound effects.

Late 1960s toasting DJs included U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone, the latter known for mixing gangster talk with humor in his toasting. In the early 1970s, toasting DJs included I-Roy (his nickname is an homage to U-Roy) and Dillinger, the latter known for his humorous toasting style. In the late 1970s, Trinity became a popular toasting DJ.

The 1980s saw the first DJ Toasting duo, Michigan & Smiley, and the development of toasting outside of Jamaica. In England, Pato Banton explored his Caribbean roots humorous and political toasting [1] and Ranking Roger of the "Second Wave" or Two-Tone ska revival band The Beat from the 1980s did Jamaican toasting over music that blended ska, pop, and some punk influences.

The rhythmic rhyming of vocals in Jamaican DJ toasting influenced the development of rapping in African-American hip-hop [2] and the development of the Dancehall style."


Ironically {actually probably purposely} "Blacka Shine" is the name of a contemporary Jamaican DJ toaster.

21 Dec 06 - 12:49 AM (#1915414)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Seamus Kennedy

Azizi, when I said
I think it's from the days of the shoeshine boys
when men would say "Boy, shine!"

I was not implying that I thought it was OK.
Of course it was racist, and the term lasted well into the '60's.


21 Dec 06 - 01:21 AM (#1915421)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Seamus, I read your post as one which shared explanation for the refrerent "Shine". My post gave an alternative explanation, and additional information about that referent.

I never once thought that you were implying or saying that the contemporary use of Shine as a referent for Black people was okay.

I didn't even go there with [about?] you, and I don't think that any thinking person could get that from that post on this thread, from your other Mudcat posts, or from conversations/interactions with you in person.

I still remember the wonderful time that I had at your performance at a Pittsburgh club. And I knew even before meeting you in person that you are definitely not a racist.

Best wishes,


21 Dec 06 - 02:46 AM (#1915442)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?

Who's calling the Paddy a racist?

21 Dec 06 - 06:03 AM (#1915531)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Scrump

Isn't he the bloke who was asked if he wanted his old lobby washed down?

21 Dec 06 - 08:30 AM (#1915629)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

I want to clarify one point regarding the shoeshine explanation-
in my opinion, the referent "Shine" refers to dark skinned Black people's skin color BUT this referent was/is a play on the phrase "shoe shine" as most of the shoes that were worn in the early 20th century [or earlier] were black in color and that black color became shinier after the shoes were polished with [black] shoe paste.

I believe the connection to the name "Shine" is the association of the color & glossy shine of the polished black shoes shining and dark black skin color being so black that it shines at night.

I believe that the fact that Black men were usually the person shining shoes in public, and that White men said to them "Shine, boy" or some such statement has little or nothing to do with Shine as a usually derogatory referent for Black people.

However, I think that most African Americans who are familiar with "toasts" and with the bad guy/hero Shine * recognize the association between the name character's name and its association with the group referent Shine.

Shine was bad, and bad is good.

* Btw, I doubt very much that a large number of African Americans-particularly middle class contemporary African Americans- are familiar with the meaning of "toast" as a verbal story rhyme about a trickster who wins out at the end. I also don't think that a large number of African Americans know the character "Shine" or even know about the "Signifyin Monkey".

And this is a low down and dirty shame.

21 Dec 06 - 08:34 AM (#1915635)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Lighter

Hi, Azizi! When did you hear your version of "Shine" ?

And thanks for posting it. We should all preserve as many trad texts of trad material as possible.

21 Dec 06 - 08:34 AM (#1915637)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

I should have said "dark black skin color supposedly being so black that it shines at night."

Actually that was considered a rip {insult; diss} and is not the truth-meaning that very black skin doesn't actually appear to shine at night or glow in the dark.

21 Dec 06 - 12:27 PM (#1915853)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Seamus Kennedy

Thanks, Azizi!
In a lot of advertising from the early days of the 20th century there were the black stereotypes with the black shiny skin - Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, e.g., as well as the blackface minstrel shows with the same,
lending credence to your thoughts.
Even toys had the Little Black Sambo effect.


21 Dec 06 - 02:23 PM (#1915949)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Shine is a very old word with more meanings than be covered here. In the senses pertinent to the question posed by Michael R.

The song "That's Why They Call Me Shine" by Cecil Mack (1910) is the basis for the word 'Shine' in most later compositions; this song was extremely popular throughout the period 1910-1930, with black musicians. Seamus Kennedy quotes a part of it (more or less correctly), but misses the intent of the singer, who turns the definition to the Old English (in print from AD 900): to be conspicuous or brilliant in ability, appearance; found applied to people with a sunny disposition (18 c.), flamboyance (c. 1800), etc.
Also in the period c. 1910 (in print but probably older), 'shine' was applied to Blacks by the criminal class (OED), but also by lower class urbanites- here, one of the meanings cited by Seamus Kennedy comes into the picture- a shoeshine, and the ubiquitous 'shoeshine boys' who plied their trade on city streets, and eventually set up portable stands with seats (discussed in print in 1870's, the shoeshine stand appearing soon after the Civil War if not before in major cities. Their call, 'Shine,' led to that word being applied to them and to all Blacks (including some dark-skinned but not African-American).
Cecil Mack, an educated African-American who at one time hoped to be a doctor but dropped out because he had no money, played these two meanings very cleverly in his little song; I am sure that most Whites failed to catch the interplay.

The information about toasts, and 'shine' discussed by Azizi, is new to me; something not found in the references I know. Perhaps this material should be the subject of a separate thread, or the title of this thread could be revised.
Azizi, could you put more 'where found' reference material to your discussion of African-American 'toasts?' Are there any books (Jackson, etc.)? Also, when did Bad guy 'Shine,' terms like signifying monkey, etc. appear?.

Seamus Kennedy mentions the characters in advertising- these, I think, were worse than the minstrel material of an earlier (mostly pre-emancipation) period. These advs., common through the 1930's, not only firmly placed the African-American in the servant class, but the text often made remarks about their supposed inferior intelligence. This material, in Colliers, Sat. Eve. Post and other widely read magazines and papers, affected white thought long after the minstrels were mostly forgotten and references (such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica following the 1911 edition) updated their essays on the Negro to remove discussion of their lower intelligence, pugnacity, etc.

21 Dec 06 - 05:59 PM (#1916150)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

The classic book about African American toasts is Bruce Jackson's "Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me: Narrative Poetry From Black Oral Tradition"

Here are several books that providfe information about
African American toasts & signifyin:


Geneva Smitherman, "Talkin & Testifyin -The Language of Black America" {Detroit, Wayne State University Press, originally published by Houghton Mifflin}

Geneva Smitherman, "Talkin That Talk", Language, Culture, and Education in African America {Routledge, London, Canada & USA, 2000)

Gena Dagel Caponi, editor, "Signifyin[g], Siantifyin', & Slam Dunkin-A Reader in African American Expressive Culture {Amherst, The University of Massachusetts Press, 1999}


Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "The Signifying Monkey-A Theory Of African American Literary Criticism {Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 1988

21 Dec 06 - 06:03 PM (#1916154)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Here's an excerpt of an article about Bruce Jackson's book:

"Jackson's classic collection of black "toasts" is resurrected

Contributing Editor, University of Buffalo Reporter

"Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me: Narrative Poetry From Black Oral Tradition," a book collected and compiled by SUNY Distinguished Professor Bruce Jackson, is back for a second go 'round.

It was originally published in 1974 by Harvard University Press and had been long out of print, but Routledge issued new hardcover and paperback editions of the book last month. They are welcomed by many, including Harvard University's Henry Louis Gates, who calls Jackson's book "a seminal work in both the collection and analysis of African American oral culture, indispensable to all students of American popular culture."

The book collects a popular form of African-American literature and folk poetry known as "toasts." For 30 years, it carried the reputation of a "stone cold classic," mightily praised by critics, cultural historians, musicians, poets and general-interest readers alike. The book includes a new CD of Jackson's original field recording of the toasts in the book.

"Toasts are just one aspect of a rich tradition of verbal arts in black culture," Jackson says. "Public performance of rhyming verse has ancient African roots. And we see it now in rap and hip-hop, which are a mix of African American, Caribbean and several other traditions.

"Toasts are the starting point for rap," he says, "both in the poetry itself and the way it was used and performed in public situations. As the novelist and former Buffalonian Ishmael Reed says, if you want to understand rap and hip-hop, you've got to understand toasts."

The toasts featured in the book, says Jackson, come from various sources, including street corners, barbershops, bars and jails—"places young men hang around without much to do."

Although Jackson says the stories told in these works can be personal and intimate—and he has heard blues lyrics and Robert Service poems recited as toasts—they generally celebrate a number of folkloric figures from African-American culture like "Stackolee," the famed bad man said to have murdered a guy over a Stetson hat, and the celebrated "Signifying Monkey," who regularly outsmarts stronger forest opponents by using his native wits.

There are stories here, too, of the loss of the Titanic, famed in black folklore and music, Jackson says, because it signified a horrific failure by the era's powerful white establishment. There also was a story, he says, possibly apocryphal, that the ship's owner had refused to sell tickets to famed blacks, including prizefighter Jack Johnson.

"Nobody knows how long ago these toasts began," Jackson says," but they are an entertainment device that goes back at least to the beginning of the 20th century.

"It is likely that the reason that they never were published before is that, unlike gospel music lyrics and other works by African-American writers, toasts are profane, misogynistic, violent and use language that violates propriety," Jackson says.

"Toast figures," notes one critic, "suffer degradingly, take their revenge cruelly and perform supernatural sexual feats in the common vocabulary of anal-genital idioms and vivid slang."

"It's important to realize, however," says Jackson, "that this violence and vulgarity arises out of the fact that toasts are a form of swapped story exchanged by men living in a world of violence and betrayal, where they always had to watch their backs, where no one could be trusted."

For 30 years, "Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me" has delighted students of African-American culture and folklore, and anyone who enjoys the double entendres and hidden meanings found in the oral tradition that has continued from ancient times to the tales of the West-African griots, from blues narratives to contemporary rap"...

21 Dec 06 - 06:26 PM (#1916176)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Geneva Smitherman includes a version of Shine & The Titanic in her "Talkin and Testifyin" book {225-227].

This version begins very much like the one that Mona Lisa Saloy featured in her article on "The African American Toast Tradition"
[see my 20 Dec 06 - 11:45 PM post on this thread]

However, there are some differences. Check it out:

"Shine went back on down in the hole. He kept on shoveling coal. He started to eat a piece of bread. That's when the water rose above the Brother's head.

Shine split back up on deck. "Captain, Captain, you speak well, and your words they sound true. But this time, Captain, your words they won't do. This here ship is sinking! Little fishes, big fishes, whales and sharks too, gert out of my way, 'cause I'm coming through!"

Shine yanked off his clothes in a flash. He jumped on in the water and started to splash.

The captain saw the water rise out of the hole and he start thinking, "That boy is right. This here ship is sinking", He call out to Shine. "Shine, Mr. Shine, please save me! I'll make you master of the sea!".

Shine say "Master on land, master on the sea. If you wnt to love, Captain, you better jump in here and swim like me".

The captain's wife ran out on deck in her nightgown, with her fine, fine self. She call out to Shine, "Shine, Shine, please save poor me! I'll give you more loving than you ever did see."

Shine say, "Loving ain't nothing but hugging and squeezing. Sometime it be tiring. Sometime it be pleasing. I can swim, but I ain't no fish. I like loving, but not like this."   

An old fat banker come up on the deck carrying his money bags. He called out to Shine, "Shine, Shine, please save me! I'll make you richer than any man could be".

Shine say, "Money's good on land, but it's weight in the sea. If you want to live, fatty, you better jump in her and swim like me."

Shine took one stroke and shot on off through the water like a motorboat. He met up with this here shark. The shark say, "Shine, Shine,you swim so fine. But if you miss one stroke, your butt is mine."

Shine say, "I swims the ocean. I swims the sea. There just ain't no shark that can outswim me." Shine outswimmed the shark.

After a while, Shine met up with this here whale. The whale say,
"I'm the king of the ocean. I'm the king of the sea."
Shine say, "You may be the king of the ocean. And you just may be the king of the sea, but you got to be about a swimming sucker to outswim me." Shine outswimmed the whale.

Now dig this. When the news reach land that the "Great Titanic" had sunk, Shine was down on the corner, half-way drunk.

21 Dec 06 - 06:36 PM (#1916181)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: michaelr

Thanks tp everyone who contributed, especially Azizi and Q. Most informative and interesting!


21 Dec 06 - 06:41 PM (#1916184)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Sorry, I spot at least one typo in my last post.

Here's the corrected line:

Shine say "Master on land, master on the sea. If you want to live, Captain, you better jump in here and swim like me".

21 Dec 06 - 07:46 PM (#1916236)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Thanks for the references, Azizi. I'll have to get Jackson's book.

22 Dec 06 - 05:35 AM (#1916497)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Scrump

This is the chorus:

"Do you want your old lobby washed down, Con Shine
Do you want your old lobby washed down?"
She sighs every day as she passes the way:
"Do you want your old lobby washed down?"

22 Dec 06 - 06:03 AM (#1916521)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Music & Song - Ireland folk song


Posted by IONA Ireland folk correspondent, 26th Feb 2006

I've a nice little cot and a small bit of land
In a place by the side of the sea
And I care about no one because I believe
There's no body cares about me

My peace is destroyed and I'm fairly annoyed
By a lassie who works in the town
She sighs every day as she passes the way:
"Do you want your old lobby washed down?"

"Do you want your old lobby washed down, conshine
Do you want your old lobby washed down?"
She sighs every day as she passes the way:
"Do you want your old lobby washed down?"

The other day the old landlord came by for his rent
I told him no money I had
Beside t'wasn't fair for to ask me to pay
The times were so awfully bad

He felt discontent at no getting his rent
And he shook his be head in a frown
Says he: "I'll take half", and says I with a laugh:
"Do you want your old lobby washed down?"

Do you want your old lobby washed down, conshine
Do you want your old lobby washed down?
Says he: "I'll take half", and says I with a laugh:
"Do you want your old lobby washed down?"

Now the boys look so bashful when they go out courtin'
They seem to look so very shy
As to kiss a young maid, sure they seem half afraid
But they would if they could on the sly

But me, I do things in a different way
I don't give a nod or a frown
When I goes to court, I says: "Here goes for sport
Do you want your old lobby washed down?"

"Do you want your old lobby washed down, conshine
Do you want your old lobby washed down?"
When I goes to court, I says: "Here goes for sport
Do you want your old lobby washed down, conshine?"

22 Dec 06 - 06:35 AM (#1916545)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

I also found the same lyrics to this song on a number of other websites including

The web page is listed as "Susanne´s Folksong-Notizen; English Notes". The song is "traditional; as sung by Jimmy Crowley"

Also see these notes from that web page:

"Susanne´s Folksong-Notizen
[1998:] It's time I put on record a truthful representation of the altercation between myself and Brendan Shine regarding this song. I was on tour in England and had been playing a test pressing of my new single when a very animated Shine entered the room of the Birmingham lodging house. Having waxed eloquent in the praise of both myself and the song, in a friendly gesture, I offered him a copy for which he insisted on giving me a pound, for reasons best known to himself. I judged him as I judged troubadours of my own folk fraternity, in that, the unwritten law against poaching another artist's material transcended all musical denominations. Judge then of my chagrin when I heard his recording of it soon after.

Learned from "the singing fireman", John O'Shea, of Cork city. (Jimmy Crowley, notes 'Uncorked!')"


So, are we back to square one? Who is this particular
"Shine"/Con Shine"? I say "particular" because it seems as though this name refers to one person in one culture and another person in another culture. In the chorus that Scrump posted "Con Shine" is capialized, and in Suzanne's notes the 's' in "Shine" is capitalized. Therefore "Shine" seems like it is a personal name or nickname.

Since this is listed as an Irish song, could "Shine" a variant form of the male name "Sean"? Also, could "con" a short form of "cousin" in Irish culture, and could it then be capitalized like the title "Mr" {ie Cousin Shine} with cousin in this instance not being taken literally, but used as a sign of informality between the two persons?

If this song was listed as 19th century Southern USA culture, I'd be more apt to speculate about "con" being a short form of "coon" and "con Shine" being "coon shine". This would make "con shine" a
double down dirty derogatory referent for a Black person.

I wrote that last sentence using alliteration because it came to me that way, probably because of my interest in children's rhymes. But in all seriousness, "coon shine" would have been a very negative referent for a Black person. I'm using past tense because I think very few African Americans in the early 21st century know the referent "Shine" or the word "coon" as derogatory referents for Black people. I'm not sure if very many White Americans nowadays know these derogatory referents either.

Also [back to that last song], I'm wondering about the meaning of the sentence "Do you want your old lobby washed down?" Does this refer to some sexual hanky panky?

Inquiring minds wanna know just for the heck of it.

22 Dec 06 - 06:40 AM (#1916547)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Scrump

I'm not sure who "Con Shine" is, but the song was an Irish hit for singer Brendan Shine - are they related?

22 Dec 06 - 06:45 AM (#1916551)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Hmmm. I just re-read the notation written by Suzanne. It seems that she has had an altercation with a Brendan Shine.

Who is Brendan Shine? Here's what I found by way of google:

"Irish and country music singer Brendan Shine is an international sensation! These exciting programs were taped live in concert and features many of Brendan's most popular songs including Molly Malone, Danny Boy, I'm A Savage For Bacon & Cabbage, You'll Never Go Back and more."

So is this the Shine that is referred to in this song?
If "Do you want your old lobby washed down" is traditional, are the words "Shine" and "conshine" newer additions by this singer Brendan Shine?

I think that's too easy an answer, and it still doesn't explain what con shine means.

22 Dec 06 - 06:50 AM (#1916555)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Scrump, I just saw your post. Great minds and all that :o)

Are who related, the Irish "Shine" and the African American "Shine"?

Well, they could be cousins. Besides, I hear tell there's these people called "Black Irish".


Just joking. My bad.

22 Dec 06 - 06:58 AM (#1916558)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Scrump

I think the "conshine" is a typing error for "Con Shine" (which is the name of a person in the song). The name "Con" is short for the Irish name "Conleth" (or "Conláed" in Irish).

The person who transcribed the lyrics probably didn't know this. So I think "conshine" is not a proper word and is a red herring as far as this discussion is concerned.

What I don't know is whether "Con Shine" is a real person, perhaps related to the singer Brendan Shine, or whether the character was invented by the songwriter.

22 Dec 06 - 07:18 AM (#1916567)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

"The name "Con" is short for the Irish name "Conleth" (or "Conláed" in Irish)."

Thanks for this information, Scrump.

I think we're talking about two different characters who happen to be named "Shine".

22 Dec 06 - 08:34 AM (#1916622)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Scrump

Aye, Azizi - Con and Brendan are indeed two different people. I would just like to know whether Con Shine is related to Brendan Shine, or just a made-up character, or a real but unrelated person. (Brendan Shine is of course a real person.)

22 Dec 06 - 11:27 AM (#1916786)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: M.Ted

Just as an aside, blues draws heavily on toasts--and a lot of the couplets in blues songs are references to toasts--

22 Dec 06 - 03:09 PM (#1916936)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Scrump, yes, I got that "Con and Brendan are indeed two different people but what I was referring to was that the Irish "Con Shine" [with Con being a nickname for "Conleth" or "Conláed" and "Shine" being a last name] is one person and the character called Shine who appears in a lot of African American toasts is another character.


M Ted, thanks for the info re the connection between toasts and Blues lyrics. I also think that some of the lyrics from toasts become folk sayings and, of course, many folk sayings are integrated into toasts.

22 Dec 06 - 04:03 PM (#1916980)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Joybell

I don't know how, or if, this fits into this discussion but - toasts was very common in popular speech as sayings and rhymes in English culture too. Here in Australia "toast" sayings were still popular up into the 1960s. For example they turned up in autograph books and also in bawdy rhymes done by factory workers. Very English in character and rather old-fashioned. My cousin who worked in a carpet factory has one that goes:

"Here's to the woman who's beauty divine
Who blooms once a month and bears once in nine
She's the only thing this side of hell
That can raise juice from nuts without cracking the shell."

Rather beautiful in its way, I think.

Autograph books used during my childhood, in the 1950s, had:
"Here's to little ... (name of owner of book)
Single is her station.
Pity help the little man who makes the alteration."

Maybe on reflection we need a new thread for toasts? Maybe there's already one. Haven't checked.
Cheers, Joy

22 Dec 06 - 05:15 PM (#1917026)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Here's another version of "Shine & The Titanic" from

"Shine and the Titanic," #149 Swapping Stories
Arthur "Arturo" Pfister, New Orleans, Louisiana

I'm a weaver of the word, not a maker of rhyme
But I'm going to tell you the story about my man, my main man Shine.
It was a helluva day in the merry month of May,
Shine was the stoker on the Titanic that day
When a big iceberg come a floatin' their way.

Shine said, "Cap'n Charley, Cap'n Charley, there's a big iceberg floatin' our way."
Cap'n said, "Shine, Shine, don't you be no clown,
I got ninety-nine pumps to pump the water down.
I got pumps made of pipes and chumps to pump.
I got a trillion dollar load I ain't going to dump."

Shine said, "Cap'n Charley, Cap'n Charley, if you look now,
There's a whole lot of ice comin' 'cross the bow.
I ain't never read a book, ain't never been to school,
But Louzeeanna Annie ain't never raised a fool."
Shine said that to himself.

Cap'n Charley said, "Shine, Shine don't you know my might?
Anything I say and do is right.
You work for Cap'n Charley when the sun comes up
You brings my favorite slippers and my coffee cup.
You work for Cap'n Charley, stokin' the coal.
You work for Cap'n Charley and I owns your soul.
You might be a Christian and pray to the Lord,
But on the Titanic, I outranks God."

[Pfister makes a sound to indicate that an iceberg hits the ship]
Then there was a loud, crashin,' smashin' sound
God pulled rank.
Shine said, "You might be the Cap'n on the land and the sea,
You might run the engines, you might turn the key.
You might be Cap'n Charley, well all that's hip,
But I'm gettin' off of Cap'n's stinkin,' sinkin' ship."

Jumped his black butt into the sea, he did.
He said, "I'm going to tell you one thing, and I don't mean maybe,
But I was long and grown when Father Time was a baby.
I done kilt a whole lot of men's way better than you.
Done kilt a thousand V.C. in Dien Bien Phu.
You can be Tarzan and Rambo and Jungle Jim,
But that's one iceberg that sure ain't slim.
Forked is your tongue, I done heard all the lies,
I'm going to ride with the water and make my own enterprise."

Just about then a beggar came on board cryin,'
"Save me, save me, Shine, in the name of the Lord.
I gots money and dollars I can't even spend,
I owns a whole lot of people, got stock in the pen,
I give you fine black women and white ones, too,
because I gots more money than the U.S. Mint do.
I give you big pretty houses and Cadillac cars,
Give you fifty hotels and ninety-nine bars.
I runs all the drugs from Harlem to Watts,
I takes food from the mouths of the tiniest tots,
I buys all the missiles and guns for the planes,
I own ninety-nine ships and three hundred trains.
I give you all the money that a black boy needs,
Give you ten tons of coke and twenty tons of weed."

Shine thought for a while. . . .
"I'm the runner of the world,
The master in the Lord,
I'm going to please her with my Visa and my Bank Americard.
I'll give you money and power and fortune and fame,
Every fine black girl in the world going to know your name."
Shine said, "You can giggle from the weed, you can laugh from the coke,
But get your bootie in the water and cut your stroke.
You can have all your money, your friends and your foes,
You can finance your wars and your G.I. Joes.
You gots more money than a human had oughta,
So get your butt out here in this freezin' cold water.
You rich and you greedy, ain't never been broke,
So get your butt in the water and cut your stroke.
You can call on the mounties and the C.I.A.,
But they going to get their dry behinds wet today.
Sorry, Mr. Banker, I don't need your pain,
because I'll be sittin' with my baby just a listenin' to the Train.
I'm going to swim to New Orleans for some panne meat,
Going to do the Mississippi Mambo down on Claiborne Street.
Going to wear orange and gold and purple and green,
Go runnin' with the Injuns, eat all the red beans.
You might like Chaka, you might like Rufus,
Even Leon Spinks know you lying through your toofus."
Just then the banker's daughter floated by Shine.
She said, "Come over here, Shine.
Save some o'little ole mine.
I got a body like a ballard and cheeks like Gladys,
Butt like Bertha and hair like Alice.
I got legs like Tina and a chest like Dolly,
I can almost sing colored and lilac ollie."

He said, "I like my women's lips red and my crawfish burled
I like the mamas with the boom booms and their hair all curled.
I like hot filÎ gumbo and devilish eggs.
I like them Uptown girls with they big fine legs,
I like Downtown womens with they night dark eyes,
I like Backatown womens with they big brown thighs.
I done lived on the land and on ships in the sea,
And the ladies on land is the ladies for me."

And Shine swam on. . . .
Shine swam down past the Florida Keys,
He was trembling in the arms and weak in the knees.
While Shine was a'swimming, the ocean grew dark,
And he bumped right into a great, big shark,
A biiigggg black one.
The shark he was purty, with pearly white teeth,
He said, "Come over here, Shine, I'm a make you my meat.
You sure look good, swimming in my sea,
Gon' make a right mighty fine meal for me.
I ain't got no chilrens and I don't have a wife,
But one thing I got is your no-swimming life.
I'm a take you and eat you and swallow you whole,
Make you cuss the very day your mammy borned your soul.
I'm big and I'm strong, I takes what I like,
I done robbed Robin Givens and beat up Mike.
Yeah, Mr. Shine, Mack the Knife is sweet,
I can outswim a wave, and I like dark meat.
I rules all the waters, I'm King o'the sea,
Ain't ne'er whale or minnow can get past me.
All the fishes in the water gets outta my way,
From the Rock o'Gibraltar to Barataria Bay.
Ran into a whale, he thought he was slick,
Lil' minnow told me his name was Moby-Dick.
When I tore my teeth into that little ole whale,
I had to hang out a sign saying [high-pitched voice], `Blubber for sale.'
I done wrote with Alex Haley and dunked with Kareem,
Hung with I. W. Harper, got drunk with Jim Beam.
I done ate up the bones o'Gunga Din,
Got Cap'n Bligh's blood on my chinnie, chin, chin.
I done ate up some pirate when they walked the plank,
I done lied with Nixon and sang with Frank.
I done ate German subs and planes full o'people,
Ate the rock from the Hudson and the bell from the steeple.
I done ate up the quail that was hiding in the bush,
Took your grandma to the mountain and gave her a push.
I'm a meeaann shark.
I done ate up Sally, I done ate up Sue,
Start choking, quit stroking, I'm a eat up you!"

Shine said, "Mr. Shark, I'm a tell you, and it ain't no lie,
I taught the Signifying Monkey how to signify.
I done taught Hank Aaron how to hit the ball,
I showed Barbie's mammy how to make a doll.
That ain't really nothing, cause I tell you what,
I done showed Big Bertha how to do the butt.
You might rule the water from London to Selma,
But you ain't no badder than J. J. and Thelma.
My daddy's a poet, my mama's a singer,
I got a uncle out West who's a baaadd gunslinger,
Kilt three white men and lived, he did.
If you wants you some bones and some flesh to tear,
There's a cap'n and a banker and his daughter out there.
If you might chance to think you can catch this man,
You might as well be a tuna in a tunafish can.
Who you out here call yo'self trying to warn?
All you sayin' ain't but talk behind the barn.
You mighta ate a lotta pirates when they walked the plank,
But I likes shark meat, don't you see my shank?
I like red, silky shirts, I done paid my dues,
I like black Cadillacs and shark-skin shoes.
You might rule the ocean, reign over the sea,
But you gotta grow new fins to outswim me.

And Shine swam on.
The Titanic sank and a lotta folk died,
Grandmamas was weepin' and little babies cried.
When the news hit shore about the Titanic that night,
Shine was in New Orleans, high as a kite!
He played him some music with Satcha-moe,
Went to a cemetery party with Marie Laveau.
He was the slickest and the quickest,
He was fine like wine.
He was wicked in the picket, my man, Shine.

They thought Shine was dead, somewhere down afar,
But Shine was in New Orleans,
Hankin' and a pankin'
Glidin' and a slidin'
Honkin' and a tonkin'
Dreamin' and a schemin'
Smackin' and a mackin'
Smokin' and a jokin'
Bammin' and a jammin'
Jumpin' and a bumpin'
Winkin' and a blinkin'
Coolin' and a schoolin'
Juicin' and a goosin'
Hangin' and a bangin'
Skinnin' and a grinnin'
Rappin' and a yappin'
Buggin' and a huggin'
Gigglin' and a wigglin'
Hobbin' and a knobbin'
Peepin' and a creepin'
Maxin' and relaxin'
Funkin' and a junkin'
Chillin' and a illin'
In the neighborhood bar.
Yeah, yeah, in the neighborhood bar--Shine.


"Notes to the Teacher: African-American toasts, discussed briefly in the introduction to this book, are most often performed in all-male, adult settings. Arthur Pfister changed his normal version of "Shine and the Titanic" to make it more suitable for a live festival audience. The text printed here is the version that Pfister himself wrote down for that live performance. F696. Marvelous swimmer.

Though focused on a major historical event, this rhymed narrative stretches the notion of historical legend almost past its limits. After the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, legends sprang up concerning the celebrated African-American boxing champion Jack Johnson: the story went that Johnson had not been allowed to board the segregated ocean liner and thus his life was spared. The relationship of Johnson to Shine, the hero of this toast, is unclear, but most toast singers now regard Shine as an imaginary and not a historical figure. Roger Abrahams (1970, 120-29) documents verses related to this toast as early as 1918 and presents evidence that related rhymes centered around other African-American heroes were in circulation before the sinking of the Titanic. Saxon et al. (1945, 373-74) present parts of a similar toast collected in New Orleans in the 1930s."

22 Dec 06 - 05:30 PM (#1917038)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Joy, I've been wondering why these long rhyming narratives that feature Shine or other characters are called "toasts". Your post motivated me to look up the meaning of the word "toast".

Here's what is given on

toast [ tôst ]

noun (plural toasts)


1. bread browned with heat: sliced bread that has been browned on both sides with heat, in a toaster, under a grill, or in front of an open fire

2. call to honor somebody or something: a call to a gathering to honor somebody or something by raising glasses and drinking

3. raising of glasses to honor somebody: an act of raising a glass and drinking in honor of somebody or something

4. somebody or something honored: somebody or something honored by a toast

5. somebody admired: somebody who is the object of much attention or admiration
the toast of Hollywood

verb (past and past participle toast·ed, present participle toast·ing, 3rd person present singular toasts)


1. transitive and intransitive verb heat and brown bread: to heat and brown bread or other food on a grill, in a toaster or in front of an open fire, or become browned in this way

2. transitive verb warm body: to warm the body or a part of the body near a source of heat

3. transitive and intransitive verb drink in honor of somebody: to drink or propose a drink in honor of somebody or something

[14th century. Via Old French toster "roast" < Latin tost-, past participle of torrere "scorch"]


The 5th definition seems to fit the meaning of the word as it pertains to these particular forms of African American rhymes
while the 4th definition seems to fit the meaning of the much shorter {usually unrhymed?} statements that are given at festive occasions such as weddings or anniversaries.

That said, Joybell, I like your idea for a thread on toasts and autograph sayings/poems. I think such a thread would be very interesting, and it certainly fits into the broad parameters of folk culture.

Go for it!

22 Dec 06 - 06:44 PM (#1917076)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi


Lemme try that again...

Here's the definition of toast that is given on


Also, here's some information that I found for Arthur Pfister from a 2006 writers workshop:
"Arthur Pfister {New Orleans}a former Writer-in-Residence at Texas Southern University, has had his works appear in such diverse publications as The American Poetry Review, The Minnesota Review, and The New Orleans Tribune. Presently, he is professor of English at Southern University at New Orleans living in Connecticut due to Hurricane Katrina".


I'm curious when Pfister first composed this version of Shine & The Titanic. Certain cultural references in Pfister's version of can be used to date it. For example, this version couldn't have been composed before Nixon's Impeachment in 1974. Also, this version of Shine & The Titanic couldn't have been composed before the television program 1974-1979 Good Times [the line that references JJ and Thelma, characters on that show]. And this version couldn't have been composed before author Alex Haley popularity [probably as a result of the 1977 tv series Roots].

If I had to guess, just from these three references, I'd date this version as being from the late 1970s.

Pfister's version of Shine & The Titanic has numerous historical and contemporary mainstream American and "in group" references. Among the "in group" {African American references but specifically Louisiana African American} are "I'll be sittin' with my baby just a listenin' to the Train" [Train=Jazz great John Coltrane ] and "You can be Tarzan and Rambo and Jungle Jim/But that's one iceberg that sure ain't slim [a referent to Iceberg Slim]. The lines "Going to wear orange and gold and purple and green/Go runnin' with the Injuns] refer to New Orlean Mardi Gras colors and the Mardi Gras Indians. The line "You might like Chaka, you might like Rufus" refers to the R&B vocalist Chaka Khan and Rufus . And the line "Even Leon Spinks know you lying through your toofus." is refers to heavy weight boxing champion Leon Spinks who wasn't known for his intelligence.

And there's more references than this in Arthur Pfister's version of Shine & The Titanic.

Kudos to Mr. Pfister!

23 Dec 06 - 04:55 PM (#1917690)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: SharonA

"Mister Shine -- him diamond!"

from the Terry Pratchett novel Thud!

...which seems irrelevant but the thread title put me in mind of that book. I suspect that the history of the Shine character, as described here, probably influenced Pratchett in the creation of his Mister Shine character.

24 Dec 06 - 03:00 PM (#1918268)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: kendall

When I was in the service back in the 50s, I seldom heard the word "nigger" but the boys from down south used to call blacks "shine".

Seems to me that Jimmy Rodgers sang the Muleskinner Blues...good morning Captain, good morning to you Shine, Do you need another muleskinner down on your new mud line...etc.

24 Dec 06 - 03:41 PM (#1918302)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Scrump

So you don't want your old lobby washed down then, Azizi? :-)

24 Dec 06 - 05:00 PM (#1918342)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

Well, Scrump, it depends on who's doin the shinin.

And btw, when you say "old", smile!

24 Dec 06 - 06:16 PM (#1918396)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: The Vulgar Boatman

SharonA - almost certainly since Mister Shine was the revered elder-figure of the trolls, the despised and discriminated against in Pratchett's discworld.

Him who mountain crush him no
Him who sun him stop him no
Him who hammer him break him no
Him who fire him fear him no
Him who raise him head above him heart
Him diamond

Just shows how far Pratchett's research wanders.
Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful new year to you and yours.

27 Nov 11 - 02:08 PM (#3264335)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Azizi

My thanks to whoever posted a comment earlier today to this thread. I happened to be visiting this forum and read that comment which- If recollection is correct- was "That's interesting".

Here's a link to a YouTube video of Rudy Ray Moore's version of the African American toast "Shine" which was included in the 1975 American movie Dolemite

Toast "Shine and the Titanic", from Dolemite (USA 1975)

This rendition of "Shine and the Titanic" includes a considerable amount of profanity, but (or therefore) it's much more true to the street roots of that toast than the other versions of "Shine" that are found on this page. Furthermore, that film clip shows the storytelling/rap/spoken word way that African American toasts were delivered and how listeners' reacted to those toasts.


Here's some information about that film from

"Dolemite is a 1975 blaxploitation feature film, and is also the name of its principal character, played by Rudy Ray Moore, who co-wrote the film and its soundtrack. Moore, who started his career as a stand-up comedian in the late 1960s, heard around that time a rhymed toast by a local homeless man about an urban hero named Dolemite, and decided to adopt the persona of Dolemite as an alter-ego in his act."

27 Nov 11 - 09:18 PM (#3264466)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: GUEST,Q as guest

Haven't reset my cookie yet.

The introduction to "That's Why They Call Me Shine" (full title) is often left out- but it is a necessary part of the song.

"When I was born they christened me plain Samuel Johnson Brown
But I hadn't grown so very big, 'fore some folks in this town
Had changed it round to "Sambo"; I was "Rastus" to a few
Then "Chocolate Drop" was added by some others that I knew
And then to cap the climax, I was strolling down the line
When someone shouted, "Fellas, hey! Come on and pipe the shine!"
But I don't care a bit. Here's how I figure it:

Well, just because my hair is curly
And just because my teeth are pearly,

Ry Cooder (album, "Jazz") is one of the few who included this verse, which is necessary to the understanding of the song.


27 Nov 11 - 10:22 PM (#3264500)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Sheet music at

A site with 19th and 20th Century Sheet Music of Negro Themes.

"That's Why They Call Me Shine" was first sung by Aida Overton Walker in "His Honor the Barber," musical play by S. H. Dudley.

28 Feb 21 - 07:12 PM (#4095399)
Subject: RE: Folklore: Who's this 'Shine' guy?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott

"Well you can't do me like you do po' Shine
You take Shine's money, but you can't take mine"

was collected by Howard Odum by 1908. So it wasn't somehow inspired by the song Cecil Mack cowrote in 1910, if anyone was thinking that.