Racist records

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Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:05 am

Up North, we never had Johnny Rebel or the KKK. But we had something else, in more of a gray area. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, yes? So we had black-face comedians and "coon songs." This really was considered perfectly OK at the time; it was entertaining and interesting to sample other cultures (btw--no matter what you've heard about Mamie Smith--"The Bully" really is the first recorded blues song):



Have yo' heard about dat bully dat's just come to town?
He's looking among de niggers a-layin' their bodies down.
I'm a-looking for dat bully, and he must be found.

I'm a Tennessee nigger, and I don't allow
No red-eyed river roustabout with me to raise a row.
I'm lookin' for dat bully and I'll make him bow.

Chorus: When I walk dat levee round, round, round, round,
When I walk dat levee round, round, round, round,
When I walk dat levee round, I'm lookin' for dat bully, and he must be found.

I's gwine down the street with my ax in hand,
I'm lookin' for dat bully, and I'll sweep him off dis land.
I'm lookin' for dat bully, and he must be found.

I'll take 'long my razor, I's gwine to carve him deep,
And when I see dat bully, I'll lay him down to sleep.
I'm looking for dat bully, and he must be found.(Repeat Chorus)

I went to a wingin' down at Parson Jones',
Took along my trusty blade to carve dat nigger's bones.
Just a-lookin' for dat bully to hear his groans.

I coonjined in de from door, the coons were prancin' high,
For dat levee darkey I skinned my foxy eye.
Just a-lookin' for dat bully, but he wa'n't nigh.(Chorus)

I asked Miss Pansy Blossom if she would wing a reel,
She said, "Law', Mr. Johnsing, how high you make me feel."
The you ought to see me shake my sugar heel.

I was sandin' down the Mobile Buck just to cut a shine,
Some coon across my smeller swiped a watermelon rin'.
I drew my steel dat gemmen for to fin'.

I riz up like a black cloud and took a look aroun',
There was dat new bully standin' on de ground.
I've been lookin' for you, nigger, and I've got you found.

Razors's gun flyin', niggers 'gun to squawk,
I lit upon dat bully just like a sparrow hawk,
And dat nigger was just a-dyin' to take a walk.(Chorus)

When I got through with bully, a doctor and a nurse
Weren't no good to dat nigger, so they put him in a hearse,
A cyclone couldn't have tore him up much worse.

You don't hear 'bout dat nigger dat treated folks so free,
Go down upon de levee and his face you'll never see.
Dere's only one boss bully, and dat one's me.(Chorus)

Encore

When you see me comin' hist your window high;
when you see me goin' hang your head and cry;
I'm lookin' for dat bully and he must die.

My madness keeps a-risin' and I'se not gwine to get left,
I'm gettin' so bad dat I'm askeered of myself.
I was lookin' for dat bully, now he's on de shelf.(Chorus)


Last edited by pinhedz on Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:25 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:06 am

There's a verse of Stephen Foster's "O Susannah" that you don't here any more. Of course, he wasn't talking about white people killing black people; it was an earlier version of "The Bully:"

"I jump'd aboard the telegraph and trabbled down de ribber,
De lectrick fluid magnified, and kill'd five hundred Nigga."

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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:08 am

Stan54 wrote:

On his 1978 album Jazz, Ry Cooder performed the song "That's Why They Call Me Shine" in a "52nd Street" small band setting, with the introductory verse that explains what the song is all about. He noted that it had been written in 1910 near the end of the "Coon song era", and described it as a unique comment on the black face sensibilities of that genre.

INTRODUCTION:

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
Just because I always wear a smile
Likes to dress up in the latest style*
Just because I'm glad I'm livin'
Takes trouble smilin', never whine
Just because my color's shaded slightly different
Maybe That's why they call me shine

It seems to me that context is hugely important in this stuff. On the one hand it is impossible to argue that there's no racism in the song, while on the other nobody would think Cooder a racist for his version.

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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:09 am

Pinhedz wrote:

"Shine" (like "Carry Me Back To Old Virginny") is the work of a black composer and a black lyricist, published by one of the earliest black-owned publishing companies (all of which might give Ry Cooder a rhetorical advantage).

To me, the subtler question would be: was May Irwin racist? W.C. Handy claims he heard the Bully song sung by black stevedores in St. Louis several years before it was published by a white tin-pan alley songwriter. Handy also says that the success of the published Bully song inspired him to adapt folk material to make a popular hit--"St. Louis Blues."

I suspect that the white performers who sang coon songs in black face thought they were doing it out of affection for the "darkies," and considered what they were doing to be no different from singing Irish songs with a fake Irish accent (which May Irwin also did).

Sometimes the question becomes not "Are your racist?" but instead "How are you racist?"

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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:10 am

Stan54 wrote:

It is difficult to fathom some attitudes. When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson he sent him to the Dodgers farm club in Montreal thinking that the racial tensions in Canada, or lack thereof, would make the transition easier.

The manager of the farm team was a fellow from Mississippi and when he was told about Robinson's arrival he wrote a very heartfelt letter to Rickey in which he asked, and with a very real sincerity, "Mister Rickey, do you really believe a nigger is a human being?"

There's a sense in which a benign racism is worse than the virilent kind, but not if you're faced with a choice between a well-intentioned minstrel singer and a bunch of guys in sheets carrying torches.

When Willie Mays, who, for my money, is the greatest baseball player of all time, was at his peak he had many white fans and they would describe with affection and awe his "natural abilities" and completely miss that a very large part of May's success was the hours each day he spent studying all opposing teams to where he knew what the other team's manager would do in any given situation and what each pitcher would do in every situation. The fact that people believed him to be a talented primitive is what made it unthinkable in his day that he would be hired to manage a team after his playing career ended. Mays would have been and exceptional manager.

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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:12 am

Pinhedz wrote:
Stan54 wrote:There's a sense in which a benign racism is worse than the virilent kind, ...
I don't know what sense that would be; I bet most minorities would prefer the benign kind.

But was May Irwin really a "benign racist?" Or was she just the Ry Cooder of her era?

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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:13 am

Pinhedz wrote:

Fiddlin' john Carson recorded some real winners--"Run Nigger Run," "Flat-Footed Nigger," and "Little Mary Phagan" (with his 12-year-old daughter singing the vocal).

He also did "Bully of the Town" as an instrumental. The Holy Modal Rounders closely copied his fiddlin' on their own version of "Bully," but they deleted the "n" word from the vocal.


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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:05 am

Here's the original racist-records thread, as launched by LongJohn:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:GfQHPPU6S9kJ:acrosstheuniverse.forumotion.com/t148-racist-records+acrosstheuniverse.forumotion.com+racist+records&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a&source=www.google.com

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Re: Racist records

Post  Old Mack on Sun Jul 31, 2011 3:30 pm

A rat done bit my sister Nell. (with Whitey on the moon)

Her face and arms began to swell. (and Whitey's on the moon)

I can't pay no doctor bill. (but Whitey's on the moon)

Ten years from now I'll be payin' still. (while Whitey's on the moon)

The man jus' upped my rent las' night. ('cause Whitey's on the moon)

No hot water, no toilets, no lights. (but Whitey's on the moon)

I wonder why he's uppi' me? ('cause Whitey's on the moon?)

I wuz already payin' 'im fifty a week. (with Whitey on the moon)

Taxes takin' my whole damn check, junkies makin' me a nervous wreck, the price of food is goin' up,

An' as if all that shit wuzn't enough:

A rat done bit my sister Nell. (with Whitey on the moon)

Her face an' arm began to swell. (but Whitey's on the moon)

Was all that money I made las' year (for Whitey on the moon?)

How come there ain't no money here? (Hmm! Whitey's on the moon)

Y'know I jus' 'bout had my fill (of Whitey on the moon)

I think I'll sen' these doctor bills, Airmail special. (to Whitey on the moon)


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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:00 am

Ernest Hogan was a black composer who wrote ragtime music before Scot Joplin.



But he is not often cited as the father of ragtime, because his most famous work (which made him rich) was a song with a title that became a catch phrase "All Coons Look Alike to Me."

It's a song about a woman trying to justify her cheatin' on her man.

Shortly before his death in 1919 (the song was published in 1996), Hogan had this to say about the song:

"(That) song caused a lot of trouble in and out of show business, but it was also good for show business because at the time money was short in all walks of life. With the publication of that song, a new musical rhythm was given to the people. Its popularity grew and it sold like wildfire... That one song opened the way for a lot of colored and white songwriters. Finding the rhythm so great, they stuck to it ... and now you get hit songs without the word 'coon.' Ragtime was the rhythm played in backrooms and cafes and such places. The ragtime players were the boys who played just by ear their own creations of music which would have been lost to the world if I had not put it on paper."

Here are the lyrics:

Verse 1.

Talk about a coon a having trouble
I thing I have enough of ma own
Its all about ma Lucy Janey Stubbles
And she has caused my heart to mourn
Thar's anotherer coon barber from Virginia
In soei'ty he's the leader of the day
And now ma honey gal is gwine to quit me
Yes she’s gone and drove this coon away
She'd no excuse, To turn me loose,
I've been abused, I'm all confused
Cause these words she did say

Chorus:

All coons like alike to me
I’ve got another beau, you see,
And he’s just as good to me
As you, nig! ever tried to be,
He spends his money free

Verse 2.

Never said a word to hurt her feelings
always bou't her presents by the score
And now my brain with sorrow am a reeling
Cause she won't accept them any more
If I treated her she may have loved me,
Like all the rest she's gone and let me down
If I'm luck-y I'm a gwine to catch my policy
And win my sweet thing way from town
For I'm worried, Yes I'm desp'rate
I've been Jonahed, And I'll get dang'rous

Repeat Chorus


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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:09 am

The audio for that one is not great (it probably sounds better as a piano solo):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=8lTvRKXNe7s

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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:12 am

This one isn't really racist (except fore the bad word)--it's the first ever recording by a black performer:


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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:58 pm

"Comments are disabled for this video" bounce afro

 

 

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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:01 am

"Rub diddle ub dub, that's how she kicks it off
Rub diddle ub dub, she keeps it nice and soft
Rub diddle ub dub, till someone hollers
'Aw, rub me mama, with a Boogie beat!' " Suspect 

The Andrews Sisters recorded this song in 1940, and Walter Lantz Studios (creator of Woody Woodpecker) made the cartoon in 1941.

It was reissued in 1948 and the NAACP protested. Walter Lantz felt bad about it, and mothballed it for all time:


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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Mon Feb 02, 2015 1:36 pm

This one is a very nice song, if you don't listen too close:





And it was actually first sung by W.C. Handy's daughter:




^
Many black performers sang that song--and they seemed to really like it.

Maybe they liked it because it was about how Harlemites are so much cooler than southern plantation workers. Suspect

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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:06 am

^
The only performer that can sing "Underneath The Harlem Moon" nowadays is Randy Newman, because everybody knows he's always being ironic.

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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Tue Nov 08, 2016 1:09 pm

^
Correction--Rhiannon Giddens now sings "Underneath the Harlem Moon." Shocked

Not only that, she sings this other May Irwin classic:




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Re: Racist records

Post  pinhedz on Wed Nov 09, 2016 10:01 am

Here's a surprise--the youtube uploader transcribed a bad word from May Irwin's record, but Rhiannon sings "the NEIGHBORS all say dat he'd gone to ... well."

Turns out Rhiannon was singing the original sheet music version:


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