Deep Down in the Jungle redux

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 23 03:38:24 UTC 2006


I've long known that the blues could be traced back to folksongs, but I had
no idea that it could be done with R&B! Very interesting.

-Wilson

On 5/22/06, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Deep Down in the Jungle redux
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> It is a helluva CD, and everybody should own a copy.  As I do.
>
>   JL
>
> Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
>   ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Laurence Horn
> Subject: Re: Deep Down in the Jungle redux
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> At 7:50 PM -0400 5/21/06, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
> >On 5/21/06, Laurence Horn wrote:
> >>
> >>At 12:26 AM -0400 5/21/06, Wilson Gray wrote:
> >>>I believe Sister Sookie done lost her mind
> >>>She wears a pair of shoes of the strangest kind
> >>>With the heels in front and the heels behind
> >>>I couldn't tell _whether_ she was coming or gwine
> >>>
> >>A variant of that last couplet occurs in "Long John", recorded by
> >>those "musical miscreants" (so described on their remastered 1999 CD
> >>release) the Holy Modal Rounders in December 1963:
> >>
> >>Now Long John made him
> >>A pair of shoes
> >>They were the funniest shoes
> >>That you ever could see.
> >>They had a heel in front
> >>And a heel behind,
> >>You could never tell where
> >>Long John was gwine
> >
> >>From _A Treasury of Afro-American Folklore_ by Harold Courlander
> >(1976, 1996), pp. 407-8:
> >
> >-----
> >http://books.google.com/books?id=hCDI5Md1WpUC&q=lost-john
> >
> >One of the classic prison camp work songs, "Lost John," tells of an
> >escaped prisoner who outwitted his pursuers by placing an extra heel
> >on the front of each shoe. When his footprints were discovered, it was
> >impossible to tell the direction of his flight. (As sung by a work
> >gang, each line delivered by the singing leader was repeated by the
> >chorus.)
> >
> >One day, one day
> >I were walking along
> >And I heard a little voice
> >Didn't see no one
> >It was old Lost John,
> >He said he was long gone
> >Like a turkey through the corn
> >With his long clothes on.
> >Had a heel in front
> >And a heel behind
> >Well you couldn't hardly tell
> >Well you couldn't hardly tell
> >Whichaway he was goin'.
> >Whichaway he was goin'.
> >One day, one dya,
> >Well I heard him say
> >Be on my way
> >Be on my way
> >'Fore the break of day
> >By the break of day,
> >Got a heel in front,
> >Got a heel behind,
> >Well you can't hardly tell
> >Well you can't hardly tell
> >Whichaway I'm goin'.
> >[etc.]
> >-----
>
> Very interesting. The H. M. Rounders, who were sort of cousins of
> the (Village) Fugs in the 60's, clearly have a less serious take on
> the situation. Their Long John is something of an oddball who is not
> on the lam, but in many ways he is a close relative of the original
> Lost John above. As we learn from the HMRs chorus:
>
> Long John,
> You know he's long gone
> With his long pajamas on
> Like a turkey through the corn
> He's long gone, long gone.
>
> But then matters deteriorate...
>
> Long John got him
> A bumbershoot
> It was the bumberest shoot
> That you ever could see
> With a bumber in front
> And a shoot behind
> You could never tell where
> Long John was gwine
> etc.
>
> LH
>
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