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All music is folk music, 'cause we're all folks - Louis Armstrong

Author Topic: Pink Anderson - High Yellow  (Read 7383 times)

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Offline a2tom

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  • stickman's got 'em
Re: Pink Anderson - High Yellow
« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2005, 06:34:26 AM »
Thanks John, great thread.? I'm sure there is a lot lurking in Weenine land I don't have time to go back and reread, so I appreciate a repost of the "classics".? Since this is new to me, I can't help but add a few thoughts.? No need to respond if this is a too-worn thread for y'all - thought provoking writing this, so I thought I post it.

How coud anyone who plays the CB not almost immediately come to the question "how/can/should I sing that?".? Be it racial, misogynistic, ribald, anachronistic, or simply foreign.? The thread mostly addresses non-PC lyrics, but the ideas can easily extend to something as simple as "Take this hammer and carry it to the captain" - I mean, what the heck do I know about hard labor, the railroad, or relationship to a "boss"??? I ought to sing the Day Care Blues - now that I have personal insight into.

I started making a list of ways one might sing words that are not "you:"

historical re-creation
playacting (the constant role of a performer)
cartoon (extreme form of playacting)
narrator (emotionally removed: these aren't my words, I'm just the messenger)
metaphor (e.g. expressing personal thoughts/emotions with foreign but powerful words)
disinterested (who cares what the words mean, they just sound good)
wishful (hoping your audience won't understand what they mean any more than you used to)
blissfully ignorant

Depending on where I felt I was falling on that range I could sing potentially anything - even the blatantly offensive or grossly foreign -? to needing to be more selective/revisionist/personalizing of old words.? It would also greatly affect how much I felt compelled to explain it to my audience.? I must say though that in general if I have to explain it, it will end up coming across worse then if I just let it speak for itself.? That said, I don't think I could ever perform "you keep your yellow, I like 'em black and brown", or a number of other things, convincingly.? Just too foregin, even as a metaphor.?

BTW, I would add that if you are going to sing it, I think it is a good idea to understand it.? I've made a few gaffs in not totally "getting" certain euphimisms.? Nothing will come across worse than singing "high yellow" in a way that made it clear that you didn't understand the racial implication.? Thank god for places like WC so us middle-aged white guys can air these things out!

In the end it is a moot point for me - the Back Porch is the only place I ever get to perform!? But hey, that's an international audience, Mom...


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