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"Secret Language of the Blues: What The Lyrics Really Mean" by Robert Cremer

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Had a quick browse on arrival, no index listing for 11-29, however Weeny gets a very nice mention in the sources and recommended reading section.
PS Baought a copy off Amazon, listed as badly damaged spine and pages, less than 6. Received a perfect copy!

Index entry for "Eleven twenty-nine": 177, 187, 192, 389, 393, 495, 530, 607, 647. Separate index entry for "Eleven Twenty-Nine Blues": 187, 389, 393, 495.

On 389 definition for "Eleven twenty-nine: Eleven months and 29 days - the longest possible jail sentence for misdemeanors without providing inmates with additional amenities. Blacks received this jail sentence as a rule deliberately in order to avoid providing them with these amenities. It should be noted that Blacks were convicted of every conceivable misdemeanor - some totally unfounded - in order to use them as free labor on the states public works projects during their incarceration."

I. agree with you, Eric, and have heard or read this in several places. I think Cremer misses the point that when someone is sentenced to 11-29 he serves in a county jail or "farm" and his free labor is provided to the county. if the crime is one that warrants a longer term, the sentence is served at the state penitentiary, and the state benefits from the free labor. Perhaps the state pen provides the amenities that Cremer mentions, but he misses the point that Blacks would rather stay at the county farm close to family, who could provide food, and with other inmates whom they likely knew, whereas going to the state pen meant being in with some pretty hardened criminals and usually being at some distance from family. This distinction, between local jail and state pen and the relation to sentence, is referred to pretty clearly in the song Joliet Bound by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie:

"Now, the judge he pleaded, clerk, he wrote it down, mmm-mmmm
Judge he pleaded, clerk, he wrote it down
Said, if I miss jail sentence now, must be Joliet bound"

Joliet being the Illinois State pen.


Oops, iust checked the numeric entries!

The Blues Encyclopedia (edited by Edward Komara and Peter Lee) has this entry (see link below) for 11-29, including identifying its appearance in songs by Charley Patten, Furry Lewis, Leroy Carr, and a boogie woogie piano player I've never heard of before named Iromeio "Romeo" Nelson.

Romeo Nelson is the coolest! Check out his stuff.


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