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Author Topic: Moses "Red Hot Old Man Mose" Mason-"Molly Man"  (Read 795 times)

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Online Johnm

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Moses "Red Hot Old Man Mose" Mason-"Molly Man"
« on: June 07, 2015, 11:27:23 AM »
Hi all,
Moses Mason's "Molly Man", which he recorded under the name "Red Hot Old Man Mose", has gained a reputation among fans of this music as one of the most unlikely commercial recordings ever made.  It is essentially the cries and little song come-on of a hot tamale vendor, and the title on the record is a misapprehension of "'Male Man", or Tamale Man with the first syllable of tamale elided .  I had always considered the accompaniment to be an aimless sort of meandering noodling, but when I listened to the song last night for the first time in a very long time, I found that the accompaniment is perfectly coherent, a beautiful little calypso-y instrumental tune, probably played on a baritone ukulele with a low fourth string.  Having discovered that, I would also say that it is next to impossible that Mose Mason was providing his own accompaniment, for his song and spoken interjections operate altogether independently of the phrasing of the tune played by the accompanist.
Moses Mason tended toward sharpness in his singing, and on "Molly Man" and "John The Baptist", which Harry Smith included on his Anthology of American Folk Music, Moses has some real "Twilight Zone" moments with regard to his vocal pitch.  Nonetheless, I find the record really engaging and the accompaniment beautiful.  For the transcription, I have put his spoken/shouted interjections in italics.  Here  is the song:



It's hot tamale, whoo!  'Male Man!

'Male man's comin', I hear his voice
He's got hot tamales and they is my choice, red hot!

Come on, boys, and don't wait too long
All my 'males soon will be gone, red hot!

I can judge by the way you act
Somebody 'round here been had on a cotton-pickin' sack, whoo!

Feelin' little tired and shoulders gettin' sore
If you see my Lil, goin' to pick some more, red hot, whoo!  'Male Man!

Two for a nickel, four for a dime
Thirty cents a dozen and they sure eats fine, red hot, whoo!  'Male Man!

Good times are comin', don't you see the signs?
Cotton bolls, I hope you make a-many dimes, red hot, whoo!  'Male Man!

I can judge by the way you walk
You gonna carry a half a dozen off, red hot, whoo!  'Male Man!

If I holler, boys, trouble your mind
You hear the drum, run in and spend a dime, red hot, it's hot tamale!

Good times are comin', don't you see the signs?
White folks standin' 'round here spendin' a-many dimes, red hot, whoo! the 'Male Man!

'Males so hot they burn my hand
'Cause I can't hardly get 'em out of my can, red hot, whoo!  'Male Man!

Edited 6/17 to pick up correction from dj

All best,
Johnm



« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 12:13:47 PM by Johnm »

Offline dj

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Re: Moses "Red Hot Old Man Mose" Mason-"Molly Man"
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2015, 05:26:52 AM »
I think the second line of the fourth verse is "THIRTY CENTS a dozen and they sure eats fine"

Online Johnm

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Re: Moses "Red Hot Old Man Mose" Mason-"Molly Man"
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2015, 05:34:10 AM »
I think you're right, dj, and I will make the change.  Thanks for the catch!  Notice that the 'Male Man does not offer a volume discount. 
All best,
Johnm

 


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