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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: Ignatznochops on December 19, 2004, 10:58:07 PM

Title: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Ignatznochops on December 19, 2004, 10:58:07 PM
In order to take a break from the (for me) tortuous process of trying to learn a few more Bo Carter tunes, I decided to look into the origin of some of the arcane terms that come up in his songs and others of the period. One such term was Jellybean, which shows up at least once in his repertoire, in Who's Been Here. For all those interested, here's what I found:

A Jelly bean or Jellybean was a young man who made great effort to dress very stylishly (usually to attract women) but had little else to recommend him; similar to the older terms dandy and fop and the slightly later drugstore cowboy. However, the word was also used as a synonym for pimp.

Now, according to the tune he must have been a jellybean because he "had his long shoes on". Any ideas what long shoes were?

I'd be interested in hearing about other now obscure references that show up in tunes from this period.

Joe
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Slack on December 20, 2004, 08:26:38 AM
Quote
Any ideas what long shoes were?

Hi Joe, I'm not sure why I think this - so I might be making it up.  :)  But I think long shoes were dress shoes with pointy toes (which made the shoes longer than your foot.)

cheers,
slack
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: boots on December 20, 2004, 09:16:45 AM
 
Quote

Hi Joe, I'm not sure why I think this - so I might be making it up.  :)  But I think long shoes were dress shoes with pointy toes (which made the shoes longer than your foot.)

cheers,
slack
Quote

That gets my vote, although likewise with no corroboration.

Boots
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Ignatznochops on December 20, 2004, 10:06:33 AM
Sounds reasonable to me. Here's another one - if you "get sloppy drunk on a bottle 'a bond", what's "bond"? Would this be legal liquor vs. moonshine?
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Montgomery on December 20, 2004, 10:12:17 AM
According to the Patton box set:
"'Bottled In Bond' indicates liquor packaged under government supervision, a procedure that was suspended during the Prohibition years."  Stephen Calt says basically the same thing in his book on Patton.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Johnm on December 20, 2004, 10:21:27 AM
Hi,
I don't know if it pertains here, but bonded whiskey is also whiskey that exceeds 100 proof (50% alcohol), like Wild Turkey, which is 107 proof.  A lot of the bourbons have versions which are not bonded and "special reserve" versions which are stronger, bonded, more expensive, and taste better (all those things).
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: uncle bud on December 20, 2004, 11:25:26 AM
According to the Patton box set:
"'Bottled In Bond' indicates liquor packaged under government supervision, a procedure that was suspended during the Prohibition years."  Stephen Calt says basically the same thing in his book on Patton.

The Calt/Wardlow book on Patton also has a glossary at the back.

There is a short glossary at Harry's Blues Lyrics site: http://blueslyrics.tripod.com/blueslanguage.htm#top

Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Ignatznochops on January 06, 2005, 01:11:17 AM
Here's another mystery: Jim Jackson sang in "This Morning She Was Gone" about his departed significant other being partial to dancing that "grizzly bear". Having spent a lot of time in Montana, the only dance that I can think of associated with grizzlies would be the one where you drop to the ground in the fetal position and try your best to cover the back of your head.

Clearly he was talking about something else...

Any ideas?

Joe
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: frankie on January 06, 2005, 02:32:59 AM
Google is your pal.

Grizzly Bear (http://www.streetswing.com/histmain/z3grzber.htm)
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: thehook on January 06, 2005, 02:37:22 AM
Hi,
I don't know if it pertains here, but bonded whiskey is also whiskey that exceeds 100 proof (50% alcohol), like Wild Turkey, which is 107 proof.  A lot of the bourbons have versions which are not bonded and "special reserve" versions which are stronger, bonded, more expensive, and taste better (all those things).
All best,
Johnm
don't mean to jack the topic, but I heard somewhere that there were few differences between bourbon and whiskey. But differences nonetheless including but not limited to : Left to sit in different kind of barrels can't remember which specifically, different termperatures, different ammounts of time used and the oddest bourbon can only offically be liscend in kentucky. Any truth to any of this?
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: GhostRider on January 06, 2005, 08:37:18 AM
JohnH:

I have always assumed that whiskey is a generic term for distilled, grain based spirits. Here in Canada whiskey is rye based, in America whiskey is corn-based (bourbon) and in Scotland barley-based (scotch).

I'm a rye man myself. I find bourbon too sweet for my taste and most scotches too peaty (swampy).

I also like normal Canadian beer (Blue). I've been called a Philistine.

Good liquor gonna carry me down,
Alex

Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: ryan on February 06, 2005, 01:42:00 AM
I thought for some this might be fun to have a glossary for slang terms of the blues.
take care,
Ryan

Back Door Man - A clandestine lover who must sneak out the back door as the as the husband/wife comes in the front door.

Balling the Jack - A railroad work term that quickly became a metaphor for lovemaking. It was also the name of a popular dance step in the 1940's.

Barrelhouse - A common nightclub (see juke joint). Probably named after barrels of beer needed to fuel proceedings.

Beale Street - A Blues hotspot in Memphis, Tennessee.  The area has been revived and is once again a thriving party scene.

Black Cat Bone - A mystical charm that is actually a bone from a black cat that has been ritually processed. Carried for good luck.

Blues - Musical form that came from rural African-American experience. Using flatted and bending notes in the common music scale, an ultra-emotional sound developed.

Boll Weevil - An insect that eats cotton. This pest was responsible for crop failures that plagued the South.

Boogie-Woogie - A Blues style most associated with the piano. From the ragtime and stride piano traditions of New Orleans and Kansas City, it evolved into a very Texas musical form.

Bourbon Street - Traditional party street in New Orleans, Louisiana. Famed for music and decadence.

Canned Heat - Sterno. Jellied alcohol that could heat your food or get you very drunk.

Captain - The big boss. The plantation owner or prison guard.

C.C. Rider - A prostitute's boyfriend or anyone who gets a free ride in exchange for sex.

Chicken Shack - A food establishment where a party could also be found.

Creeper - A clandestine lover who sneaks around town. The Midnight Creeper.

Delta - Fertile flat land in western Mississippi that was the heart of the slavery and cotton eras.

Dozens - An insult game usually about your mother.

Dust My Broom - Break up with a lover. Start an new life by cleaning out the old.

Eagle Rock - Popular dance from the 1920's

Flag a Ride - Hitchhike or jump a passing freight train.

Gandy Dancers - Railroad workers who straightened track to a call and response work song.

Gris-Gris - A magical spell or voodoo technique.

Hands - A collection of voodoo charms worn or carried for protection and luck.

Harp - A harmonica. Also known as the Georgia Saxophone.

Highway 51 - Highway runs north and south through the Mississippi Delta. It was the main route of the migration to Chicago.

Hobo - A homeless person who jumps on freight trains to travel the counrty. The source of some real Blues.

Honeydripper - A superlover. The one you love or hope to love.

Hoochie Coochie Man - A man obsessed with booze (hootch) and women (cootch).

HooDoo - A mix of African spirituality, Voodoo, and Christianity. Folk magic of the rural South.

House Party - Musical parties in an apartment or house instead of a club or juke

JellyRoll - A metaphor for the female genitalia.

Jinx - The bearer of bad luck. A mojo hand would be worn for protection from a jinx.

Jitterbug - A popular dance of the 1940's.

Jive - Bogus, false, or untrue. B.B. King sings "My momma says she loves me, but she could be jivin' too".

Johnny Conqueroo - A woody tuber related to the sweet potato used in a mojo hand.

Jug Band - A band using common items like a jug, washboard, or kazoos to play music.

Juju - African musical genre and another term for a mojo hand.

Juke Joint - A bar or club in the rural South. Sometimes just known as "jukes".

Killing Floor - The room where cows are slaughtered

Mojo - A magical spell or item. Someone could put some bad mojo on you or you could carry a mojo hand to ward off these evil intents.

Monkey - An addiction or addict. As in "monkey on my back".

Moonshine - Home made liquor usually distilled from corn.

Parchman Farm - Famous Mississippi prison that inspired the deepest Blues.

Piedmont Blues - Blues music that came from the East Coast and Appalachian Mountains.

Ramblin' - Blues music that came from the East Coast and Appalachian Mountains.

Rent Party - Musical parties in an apartment where admission was used to cover the rent.

Ride the Blinds - Riding a freight train.

Roadhouse - A juke joint or honky tonk next to a highway.

Root Doctor - Person versed in magical cures from plants.

Rounder - A real party animal and womanizer.

Sharecropping - Paying rent on your farm by giving most of the yearly crop to the farm owner. After the Civil War, this effectively kept African-Americans from economic advancement.

Slide - A guitar style that uses a glass or metal tube to slide on the strings, creating variable pitches.

Smokestack Lightin' - A mule fart. Some may say it describes a steam train in the night.

Stagger Lee - Criminal Folk hero who defined the "baddest of the bad".

VooDoo - Folk mysticism from the Caribean.

Yea You Right - New Orleans' answer to every question.

Wang Dang Doodle - A big party.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: boots on February 06, 2005, 07:27:23 AM
Cheers Ryan very useful, fills in a few gaps in my knowledge.
However it needs editing again as a small section gets repeated.

Boots
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: ryan on February 06, 2005, 12:37:46 PM
I just edited the section you mentioned .  thanks Boots for mentioning that sorry as I posted around 2:00 in the morning and I was a wee bit drowsy.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Wailing Wolf on February 06, 2005, 02:31:37 PM
Hi Rleaf, great idea.  Looks like the right time for a question from Britland, where the banter is somewhat different and not all blues terms are readily understood.  There's an acronym somewhere on these pages I'll have to query if I can ever find it again but in the meantime:-

have recently watched the film "Gettysburg" during which a runaway slave was referred to by Union officers as a "John Henry".  Is this authentic? And if so, does this have any relevance to the recurrence of "John Henry" references/titles in country blues?  Or was he a single, legendary/real character? ???

Wolf
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: whigski3 on February 06, 2005, 05:59:56 PM
have recently watched the film "Gettysburg" during which a runaway slave was referred to by Union officers as a "John Henry".  Is this authentic? And if so, does this have any relevance to the recurrence of "John Henry" references/titles in country blues?  Or was he a single, legendary/real character? ???
Wolf


A book I am reading (The Civil War Chronicle) mentions that runaway slaves were referred to by the Union officers as "contraband".  Of course, this predates country blues (I think).  Sorry, can't help with the John Henry term.

-Bill
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: frgriggs on February 12, 2005, 08:21:00 PM
"John Henry" is a legendary American folk character, the hero of the folk song of the same name.  He was a black railroad worker who challenged a steam drill to a duel.  John Henry won, but "lay down his hammer and he died", overcome with exhaustion.  To the extent the story may have a basis in fact it's thought to have occurred at the Big Bend Tunnel in what is now West Virginia (not far from where I was born and the area where my family has been rooted for the past 230 years).

Since the "John Henry" of legend was black it's possible that the term was sometimes used as a general reference to a black man though I've never heard the name used in that way.  But in any case the Big Bend Tunnel was not built until after the Civil War.  My guess is that there was some artistic liberty taken by the filmmakers.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: uncle bud on May 25, 2010, 06:59:58 AM
This "word of the day" showed up in my inbox and I thought I'd pass it along:

shivaree \SHIV-uh-ree\, noun:

1. A mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple.
2. An elaborate, noisy celebration.

verb:
1. To serenade with a shivaree.

    I used to attend shivarees and I can remember the preparation and planning involved.
    -- "Of pigs, jokes, and marriage." Lawrence World-Journal.

    When my father got married (yes that was the 50's) his male relatives pulled a "shivaree," where they set up all kinds of surprises for the newly married couple to find on their wedding night. This included the typical short sheeting of the wedding bed, changing the content of the groom's shaving cream can, and other gags.
    -- Isaac Grant Thompson, Irving Browne, Kentucky Folklore Record.

Shivaree is an adaptation of the French word charivari, which describes an old custom that celebrates a marriage. Shivaree is centered along the Mississippi.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Stuart on May 25, 2010, 08:42:07 AM
I've actually heard shivaree used over the years. I remember hearing it in a couple of films and/or TV shows way back when. I believe that it was used in a rural and/or period context. Both the Weenie and the Mozilla  spell checkers flag it which speaks to it's current frequency of use.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Johnm on May 25, 2010, 08:58:12 AM
Hi all,
My mother has said that she and my dad were treated to a shivaree in Lawrence, Kansas, when they married there in 1944 or 1945.  Part of it involved being taken down the main street of the town in a wheelbarrow.  She described the experience as being simultaneously embarrassing and fun.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Lyle Lofgren on May 25, 2010, 06:43:16 PM
Newlyweds were also subjected to shivarees in rural Minnesota, at least up to the mid-1950s (when I moved to the city). About a week after the couple returned from their honeymoon, all the neighbors would sneak up to the house at about 11 PM or so (when farmers are always in bed) and, at a signal, all begin pounding on various unmusical things, such as plow colters, or ringing cowbells. The couple would have to get out of bed and acknowledge the tribute, and they were expected to serve everyone ice cream and/or beer (although I can't imagine preparing for such an event, and I'm glad I got married in the city).

Lyle
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Johnm on May 25, 2010, 07:57:43 PM
Hi Lyle,
I like your choice of verbs--"subjected" to a shivaree makes more sense than being "treated" to one!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: doctorpep on May 27, 2010, 01:42:39 AM
Is a "C.C. Rider" a prostitute's boyfriend? I thought that the term referred to an easy man or woman and not that person's lover. If "C.C. rider" and "easy rider" are the same, the term(s) should refer to the girl or guy who uses the innocent person for money by offering sexual services in exchange, right? Or maybe the term just refers to easy women.

Also, what about the "sissy rider" theory? I read somewhere that the term comes from World War I, when some men turned to homosexuality due to lack of women present. I can't be sure where I read this, unfortunately. I doubt it was from direct testimony by Henry Stuckey (spelling?), the man who often played with Skip James and who fought over in Europe during the war. The homosexuality reference may have been related to the Ma Rainey version of the song, as discussed on Harry's Blues Lyrics. I probably just have Stuckey's name in my head because I remember reading about him being in France during the war.

Also, is it "John the Conqueror Root" or "Johnny Conqueroo"? Finally, I've never heard the mule definition of "Smokestack Lightnin'". Has anybody?
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Bunker Hill on May 27, 2010, 03:52:23 AM
Also, is it "John the Conqueror Root" or "Johnny Conqueroo"?
Probably worth visiting Catherine Yronwode website Hodoo in Theory and Practice, she sells the Root and will probably give a detailed description of history and use.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Lyle Lofgren on May 27, 2010, 05:04:57 AM
As to "Smokestack Lightning," all I know of is what Howlin' Wolf said about it. I found this on the internet and sent it in an e-mail to Cleoma way back in 2003:

From: Ray Astbury. (RASTB...@MACOLLAMH.UCD.IE)

Subject: Smokestack Lightning

Newsgroups: bit.listserv.blues-l

Date: 1997/12/19

Some time ago there was a discussion on the list of the meaning of this term.
Last week on BBC Radio 2 Paul Jones interviewed Marshall Chess. The following
is a transcription of the relevant bit:-

PJ:  Let's talk a bit about "Smokestack Lightning".  What about that

title?

MC:  Well, I myself as a kid, I didn't know what that meant, what's

"Smokestack Lightning".  So I asked Howling Wolf.  He said to me, 'Well, when
you were young in the South,' he said, 'there wasn't any TV, there wasn't any
radio.  You just really were alone at night.  And if there was a railroad
nearby, you looked for the smokestack lightning.'  I said, 'What's that?'  He
said, 'Well, in those days the trains ran on coal.  You could lay around at
night and, if a train went by, you'd see the sparks comin' out of the chimney
of the train and we called that smokestack lightning.'

                            Ray Astbury

PS: The sparks would shoot out of the smokestack when the fireman opened the firebox door to shovel in more coal. -- Lyle
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: uncle bud on May 27, 2010, 05:16:18 AM
The Wolf quote reminds me that there was an article in the local paper here recently about local musician Stephen Barry. Barry is a bassist who's backed just about everybody who has come to town to perform blues and knows a lot of people in the business. The story mentioned rehearsing a Howling Wolf song for Barry's band and having trouble figuring out the lyrics. So Barry just called Hubert Sumlin to ask. Sumlin replied that he had no idea what the lyric was but that they should just do what Wolf always did and make it up.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Bunker Hill on May 27, 2010, 06:41:07 AM
As to "Smokestack Lightning," all I know of is what Howlin' Wolf said about it. I found this on the internet and sent it in an e-mail to Cleoma way back in 2003:

From: Ray Astbury. (RASTB...@MACOLLAMH.UCD.IE)

Subject: Smokestack Lightning

Newsgroups: bit.listserv.blues-l

Date: 1997/12/19

Some time ago there was a discussion on the list of the meaning of this term.
Last week on BBC Radio 2 Paul Jones interviewed Marshall Chess. The following
is a transcription of the relevant bit:-

PJ:  Let's talk a bit about "Smokestack Lightning".  What about that

title?

MC:  Well, I myself as a kid, I didn't know what that meant, what's

"Smokestack Lightning".  So I asked Howling Wolf.  He said to me, 'Well, when
you were young in the South,' he said, 'there wasn't any TV, there wasn't any
radio.  You just really were alone at night.  And if there was a railroad
nearby, you looked for the smokestack lightning.'  I said, 'What's that?'  He
said, 'Well, in those days the trains ran on coal.  You could lay around at
night and, if a train went by, you'd see the sparks comin' out of the chimney
of the train and we called that smokestack lightning.'

                            Ray Astbury

PS: The sparks would shoot out of the smokestack when the fireman opened the firebox door to shovel in more coal. -- Lyle
Or perhaps a subconsciously half remembered verse from a Patton 78, Moon Goin’ Down:

Lord the smokestack is black and the bell it shine like, bell it shine like, bell it shine like gold
Aw the smokestack is black and the bell it shine like gold
(spoken: Shucks boy you know it look good to me)
Lord I ain't gonna walk here, tarry 'round no more.

Or words to that effect not got the song to hand
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Parlor Picker on May 27, 2010, 07:16:59 AM
I'm with Bunker Hill on this one.

When first getting into blues music in the 1960s, I found such terms as "smokestack lightning", which I'd never heard before, really exotic, exciting language which really fired my imagination.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: jpeters609 on May 27, 2010, 07:48:35 AM
Is a "C.C. Rider" a prostitute's boyfriend? I thought that the term referred to an easy man or woman and not that person's lover. If "C.C. rider" and "easy rider" are the same, the term(s) should refer to the girl or guy who uses the innocent person for money by offering sexual services in exchange, right? Or maybe the term just refers to easy women.

Pep, check the Tags for a "C.C. Rider" discussion. It was given a pretty good once-over a while back! But I'm still of the persuasion that the easiest explanation is the best: in my opinion, "C.C. Rider" is a corruption of "see, see, rider" (as in, "See? See, rider? See what you've done?") Tommy Johnson's "Maggie Campbell" is a good example:

"Now see, see rider
See what you done, done
See what you done, done"

The repetition of "see" helps bolster this theory, me thinks. Later songs that misinterpreted the lyrics as "C.C. Rider" helped create a persona that didn't originally exist. In that sense, "C.C. Rider" is a figment of the imagination.

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/tommy_johnson/#share
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Bunker Hill on May 27, 2010, 08:05:23 AM

 But I'm still of the persuasion that the easiest explanation is the best: in my opinion, "C.C. Rider" is a corruption of "see, see, rider" (as in, "See? See, rider? See what you've done?") Tommy Johnson's "Maggie Campbell" is a good example:

"Now see, see rider
See what you done, done
See what you done, done"

The repetition of "see" helps bolster this theory, me thinks. Later songs that misinterpreted the lyrics as "C.C. Rider" helped create a persona that didn't originally exist. In that sense, "C.C. Rider" is a figment of the imagination.
It was once explained in a letter to a UK blues magazine by replacing See with Look thus:

"Now look here, look here rider
Look what you done, done
Look what you done, done"
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Johnm on June 10, 2010, 05:24:04 PM
Hi all,
All of the talk about the McGee Bros. here recently got me to thinking about an instrumental Sam played on the Folkways album, "The McGee Brothers & Arthur Smith", called "Sally Long".  I always figured it was named for a girlfriend, and then I heard the pianist Jim Clarke on his song "Fat Fanny Stomp" exhorting dancers to "sally long", which made me think it was a bygone dance step.  Does anyone know anything more about "sally long"?  I've googled and sort of struck out.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: oddenda on June 10, 2010, 07:23:28 PM
John -

          According to pianist Big Chief Ellis, it was a dance.

Peter B.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: uncle bud on June 10, 2010, 09:14:12 PM
Hi John - In Black Gypsy Blues, Furry Lewis sang:

Eagle Rock me, Baby, Sally Long me too
Eagle Rock me, Mama, Sally Long me too
Ain't nobody in town can Eagle Rock like you

Virginia Liston recorded a Sally Long Blues in 1923 or 24 (haven't heard it). According to Wikipedia, there was a Sally Long who was a dancer for the Ziegfeld Follies in the early '20s who became somewhat successful.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Long :

"Florenz Ziegfeld insured Long for $100,000 against the possibility of her falling in love or marrying when she danced for his Ziegfeld Follies in the early 1920s. After performing with the Follies, Long appeared in the New York City comedy production of Scandals. Her rising popularity secured her a role in the cast of Kid Boots. Composer Milton Ager said Long was the inspiration for his song, I Wonder What's Become of Sally."
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Bunker Hill on June 11, 2010, 01:27:18 AM
If only I could locate my copy of the late Marshall Stearns book 'Jazz Dance: The Story Of American Vernacular Dance' there's a section covering all such dance crazes, including the one under discussion. Stearns died in 1966 before completing the manuscript and his wife Jean, an authority on vernacular dance, was instrumental in helping him research the book and eventually completing it after his death. The book was published in 1968.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: uncle bud on June 11, 2010, 02:13:11 PM
Another one came up randomly in shuffle mode, which I should have remembered earlier since I'd been tinkering with the song myself recently. In "Got a Girl in Ferriday, One in Greenwood Town" Cat Iron sings:

I gonna tell you women just how to keep your man at home (2)
You got to Eagle Rock him [whilst he's Sally Long???]

I swear I hear him sing "whilst" but could be wrong.

Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: dj on June 11, 2010, 02:19:54 PM
Quote
You got to Eagle Rock him [whilst he's Sally Long

You got to Eagle Rock him whilst HE Sally Long, perhaps?  i.e. you have to Eagle Rock him while he dances the Sally Long.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: uncle bud on June 11, 2010, 02:27:39 PM
Yes, you're likely right, dj. There's a bit of an extra long S sound in there but your way obviously makes more sense.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Johnm on June 11, 2010, 06:56:07 PM
Thanks for the different citations on "sally long", Peter B., uncle bud, Bunker Hill and dj.  I knew I had heard more references to it than I could remember, and I think the Furry use of it, in particular, had given me the idea that it had a sexual connotation in addition to its meaning as a dance. . .which may be the case in any event, come to think of it!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: uncle bud on June 14, 2010, 08:43:24 AM
Further to the sexual connotation, Stephen Calt's book Barrelhouse Words (which I don't have yet but there are excerpts on Google books) uses the Furry Lewis example for the entry on "Eagle Rock":

A passé dance or arm motion associated with the age of the Turkey Trot but described by the above performer as meaning (along with Sally Long) "just good f***ing."

Nothing like clarity.  :D
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Kokomo O on June 14, 2010, 11:35:37 AM
While I love that definition of "eagle rock," and would like to be able to apply an equally salacious definition to "sally long," I think the words suggest a dance step or series of steps in which the dancer moves some distance more than a step or two, then perhaps stops and does something else, rather than being a dance, like, say, the Fox Trot or the Lindy Hop. Just an inference from the words themselves.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: uncle bud on June 15, 2010, 07:27:57 AM
Yes, however for Furry it had clearly evolved to mean more than a dance step.  :) Curiosity got the better of me and I went and listened to Virginia Liston's Sally Long Blues, as well as Sara Martin's Eagle Rock Me, Papa. To varying degrees, I'd say these two would agree with Furry.

Liston recorded Sally Long Blues twice, on September 21,1923, and November 15, 1923. You can hear the latter version at www.redhotjazz.com/virginialiston.html which is where I listened to it to grab these lyrics. In Liston's song, Sally Long is a person, in addition to an action (dance or otherwise).

Sally Long got the blues, it cannot be true
Sally Long got the blues, it cannot be true
Got drunk and told the judge just what she would do

Women don't like Sally, 'cause Sally speaks her mind
Women don't like Sally, 'cause Sally speaks her mind
She says "These men they like these winnin' ways of mine"

The eagle rocked in Sally's family [before??] she were born
The eagle rocked in Sally's family [before??] she were born
She said I'm goin' to Eagle Rock until I'm dead and gone

Eagle Rock me, papa, Sally Long me too
Eagle Rock me, daddy, Sally Long me too
Can't nobody Eagle Rock me like my daddy do


Both women were backed by Clarence Williams on these songs. The International Dictionary of Black Composers lists Sally Long as a Clarence Williams composition, though the notes to the Liston Document CD suggest that Liston was the lyricist for a number of her songs and tended to include traditional verses in the the lyrics. And she's listed as a co-composer on "Sally Long Blues" in the Dictionary along with husband Sam Gray.

Sara Martin recorded "Eagle Rock Me, Papa" Sept 29, 1924

Eagle Rock me, daddy, and Sally Long me too
Rock me, pretty papa, while I tell you what to do

etc. Most of the rest of the lyrics are suggestive. You can hear it at http://www.redhotjazz.com/martincwb5.html

I don't know the origin of the Eagle Rock, but it must date from at least 1913 or earlier, since it appears in the lyrics to Chris Smith's "Ballin' the Jack". So far I could not find a similar appearance in such lyrics for Sally Long and it may be for more diligent people than me.

In Songsters and Saints, Paul Oliver mentions another song to add the list, Fat Fanny Stomp, the only recording made by pianist Jim Clarke in 1929. Clarke shouts out dance commands that can be summed up as "shake your fat fanny". Perhaps the producers were prudish and and sent him packing.  ;) He shouts at one point:

When I say hold it this time I want everybody to Sally Long.
Hold it! Sally Long, Sally Long your fanny gal, Sally that thing, Sally it.
Shake your fat fanny. That's what I'm talkin' about.

Oliver has this to say:

Though the Sally Long seems to have enjoyed a brief vogue in the late 1920s and is mentioned in several recordings, its name may have derived from the 1830s when William Whitlock and TG Booth sang of Sally King and Lucy Long in a dance song which included the lines, "Take your time Miss Lucy Long, rock de cradle Lucy, take your time my dear."

I would just add that Liston and Martin clearly show the dance was around much earlier than the "late 1920s".
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: dj on June 15, 2010, 07:56:18 AM
Nice work, uncle bud!
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: dj on June 17, 2010, 12:35:06 PM
For what it's worth, I've just found another Sally Long reference.  This one seems to refer to the dancer, not the dance.  Feathers & Frogs, recording for Paramount in August of 1929, sang:

I knew a girl that her name was Sally Long
Every time she'd shimmy the old man started goin'
"How'd you get that way?  How'd you get that way?
She got Elgin movements, tell me how'd you get that way?"

   
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: manuel on June 18, 2010, 08:36:59 AM
 Regarding the possible etymology of 'long shoes'  I remember reading Iceberg Slim's "Pimp."  At one place in the book as an aspiring  pimp in the midwest he bought a pair of orange Florsheim shoes so long he was able to soak them in water and bend them up at a 90 degree angle.  High fashion for the sporting life at the time I guess.

 For the term 'Chivaree' I also know the term  as it was used at one time  in medieval times was  where a group of villagers usually young bachelors would  visit the house of a man or woman who violated village the man or woman would be dragged out of their house and  dunked, beaten, made to 'ride a rail',  paraded around on a donkey backwards and other humiliating acts.  A old form of enforcing social conformity.

Ashay
Title: Vocabulary definition queries
Post by: Stumblin on February 17, 2013, 08:08:12 AM
Hi, sorry if this is either in the wrong place, or just plain stupid, but do we have a Weenie Blues Vocab resource?
If so, where is it?
Thanks.
Title: Re: Vocabulary definition queries
Post by: Rivers on February 17, 2013, 08:28:02 AM
We do not. You might find some discussion scattered around though.
Title: Re: Vocabulary definition queries
Post by: Gumbo on February 17, 2013, 09:02:52 AM
Good idea, Stumblin. There have been a goodly number of vocabularic mysteries cleared up here. It'd be useful to tag or collect them ...
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Johnm on February 17, 2013, 09:34:22 AM
Hi guys,
Here's the thread you're looking for, I think.  I merged it into your new thread, Andy.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Stumblin on February 17, 2013, 09:44:21 AM
Thanks John.
Title: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Mr.OMuck on February 18, 2013, 06:33:19 AM
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chattooga_and_Chickamauga_Railway#section_1

http://www.daytonnvhistory.org/c_crr.htm

http://www.carsoncolorado.com/


CC rider
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Stumblin on February 18, 2013, 06:50:24 AM
O'Muck, that's interesting and possible. Thanks.
My money's still on it being See, see, rider, as explained in post #28 in this thread. That's certainly always been my interpretation; it just makes sense to me. CC rider, a passenger on a C&C line train, is undeniably a strong contender. Could both explanations be applicable, as an example of convergent linguistic evolution?
Title: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Mr.OMuck on February 18, 2013, 06:54:30 AM
Other confused sources indicate that 'C.C. Rider' refers to early 'Country Circuit' Riding Preachers who traveled on horseback into many towns that were without formal churches at the time.[10]

Wikipedia
Title: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Mr.OMuck on February 18, 2013, 06:58:18 AM
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cincinnati_and_Charleston_Railroad
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Mr.OMuck on February 18, 2013, 08:02:07 AM
Forgive my truncated replies but i'm typing on an effing iphone ...torture.
Regarding cc rider is there an earlier version than Ma Rainy's?
I think Big Bill said he first heard Blues from an older musician who called himself cc Rider. I think that given the prevalence or RR. imagery in Blues
A likely scenario is that the frequent train traveller is being asked to examine their behavior in light of the emotional damage their infidelity has caused.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Mr.OMuck on February 18, 2013, 08:05:07 AM
Of course having only ridden the CC once could have counted  for a major personality defining event in a small rural community.
Title: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: uncle bud on February 18, 2013, 09:51:03 AM
Of course, Big Bill was notorious for just making shit up as well. ;)
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Mr.OMuck on February 18, 2013, 10:15:38 AM
Yes but it was high class shit! :P
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Coyote Slim on February 23, 2013, 11:19:47 AM
Pretty good thread.  This old post caught my eye.



Black Cat Bone - A mystical charm that is actually a bone from a black cat that has been ritually processed. Carried for good luck.

Jinx - The bearer of bad luck. A mojo hand would be worn for protection from a jinx.

Johnny Conqueroo - A woody tuber related to the sweet potato used in a mojo hand.


Mojo - A magical spell or item. Someone could put some bad mojo on you or you could carry a mojo hand to ward off these evil intents.

Root Doctor - Person versed in magical cures from plants.


A black cat's bone is not carried for good luck, it's used to control someone.  "I believe my woman's got a black cat's bone/ I tried so hard and I just couldn't leave her alone."

A mojo hand isn't neccesarily worn to protect one from a jinx or crossing, it can be imbued with whatever kind of power you wish it to.  Sometimes mojo hand is just shortened to mojo.  Since you don't let other people mess with your personal power, it lead to this kind of lyric:  "I believe she got a mojo, try to keep it hid/ I got something to find her mojo with."  In other words, the woman had some power that was causing her man to act a certain way, but he found some power to find what she had and change it.

John de conqueror Root is a plant of the morning glory family used in Hoodoo practice, sometimes but not always in a mojo hand.

Hoodoo root doctor's skills with herbs aren't "magical."  Hoodoo is a form of folk herbalism and spiritualism derived from African, American Indian, and European traditions.


Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: alyoung on March 04, 2013, 02:59:47 AM
CC Rider ... there's sure been some dubious material put out on this. I've done a bit of study on gospel (including preaching) and am fairly sure that the "country/county circuit rider" doesn't exist. It wasn't -- and still isn't -- uncommon for one preacher to have several small churches but the CCR term doesn't occur. I've also got quite a lot of scepticism/skepticism about Big Bill Broonzy's Mr Rider. Never heard the train one ... where is this CC line? My money stays firmly on "easy rider" with "see see rider" being a deliberate word play on this and CC Rider a mishearing.
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: waxwing on December 16, 2017, 03:19:42 PM
Been tryin’ to post this since Nov. I spent Thanksgiving with Gre’s siblings at one of their homes in Golden CO. On the warm and sunny Sunday we took a toddler grandchild to the Colorado Train Museum, about 15 acres of old train engines and cars, a roundhouse and engine shop, and pretty much the most elaborate HO model train layout (with a working amusement park) I have ever seen.

Anyway, I set out to see what I could find out about “riding the blinds” and “riding the rods”.

“Riding the rods” was pretty evident as soon as I found a few older boxcars: See first two pics below

These tension rods stiffen the floor under the doorway. In conversation later with the foreman of a crew of semi-elderly (i.e. my age) volunteers, who work on the trains and move them around (He had worked his life for Burlington Northern), he agreed and added that hobos would lay boards across them and just lie there.

So I asked him about “Riding the Blinds”, relating that I had heard something about the side walls and roof of much older boxcars extending beyond the end walls creating a “blind” area where someone could not be seen easily. He didn’t think they had constructed cars that way because it would be a waste of shipping space. Then he told me that in gondolas, or hopper cars, there is an area at either end under the sharply sloped end walls, that the sidewalls extend over, There is also a partial cross wall, that supports the slanted end wall half way down, and closes off the area except for a space in the middle to access the attachment points of the trucks below. He said yardmen would often travel around the yard in this space while making up a train, and he himself had travelled from station to station at about 60 mph. Unfortunately, there were not any gondolas in the museum at that time for him to show me. So I pulled the last pic below off the net.

You can see how the sidewall meets the slanted end wall, but at the point where the vertical wall supports the slanted end wall, the sidewall follows the vertical to the base (under the yellow band). So essentially a dark triangular space, with a flat floor, but the peak not high enough to stand up, couple tons of coal, bauxite or tomatoes on the other side of the slanted steel roof above.

“Better than being out in the wind.” he said.

Anyway, if you happen to be in Golden, or nearby Denver, it’s worth a trip out to this museum, which I’m sure has a web site.

Wax
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: Johnm on December 16, 2017, 03:34:28 PM
Thanks so much for this information and your post, Wax.  That is really fascinating stuff and there is nothing like getting information from people who have had a working acquaintance with the equipment.  Thanks!
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Etymology of the Country Blues Lexicon and Blues Terminology
Post by: waxwing on December 16, 2017, 03:39:53 PM
It's fun to share this kind of stuff. Thanks, Johnm. I think you must have been viewing the post while I was still sorting out the pics. Two kept coming out upside down.

Wax