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Author Topic: Stavin' chain  (Read 7011 times)

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Offline Richard

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Stavin' chain
« on: February 22, 2004, 02:54:07 PM »
Hi
Can anyone give me the meaning of the phrase "Shakin' like stavin' chain"

It may be more of a jazz expression and in the past I have been given a 'translation' but, I would be interested to know if anyone else knows what it's about.
Richard
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline waxwing

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Re: Stavin' chain
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2004, 03:28:21 PM »
I won't claim to know this for fact, but I have heard one very intereseting speculative explanation for the term, which was also adopted by an unrecorded bluesman, I believe from the New Orleans area (or maybe Alabama?). Originally, a staving chain was a length of chain having a loop on one end used, like a dog choker, to pull the staves of a barrel together so that the hoops could be driven on. A much smaller version, made of small, very smooth links, was used as a sexual aid to help a man "stave off" ejaculation, and would be released by the woman only after she had been satisfied. Yeeooww! I think one song uses the line "Sweet stavin' chain". I have heard of surgical rubber tubing being used in this manner. Anyone else heard this one before?
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Stavin' chain
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2004, 10:52:07 PM »
Wax, Jelly Roll Morton's Whining Boy Blues has the "pick it up and shake it like that sweet stavin' chain" line. The original lyrics (very hard to find, some of the most explicit I've ever seen) were all about Jelly Roll's sexual prowess and magnitude so you could draw some conclusions from that.

Harry's Blues lyrics website has a definition but you can never get in 'cuz he always blows his Tripod bandwidth, but somebody put this page together. It's not complete, there are other refs in old blues including Big Joe Williams.
http://online.mq.edu.au/pub/CFLSTD/colour/music/glossary.htm#stavin_chain

Offline waxwing

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Re: Stavin' chain
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2004, 11:17:06 PM »
Got on Harry's! Here's what it says:

1 - Lil Johnson's song with this title strongly suggests that stavin' chain is the the name of a man. Thanks to Charlie Hardin for contributing the lyrics to this site;
2 - Adam Stoltz has this to say: "A stavin' chain was a tool used to make barrels (I won't go in depth about it's use) it was often used by supervisors in barrel factories to beat slaves. Also a stavin' chain was the chain used to hold together chain gangs, and was pulled around the prisoner's ankles much like the sexual version. It worked much like a choke-dog collar in all it's forms, and could be used to describe any chain noose that worked on this principal. however, the origin of the word was staveing chain from the barrel factories used to hold together the barrell staves until an iron band could be fitted around the end of the barrell. Thanks to Adam Stoltz for this contribution to the list.

The vague and imaginative contributions:
3 - Charlie Hardin from Fort Worth, Texas, also says: "I have heard the expression "stavin' chain" in some blues recordings from the '30's or so. I suspect this means "gettin' some (having sex, BH)" ". Thanks to Charlie Hardin for his contribution to the list.
4 - Brian Ellis a.k.a. BBQ Bo has a more intriguing meaning: " I believe a stavin' chain is an appliance used to keep a man from premature ejaculation; presumably the woman pulls on this noose-like device to keep her man from cumming before she does..." Yes, my first reaction was "Auch!" as well so when asked for some "hard" evidence, Brian wrote this to back his version to me. Thanks to Brian Ellis a.k.a. BBQ Bo for this contribution to the list.
Many visitors sent in suggestions on this phrase, too many to post here. I'd like to thank ALL people who sent in some info on this phrase!
__________
This phrase can be found in:
Lil Johnson, Stavin' Chain, Jelly Roll Morton, Whinin' Boy

Yeah, I think that's where I read it. Long time ago, tho'. Now why do you think I was able to remember that?
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Offline frankie

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Re: Stavin' chain
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2004, 05:18:16 PM »
I think I remember reading that Stavin' Chain is a kind of trickster figure in African-American folklore, famous for his sexual prowess.  Maybe in one of Paul Oliver's books?  I always understood Jelly Roll's line in Winin' Boy to be a comparison to a person (real or imagined...)

Offline Richard

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Re: Stavin' chain
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2004, 12:29:16 PM »
Facinating, and thanks for the input, I'm sure it is a sexual metaphore.

The explanation I heard years ago was similar but different! In that there was a rather bionic rapist who was eventually caught and as explained to me the stave was the post he was chained to and the 'shaking' referred to his sexual exploints :P

Interesting!
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Eldergreene

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Re: Stavin' chain
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2004, 02:16:28 AM »
Just noticed this thread; the Paul Oliver book referred to is"Aspects of the Blues Tradition" (Oak Pub. 1970), originally published as Screening the Blues - has 3 or 4 refs to Stavin Chain, none of which clears up the mystery definitively, but seems likely he was a "mythic rounder" - whatever, if you can locate the book, it has much of interest re themes in the blues ( "Preaching the Blues","Policy Blues", "The FortyFours"); worth hunting down..

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Stavin' chain
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2007, 10:46:04 AM »
Tagging has yet again brought to light a topic from long before my time here. At the risk of sending you all to sleep this is what Mack McCormick had to say about the song sung by an unidentified artist on the LP Unexpurgated Folksong Of Men (1960). Make of it what you will.

STAVIN' CHAIN: This is one of the great Negro folk characters who has been pretty much ignored outside the folk community because of his lewd behavior. There are, however, versions of the song printed in Our Singing Country and in Publications of the Texas Folklore Society, Vol. V. In another book, Steamboatin' Days: Folk Songs of the River Packet Era, the authoress, Mary Wheeler, gives an unintentionally hilarious account of the difficulties she encountered in collecting a version of "Stavin' Chain." One wonders what thoughts passed through the minds of the Negro stevedores she approached, in all innocence, asking them to sing her the song that is heard here.

One of the common nicknames adopted by virile hell-raisers, the term 'stavin' chain. is a play on an ancient sign designating a bond or covenant, as employed in the building of the Ark of the Covenant: "And thou shall put the staves into the rings . . ." (Exodus 25:14). However, for the laborer who spikes down or hammers staves, the act of driving a stave through the ring of a chain suggests to his active imagination the same familiar symbolism as in slipping a wedding ring over a girl's finger. Throughout Negro songs, women are identified with sweet foods, and sexual labor is identified with hard, tool-swinging work
-------
PS FWIW in 1978-9 Richard Noblett ran a lengthy series in Blues Unlimted entitled "Stavin? Chain: A Study of a Folk Hero" in which he examined at length every known recorded variant of the song. This was the standard reference work on the topic but I doubt very much that it still stands as such now.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 10:51:28 AM by Bunker Hill »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Stavin' chain
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2008, 12:38:12 PM »
Just thought I'd reactivate this to add an entry from Robert Ford's Blues bibliography

Noblett, Richard A. "Stavin' Chain: A Study of a Folk Hero. Pt 1." Blues Unlimited no. 131/132 (Sep/Dec 1978): 31-33; "Pt 2." Blues Unlimited no. 134 (Mar/Jun 1979): 14-15; "Pt 3." Blues Unlimited no. 139 (Autumn 1980): 31-33; "Pt 4." Blues Unlimited no. 142 (Summer 1982): 24-26.

It is a truly monumental study which should be updated and reprinted.

Offline hburgamy

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Re: Stavin' chain
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2012, 07:31:59 PM »
I thought I'd share info on Stavin' Chain. On the Library of Congress recordings between Jelly Roll Morton and Alan Lomax, Jelly Roll speaks of Stavin' Chain on the track Bad Men and Pimps.

----

Lomax: And what about Stavin' Chain?
Jelly Roll: Stavin' Chain, well he was a pimp. Supposed to have more women in this district than any other pimp.
Lomax: Did you actually know Stavin' Chain?
Jelly Roll:  No, I heard everybody talk about him, never get into his way...
Lomax: What what did you hear about him, this is very interesting cause, you know, they have a song about Stavin' Chain ----(Indistinct)----
Jelly Roll: Well, you know, he slept like Stavin' Chain.
Lomax: Good tune, too.
Jelly Roll: Yes, I like the tune, I can't, couldn't  memorize the tune, you know...
Lomax: Popular around New Orleans as well.
Jelly Roll: Yeah, at one time it was. Let's see... that was around....19....8.
Lomax: Was Stavin' Man a white man or colored one?
Jelly Roll: A colored one.
Lomax: Supposedly good looking.
Jelly Roll: Yes, he.......... Women was supposed to be crazy about him.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Stavin' chain
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2012, 10:05:00 AM »
Thanks hburgamy, and welcome to WeenieCampbell.

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