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Author Topic: Shake sugaree - meaning of...?  (Read 43067 times)

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Offline Nyama74

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Re: Shake sugaree - meaning of...?
« Reply #60 on: October 01, 2018, 12:38:31 AM »
Does anyone know if Brenda Joyce Evans is still around? If so, seems like she'd be the right person to ask.

After a few google searches, I found a youtube video of the song where someone claiming to be Brenda Evans comments:


Also found several references such as this:  “Shake Sugaree” was originally performed with Brenda Joyce Evans, (Cotten's) 12-year old great-granddaughter and future member of Motown’s The Undisputed Truth." If the "Shake Sugaree" and Undisputed Truth singers are, in fact, the same person, she also has a facebook page.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 12:44:59 AM by Nyama74 »

Offline Peter H

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Re: Shake sugaree - meaning of...?
« Reply #61 on: January 06, 2019, 05:06:34 AM »
Maybe what I'm going to tell is totally irrelevant, and then again maybe not.
'Sugaree' might refer to chicory. Root chicory was used in Depression and War years as a substitute for coffee (all the coffee was done and pawned too?) I was born in the fifties and root chicory was still often mixed with coffee then, because it was cheaper. I am Dutch speaking (I live in Flanders, Belgium), and the Dutch word 'cichorei' (chicory) was corrupted then through folk etymology into 'suikerij', which really is a non-existent word, but which you could transpose into English as 'sugaree' ('suiker' = 'sugar'). I heard the word 'suikerij' very often then (early sixties). And although the word 'suikerij' sounds sweet, chicory is really bitter. So this knowledge adds to both the sweetness and the bitterness of the interpretations, and the seemingly meaningless 'sugaree' gets yet another intriguing connotation.
I got interested in the song through Rhiannon Giddens' interpretation.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Shake sugaree - meaning of...?
« Reply #62 on: February 03, 2019, 03:45:17 PM »
Hi all,
This thread has been going a while, and I found use of the word "Sugaree" in another song, Carolina Slim's "Sugaree", in which it is apparent that the word is a person's name or nickname.  Here is his song, played in dropped-D tuning.  The mood and feel is completely different from Libba Cotten's song, and features some ripping guitar playing.


Sugaree, Sugaree, darlin', won't you please come on back to me?
Sugaree, Sugaree, darlin', won't you please come on back to me?
I want back my sweet old sugar, and ease my achin' misery

You know, I woke up this mornin', I woke up 'bout the break of day, I reached over and grabbed the pillow where sugar mama used to lay, and I said,
"Sugar mama, darlin', just where could you be?
You carried away my sweet old sugar, and it means so much to me."


If you see my Sugaree, tell her please don't go away too far
If you see my Sugaree, tell her please don't go away too far
'Cause she got that sweet kind of sugar, no one else don't have but her

I believe that "Sugaree" in the Libba Cotten song also refers to a person by that name, and that the title of the song should have been "Shake, Sugaree".  It would make sense of the lyric in the chorus--Oh, Lordy me, didn't we shake, Sugaree?", with the singer reminiscing about a shared experience with Sugaree.  It's like saying, "Oh man, didn't we party?" 
All best,

Offline Stuart

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Re: Shake sugaree - meaning of...?
« Reply #63 on: February 03, 2019, 05:50:21 PM »
Hi John:

I agree that Sugaree should be understood as referring to a person and is used along the lines of Honey, Sugar, Sweetie, etc. Given that the Grateful Dead's song muscles out virtually everything else from a search, running down other occurrences isn't exactly easy. It's not CB, but Joel Paterson and his band mates recorded a song by the title Sugaree a while ago. However I can't recall if it is an original of theirs or a cover. But it definitely refers to a person, a girlfriend in this case. If I can find the CD in this dump I'll look for credits as they do a lot of older material.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Shake sugaree - meaning of...?
« Reply #64 on: February 06, 2019, 12:00:04 AM »
I did a workup of how to remove the noise from a google search for sugaree: