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Origin: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care

DigiTrad:
BLUE-TAIL FLY
JIM CRACK CORN


Related threads:
Help: Jimmy Crack Corn (42)
Which fly was Lincoln's 'Buzzing song'? (13)
Jimmy Crack Corn - Man or Myth (89)
Origins: Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn) (42)
What was Jimmie doing? (48)
cracking more corn (5)
Lyr Req: Blue Tail Fly/Jimmy Crack Corn (16)
Thoughts on 'The Blue-tail Fly' (31)


bookwoman69@hotmail.com 21 Apr 99 - 05:06 PM
JVZ 21 Apr 99 - 06:21 PM
Paul 21 Apr 99 - 09:07 PM
Joe Offer 21 Apr 99 - 09:17 PM
Bruce O. 21 Apr 99 - 09:47 PM
Pete Peterson 22 Apr 99 - 11:20 AM
Bruce O. 22 Apr 99 - 01:58 PM
MAG (inactive) 22 Apr 99 - 11:02 PM
Ole Bull 23 Apr 99 - 09:20 PM
rich r 23 Apr 99 - 11:35 PM
Alex 24 Apr 99 - 02:55 PM
Bruce O. 24 Apr 99 - 03:19 PM
rich r 24 Apr 99 - 09:53 PM
Ole Bull 08 May 99 - 08:55 PM
JTC111@aol.com 30 May 99 - 09:32 PM
Joe Offer 26 Jul 00 - 11:20 PM
GUEST,Gene S. 27 Jul 00 - 12:19 AM
Gary T 27 Jul 00 - 01:47 AM
GUEST,no_name's_bytch 13 Apr 06 - 05:00 PM
Joybell 13 Apr 06 - 07:08 PM
GUEST,thurg 13 Apr 06 - 07:54 PM
Leadfingers 13 Apr 06 - 08:05 PM
GUEST,Ken Brock 14 Apr 06 - 10:31 AM
Big Tim 14 Apr 06 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,Sultan5000 27 Oct 06 - 01:30 PM
Q 27 Oct 06 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Southern Gentleman 06 Dec 06 - 02:39 PM
Peace 06 Dec 06 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,Q35 08 Dec 06 - 04:51 PM
Q 08 Dec 06 - 05:10 PM
Joybell 08 Dec 06 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,onlymyopinion333 20 Aug 07 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 20 Aug 07 - 03:44 PM
SINSULL 20 Aug 07 - 06:10 PM
Rapparee 20 Aug 07 - 09:22 PM
Azizi 20 Aug 07 - 09:30 PM
Cluin 21 Aug 07 - 07:59 PM
GUEST,Dirty Pierre 19 Oct 10 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,Rick Maskell 21 Mar 11 - 05:54 AM
Max Johnson 21 Mar 11 - 01:19 PM
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Subject: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: bookwoman69@hotmail.com
Date: 21 Apr 99 - 05:06 PM

What is the origin of this song? Where can I find the lyrics?
Related threads:-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: JVZ
Date: 21 Apr 99 - 06:21 PM

Take a look at the thread "What was Jimmie doing?" (note the ie spelling) last dated Mar-11-99. I started that thread and although it got off the subject a bit, I believe it will answer your questions.

John


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Paul
Date: 21 Apr 99 - 09:07 PM

This song was also know as "The Blue-tail Fly". Big Bill Broonzy recorded it on "Black, Brown and White".


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Apr 99 - 09:17 PM

Well, I found a couple songs in the database by looking for [crack corn], but I haven't found exactly the lyrics I'm familiar with (the ones they sang on Ding Dong School, dontchaknow....). JIM CRACK CORN (click here) is close. BLUE-TAIL FLY is closer.

Here's the What Was Jimmie Doing? thread.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Bruce O.
Date: 21 Apr 99 - 09:47 PM

Search the Levy sheet music collection (Mudcat's Links) for copies of 1846. Use 'Blue tail' in the search box.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 22 Apr 99 - 11:20 AM

Some years ago in Sing Out Pete Seeger gave his explanation of the song-- the proper chorus is "GIMME" cracked corn, and I don't care when a slave had done something really rotten, his rations were reduced to cracked corn & nothing more but in this song-- the slave had found a way to cause(??) an accident that resulted in his getting rid of his master, and he is saying "gimme cracked corn, and I don't care" in other words-- "it was worth it" a very subversive song for the 1840s! I would attribute it to Wm. Lloyd Garrison except that he, reportedly, had no sense of humor!


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Bruce O.
Date: 22 Apr 99 - 01:58 PM

Unless Pete Seeger can show his chorus in a copy earlier than the "Jim crack corn' of 1846 in the Levy collection, I won't believe him.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 22 Apr 99 - 11:02 PM

I thought "Jimmy" was crows, and now that the big boss man was gone he didn't have to care ... in school, of course, we were taught that he was so broke up by the loss he couldn't chase crows. I doubt it.

Mary Ann (MA)


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Ole Bull
Date: 23 Apr 99 - 09:20 PM

Jim Crack Corn is a bootlegger. Cracking the grain is what you do before you prepare the mash. Hence the references to the bottle. This song has obscure and complex origins. It was associated with the Minstrel groups of the 1840 in several different versions, one attributed to Dan Emmett. Because these varients all popped up about the same time one suspects an earlier, unrecorded source.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: rich r
Date: 23 Apr 99 - 11:35 PM

The 1846 sheet music published by F D Benteen of Baltimore has on the first page:

The Virginia Minstrels, No. 5 "Jim Crack Corn" or the Blue Tail Fly.

In March of 1843 in Boston four men calling themselves The Virginia Minstrels gave what may have been the first "minstrel" show, a format that gained great popularity. The band quickly became very popular and even toured England. They broke up late in 1844. The band members were Richard Pelham on tambourine, William Whitlock on banjo, Frank Brower on bones and Dan Emmett on fiddle and banjo. The original show included a new song called "Old Dan Tucker". "De Blue Tail Fly" was apparently used by the Virginia Minstrels and the first published version was by Keith's of Boston in 1844 as part of "Old Dan Emmit's Original Banjo Melodies (second series)". Whether Emmett wrote the tune is uincertain, but that tune was decidely different from the 1846 published version for which no composer is listed. Similarly the chorus and the "jim crack corn I don't care..." line are found in the 1846 version but not in the 1844. The 1844 version had 10 verses, the 1846 only 7 verses that were virtually identical to verses 3-9 of the earlier publication. Who added the chorus is not known. Since the Virginia Minstrels disbanded in 1844 it is quite possible they never used the 1846 format and the publisher was just trying to cash in on their popularity while at the same time avoiding the previous copyright. The song became President Lincoln's favorite minstrel tune and he is said to have called it "that buzzing song".

rich r


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Alex
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 02:55 PM

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn, either.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Bruce O.
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 03:19 PM

rich r, where do we find the 1844 version?


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: rich r
Date: 24 Apr 99 - 09:53 PM

Ah that is the question. My source only shows the 1846 version and talks about the 1844 sheet. I haven't searched the Levy collection for composer or publisher because I can't read the texts on my computer. Maybe it is there. Note the alternate spelling of "Emmit", it's not a typo like most of my other errors.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Ole Bull
Date: 08 May 99 - 08:55 PM

Dan Emmett's earlier and distinct version can be found in Hans Nathan's Dan Emmett and the Rise of Negro Minstrelsy. I'm guessing a library search will turn it up too, for the Virginia Minstrel series have been well collected and preserved.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: JTC111@aol.com
Date: 30 May 99 - 09:32 PM

I have an opinion on this song. I believe Jimmy is the name of the slave/narrator and that he's celebrating his master's death by cracking open a jug of corn liquor.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 11:20 PM

Levy has seven examples of sheet music for the song-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,Gene S.
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 12:19 AM

The Random House Word Maven has something to say about Jimmy Crack Corn.

http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=20000313


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Gary T
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 01:47 AM

This came up a while ago, perhaps on one of the threads linked above. One of our Mudcatters grew up in the South, as did her mother, and she shared with us the explanation her mother gave her, to wit:

Jimmy (presumably a fellow slave to the narrator) has cracked open a jug of corn whiskey in response to the master's death. The narrator, however, is so grief-stricken at the loss of the master that he doesn't even care to have any (whereas normally, it is assumed, he'd jump at the chance).

JIMMY CRACKed open a jug of CORN whiskey, AND I DON'T CARE to have any, because THE MASTER'S GONE AWAY.

Makes sense to me.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,no_name's_bytch
Date: 13 Apr 06 - 05:00 PM

and I just thought it was a catchy tune sung by Bugs Bunny. thanks for the knowledge.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Joybell
Date: 13 Apr 06 - 07:08 PM

So it's not only me who thinks (actually told by my father back in 1950) that "Jimmy" was the name for the crow. I've long been seeking a link between this song and the old crow-scaring songs of England and North America. I've found some "crow-scaring" songs that have the same idea. ie. ideas like -- Now that the Master's gone you crows can eat all the corn you want. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 13 Apr 06 - 07:54 PM

As a kid, I figured that to "crack corn" must mean to fool around - now that massa was gone, Jimmy could fool around all he wanted, and I don't care. That interpretation has satisfied me for many years ... possibly until now ...


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 Apr 06 - 08:05 PM

Thread Creep !! Which contemporary song has the line ' I couldn't care less if Jimmy cracked corn ' in it ??


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,Ken Brock
Date: 14 Apr 06 - 10:31 AM

It's similar to a line in Tom Lehrer's "Folk Song Army", from THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Big Tim
Date: 14 Apr 06 - 10:38 AM

If Jimmy cracked corn and I don't care, why did somebody write a song about it?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,Sultan5000
Date: 27 Oct 06 - 01:30 PM

I am surprised that you don't know what "Cracked Corn" is. It is corn whiskey. Have you ever heard the term, "Cracker," used in a despairaing context by a black person in reference to a white man? Fairly old school. The Negro Baseball League even had a team called The Atlanta Black Crackers, which is a very cool name IMO.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Q
Date: 27 Oct 06 - 04:03 PM

Sultan apparently was suffering the effects of too much corn juice when he related the unrelated in his post.
"Cracker" was defined in print at least as early as 1766 (see Mathews, Dictionary of Americanisms, the quotation in the "Historical Dictionary of American Slang," vol. 1, J. E. Lighter, pp. 503-504:
"I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by Crackers, a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascals on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who often hange their places of abode."
In 1772, McWhiney, "Cracker Culture," wrote: "The people I refer to are really what you and I understand by 'Crackers' - persons who have no settled habitation and live by hunting and plundering the industrious Settlers."
In the 20th century, the meaning had changed.
1908, Sullivan, in "Criminal Slang"- Cracker: a poor Southerner.
By 1924, the term had become perjorative in a racial sense- Clarke, "American Negro Stories," They's a thousand shines in Harlem would change places with you in a minute jess f' the honor of killin' a cracker." The term had evolved in Black English (esp. in urban areas of the north) to mean a white racist (or just a white
Southerner).
I will agree that the name "Atlanta Black Crackers," was 'cool,' a nice twist.
By the 1920s in white Georgia, however, the appellation Cracker was on its way to respectability, with some Georgians referring to themselves as Crackers.
In Florida, if the term is used as a racial perjorative, it is a violation under the Florida Hate Crimes Act.

Crack corn- referring to corn whiskey. This possibility is referred to in several early posts to this thread. In the song, it showed up between revisions to the song between 1846-1848 (see post above by rich r) in Minstrel Shows, and also possible could mean cracking wise, but the former is more likely. Richie, in another thread, noted that cracking corn also was a slang term for snoring or sleeping.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,Southern Gentleman
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 02:39 PM

This song actually pre-dates its know performance by decades. You have to explore several songs of that genre to fully understand what is really going on. One must also posses a more complete knowledge of the culture of the south, and the relationship between most slaves and their owners.

Contrary to the popular belief of most people today, thanks to movies like roots, and the rantings of those leading up to and even after the civil war, most slaves were in fact treated as valuable assets. This in no way is meant to take away from the fact that slavery is wrong. Nor is this intended to say that 'some' slave owners were not brutal. It is to say that brutality was actually rare. Any businessman fully understands the need to take proper care of equipment, or treat it right. Slaves were mentally considered property, or equipment.

Just as "Follow the Drinking Gourd" was an instruction to follow the Big Dipper north to freedom, this song too told of one method to avoid being tracked by hounds.

Jimmy was in fact a direct reference to the crow. The reference is deliberately intended to mask the instruction in the song. The crow is also black. Cracking Corn was, and in some remote areas of the south, a term for pulling the cork on corn mash whiskey.

Because the massa is gone, the farm is likely to be sold off, if the widow is unable to remarry and keep the farm intact. That meant all the land and its assets would be auctioned at the courthouse. This was a perfect opportunity to slaves to leave, before taking the chance of being sold off to one of the very few, but notoriously cruel plantations. Not to mention the very real possibility of families being separated.

Pouring the pure grain alcohol on ones feet was a sure fire way to cover the scent of your tracks. The narrator is saying, the other slaves, "Blacks - Crows" are running away, but he's too upset to care and leave with them.

This is what I was told by a 98 year old black woman when I was just a kid living in Arkansas. I was fifteen at the time, 41 now, and I was working with my pops. We were remodeling her house under a HUD program. 26 years ago, a white doing something kind and good for a black was still a bit new in the middle south. My respect for her opened her up to tell me many things. I shall never forget Ole Miss Mary Foster.

I trust her version, as she was the daughter of a share cropper, a very common practice after abolition. The very home we were fixing up was the same share cropper's shack her daddy purchased through years of service. Her daddy was a slave as a boy. She was born in 1882.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Peace
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 02:42 PM

Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care--but the revenoors do!


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,Q35
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 04:51 PM

Reading this and several other threads on the subject convinces me of the vastness of "folk etymologies" in Anglo-Saxon culture and their blending with the African-American experience. The canvas is so broad and deep that definitive solutions are seldom possible. "Southern Gentleman" offers a perfect example of their enduring nature and complexity. He gives an iron-clad origin for an improbable theory.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Q
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 05:10 PM

Improbable it is. But also typical of stories made up to entertain the wee ones, or, later, to tell to credulous folk life investigators.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Joybell
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 05:32 PM

I still believe that one day a link will turn up between this song and the old crow-scaring songs of Southern England.
Cheers, Joy who can't leave this one alone.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,onlymyopinion333
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 03:06 PM

I think the term "crack corn" has to do with working in a mill and the process of producing corn flour.

In working on the farm, one of his duties was probably working at the mill as a miller and while working he probably made up this song to pass the time.

As you know, cracked corn is the corn that is discarded... so it doesn't matter. The flour that is kept and used is a fine powder and this is what is used for baking.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 03:44 PM

Never mind that I, too, have done versions of this song - even harking back to what one Mudcatter referred to as the "Ding Dong School" version. I was unencumbered by the need to fill a conscientiously manifested scholarly void in the lineage of the material prior to performing it. At this point, with due homage and respect to all contributors, I suggest we ALL "crack corn" and enjoy the veritas revealed therein!


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: SINSULL
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 06:10 PM

From Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Tail_Fly

But before you take it too seriously, note that it cites Mudcat as a source for its info.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Rapparee
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 09:22 PM

Well, YOU might not care that Jimmy Crack Corn, but I care. I care a lot. So there.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Azizi
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 09:30 PM

Me too.


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Subject: RE: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Cluin
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 07:59 PM

"Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care"

He doth protest too much, methinks. If he doesn't care, why does he repeat the news--re the cracking of said corn--so much in the song?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,Dirty Pierre
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 08:11 AM

If cracking corn refers to what one said is, talking about something as in gossip, it makes sense that there is still plenty of talk about the events of Massa's death.

All through the song the phrase repeats. There is all this talk about something that has been decided. The verdict being it was the Blue Tail Fly's fault that Massa is dead. You can talk all you want and I don't care because I am cleared of this crime.

The song is a celebration of the verdict and say what you will.

With respect to all, mho.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: GUEST,Rick Maskell
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 05:54 AM

I think the line "Jimmie Crack Corn and I don't care" is a mistake.

So many times I hear "LADETTES" staggering out of pubs and clubs totally legless, and the usual anthem is :-

"gimme one glass of champagne and I'm anybody's"

The equivalent line in this song is :-

"Gimme crack corn and I don't care"

not Jimmie Crack Corn which is meaningless.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care
From: Max Johnson
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 01:19 PM

I wonder if the original word was 'gimcrack', which is a now little-used word meaning 'junk', - i.e, the corn was of low quality quality?


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