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I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?

Wesley S 01 Apr 08 - 12:16 PM
Leadfingers 01 Apr 08 - 12:19 PM
peregrina 01 Apr 08 - 12:21 PM
mg 01 Apr 08 - 12:23 PM
George Papavgeris 01 Apr 08 - 12:23 PM
Jeri 01 Apr 08 - 12:24 PM
Jeri 01 Apr 08 - 12:26 PM
katlaughing 01 Apr 08 - 12:27 PM
John MacKenzie 01 Apr 08 - 12:28 PM
katlaughing 01 Apr 08 - 12:28 PM
kendall 01 Apr 08 - 12:35 PM
Wesley S 01 Apr 08 - 12:38 PM
peregrina 01 Apr 08 - 12:40 PM
Seamus Kennedy 01 Apr 08 - 12:43 PM
Jean(eanjay) 01 Apr 08 - 12:45 PM
katlaughing 01 Apr 08 - 12:45 PM
pdq 01 Apr 08 - 12:45 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 01 Apr 08 - 12:55 PM
katlaughing 01 Apr 08 - 01:00 PM
Thompson 01 Apr 08 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 01 Apr 08 - 01:20 PM
Melissa 01 Apr 08 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 01 Apr 08 - 02:04 PM
Wesley S 01 Apr 08 - 02:06 PM
Ferrara 01 Apr 08 - 02:07 PM
Melissa 01 Apr 08 - 02:18 PM
Wesley S 01 Apr 08 - 02:23 PM
mrdux 01 Apr 08 - 02:25 PM
Melissa 01 Apr 08 - 02:34 PM
Wesley S 01 Apr 08 - 02:39 PM
GUEST,Ol' Man Ribber 01 Apr 08 - 02:43 PM
paula t 01 Apr 08 - 03:29 PM
Charley Noble 01 Apr 08 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,KT logged out 01 Apr 08 - 04:36 PM
Jack Campin 01 Apr 08 - 04:45 PM
Melissa 01 Apr 08 - 04:51 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Apr 08 - 04:53 PM
Wesley S 01 Apr 08 - 05:04 PM
Micca 01 Apr 08 - 05:14 PM
stallion 01 Apr 08 - 05:17 PM
M.Ted 01 Apr 08 - 05:24 PM
Genie 01 Apr 08 - 05:33 PM
GUEST,Rich 01 Apr 08 - 05:38 PM
Melissa 01 Apr 08 - 05:44 PM
Amos 01 Apr 08 - 05:58 PM
Uncle_DaveO 01 Apr 08 - 07:10 PM
Melissa 01 Apr 08 - 07:17 PM
Bert 01 Apr 08 - 07:22 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Apr 08 - 07:32 PM
stallion 01 Apr 08 - 07:34 PM
GUEST,Bill the sound 01 Apr 08 - 07:59 PM
Charley Noble 01 Apr 08 - 08:05 PM
Leadfingers 02 Apr 08 - 08:12 AM
Mr Happy 02 Apr 08 - 08:29 AM
the lemonade lady 02 Apr 08 - 08:48 AM
Charley Noble 02 Apr 08 - 08:58 AM
pdq 02 Apr 08 - 10:15 AM
Cool Beans 02 Apr 08 - 10:20 AM
the lemonade lady 02 Apr 08 - 01:21 PM
PoppaGator 02 Apr 08 - 01:34 PM
SouthernCelt 02 Apr 08 - 07:45 PM
M.Ted 02 Apr 08 - 09:08 PM
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Owlkat 03 Apr 08 - 02:09 AM
Sandra in Sydney 03 Apr 08 - 03:09 AM
GUEST,Suffolk Miracle 03 Apr 08 - 12:22 PM
PoppaGator 03 Apr 08 - 12:40 PM
Wesley S 03 Apr 08 - 01:33 PM
topical tom 03 Apr 08 - 04:12 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Apr 08 - 08:17 PM
Charley Noble 03 Apr 08 - 08:30 PM
Genie 03 Apr 08 - 08:39 PM
mg 03 Apr 08 - 09:48 PM
Kent Davis 03 Apr 08 - 10:03 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 03 Apr 08 - 10:15 PM
Genie 04 Apr 08 - 01:22 AM
Melissa 04 Apr 08 - 01:47 AM
Genie 04 Apr 08 - 03:42 AM
Wesley S 04 Apr 08 - 09:54 AM
M.Ted 04 Apr 08 - 01:42 PM
Fortunato 04 Apr 08 - 01:46 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Apr 08 - 02:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Apr 08 - 02:17 PM
SharonA 04 Apr 08 - 02:27 PM
Marion 04 Apr 08 - 02:44 PM
mg 04 Apr 08 - 02:54 PM
Marion 04 Apr 08 - 03:34 PM
SharonA 04 Apr 08 - 03:34 PM
SharonA 04 Apr 08 - 04:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Apr 08 - 04:51 PM
Melissa 04 Apr 08 - 04:52 PM
M.Ted 04 Apr 08 - 09:27 PM
GUEST,wcba 04 Apr 08 - 10:33 PM
Kent Davis 04 Apr 08 - 11:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Apr 08 - 06:20 AM
Fortunato 05 Apr 08 - 07:38 AM
Leadfingers 05 Apr 08 - 09:41 AM
SharonA 05 Apr 08 - 04:18 PM
SharonA 05 Apr 08 - 04:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Apr 08 - 04:42 PM
SharonA 05 Apr 08 - 04:52 PM
GUEST,meself 05 Apr 08 - 05:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Apr 08 - 06:25 PM
Genie 06 Apr 08 - 01:25 AM
Genie 06 Apr 08 - 01:38 AM
meself 06 Apr 08 - 02:09 AM
meself 06 Apr 08 - 02:46 AM
M.Ted 06 Apr 08 - 01:15 PM
Fortunato 06 Apr 08 - 08:21 PM
M.Ted 07 Apr 08 - 07:51 PM
SharonA 08 Apr 08 - 04:44 PM
GUEST 08 Apr 08 - 10:17 PM
meself 08 Apr 08 - 10:23 PM
SharonA 09 Apr 08 - 04:24 PM
SharonA 09 Apr 08 - 04:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Apr 08 - 05:17 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Apr 08 - 01:27 PM
meself 10 Apr 08 - 10:34 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 10 Apr 08 - 11:58 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Apr 08 - 06:27 AM
M.Ted 11 Apr 08 - 12:57 PM
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Genie 11 Apr 08 - 05:10 PM
M.Ted 11 Apr 08 - 06:39 PM
fumblefingers 11 Apr 08 - 07:08 PM
M.Ted 11 Apr 08 - 09:29 PM
mg 12 Apr 08 - 02:35 AM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Apr 08 - 07:08 PM
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Subject: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Wesley S
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:16 PM

Here's the last verse of the Jimmie Rodgers song "Peach Picking Time in Georgia"

When the pickaninnies pick the cotton, I'll pick a wedding ring
We'll go to town and pick a little gown, for the wedding in the spring
I hope the preacher knows his business; I know he can't fool me
When it's peach picking time in Georgia, it's gal picking time to me
REFRAIN: yodel ay-hee o, dee yodel ay-hee o, dee yodel ay-hee.

Well – I'm not about to use the word "pickaninnies". I've thought about using "good old boys" as a substitute but the rhythm doesn't seem quite right. So I'm open to suggestions.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:19 PM

I Honestly dont see the point of Re Writing what was perfectly acceptable when the song was originally written !


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: peregrina
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:21 PM

when the cottonpickers pick the cotton?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: mg
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:23 PM

or just the pickers..I think cp has too many syllables...mg


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:23 PM

"when it's time to pick the cotton"?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:24 PM

I was going to suggest the same thing peregrina just did.

Terry, it's NOT 'perfectly acceptable' NOW, and it will distract at the least and make people think he's a racist asshole at the worst.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:26 PM

Or what George said. 'Cotton pickers' has the same number of syllables as 'picaninnies'. (I wonder what the etiology of that word is.)


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:27 PM

When the boy'O's all pick cotton?

If you want to keep the alliteration, I suppose you could say "When the pickers all pick cotton."

Leadfingers, because we have grown more aware and sensitive as a society and because that is not a bad thing. We've had this debate so many times.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:28 PM

people, pickers, farmhands.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:28 PM

Cross-posting...is that like cross-dressing? **bg**


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: kendall
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:35 PM

I always thought the name picaninnies referred to small black kids? Did they also work the fields?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Wesley S
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:38 PM

Yes- child labor laws have changed.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: peregrina
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:40 PM

The verse works with a lot of repetitions-different kinds of picking, also the wedding-ring/wedding in the spring. So keeping 'picking' in there whatever you precede it with seems apt. But farmhands has (to me) a really evocative effect because of getting a farm in there along with the spring and peaches.

Children,black and white did pick cotton...Didn't Johnny Cash have to pick cotton as a kid?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:43 PM

Go with 'cottonpickers'. Same number of syllables as the original, and the cp/pc alliteration. Plus the 'pick' sound in 'piccaninnies' is present too. Sounds as though JR might have sung it.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:45 PM

I like the suggestion from George Papavgeris.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:45 PM

I had a white schoolteacher who grew up picking cotton in Louisiana, but she was never known as a pc. My mom dressed up as one for some school thing when she was in high school, back in the early 30's; she had on blackface even. The reason we even know this is there is a picture of her in the yearbook dressed up that way. I am sure she was not particularly proud of it as the years went by. To us, it was a derogatory term and the image was a caricature of a small, thin, crinkly-haired, poor black child. Nothing acceptable about it now or for a long time where I come from. Never will be, I hope.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: pdq
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:45 PM

I was listeneng to Doc Watson's version of this song a few days ago. He gently updates the lyrics of many songs. Try using the words Doc used.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:55 PM

If you need the same number of syllables as pickaninnies - which I assume you do - you could try:

When the workers go to pick the cotton

It's only a two-syllable word, but the added "go to" echoes against the going-to-town in the next line, pointing up a nice contrast between the destinations.

If you don't need four syllables you can just leave out "go to" and use Workers or Farmers.

Apparently picking cotton is HORRIBLE work! I read a detailed description once of what you have to actually do (while bending over in the boiling-hot sun) to release the bit of the plant you want from the clutches of that which you don't, probably cutting yourself in the process. Sure puts paid to all those city-slicker illusions of just plucking it like a piece of fruit.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 01:00 PM

My teacher used to tell us about how often they would find big snakes curled up in the long cotton sacks they had to drag behind them. Apparently snakes like a cushy bed, too. Scared her when she was little.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Thompson
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 01:03 PM

When the cotton-pickin' cotton's all been picked, then I'll pick a wedding ring...


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 01:20 PM

Cot-ton-pick-ers has the same number of syllables as pick-a-nin-nies.
I guess you could use fi-eld-work-ers or the-share-crop-pers.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Melissa
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 01:45 PM

I sing "when the pickers are pickin' their cotton"


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:04 PM

I agree; that "Yodel ay-hee" line definitely has to come out.

CC


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Wesley S
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:06 PM

Actually I'm tempted to try the yodel. I just need to decide if I'm brave enough.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Ferrara
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:07 PM

What did Doc Watson sing for this line?

I sing a few songs that need this kind of cleaning up. If it were me [I?], I'd probably sing "When the pickers go to pick the cotton," or "When the pickers go to pickin' cotton," or some such, to try to keep the feel of the language JR used, and the idea of lots of different kinds of picking.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Melissa
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:18 PM

Wesley,
Does your version include the "when hard times overtake you" verse?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Wesley S
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:23 PM

Yes - Here's what I have:

When it's peach picking time in Georgia, apple picking time in Tennessee
Cotton picking time in Mississippi, everybody picks on me
When it's roundup time in Texas the cowboys make whoopee   
Then down in old Alabama it's gal picking time to me
               
REFRAIN: yodel ay-hee o, olay-hee o, olay-hee.

There's the bluegrass down in Kentucky; Virginia's where they do the swing
Carolina, now I'm coming, to you to spend the spring
Arkansas, I hear you calling; I know I'll see you soon
There's where I'll do a little picking underneath the Ozark moon.
REFRAIN: yodel ay-hee o, olay-hee o, olay-hee.

Now when hard times overtake you, I hope they don't get me
For I've got a sweetie waiting, for me down in Tennessee
I know I'm going to see her, I hope it won't be long
There's where we'll pick a little cabin, and call it our mountain home
REFRAIN: yodel ay-hee o, dee yodel ay-hee o, dee yodel ay-hee.

When the pickaninnies pick the cotton, I'll pick a wedding ring
We'll go to town and pick a little gown, for the wedding in the spring
I hope the preacher knows his business; I know he can't fool me
When it's peach picking time in Georgia, it's gal picking time to me
REFRAIN: yodel ay-hee o, dee yodel ay-hee o, dee yodel ay-hee.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: mrdux
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:25 PM

re: etymology -- it's probably a modification of the Portuguese pequenino very little, from pequeno little, small + -ino, diminutive suffix (per Webster's Third International Dictionary).


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Melissa
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:34 PM

This is one of the first songs I learned to play with more than three chords..and I still like it. Somehow, I never managed to hear that 'hard times' verse until recently.

Did your words come from a book?
They're slightly different from how I know it.

Fun song..


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Wesley S
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:39 PM

I have a Jimmie Rodgers song book at home but this version came from a Google search this morning.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,Ol' Man Ribber
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:43 PM

What about MY first lines?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: paula t
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 03:29 PM

I actually remember being given a text book to answer some questions from when I was 8 years old(in the "enlightened" 60s).The questions were on names we give to babies - eg." A baby hare is called a ........"The answers were on the page, and yes you've guessed it....One of the questions was "A baby negro is called a.........."I was appalled and told my teacher I thought the book was wrong.I was told it was a very old book but that the rest of the questions were useful, so if I didn't want to answer that question it was o.k.
I was still unhappy so I told another teacher that I didn't like using the book. Nothing was said to me about it-but we were never given the book again.I've never forgotten how upset I was about it - even though I didn't understand why. I remember asking why some people's babies had to be given special names as if they were different.Don't remember getting an answer though.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 04:03 PM

You might also try "field hands" which was the general term for who was out in the field picking away. I was once a "hay hand" but never laid a hand on cotton.

I wouldn't use "pickaninnies" unless I was using the song in a scholarly workshop.

Now back in the early 1920's that was the term of endearment that my mother's nursemaid used to describe her little daughter, but that was another time.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,KT logged out
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 04:36 PM

I've always sung "cotton pickers" as that's the way I learned it from a CD recorded by John Lily.

Wesley, go for the yodel! It's great fun, especially if you can get a few to join in on that part!

KT


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 04:45 PM

Oh great. Let's sanitize the song so nobody hearing it ever gets to know that small black kids were used as slave labour.

That is supposed to be anti-racist?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Melissa
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 04:51 PM

Jack,
I think the idea is to be Tasteful.
Changing the word in this instance does not change the meaning or 'hide' anything.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 04:53 PM

Why not just make it:

When it's peach picking time in Georgia, I'll pick a wedding ring
We'll go to town and pick a little gown, for the wedding in the spring
I hope the preacher knows his business; I know he can't fool me
When it's peach picking time in Georgia, it's gal picking time to me
REFRAIN: yodel ay-hee o, dee yodel ay-hee o, dee yodel ay-hee.


It's pretty sad that a perfectly good word like "pickaninny", which is basically no different than "bambino" in an Italian context gets ruled out of order as racist. But I suppose in a country so screwed up by a history of racism it's inevitable.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Wesley S
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 05:04 PM

"It's pretty sad that a perfectly good word like "pickaninny", which is basically no different than "bambino" in an Italian context gets ruled out of order as racist. But I suppose in a country so screwed up by a history of racism it's inevitable."

McGrath - I grew up in the deep south. Trust me you're wrong when you say that pickaninney is a perfectly good word. It's not. Some words mean different things in different areas.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Micca
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 05:14 PM

I really like this song and I have a recording of Chance Fortunato and Suzette doing the Yodel as the ringtone on my mobile phone!!! believe me, I KNOW when its my phone thats ringing!!!


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: stallion
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 05:17 PM

I think that society makes of words what it will and words that need to be "sanitised" are about that society that requires it to be done. Having never been around overt racism growing up I had to read about it and I am afraid the lyrics must stay in the "museum" for the sake of our fellow human beings.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 05:24 PM

"It's pretty sad that a perfectly good word like "pickaninny", which is basically no different than "bambino" in an Italian context gets ruled out of order as racist. But I suppose in a country so screwed up by a history of racism it's inevitable."


Given that the ever-crusty Mr. McGrath resides in the island kingdom formerly known as "The British Empire", that seem like the pot calling the kettle, ah, er, tarnished--


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Genie
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 05:33 PM

Yes, Wesley, it's sad when a word gets corrupted or usurped to the point where you kind of have to stop using it if you want most of your audience to understand it, but that does happen.   It's hard to use "gay" to mean "happy" in your lyrics any more if you don't want to be misunderstood or hear snickers from some in the audience -- a real pity, since it rhymes with so many other words.    I'd love to rescue the word "parameter," but it's too late.) You get called on the carpet if you use the word "nigardly" nowadays, too.   ( Far too many people don't know what it means and that it's nothing to do with race or skin color or even being an outcast.   

"Picaninny" sounds to me like an obvious derivative of "piccolo" (Italian) or the Portugese "pequenino."   

If you don't like "cotton pickers" and you want to keep the image of little ones (white or black) slaving in the fields, how about "pickin' kiddies" or "kiddie pickers?" Or even "little pickers?"    Personally, I prefer "cotton pickers," but just sayin' ...


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,Rich
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 05:38 PM

Wow. Someone might almost get the idea that Jimmie Rogers was a rascist, using words like that.

Rich


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Melissa
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 05:44 PM

I guess they might if they didn't grasp the concept of word usage changing with the progression of time, Rich.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Amos
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 05:58 PM

As an aside, although words are sometimes viral in the memetic sense, I do not tink they can be said to have an etiology.


A


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:10 PM

"Black kids"
"Little kids"
"Small kids"


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Melissa
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:17 PM

"children"?

I still like "all the pickers are pickin..." It doesn't catch attention by standing out from the original words.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Bert
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:22 PM

I get your point Wesley, but for years us Honkeys have been singing "it's time for little piccaninnies to go to sleep..." to our white kids. Do we gotta stop that too?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:32 PM

"Some words mean different things in different areas. I think that's more or less what I said - it's what I meant anyway. Racism screws up everything, including language.

Pickaninny is indeed derived from the Portuguese "pequenino", or the Spanish £pequeño niño" and in itself it is a perfectly innocuous word, no different from any number of other words meaning infant.

I recall that, growing up in England, the only times I came across the word pickaninny I took it as just meaning "child", with no particular implication about colour or nationality. That's how my mother used it anyway. But then she'd lived for 12 years in the Argentine speaking Spanish.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: stallion
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:34 PM

Ha, I have changed the words of a song " We were to have a gay old time" to "we were to have a rare old time" simply because it doesn't mean the same thing now. I think that the english language has lost some of it's descriptive narrative, possibly due to stored images, but at what point does descriptive narrative becomes a deregotary term? I suppose society decides that. A hundred and fifty years ago if one was to describe someone as a Shanghi Rooster, a Ripstone Pippen or a liverpool Irish Packet Rat they would have recognised the description exactly although put in a song today the meaning has to be explained, however from the same song, on the same broadsheet, the description "Long Tailed African Monkey Man" has such abhorrent connatations even now one is impelled to leave it on the broadsheet.
Thankfully the part of the world I inhabit, for the most part, and however reluctantly, has moved on and as Charley has said some of the words of these old songs should be left for a historical record and the music enjoyed by all


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,Bill the sound
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:59 PM

I am almost sure I have heard this sung as-
When it's cotton picking time in Georgia, I'll pick a wdding ring


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 08:05 PM

It's socially useful to have a clue about the impact of what you are singing in a public place.

There's probably less of a need to have a clue about what one posts on this website.

Fire away!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 08:12 AM

My original comment was based on the idea of what wouuld be acceptable in U K ( The British Empire was just a TAD bigger than our small country) and I was NOT thinking about the problems in the Southern States of America . I aplogise if I ruffled any one's feathers !


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 08:29 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickaninny


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 08:48 AM

If we rewrite history no one will ever know what went before. Leave the words alone and be a story teller of the way it was

Sal (my view from here)


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 08:58 AM

"History" is being rewritten all the time, and we/they still haven't got it right!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: pdq
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 10:15 AM

Listened to Merl Travis last night. He uses the words "when the cotton pickers pick their cotton". Works quite well.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 10:20 AM

How about "motherf-----s." It scans and it doesn't offend only one ethnic group.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 01:21 PM

Cool Beans lol

sal


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 01:34 PM

I understand wanting to change the original lyrics. No sense offending or horrifying your audience with an old-fashioned racial epithet when it can be easily avoided.

What I DO find objectionable is bowdlerizing this song by omitting Jimmie's trademark "blue yodel," a simple and fairly-easily sung interlude not nearly so challenging to sing as any of those full-length cowboy "yodeling songs." If you don't have the nerve or the pipes to put across a quick "yodelahee oh" or two, please don't desecrate the Singing Brakeman's memory!

See this thread:

Dare To Yodel!


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: SouthernCelt
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 07:45 PM

Boy, with all the responses this somewhat innocuous question generated, I guess I better not post the lyrics to a late 19th century song about Reconstruction called "Carpetbagger's Lament".
;-)

SC


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 09:08 PM

It isn't an innocuous question, you just don't know the context, SC. And Ms. Lemon, you need to understand that your following your advice could result in a very big problem, anywhere from getting banned from a venue to a confrontation with a group of concerned citizens. TV news crews have been known to respond to this sort of thing, as well. I kid you not--


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Genie
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 09:24 PM

"If you're that afraid of the word, don't do the song."

What a shame it would be if we had to lose every good song ever written (or handed down orally) that had a single offensive word in it!

Songs, both "folk" and other kinds, do get changed up here and there, both in tune and lyrics, over time.   That's not likely to stop.   And I'd much rather a word or two be changed because the original lyric is now (or maybe always was) really offensive to many people than just because somebody forgot a line or misheard it and then the incorrect (and quite possibly inferior) lyric gets passed on to the point where most people think it's right.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Owlkat
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 02:09 AM

Meow Y'all,
Wow! I'm finding it kind of difficult to believe anyone with a minimum of education and life experience living in the 21st century thinks that they can use any racist-based folklore and justify co-opting it for the sake of historical accuracy, and then get shirty about being challenged for it. "Pickaninny" reeks of slavery, colonialism, death, misery, and racism, at the very least. If you didn't know this before, than you may want to know it now.

I am willing to admit that I am the pot calling the kettle black. I still cringe when I think of the ignorance with which I used to belt out some songs when I was young and callow. I was thick as a bag of hammers with some of the songs I joyfully and earnestly sang, convinced I was the absolute soul of authenticity and art. Why I didn't get whacked with a fish I have no idea.   

That said, maybe it all comes to a personal decision as to what consequences a person is willing to accept in return for historical accuracy in art in general and in music in particular. If you want to use the word which originated all of this discussion, or condone its use, be aware that in some places you will get applause, and in other places, you will get your ass kicked.

Ah, the price of truth.
Cheerio,
Owlkat


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 03:09 AM


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,Suffolk Miracle
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 12:22 PM

Is it possible to conduct a sensible discussion on this question?

Let's take the argument a step further. I sing a version of Hugh of Lincoln in which there is no mention of the murderess being Jewish. I didn't censor it – it just happened that the version I learnt from a singer I admired happened not to mention it. Perhaps back along the line someone took a conscious decision to drop it; perhaps the oral transmission just lost it by accident. Now, if I look at the situation as a singer, as a part of the oral tradition, I don't have a problem – I just sing a song about a child murder as I learnt it – 'tis all I know and all I need to know. But what if, as a singer, as a part of the oral tradition, I had learnt an 'antisemitic' version. Would I still be able to justify singing an unchanged version? Or should I look more self-consciously at what I am doing? If I do so I am changing my perspective.
I am in fact not a simple singer. I am an educated person who has read scholarly tomes on folk song and knows full well what Hugh of Lincoln is about. Should I take the view that it is historically important to preserve the full meaning and implications of the song, and 'decensor' it to the point of putting back the antisemitic references?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 12:40 PM

"Pickaninny" is actually kinda unique as a racist word. It could often be understood as a term of endearment, applied to a very cute and appealing dark-skinned infant or toddler. The subtext, of course, is that this sweet little baby is going to grow up to be "one of them."

I like the ideal of historical accuracy and all that, but you have to consider context. I would sing the original lyric only in a situation where I knew my audience well, and felt confident that they'd understand what I was doing and why. I would never sing this kind of controversial word at a public gig in front of strangers ~not worth being misinterpreted or worse.

I think McGrath had it right a day or two ago: only in a society seriously screwed up about race would it be so problematic to even utter such a word.

I wouldn't be too smug about this if I were British, though; the British not only initiated and conducted the international slave trade, they also profited handsomely from the plantation system in the southern US, which provided raw cotton to a huge textile-mill industry. Even today, when folks of African descent may be treated a bit better in the UK (and throughout Europe) than in the US, the same isn't necessarily true of other minority groups, such as Pakistanis, Turks, and other Muslims.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Wesley S
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 01:33 PM

"There are no words that, in and of themselves, are offensive. Context is all."

I would disagree. To the vast majority of people "nigger" is an offensive word. I can't imagine the possible context where it would be acceptable.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: topical tom
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 04:12 PM

Unless the use of such a word is likely to sow or increase hatred in the audience I am not in favour of censorship in this case. . As some people said previously, if the word offends you do not sing the song but do not alter the original.Far too many songs would then have to be sung differently and there would go much historical value.Even black people do not demand the removal and destruction of all racist memorabilia, acknowledging the necessity of preserving the history, though it was disgraceful and totally wrong.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 08:17 PM

I'm still quite puzzled at why the word is regarded as offensive - I'm not questioning that that is the case, particularly in some places, but I'm puzzled where the offensiveness lies.

The subtext, of course, is that this sweet little baby is going to grow up to be "one of them."   But then the same would apply if the word used had been "baby", if it was a song where it was evident that the baby was "black". There has to be more to the subtext than that - presumably that it implies that there is something undesirable in growing up like your parents, if your parents are black.

But it'd be be a very odd world where that didn't happen.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 08:30 PM

McGrath et al-

I like what Poppa Gator has posted above about "Pickaninny" and would add that I think many African-Americans here in the States would take exception to its use by Whites because of its denigrating use by Whites of previous generations.

Certainly Ella Robinson Madison, my mother's African-American nursemaid used the term in the 1920's as a term of endearment for her deceased child. It's sad when a term of endearment can be transformed into something degrading but that's what has happened. Maybe in time the term will be revived. But I'm not about to pioneer that idea.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Genie
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 08:39 PM

By "single offensive word," I was not dismissing context (though I agree that some words would be offensive in almost any context today).   I simply meant a word which, when included in an otherwise well-received song, would kind of "poison the broth" - i.e., turn a lot of people off so much they would tune out the rest of the song.    If you can take that one word and find an acceptable substitute that fits the song and doens't offend, that's what I mean by a "single offensive word."

For instance, the state of Kentucky has substituted the word "people" for "darkies" in their state song, "My Old Kentucky Home."   Personally, I prefer "... 'Tis summer, the honkies are gay ...," but perhaps my caucasian bretheren and cistern may find that offensive.
So I usually sing, " ... the folks are all gay ... "

Of course, that offends the Christian Coalition ...

(Can't win, can ya?)


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: mg
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 09:48 PM

I think the word is not a bad word where I come from up north. But I don't use it and would change it. It is sort of like ragamuffin, a probably somewhat bedraggled child, not from the upper crust, but not a word of contempt etc. usually. Sort of cute...mg


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 10:03 PM

McGrath of Harlow,

As far as I know, the word was not typically used with the deliberate intention of being denigrating. On the contrary, when I have seen it used, it seems to be intended as a term of endearment.   

What was denigrating was that, although we use special words for young animals (kitten, puppy, chick), we don't typically use special words for the young of human sub-groups. We don't have a special word for baby Spaniards or young Danes or infant Norwegians. The exceptions are "papoose" and "pickaninny".

Similarly, in English, we have special words to indicate the gender of animals (bull, hen, boar, gander, etc.) but typically not for human sub-groups. There is no special word for Dutch women or Swedish men. We do however have "Negress", "Squaw" and "Jewess", "Buck" and "Brave".

It isn't necessarily the intention that's offensive; it's the (perhaps unconscious) implication that blacks are so different from whites that we need a special word for black children.

Kent


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 10:15 PM

Regarding "pickaninnies"...

After school, entering our home, upon my mother's question, "At what age do they stop calling black children 'pickaninnies'?"

My good friend, (one of the first to break the "color-barrier") replied, As soon as they are old enough to fight.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Given the context that you present. Explain the ORIGINAL and also sing the ORIGINAL

Without a history - who could know - what you know? Pass it on.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Genie
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 01:22 AM

Maybe it's kind of like the word "Mammy." To me, this is not a racist term, nor does it designate a mother of any particular race. Maybe it connotes poor Southern mamas (since that's kind of where it was used), but I vividly remember Al Capp's "Mammy Yokum" in the Li'l Abner comic strips.
Still, when I sing "Shortnin' Bread" -- and I really do like the song, especially for Mother's Day programs in retirement facilities --, I usually change "Mammy" to "Mama."   Especially if there are African-Americans in my audience. The changed word works just fine, means the same thing, and is far less likely to offend people (which I prefer to avoid both out of consideration for my audience and because I'd like to be hired again).


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Melissa
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 01:47 AM

I do the same thing when I sing Missouri Waltz. It's easy enough to be a "child sitting on my mama's knee" hearing "old folks" humming. I'm not ashamed of the song as it's written, but I wouldn't sing it without that little bit of clean-up.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Genie
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 03:42 AM

I sing "Missouri Waltz" as "... When I was a little baby on my mama's knee" or "... When I was a little tot upon my mama's knee."

"Piccaninny" is far less important to that song than to "Peach Pickin' Time In Georgia," because there's not the alliteration in MW, and "little baby" or "little tot," according to several of the posters here, really does mean the same thing as "piccaninny."

But I still get requests for "Carry Me Back To Old Virginny" at nursing and retirement homes fairly often. That one is harder to reword, but it's hard for me to sing songs glorifying or sanitizing the plight of slaves, especially when those songs were written by whites. I usually chicken out and just say (pretty truthfully) that I can't remember all the lyrics.   (Guess I'll have to learn to do an instrumental version.)


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Wesley S
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 09:54 AM

Two things I've noticed. Those that think I should sing the song with the words unchanged don't live in the southern United States. Any so seem to be unfamilar with the context and history. I remember the "colored only" water fountains. And second - the folks who think I shouldn't change the word aren't expected to be there when I perform it to have my back.

Do you really think the traditional songs you sing are unchanged in any way? You perform them exactly as they were first sung? Of course not. It's called the folk process. Bottom line is that if I find the word offensive I'm going to change it. And change it I will for live performance. And I doubt I'll be sued by Jimmie Rodgers great-great grandson. Feel free to perform the song any way you like. Yodels included. It's a free country - for now.

My goodness - what a mountain we've built out of this molehill.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 01:42 PM

"Pickanniny" is offensive because it was associated with images like this: Jolly Pickanninies


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Fortunato
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 01:46 PM

Wesley,

I recorded it on our first CD as:
"When the cottonpickers that cotton, I'll pick a wedding ring"

It's the obvious replacement, but I'd heard Jim Reeves version of it first, I'm sure, around 1961, along with Waiting for a Train.

As to the yodel, if you want, PM me, and I'll give you the way Susette and teach beginning yodeling


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 02:03 PM

Bambinio, chisler, bairn, wean


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 02:17 PM

I pushed the button too early there - the point I was making was that there are other foreign or dialect words used in English meaning child. But they aren't used specifically or exclusively to refer to the children of particular ethnic groups.

I rather assume, given the etymological roots of pickaninny, in Spanish or Portuguese words that refer to children in general, that this would originally have been how it would have been used in English. (Rather the way I understood it when I was growing up.) Maybe if that commonsense way of using it were restored it would cease to be seen as offensive.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: SharonA
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 02:27 PM

Hello, all. Sharon from the Philadelphia PA area here (near the Mason-Dixon line!). Just read through this conversation, and a couple of thoughts have occurred to me that I haven't seen a mention of, thus far:

One of the offensive things about the term "pickaninny", in addition to those discussed, is that "ninny" itself is a derogatory term meaning idiot, fool, simpleton, one with a low IQ, or one with severe mental retardation. According to Webster's Revised Unabridged dictionary, it is derived from the Italian and Spanish words for babies/children (as noted here). So, "pickaninny" doesn't just mean "little children" in a purely etymological sense, it DENOTES a person with the mind of a very young child... which was a stereotype of African slaves widely used by "whites" as a justification for the perpetuation of slavery (i.e. that these were people who COULD not survive on their own as freemen and freewomen because they were not intelligent enough to care for themselves properly). This dreadful stereotype lingered throughout the Jim Crow era and still lurks in some minds today.

Another point I wish to make is that Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) lived during that Jim Crow era and grew up in the deep South, so I'm willing to bet that when HE sang "pickaninnies" he was using the word as his contemporaries used it, not as someone in Europe today would use it. Whether he meant it to be derogatory or not, it was a commonly used word with the commonly accepted meaning "black workers of limited mental capacity" (be they children or adults).

Wesley, I'm glad to see that you intend to change the lyric for performance of Rodgers's song. Given that it will be performed in the southern US, I doubt that you would need to preface the song with an explanation of the revision; I'm sure your audience is all too familiar with the fact that songs of Rodgers's era contained such derogatory terms -- and worse ones. Bringing up the subject would be akin to picking the scab off an old wound. Let it heal.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Marion
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 02:44 PM

McGrath said: I rather assume, given the etymological roots of pickaninny, in Spanish or Portuguese words that refer to children in general, that this would originally have been how it would have been used in English.

I think this assumption is incorrect. Sometimes what a word "should" mean, based on its etymology, is different from what it means in practical usage. If you insist on using words according to what they should mean rather than what they do mean, it's an impediment to communication at best, and an offensive one in this example. Pickaninny might not be a racial slur where you are, but it is in the US, and that's where Wesley S. is proposing to sing the song.

The other classic example I can think of right now is "anti-Semitic". Etymologically, this "should" mean being against all Semitic ethnic groups, including Arabs and Ethiopians. However, in real life this word is used and understood to mean prejudice against Jews. If a pedant uses it to mean prejudice against Arabs - because that's what it technically should include - this would be ineffective communication.

Marion


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: mg
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 02:54 PM

I think that Carry me back to old Virginie was not written by a white person...mg


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Marion
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 03:34 PM

I thought of another good example for my etymology vs. practical usage point: the word inflammable.

What it should mean is something that can burn, i.e., able to be inflamed. However, in practical usage its meaning is ambiguous, since the prefix "in-" often means "not". So, to sell an oxygen tank and label it inflammable would be dangerously poor communication, even if it's etymologically correct.

Marion


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: SharonA
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 03:34 PM

mg, you are correct: "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" was written by James A. Bland (1854-1911), an African-American, and published in 1878. Bland was a famous performing minstrel, and so the song was presumably crafted to appeal to audiences of minstrel shows, but he himself was never a slave. He was born in Flushing NY to a free family, educated in Washington DC, and a graduate of Howard University in 1873. He also wrote "Golden Slippers" and over 700 other songs.

IMO it just goes to show to what ends an African-American of that era had to go to make a living. Unfortunately his actions helped perpetuate the pre-emancipation stereotype of the happy slave (see the Pro-Slavery Songs thread for examples).


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: SharonA
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 04:25 PM

But back to the original subject: suggestions for an alternative to the Rodgers lyric. I agree with those who suggest avoiding the reference to workers at all. How about...

"When it's time to go an' pick the cotton, I'll pick a wedding ring"

or

"When it's cotton-pickin' time, I'll pick a cotton-pickin' wedding ring"


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 04:51 PM

"Ninny" as a word has got absolutely nothing to do with pickaninny, which comes from "pequeninho", the Spanish "pequeño niño", with the ninho or niño being the normal word for child, which it still is, with the whole term quite simply meaning "small child" - of any colour.

"Ninny" probably comes from "innocent", meaning "simple". Goes back to Shakespeare's time at least.

Tying it up with "pickaninny" is a bit like saying that the "lack" in "black" is there to give the word a pejorative meaning, as implying that something is missing in black people.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Melissa
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 04:52 PM

I always thought 'ninny' came from 'nincompoop'


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 09:27 PM

Thanks for your suggestions about what words ought to mean, and what they ought not mean, Kevin. Next you'll probably point out that no offense should be taken by men of African-American heritage at the term "boy", owing to its venerability.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,wcba
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 10:33 PM

Most people use the term "young folk or folks" since pickaninny is an archaic term referring to young black children.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 11:15 PM

SharonA,

Are you sure that pickaninny "was a commonly used word with the commonly accepted meaning 'black workers of limited mental capacity' (be they children or adults)"? I've never seen or heard the word used that way.

McGrath of Harlow,

You may be interested to know that there is a language which uses the word as you think it must have originally been used in English. That language is Tok Pisin, the Pidgin language of New Guinea. It is spelled "pikanini" in that language. http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:d37a8diklMsJ:www.mitupela.net/pngletters/The%2520Lingo.html+%22Tok+pisin%22+pikanini&hl=en& However, in American English, it means, not "child", but "black child".

Kent


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 06:20 AM

I didn't question the fact that it is seen as offensive, M Ted, merely speculated where the offensiveness lies - "racism screws up everything,including language".

In this case the screwing up involved redefining a word in such a way that it only applied to black children rather than to all children.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Fortunato
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 07:38 AM

Wesley,
Sorry I meant to type: "When the cottonpickers pick that cotton...".

As a recovering English Teacher I find the derivation of words and the levels of meaning endlessly fascinating. In my opinion, however, in the performance of songs, unless one uses the performance as a method of social change, words that members of an audience may find pejorative are simply distractions. Like the case of "Big Bug in My Beer", the quality and delicious flavor of the beer is lost in the examination of the bug.

While the response of the bugee and the buggor may be revealing, it's no longer 'about the beer', or as in this case, the song.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 09:41 AM

100


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: SharonA
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 04:18 PM

Kent Davies: Yes, I'm sure. Although its most common usage was in reference to small black children, it could also refer to an older child, a teenager, or even a "simple-minded" adult. Here's a quote from The Ferris University's Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia (my emphasis in boldface):

"Picaninnies as portrayed in material culture have skin coloring ranging from medium brown to dark black -- light skinned picaninnies are rare. They include infants and teenagers; however, most appear to be 8-10 years old. Prissy, the inept and hysterical servant girl in Gone With the Wind was an exception. She was older than the typical picaninny, but her character was functionally a picaninny."

Later in this article. the Little Black Sambo book is discussed:

"...The illustrations were racially offensive, and so was the name Sambo. At the time that the book was originally published Sambo was an established anti-Black epithet, a generic degrading reference. It symbolized the lazy, grinning, docile, childlike, good-for-little servant.... In 1932 Langston Hughes, the Black writer, said Little Black Sambo exemplified the 'pickaninny variety' of storybook, 'amusing undoubtedly to the white child, but like an unkind word to one who has known too many hurts to enjoy the additional pain of being laughed at.' "
© Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology, Ferris State University, Oct., 2000

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McGrath/Kevin: I already referred to the Webster's Unabridged dictionary's derivation of "ninny" from the Italian ninno/ninna and the Spanish niño/niña, but obviously "ninny" has a different meaning. My point is not about the derivation of the word "picaninny/pickaninny" but rather the connotation and the denotation of it. Yes, "pequeño niño" means "tiny baby", but "pickaninny" does not. Please, before you post another insistence that it does, do some reading on the subject.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: SharonA
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 04:41 PM

Here is an article which claims that the word pickaninny comes not just from the Portuguese but "from the Portuguese slaver term pequenho for 'little one' ": "Understanding Pickaninnies and Improving the Race" by Troy Peters


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 04:42 PM

We aren't really disagreeing - I've indicated that I recognise that racists have corrupted the meaning of "pickaninny" so has become a word that is liable to cause offence, and that should therefore be avoided.

But the diminished meaning, in which it has a specific reference to "black" children does appear to be a later development from a more general meaning, and not one which is universally adopted.

The Shorter Oxford English dictionary 1983(which gives the earliest appearance of the word as 1685), gives as a definition: sb. A little one, a child...; a child in general; (adj.) very small, tiny, baby.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: SharonA
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 04:52 PM

Here's a postcard depicting what appear to be African American teenagers (certainly not small children). The title on the card is "The Blackville Serenade" but the item is described as being from the publisher's "Pickaninny Series": Postcard

I don't dare look for more examples at the moment. I'm in a public library, with a group of African American teens at the next computer. I do not wish to offend them if they happen to glance at this computer screen and see similar images! Bye for now.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 05:43 PM

I'm not convinced yet that 'picaninny' could refer to an adult of any description. The quote re: "Gone With the Wind" - "her character was functionally a picaninny" - does not support the notion that 'picanniny' was a term applied to adults, outside the odd instance of this sort of academic manipulation - or maybe in some run-of-the-mill mockery, along the lines of calling someone a 'big baby'. And the teenagers having made it into the 'Pickaninny Series' is far from conclusive.

I'll keep my mind open on the matter though, if you can come with more ... (don't take any unnecessary risks, though!).


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 06:25 PM

"Baby" is pretty widely used to refer to young women - think of the number of songs that use it that way. But the basic meaning of the word continues to be "very young child".

Or just try typing "babe" into Google images. But you might be advised to refrain from doing that in a public library either!


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Genie
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 01:25 AM

The example of "Sambo" as an African-American racial epithet illustrates well how connotation shifts over time.   The original Sambo stories were about a child in INDIA, not in or from Africa (hence the tigers).   
Try telling that to an African-American audience today, though, if you were to read the "Li'l Black Sambo" stories to a preschool class.
Perceptions and meanings change over time.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Genie
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 01:38 AM

I'd add that "bimbo" to an Italiano means "little boy." Nothing the least bit derogative about it.
Doesn't mean that's how we Yanks use it nowadays.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: meself
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 02:09 AM

'"Baby" is pretty widely used to refer to young women' -

The use of this word illustrates by analogy what happened to 'picaninny'. A neutral word becomes an endearment, then as society changes, the endearment comes to seem patronizing, to the point of being demeaning.

Some years ago there was an incident in the Canadian parliament in which a Conservative cabinet minister (Cosby) sarcastically addressed a female Liberal Opposition MP (Sheila Copps) as 'baby' - I believe he said, "Simmer down, baby". She took umbrage, giving him a thorough blast - concluding with: "I'm nobody's baby!". A small incident in itself, but it seemed to mark a change in attitudes, and is well-remembered by Canadians of a certain vintage.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: meself
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 02:46 AM

[For the record, that cabinet minister's name is John Crosby].


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 01:15 PM

It should be remembered that words can have a colloquial, or slang meaning that coexists with, but is very different than their dictionary definition.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Fortunato
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 08:21 PM

All to easy to mistake the finger pointing for the moon...


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 07:51 PM

And depending on which finger is pointing and what you mean by "moon";-)


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: SharonA
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 04:44 PM

To "meself" (eek, I'm talking to meself!): Please allow me to say once again that although the most common usage of "pickaninny/picaninny/piccaninny/(similar spellings)" was in reference to small black children, the word was also used in reference to older children and teenagers, and even adults (probably young adults) of limited mental faculties such as the Prissy character in GWTW. I agree that the latter is an "odd instance" in that it is less usual than the word's use as a reference to a child, but I disagree that it's an "academic manipulation" by the writer of that article; the character Prissy is called "dat lil pickaninny" in Chapter 8 of GWTW by another slave (Peter), and then she is described in the following paragraph:

Scarlett looked at Prissy and sighed. Prissy was not the most adequate of nurses. Her recent graduation from a skinny pickaninny with brief skirts and stiffly wrapped braids into the dignity of a calico dress and starched white turban was an intoxicating affair. She would never have arrived at this eminence so early in life had not the exigencies of war and the demands of teh commissary department on Tara made it impossible for Ellen [Scarlett's mother] to spare [other slaves to serve as nurse for Scarlett's baby]."

So, in the book Prissy is described as "pickaninny" AND recently assigned an adult duty. Her age is ambiguous in the book, but in chapter 19 Scarlett plans to send her away from Atlanta to Tara with Scarlett's baby, a journey and a responsibility she would not have had a child take on. Yet, of course, Prissy does not prove to be a very responsible adult!


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 10:17 PM

Okay - although in that quotation a clear distinction is being made between the 'picaninny' (child) state and that of an adult. However, even that is more than I would have expected.

I would have missed your latest, except that I went looking for this thread in relation to mention of http://www.redhotjazz.com/pickaninny.html I came across: The Memphis Pickaninny Band, which made a recording in 1917. That name, of course, seems more consistent with your understanding of the word in question.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: meself
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 10:23 PM

Whoops! That was me. I mean, meself. And I'll try the blue clicky again: The Memphis Pickaninny Band.

(Not much information there, though),


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: SharonA
Date: 09 Apr 08 - 04:24 PM

I just tried to post to this thread and it didn't go through. Has the thread been locked? (Or have I been locked out?)


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: SharonA
Date: 09 Apr 08 - 04:26 PM

Guess it was just a Mudcat hiccup. *groan* I may not be able to reconstruct that post till tomorrow. Oh, well, so it goes.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Apr 08 - 05:17 PM

You could sing:-

Instead of playing with my penis, you'll be picking a wedding ring


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 01:27 PM

Any idea when the term would have switched from being a dialect term for "child" to being used exclusively to mean "black child"?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: meself
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 10:34 PM

I wonder if, other than in the odd case such as that of your mother, with her Argentine influence, the term was ever commonly used in English to mean "child" in a generic sense? Or did the term enter English in a context in which it was automatically applied to black children; e.g., in some branch of the slave trade? I've never before heard of the term being applied to white children; if it was at one time not uncommon in England/Ireland/Scotland - etc. - I wonder if it was picked up from Southern-American-related culture (e.g., from Uncle Tom's Cabin) as a kind of endearment?


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 11:58 PM

I have sung this song for years, yodel and all. I have always sung it

When the workers, they pick the cotton.

Regards to pick-a-ninny. There used to be a brand of watermelons years ago called Pickaninny Melons with a picture of a Black boy in coveralls standing in a melon patch glued to the wooden crate. We now have a perfectly fine word that was turned into a racist comment.

Harmless words become harmful only when some nitwit makes them so. Or when some equally pea brained dope decides they are offended by it. Here we have a foreign word that means small child, only it is mispronounced and turned into a local term of derision. Suppose 100 years ago Currier and Ives printed a litho of small black kids picking cotton and the title was " When the Lil' Kids pick the cotton."

We will doom our language to second guesses for fear we will offend someone with everyword we speak.

Don


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 06:27 AM

I think the more general sense of the word has actually had a much wider provenance than is recognised.

The Oxford English definition I gave earlier indicated the term as "a West Indian negro derivative of Spanish pequeno or Portuguese pequenho little or small, perhaps based on Portuguese diminutive pequenino" meaning "A little one, a child: applied especially to the children of Negroes", but also "A child in general" or as an adjective "Very small, tiny, baby".


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 12:57 PM

The word is now thought to have come from Lingua Franca, which was spoken by traders--including Portuguese slave traders--which hardly gives it an innocent beginning--

And Don, those remember that those "boys" on advertising labels started out as "Golliwog" images--please don't try and tell us that the old days were more innocent of racisim than now--I know you're not one of the "bright young men who want to go back to 1910"--


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 02:11 PM

Nope, That type of racism began in the old days. Certainly Pre Civil War. That doesn't make the abuse of the language any less reprehensible. There has never been anything innocent about racism.

As far as being one of Barry's Boys, I ain't that old.

D


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: Genie
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 05:10 PM

Don Meixner said: "We will doom our language to second guesses for fear we will offend someone with everyword we speak."

True, but the "meaning" of a communication is what is conveyed to the listener, not necessarily what the speaker or writer had in mind.

It's good to keep that in mind when your audience is likely to 'hear' the message of your lyrics very differently from what they "meant" in another time and place.

Sometimes singers have time to introduce songs by way of a bit of background, and this can give you leeway to sing certain lyrics without your own attitudes and meaning being misinterpreted. But when you can't, and when your audience can't be safely assumed to be steeped in "the folk tradition," there's a lot to be said for avoiding words that are likely to be perceived as racist, sexist, etc.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 06:39 PM

There are a couple of reborn "Barry's Boys" in our midst, Don--if you were old enough to slap on a bumper sticker in 1964, you were eligible--

At any rate, the P-word(and the C-word) has been decried by those who found it demeaning, for a good long time--keep in mind that they were commonly used in the golden age of blackface minstrelry, and many were offended by them then--so if we have to abandon the word that Portuguese Slavers used for the youngest of their chattels, at least we've had more than a hundred years to get used to the idea--


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: fumblefingers
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 07:08 PM

While the guilt ridden liberals pick the cotton, I'll pick up my welfare check
I'll buy some grass and sit on my ass, till my ho comes back to our shack
I hope my dealer knows his business; I know he can't fool me
When it's grass smokin' time in Georgia, it's gal stickin' time for me
REFRAIN: yodel ay-hee o, dee yodel ay-hee o, dee yodel ay-hee.


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 09:29 PM

I don't really like of Hillbilly "Trailer Trash" caricatures any better, fumblefingers, and yours isn't even very imaginative--


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: mg
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 02:35 AM

Ho?

Gal stickin?

I am astounded at this vulgarity and nastiness. mg


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Subject: RE: I need a lyric cleaned up - suggestions?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 07:08 PM

Is "chillun" an acceptable word?


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