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Origin: Black Annie

Bob Coltman 15 May 08 - 11:23 AM
Bob Coltman 15 May 08 - 11:54 AM
Bob Coltman 15 May 08 - 12:13 PM
Joe Offer 15 May 08 - 12:57 PM
Bob Coltman 15 May 08 - 02:06 PM
Bob Coltman 15 May 08 - 02:11 PM
GUEST,Q as guest 15 May 08 - 02:24 PM
Bob Coltman 15 May 08 - 03:02 PM
Acorn4 15 May 08 - 03:22 PM
Bob Coltman 17 May 08 - 10:50 AM
Bob Coltman 17 May 08 - 11:04 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 May 08 - 11:34 AM
GUEST,John Salmon 18 Dec 08 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,Richie 15 May 11 - 09:50 AM
GUEST 08 Oct 11 - 10:17 PM
michaelr 09 Oct 11 - 12:43 AM
GUEST,blkbanjoman 17 Oct 12 - 05:10 PM
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Subject: ADD: Black Annie
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 15 May 08 - 11:23 AM

"Black Annie" is a title that's been used for at least two different songs/tunes, one an old banjo lyric, the other a completely unrelated Georgia Yellowhammers song (I'll post that one in a later message).

I'm curious to know whatever any of you may be able to turn up about this mysterious Annie and her story, together with any song variants from other sources.

My source for the banjo song is Dink Roberts. It seems to be a murder ballad about a woman who was killed by her man for drinking on her own. Cece Conway in her notes to Black Banjo Songsters says Roberts learned it from his "blood brother" Mince Phillips of Burlington, NC, some nine years older, "who he believed made the song." The tune is related to the "Skillet Good and Greasy"/"Nobody's But Mine" family.

Saltville, VA's Hobart Smith, who was well acquainted with African American as well as white banjo tunes, does "Black Annie" as part of an instrumental medley on Folk Legacy FSA17, which seems to indicate the tune spread more widely and may not originate solely with Phillips and Roberts. And as I'll post later, the title also graces a most puzzling song by the Georgia Yellowhammers that seems wildly unrelated.

It's clear this is a real rarity. Roberts claimed Black Annie was a real person: "the man killed her, he cut her light out." (as in "my liver and my lights, my lungs and my head" etc.

Anyone got any info on Black Annie, song variants, etc.?

Here are the lyrics as transcribed by 12-stringer (to whom many thanks) from the CD Black Banjo Songsters:

"Black Annie"
From the singing of Dink Roberts

[spoken]
Black Annie weep, Black Annie moan
Black Annie drinking of the glass

[sung]
Well, yeah, Black Annie went down to the barroom door
Calls for a four dollar jug
Hand it down, quick as you can
Don't let my man catch me here

[spoken]
What say, banjo?

[sung]
Way down, way down, way down in Egypt some time

[spoken]
What say, banjo?

[sung]
Hey, hand it down, quick as you can
Don't let my man catch me here

first shot he did make
Landed in the facing of the door

[spoken]
What you say, banjo?

[sung]
Next shot he did make
Landed in the facing of the door
Then the third shot he did make
Landed in Black Annie's side

Said y'oughta been there, hear her moan
Could not hear from cryin'.

[spoken]
What say, banjo?

[sung]
Way behind the hill
Poor Black Annie got killed
Never know the death that she died

Way down, way,
Black Annie weep, Black Annie moan
Black Annie dead and gone.


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Subject: ADD Version: Black Annie
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 15 May 08 - 11:54 AM

Re "Black Annie" by The Georgia Yellowhammers, which seems to have nothing whatever to do with the above.

The Yellowhammers were mainly Bill Chitwood and Bud Landress with various other musicians, including sometimes the fine black fiddle/guitar duo Andrew and Jim Baxter. The Yellowhammers were steeped in rags and blues, and some of their records are masterpieces of down-home swing and syncopation.

However, what they meant by titling their 1928 record "Black Annie" isn't clear. Annie is never mentioned by name in the song, and it's not clear the song is about her at all. It's of the "coon song" variety popular in the 1890s, already long in decline by the time this was recorded.

This song is of the "You May Go, But This Is Gonna Bring You Back" family, but it's a wild ride that may include more than one song, such as a "Kill 'Em Kid" passage (a jazz interjection that goes way back) some years before Blind Willie McTell first recorded his "Kill It Kid Rag" (1940). Nevertheless its story is very coherent throughout. Its tune also varies quite a bit from verse to verse.

So the question is, did they just cop the title, perhaps from some unrecorded instrumental by the Baxters? Or is "Black Annie" really the name of this song, and if so, can it be traced to any original, or did they compose it?

You can see that the whole Black Annie business is confusion compounded.

My transcription of the lyrics has a few questions, as indicated.

BLACK ANNIE
Georgia Yellowhammers, 1928.

Well, me and my baby had a little fallin' out,
Won't you stop and let me tell you what 'twas all about,
She woke me up in the mornin', just was half-a past three,
(Said to? Sefus? T'make me?) go to work, but that ain't me.
Well, before I go to work, let me tell you what (I'll?) do,
Get another woman just as warm as you,
I packed my trunk, and I thought I had her (best?),
She got a hundred dollar bill in my favorite (vest?).

CHO:
Oh, you may go, but this's gonna bring you back,
Well, I don't know,
I'm really disgusted at the way you acted,
You took all my furniture, you put it in pawn,
To buy the new tailor-made that you got on,
You may go, but this's gonna bring you back.

Well, I went down town, and I fell in the saloon,
I got my head loaded, got dead pretty soon,
I went right back to the place I'd been before,
And she wouldn't recognize me, wouldn't let me in.
I got myself together and I knocked down the door,
Great big bully (started up? / settin' there?) on the floor,
Skillet and the lid I began to throw,
Well, I thought I heard m' baby say the coon went out the do'
   
You may go, but this's gonna bring you back.   [one line only]

Well, she bought me a wheel for to ride around,
You know m' wheel's called one [o'] the finest in town,
Buy [ ?? two-syllable word ] suit of the finest kind,
Some o' them coons just [ ?? two syllables ] mine,
Well, I got on my wheel an' I started out,
I's about my business when they hear my honey shout,
Kill 'em, kid, the sweet thing, m' honey,
Well, you sure look hot, you sure look hot,
You look down, coons, y' had rather be shot, rather be shot
Than to see my baby comin' down the street
With a pocket full o' money and a place to sleep,
[We're?] no danger to who we meet,
Just kill 'em, kid, kill 'em, kid.

Well, I carried my girl to the dance last night,
Just to show them coons that we were right,
When we entered right through the door,
I thought to my soul we gonna raise a fight,
But when the band begin to play,
Begin to play that bombashay,
I was swingin' in the air when I heard my baby say
Got a brand new man, got [ ?? six or seven syllables sung fast ],
Got a brand new [ / one syllable ], got plenty to eat,
Got a brand new man, an' { ?? ]
Got a swell-headed lady, and she can't be beat.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 15 May 08 - 12:13 PM

Briefly, it's worth pointing out that we have three instances of the title "Black Annie," one in extreme southwestern Virginia, one in north central North Carolina between Greensboro and Raleigh, and one in Gordon County, GA about 60 miles north of Atlanta.

So the range in which the Black Annie songs are found is roughly three hundred miles north-south. Whatever that may tell us.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 May 08 - 12:57 PM

Boy, Bob, I didn't find much through my usual initial sources. The Traditional Ballad Index has nothing, and Roud has just two entries:
  • The Georgia Yellow Hammers recording which can be found on Rounder 1032 ('The Moonshine Hollow Band')
  • a discography citation in Meade, Country Music Sources (2002) p.511

There are Hobart Smith recordings of the banjo piece on Rounder's second volume of the Alan Lomax Southern Journey series, and a very different version on the Smithsonian/Folkways Hobart Smith CD, In Sacred Trust: The 1963 Fleming Brown Tapes.
Here are Stephen Wade's notes on the song from the Folkways CD:
    32. BLACK ANNIE
    Though Hobart credits his father for this instrumental, he admitted to the Old Town School students that he had “pepped it up a little more.” More recent banjo recordings of Dink Roberts and Joe and Odell Thompson, a fiddle and banjo team, reveal it to be an entire song. In both their versions, it tells of a woman named Black Annie getting shot to death. I asked Joe Thompson about tthe lyric, and he said of the song's narrator, "He shot the door and and hit her next. He just run into the wrong lady. Related songs, like the Thompsons' “Georgia Buck” and “Wish to Lord I'd Never Been Born" played by Irvin Cook and Leonard Bowles (also a Black fiddle and banjo duet), likewise include a verse about Black Annie. Stemming from a different musical tradition, James "Kokomo" Arnold's 1935 slide blues recording of "Black Annie" also conveys forboding and gun play.
    Even without the benefit of a commercial recording to disseminate it, the tune has kept an essentially stable form, showing a melodic connection to “Old Reuben.” But the difference between Hobart’s approach to “Black Annie” and these other recordings reveals just how developed his intense, rapid-fire banjo style was.
    Another usage of the name “Black Annie,” related to this piece perhaps only by my own sense of the song’s underlying mood, came from a visit I made to Mississippi’s Parchman prison in January 1997. While I drove around the 22,000-acre facility with a retired guard who had been born there, the elderly sergeant told me “when an in mate got out of line” they fetched “Black Annie,” a six-foot whip, five inches wide and attached to a wooden handle. The superintendent would sign a disciplinary slip, and the man would get ten lashes. “Back then,” the guard added, “they had no kind of disciplinary problems.”

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 15 May 08 - 02:06 PM

Confusion twice compounded.

American Memory has an 1897 composition titled "Black Annie", which makes it appear intended to be a novelty dance. The dance portion is in a minor key.

Is this the source of the title phrase? Or does it go back farther into the mists of time? And if so, where did Hillman and Perrin get the title?

Notably, a "black Annie" in African American prison parlance may be a wagon used to take the condemned to the scaffold, and may even refer to the prisoner himself. I think I have also found it to refer to a bullwhip, as "Black Betty" does, but memory grows fragmentary I am not sure of that.

The sheet music doesn't explain; the cover has no art, nothing to imply what this was about. Lyrics make you think, though, that it might have been (a) inspired by the Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893, or (b) primed for the Paris World Exposition in 1900.

My feeling is that the "black Annie" tradition goes farther back, that it may have been a dance in black tradition in the late 19th century, and that the composers heard it, perhaps in New York city, and copped it in an attempt to make a dance craze.

Here's the url.

(click here).

Lyrics are as follows:

BLACK ANNIE
By Hillman and Perrin, 1897

The dance we're going to introduce is the very latest craze,
Observe those wenches coming down the "chute" with their gaudy, winsome ways,
'Tis very simple, you will plainly see, yet up to date and new,
Now, with your kind attention, we will plainly show to you,

CHO:
Gents, politely hug and kiss your Mammy,
Wheel around now, ladies, dance Black Annie,
To the World's Fair on Darby Day, everybody dance the "bom-ba-sha[y],
That's the way to introduce Black Annie.

Don't we look swell coming down the line, with our sweethearts by our side?
First the mas-ma-la, next the Mobile Buck, and then we do the glide,
Gents honor the girls as you pass them by, all single out in space,
Now, each salute your partner, view each other face to face,


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 15 May 08 - 02:11 PM

Thanks, Joe, I missed that about the whip the first time through.

Kokomo Arnold called his guitar "Black Annie," so the song may have been about that. But I'm working on finding lyrics or a midi.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: GUEST,Q as guest
Date: 15 May 08 - 02:24 PM

Interesting songs.
Can't help with the words, but 'Sefus'is Cephus, a not uncommon surname, and once given to slaves as a first name. Probably derived from the Greek Cepheus. Keith Cephus is a well-known Af-Am photographer, who has received several awards.

Perhaps unrelated, but "Black Annie" was the name of the 3-foot leather whip, 6 inches wide, used on prisoners at Parchman, AL.

A cd of Paul Brown playing the old fiddle-guitar-banjo tune is currently available


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 15 May 08 - 03:02 PM

To my complete surprise the one tape I have of Joe and Odell Thompson has their version of "Black Annie." It doesn't add much, as they have very few lyrics.

They may have learned it from Dink Roberts, who lived nearby when they were growing up. But their version is more a fiddle tune and their words differ slightly. This is all there is:

BLACK ANNIE
As performed by Joe and Odell Thompson

Oh, yeah, Black Annie,
Black Annie,
Black Annie got shot
Right in the middle of the barroom door.

Black Annie got shot (3)
In the middle of the barroom door.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: Acorn4
Date: 15 May 08 - 03:22 PM

Not sure if there's a connection here but the house where I live in Leicester(UK) is close to what is supposed to be the site of "Black Annis's Lair". She was a local haridan/witch whose crimes included eating passing children .

I know a lot of legends like this crossed over the pond together with songs, but I suppose trying to establish a connection here would be difficult, and it's probably coincidence.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 17 May 08 - 10:50 AM

Yes, the old legend of Black Annis could have contributed to the beginning of the Black Annie traditions. Here's what Wikipedia says about this terrifying apparition:

"Black Annis is a bogeyman figure in English folklore. She is imagined as a blue-faced crone or witch with iron claws and a taste for human (especially child) flesh. She is said to haunt the countryside of Leicestershire, living in a cave in the Dane Hills.
    "She supposedly goes out onto the glens at night looking for unsuspecting children and lambs to eat, then hangs their skins around her waist. She would reach inside houses to snatch people, which was the professed reason why houses in that area had small windows. Legend has it that she used her iron claws to dig into the side of a sandstone cliff, making herself a home there which is known as Black Annis's Bower.[citation needed]
    "This legend is of disputed origin. Some say it is based on a Fifteenth century hermit named Agnes Scott, while others say it is much older and probably Celtic in origin, based on a Christian demonisation of a Celtic goddess known variously as Aine, Annis, Ana, Anu, Dana and Danu."

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 17 May 08 - 11:04 AM

Venturing a little further into the field of folk tales, I had a vague memory of a possible "Black Annie" in the history of piracy, but have been unable to find it, and conclude that it was a mismemory of Anne Bonney, who was never known as Black Annie. A cursory search of folk tale indexes didn't turn up any Black Annie either.

The following is a reference from the midwest. Todd [last name uncertain] is a blogger who fled the midwest for the east -- not surprising perhaps, considering that he came from Phillipstown, Illinois, pop. 28 (13 households) as of the most recent census. In his reminiscences he writes this:

"These were the alleys where the infamous Black Annie frequented. No one knows if Black Annie was real, in fact very seldom did people's stories of her match very precisely. She had lived in the early part of the 20th century and had lost her daughter, or her son. Dressed in black she wandered the dark alleys looking for her lost child, and if she happened to come across someone else's she snatched them away convinced they were her own. No one knows when she died, or if she died, but as a child you were convinced she was still out there. And so you avoided those alleys at night, unless bravado in the form of a dare or double dare forced you down them. Usually in groups, but occasionally one would have to wind their way through them alone to prove their courage. To a child it was like shooting the rapids or the adrenile charge of rushing into battle. Even if she wasn't real, even if she wasn't out there we wanted to believe she was."

http://homepage.mac.com/toddatdesk/blogwavestudio/LH20050408231653/LHA20050409015637/index.html

However, this is from the latter half of the 20th century and so is not connected with the roots of the matter.

All other research has turned up a blank. It seems that the "Black Annie" murder song has come down to us only in the fragmentary form Dink Roberts remembered, and all efforts to delve further back have so far met with no success.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 May 08 - 11:34 AM

I've heard the Jumpn' Judy verse out of Midnight Special is about a whip of that name also. Strange that these hellish implements should get a woman's name.


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Subject: ADD Version: Black Annie
From: GUEST,John Salmon
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 10:27 AM

We discussed this on Weenie Campbell last April...here are the lyrics I came up with, with some help from friends over there:

BLACK ANNIE

Well-ah me'n my baby had a little falling out
Won't you stop and let me tell you what it's all about
She woke me up in the morning just at half-ah past three
Thinks I'm goin' to work but that ain't me

Well before I go to work let me tell you what I do
Get another woman just as warm as you
I packed my trunk and I thought I had her there
She shoved a hundred dollar bill in my face and said,

"Ah, you may go but this is going to bring you back
Well I don't know, I'm really disgusted
At the way you've acted
You took all my furniture you put it in pawn
To buy them there tailor-mades that you got on
You may go but this is going to bring you back"

Well I went downtown and I fell in the saloon
I got my head loaded, got desperate soon
I went right back to the place I'd been before
And she wouldn't recognize me, wouldn't let me in

I got myself together and I knocked down the door
Great big bully sittin' there by my stove
Skillets and lids I began to throw
When I thought I heard my baby say's the coon went out the door,
"You may go but this is going to bring you back"

Well she bought me a wheel for to ride around
You know my wheel's called one of the finest in town
Bicycle suit of the finest kind
None of them coons could equal mine
I got on my wheel and I started out
Out to buy my babies when I hear my honey shout,
"Kill 'em kid, you sweet thing, my honey
Well you sure look hot, you sure look hot
You uptown coon you had rather be shot, rather be shot
Than to see my baby coming down the street
With a pocket full of money and a place to sleep
Pay no attention to who we meet
Just kill 'em, kill 'em kid"

Well I carried my girl to the dance last night
Just to show show them coons that we were right
When we entered right through the door
I thought some a-soldiers gonna raise a fight
But when the band began to play, began to play
That Bamboushay
I was swingin' in the air when I heard my baby say,
"Got a brand new man
Got a foldin' bed to sleep on
Got a brand-new sofa, got a-plenty to eat
Brand new man and he can't be beat"
I got a swell-headed lady and she can't be beat


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 15 May 11 - 09:50 AM

Hi,

I posted some info with MP3's on my site:

http://bluegrassmessengers.com.temp.realssl.com/black-annie--joe-thompson.aspx

I have a correction to the Dink Robert's version:

Said y'oughta been there, hear her moan
Could not help from cryin'.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Oct 11 - 10:17 PM

How about the Black Annie, a white man in Clarendon, Arkansas in Monroe County who owned a honky tonk on highway 79 about 3 miles east of Clarendon on the White River. I went to Black Annie's honky tonk in May, 1957. He was notorious as a mean man and a killer who had served time. Black Annie's honky tonk was a hellhole from the 1940's until into the 70's, I believe. The old rock building with a mud roof is still standing and is occupied as a residence. I was born in 1940 about a mile and a half from Black Annie's honky tonk.

J. Lloyd Catlett
2rutroad@cox.net


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Subject: LYR ADD: Black Annis (A. Duvekot)
From: michaelr
Date: 09 Oct 11 - 12:43 AM

This may or may not be relevant.

Black Annis (Antje Duvekot)

When Annis built this cage
I saw the blueprint on the table
But I was too young to run
She lured me from my plain
Into her clandestine domain
To tend her illicit garden

Black, black soul, and Annis takes her toll
Child of sin, Black Annis wins again

And from her veil of black
With all the mirrors at her back
She called me into her guarded empire
I treaded soft and lightly
A fear trembling so slightly
Snows in my bones, I dream of the white sea

Black, black soul, and Annis takes her toll
Child of sin, Black Annis wins again

When Annis roared and cheered
I knew that no one leaves from here
Cause her fervent anger don't spare anything
Oh, in a frenzy I dug my trenches
She confiscated my defenses
With all the forces of night

Black, black soul, and Annis takes her toll
Child of sin, Black Annis wins again

So many years ago
I still feel her in my bones
I still see her in my dreams
And in the bright of day
She'll come carry me away
On the black wings of the raven
On the pitch black wings of

Black, black soul, and Annis takes her toll
Child of sin, Black Annis wins again
Black, black soul


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Subject: RE: Origin: Black Annie
From: GUEST,blkbanjoman
Date: 17 Oct 12 - 05:10 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qruEEgB_QQ4&feature=relmfu


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