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Origins: Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn)

DigiTrad:
BLUE-TAIL FLY
JIM CRACK CORN


Related threads:
Help: Jimmy Crack Corn (42)
(origins) Origin: Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care (32)
Which fly was Lincoln's 'Buzzing song'? (13)
Jimmy Crack Corn - Man or Myth (89)
What was Jimmie doing? (48)
cracking more corn (5)
Lyr Req: Blue Tail Fly/Jimmy Crack Corn (16)
Thoughts on 'The Blue-tail Fly' (31)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Blue Tail Fly


26 Mar 97 - 01:28 AM
Bobby O'Brien 26 Mar 97 - 08:45 AM
belter 26 Mar 97 - 09:37 AM
Barry Finn 29 Mar 97 - 02:43 AM
rich r 30 Mar 97 - 11:25 AM
gargoyle 03 Apr 97 - 12:32 AM
Dicho 24 Oct 01 - 05:10 PM
53 24 Oct 01 - 11:29 PM
Dicho 25 Oct 01 - 12:21 AM
GUEST,masato sakurai 25 Oct 01 - 05:04 AM
masato sakurai 25 Oct 01 - 05:52 AM
masato sakurai 25 Oct 01 - 06:02 AM
Dicho 25 Oct 01 - 11:57 AM
masato sakurai 25 Oct 01 - 12:19 PM
masato sakurai 25 Oct 01 - 12:23 PM
Dicho 25 Oct 01 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Ole Bull 25 Oct 01 - 05:14 PM
masato sakurai 25 Oct 01 - 06:17 PM
masato sakurai 25 Oct 01 - 06:29 PM
masato sakurai 25 Oct 01 - 06:38 PM
masato sakurai 27 Apr 02 - 07:08 AM
Dicho 27 Apr 02 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,dieubermadchen 29 Jul 03 - 09:13 AM
GUEST,Q 29 Jul 03 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,jzora77@yahoo.com 17 Oct 03 - 11:09 PM
Mark Clark 18 Oct 03 - 02:33 AM
Q 18 Oct 03 - 01:46 PM
Joybell 18 Oct 03 - 06:34 PM
Q 18 Oct 03 - 07:23 PM
Q 18 Oct 03 - 07:30 PM
Joybell 18 Oct 03 - 07:37 PM
Q 18 Oct 03 - 08:38 PM
Q 12 Jan 04 - 06:35 PM
Q 12 Jan 04 - 09:38 PM
masato sakurai 12 Jan 04 - 09:38 PM
GUEST,freeatlast 13 Jan 04 - 05:21 PM
Joybell 13 Jan 04 - 05:51 PM
chico 08 Jan 06 - 02:27 PM
Azizi 08 Jan 06 - 04:58 PM
Joybell 09 Jan 06 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,forsynthia42@yahoo.com 30 Apr 06 - 08:02 PM
GUEST,Black Deep 30 Jul 08 - 03:21 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BLUE-TAIL FLY
From:
Date: 26 Mar 97 - 01:28 AM

Does anyone have any additional lyrics other than those posted in DigiTrad? Also would like any additional info on the song if anyone knows anything.

Thanks in Advance,
-Shawn

BLUE-TAIL FLY

When I was young, I used to wait
On my master and give him his plate
And pass the bottle when he got dry
And brush away the blue-tail fly.

CHORUS: Give me cracked corn and I don't care *
Give me cracked corn and I don't care
Give me cracked corn and I don't care
My Master's gone away

He'd ride around in the afternoon
I'd follow after with a hickory broom
His pony being rather shy
When bitten by a blue-tail fly. CHORUS

One day he rode about the farm
The flies so numerous they did swarm
One chanced to bite him on the thigh
The devil take the blue-tail fly. CHORUS

The pony run, he jump, he pitch
He throw'd my master in the ditch
He died and the jury wondered why
The verdict was the blue-tail fly. CHORUS

They laid him 'neath a 'simmon tree
His epitaph is there to see
Beneath this rock, I'm forced to lie
The victim of the blue-tail fly. CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Blue-Tail Fly (lyric reguest)
From: Bobby O'Brien
Date: 26 Mar 97 - 08:45 AM

I got out my Burl Ives 45 of this song and gave it a spin. Boy, it was good to hear him again. Those are the only words he sings, the ones you typed out.


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Subject: RE: Blue-Tail Fly (lyric reguest)
From: belter
Date: 26 Mar 97 - 09:37 AM

I just looked up blue-tail fly, and the notes sujest that cracked corn might be refering to wiskey. While that coule be, I wounder if it might mean corn that isn't soft enough to eat whole so its cracked up and used as slave rations, since it would be cheap, and although they couldn't have known, it's a lousy source of protein and hinders brain development if thats all you have to eat. I wounder how it got to be comon to use jimmie crack corn.


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Subject: RE: Blue-Tail Fly (lyric reguest)
From: Barry Finn
Date: 29 Mar 97 - 02:43 AM

Miss Scarborough in 1920 in Texas collected a version almost identical to the text from the Ethiopian Glee Book printed in Boston in 1848. This is one of the few "Jim Crow" minstrel pieces to survive in tradition. I've only heard it or seen it with Jim or Jimmy crack corn. Here are a few more verses.

Den arter dinner Massa sleep,
He bid dis Nigger vigil keep,
An' when he gwine to shut his eye,
He tell me watch de blue tail fly.

(2) Ole Massa gone now let 'im rest,
Dey say all t'ings am for de best,
I nebber forget till de day i die,
Ole Massa an' dat blue tail fly.


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Subject: Lyr Add: JIM CRACK CORN
From: rich r
Date: 30 Mar 97 - 11:25 AM

Ruth Crawford Seeger in her book "American Folk songs for Children" included a version that has more emphasis on animals and less on a story line. A recording of this version by Mike & Peggy Seeger is found on their collection of songs from the book. In the book, RC Seeger notes that she learned it from a phonograph recording of an old man who said on the recording that he learned it from an aged banjo picker when he (the old man) was a small boy.

JIM CRACK CORN

Big old owl with eyes so bright,
On many a dark and starry night.
I've often heard my true love say,
Sing all night and sleep all day.

CHORUS: Jim crack corn, I don't care;
Jim crack corn, I don't care,
Jim crack corn, I don't care
Old Master's gone away

Said the blackbird to the crow,
Down to the cornfield let us go;
Pulling up corn has been our trade,
Ever since Adam and Eve was made.

Said the sheldrake to the crane:
When do you think we'll have some rain?
The farm's so muddy and the brook so dry,
If it wasn't for tadpoles, we'd all die.

When I was a boy, I used to wait
On Master's table and pass the plate,
Hand round the bottle when he got dry,
And brush away the blue-tailed fly.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Blue-Tail Fly (lyric reguest)
From: gargoyle
Date: 03 Apr 97 - 12:32 AM

The "jimmy" is a variation of "gimme" or "give me"

This has a rich heritage in folk annals.

Abraham Lincoln is said to have heard it from a minstral show and it was one of his favorites. (Sorry, I don't have tyhe time to dig for the original reference at this moment.)


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Subject: DE BLUE TAIL FLY
From: Dicho
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 05:10 PM

The original Blue Tail Fly by Daniel Decatur Emmett, published 1846 by Keith's, Boston. Some verses are different and the last line of the verses is left out in modern transcriptions. The refrain "jimmy crack corn" is NOT in the original. The title has also been revised. For these reasons, I believe it requires a separate listing from the modern version in DT.

DE BLUE TAIL FLY

If when you come in summer time,
To South Carolinars sultry clime,
If in de shade you chance to lie,
You'll soon find out de blue tail fly,
An' scratch 'im wid a brier too.

Dar's many kind ob dese here tings,
From diff'rent sort of insects springs;
Some hatch in June, an' some in July,
But August fotches the blue tail fly,
An' scratch 'im wid a brier too.

When I was young, I used to wait,
On Massa's table an' hand de plate;
I'de pass de bottle when he dry,
An brush away de blue tail fly,
An' scratch 'im wid a brier too.

Den arter dinner massa sleep,
He bid me vigilance to keep;
An' when he gwine to shut he eye,
He tell me watch de blue tail fly,
An' scratch 'im wid a brier too.

When he ride in de arternoon,
I foller wid a hickory broom;
De poney being berry shy,
When bitten by de blue tail fly,
An' scratch 'im wid a brier too,

One day he rode aroun' de farm,
De flies so numerous did swarm;
One chance to bite 'im on de thigh,
De debble take dat blue tail fly,
An' scratch 'im wid a brier too.

De poney run, he jump an' pitch,
He tumble massa in de ditch;
He died an' de jury wonder why,
De verdict was de "blue tail fly,"
An' scratch 'im wid a brier too.

Dey laid 'im under a 'simmon tree,
His epitaph am dar to see;
Beneath dis stone I'm forced to lie,
All by de means ob de blue tail fly,
An' scratch 'im wid a brier too.

Die Massa's gone, now let him rest,
Dey say all tings am for de best;
I neber shall forget till de day I die,
Ole Massa an' de blue tail fly,
An' scratch 'im wid a brier too.

De hornet gets in your eyes an' nose,
De 'skeeters bites y'e through your close,
De gallinipper sweeten high,
But wusser yet de blue tail fly,
An' scratch 'im wid a brier too.

gallinipper- a larger mosquito, crane fly, etc.

Lyrics and music reproduced from original sheet music; in Three Centuries of American Music, Vol. 1, American Solo Songs Through 1865, Ed. Nicholas Tawa. Pub. G. K. Hall & Co., 1989.
@minstrel song


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: 53
Date: 24 Oct 01 - 11:29 PM

does that have the same tune as jimmy cracked corn?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: Dicho
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 12:21 AM

It has the same tune as the blue-tailed fly, almost. The last line of each verse, which ends on a very low note, is left out in modern versions. Where Jimmy and his corn likker came from is a mystery. Could that refrain about Jimmy come from another song altogether?? Maybe Masato knows.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: GUEST,masato sakurai
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 05:04 AM

James J. Fuld (The Book of World-Famous Music) says:
The first known printing of this song ["Jimmy Crack Corn"] was on Jan. 20, 1846, under the title Jim Crack Corn, or Blue Tail Fly by F.D. Benteen, Baltimore.... The opening notes of the song are similar to those in Miss Lucy Long, copyrighted in 1842 by George Willig, Philadelphia.

I'm not at home now. I'll check another reference later. Not that "Masato's gone away."

~Temporary Guest Masato


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 05:52 AM

The original version Dicho posted above is in Levy, but no images are given:

Title: De Blue Tail Fly. A Negro Song.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: na
Publication: Boston: Keith's Music House, 67 & 69 Court St., 1846.
Form of Composition: strophic with refrain
Instrumentation: piano and voice
First Line: O when you come in summer time, To South Carlinar's sultry clime
First line of refrain An scratch im wid a brier too
Plate Number: 449 3

The "first known printing" is HERE also in Levy:

Title: The Virginia Minstrels, No.5. Jim Crack Corn, or, The Blue Tail Fly.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: Composed for the Piano Forte [na].
Publication: Baltimore: F.D. Benteen, 1846.
Form of Composition: strophic with chorus
Instrumentation: piano and voice
First Line: When I was young I us'd to wait On Massa and hand dim de plate
First Line of Chorus: Jim crack corn I don't care, Jim crack corn I don't care
Engraver, Lithographer, Artist: Webb
Plate Number: 771

There's another edition with the "O when you come in summer time, To South Carlinar's sultry clime line" HERE:

Title: De Blue Tail Fly. A Negro Song.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: na
Publication: Boston: Oliver Ditson, 115 Washington St., 1846.
Form of Composition: strophic with refrain
Instrumentation: piano and voice
First Line: O when you come in summer time, To South Carlinar's sultry clime
First line of refrain An scratch im wid a brier too Plate Number: 449 3

~Masato, who is still not at home


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 06:02 AM

I forgot to add "Miss Lucy Long." One page is given in Levy, too.

CLICK HERE.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: Dicho
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 11:57 AM

Both were published in 1846. The Ms, if it still exists, would be interesting to see. Emmett had a habit of revising his songs almost immediately, either to suit the publisher or the minstrelsy circuit. Dixie's Land is another example where the published versions differ; the Ms version, presumably the first, was recently posted.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 12:19 PM

The entry in The Traditional Ballad Index:

    Blue-Tail Fly, The [Laws I19]

    DESCRIPTION: A young slave is made into a household servant, with the particular task of keeping away the (stinging) blue-tail flies. One day the master goes out riding; a fly stings his pony; the master is thrown and dies.
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1844
    KEYWORDS: bug servant death
    FOUND IN: US(SE,SW)
    REFERENCES (13 citations):
    Laws I19, "The Blue-Tail Fly"
    BrownIII 414, "Jim Crack Corn" (1 text plus 2 mixed fragments and 2 excerpts)
    Friedman, p. 453, "The Blue-Tail Fly" (1 text)
    Lomax-FSNA 267, "The Blue-Tail Fly" (1 text, 1 tune)
    RJackson-19CPop, pp. 91-92, "Jim Crack Corn or the Blue Tail Fly" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 201-203, "De Blue-Tail Fly" (1 text plus some fragments, 1 tune); also p. 190, (no title) (1 fragment, with a verse of "The Jaybird" and the chorus of this piece); also p. 224, (no title) (1 short text, with the "Jim crack corn" chorus and the "My ole mistus promised me" verse)
    Arnett, p. 66, "Jim Crack Corn (Blue-Tail Fly)" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Botkin-SoFolklr, p. 709, "The Blue-Tail Fly" (1 text, 1 tune)
    PSeeger-AFB, p. 12, "The Blue-Tail Fly" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Silber-FSWB, p. 30, "The Blue-Tail Fly" (1 text)
    Fuld-WFM, p. 312, "Jim Crack Corn"
    cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 477, "The Blue-Tailed Fly" (source notes only)
    DT 669, BLUETAIL

    ST LI19 (Full)
    Roud #4185
    RECORDINGS:
    Bob Atcher, "Blue Tail Fly" (Columbia 20538, 1949)
    Doc Hopkins, "The Blue Tailed Fly" (Radio 1410A, n.d., prob. late 1940s - early 1950s)
    Bradley Kincaid, "The Blue Tail Fly" (Majestic 6010, 1947)
    Pete Seeger, "Jim Crack Corn" (on PeteSeeger03, PeteSeegerCD03); "The Blue Tail Fly" (on PeteSeeger17)
    Riley Shepard, "The Blue Tail Fly" (King 523, 1946)

    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "Shoo Fly" (chorus)
    ALTERNATE TITLES:
    Jimmie Crack Corn
    Notes: Sometimes credited to Dan Emmett (e.g. by Spaeth), and one of the earliest publications was in a series credited to him -- but the absence of his name on the earliest copies goes far toward discrediting his authorship. - RBW
    The subtext for this song is that the slave in fact killed the master himself, blaming it on the blue-tail fly. This is hinted at, to varying degrees, in some versions of the song. -PJS
    File: LI19

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibiography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2009 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

According to the index, this song is not discussed or mentioned in Hans Nathan, Dan Emmett and the Rise of Negro Minstrelsy. Nathan seems to discredit Emmett's authorship.

There's another "Blue Tail Fly" in a song sheet (without music) titled A Collection of Newest Songs (Printed at [Pitts] Wholesale Toy Warehouse, Great St. Andrew Street 7 Dial. [n. d.]) at American Memory, Library of Congress:

THE BLUE TAIL'D FLY,
A Hungry fish once chanced to copy
Fal de ral Nes
A little wicked blue tailed fly,
Tal de ral, &c.
This fly unto the fish did say,
As in the flood he saw him play,
If you can bite my tail you may,
Fal de ral, &c
This hungry fish then made a spring,
Fal de ral, &c.
But he could not catch this blue tail'd, thing,
Fal de ral &c.
So like the Fox he lost a treat,
For the fish the fly could not eat,
say she your nasty tail's not swet
Fol de rol, &c.
Now a little man by chance came by,
Fal de ral, &c
And he caught with his hand this blue tail'd
fly,--Fal re ral, &c
Then on a hook this fly he hung,
And in the river this blue thing flung,
Where Death soon stopped his wicked tongue
Fal de ral &c.
This hungry fish saw the blue fly fall,
Fal de ral &c.
I'll says be, his body and all
Fal de ral, &c
My hungry belfy you shall fill.
The fly I'll eat against his will,
He bit...but the hook stuck in his gid
Fal de ral, &c
The Little man drew him on Land
Fol de ral, &c
And took this hungry fish in hand
Fal de ral, &c
Then on a twig did him suspend
For to eat the fish he did intend
So my song, good folks is at an end

There're two mentions of "Jim Crack Corn" in the following book and article:

(1) Mary Jones Polk Branch, MEMOIRS OF A SOUTHERN WOMAN: "WITHIN THE LINES" AND A GENEALOGICAL RECORD (THE JOSEPH G. BRANCH PUBLISHING CO., Chicago, 1912).

In the "quarters," as the negro cabins were called, there was usually a band, which played at night for the "white folks" to dance. "Old Master" always led off in the "Virginia Reel." Negroes are always fond of music, and as they would play "Jim Crack Corn, I Don't Care," or "Run, Nigger Run," or "The Patrolers Will Catch You," or some other especial favorite, they would become wildly excited and beat the tambourines over their heads. (p. 11)

(2) "The Virginia Springs," Putnam's monthly magazine of American literature, science and art. / Volume 6, Issue 35 (G.P. Putnam & co. Publication, November 1855) (in Making of America).

If, then, at night, he will also give a boy a quarter to "pick" the banjo under his window, and sing "Going Over Jordan," and "Jim Crack Corn," he will end his day with perfect stomachic satisfaction, falling sound asleep in the very act of ha-ha-ing, and dreaming of nothing short of the Moor's paradise, and a heaven carved in ebony. (p. 485)

Jim, where are you from?

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 12:23 PM

(1) Mary Jones Polk Branch, MEMOIRS OF A SOUTHERN WOMAN: "WITHIN THE LINES" AND A GENEALOGICAL RECORD (THE JOSEPH G. BRANCH PUBLISHING CO., Chicago, 1912).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: Dicho
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 04:01 PM

Masato, you obviously have more information than I do. I haven't yet pulled up complete music for Miss Lucy Long. Is it available on the internet?
It is difficult to handle sheet music without the composer's name. I believe there is still a question about a couple of Foster's tunes, since first publication was under Christie. Music was printed in different localities by different publishers, often with variations, just to confuse a tyro like me.
What now makes me think that you are right about authorship is that the Blue Tail Fly is missing from Emmett's "Plantation Songs" as used by Bryant's Minstrels and published in 1860. The song had already been published in several places and apparently had some popularity by that time.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: GUEST,Ole Bull
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 05:14 PM

I perform both versions of the above; "Scratch him.." and "Massas gone away..." They do have different melodies and as far as I am concerned are different songs. This situation is not uncommon for the period; it seems to be a type of Title plagerism. And also many authorships of that time are in question. It was not unheard of for a performer to "lay claim" to a song that he had heard somewhere. Another good example of this type of occurance is "Mary Blane." The title was maybe more famous than the song and there are two widely published very different versions with many different (claimed) authorships.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 06:17 PM

The C.K. Keith version of "De Blue Tail Fly" (1846) is in

Public Domain Music with lyrics and MIDI. "Lucy Long"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 06:29 PM

The C.K. Keith version of "De Blue Tail Fly" (1846) is in Public Domain Music with lyrics and MIDI. There're several "Lucy Long" songs in Levy, the version Fuld mentions seems to be the one published in 1844 (CLICK HERE), also in Public Domain Music with lyrics and MIDI.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Oct 01 - 06:38 PM

Much more research has be done with Foster's songs. The results so far can be obtained in Steven Saunders and Deane L. Root, The Music of Stephen C. Foster: A Critical Edition, 2 vols. (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990) and Calvin Elliker, Stephen Collins Foster: A Guide to Research (Garland, 1988)

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: masato sakurai
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 07:08 AM

In Christy's Nigga Songster As Sung By Christy's, Pierce's, White's and Dumbleton's Minstrels (New York: T. W. Strong, c. 1850) [note the publication date too], BLUE TAILED FLY (pp. 45-47) and JIM CRACK CORN! I DON'T CARE (p. 109) are treated as two separate songs, though the beginning lines are the same.

BLUE TAILED FLY.

If you should go, in summer time,
To South Carolinar's sultry clime,
An' in de shade you chance to lie,
You'll soon find out de blue tail fly.
An' scratch 'um wid a briar too.

Dar's many kind ob curious tings,
From different sort ob inseck springs;
Some hatch in June an' some July,
But Augus fotches de blue tail fly.
An' scratch 'um wid a briar too.

When I was young I used to wait
On massa table and hand de plate
I'd pass de bottle when he dry,
Den brush away de blue tail fly.
An' scratch 'um wid a briar too.

Den arter dinner massa sleeps,
He bid dis nigga vigils keeps;
An' when he gwine to shut his eye,
He tell me watch de blue tail fly.
An' scratch 'um wid a briar too.

When he ride in de arternoon,
I foller wid a hickory brom;
De pony being berry shy,
When bitten by de blue tail fly.
An' scratch 'um wid a briar too.

One day he rode aroun de farm,
De flies so numerous did swarm,
One chance to bite 'im on de thigh,
De debil take de blue tail fly.
An' scratch 'um wid a briar too.

De pony run he jump an'`pitch,
An' tumbl'd massa in de ditch;
He died and de jury wondered why--
De verdic was de blue tail fly.
An' scratch 'um wid a briar too.

Dey laid him under a 'simmon tree,
His epitaph am dere to see

'Beneath this stone I'm forced to lie,
All by de means ob de blue tail fly.
An' scratch 'um wid a briar too.
Ole massa's gone, now let 'im rest,
Dey say all tings am for de best;
I neber shall forget till de day I die,
Ole massa an' dat blue tail fly.
An' scratch 'um wid a briar too.

De hornet gets in your eyes and nose,
De skeeter bite you troo your clothes;
De yalla nipper sweeten high,
But wusser yet de blue tail fly.
An' scratch 'um wid a briar too.

JIM CRACK CORN! I DON'T CARE.

If you should go in summer time,
To Souf Carolina sultra clime,
And in de shade you chance to lie,
You'll soon find bout dat blue tail fly.
Jim crack corn I don't care!
Jim crack corn! I don't care!
For massa me gave away.

When I was young I used to wait,
On massa's table and hand de plate,
I'd pass the bottle when he dry,
An brush away de blue tail fly,
Jim crack, etc.

When ole massa take his sleep,
He bid dis nigga sight to keep,
An when he gows to shut his eye.
He tell me watch dat blue tail fly.
Jim crack, etc.

Ole massa ride in arternoon,
I follow arter wid a hickory broom,
De pony he is bery shy,
Kase he bitten by de blue tail fly.
Jim crack, etc.

De pony run dar jump an pitch,
He trowed ole massa in the ditch,
He died an de Jury all did cry,
Dat de verdict was de blue tail fly.
Jim Crack, etc.

Ole massa's dead now let him rest,
Dey say all tings am for de best,
I nebber shall forget till the day I die,
Ole massa and de blue tail fly

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: Dicho
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 02:05 PM

This Virginia website is welcome. Thanks. In the Trad. Ballad Index, the date given is 1844, but this seems to refer to a Lucy Leal-Lucy Long set of verses. 1846 seems to be the earliest recorded printing of the Blue Tail- Jim Crack versions.


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Subject: RE: Blue-Tail Fly (lyric reguest)
From: GUEST,dieubermadchen
Date: 29 Jul 03 - 09:13 AM

I've also heard these lyrics beginning the song:

If you should come in the summer time
to South Carolina's steamy clime
and in the shade you chance to lie
you'll soon find out the blue tail fly


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Subject: RE: Blue-Tail Fly (lyric reguest)
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 29 Jul 03 - 03:29 PM

dieubermadchen- complete original song by Dan Emmett (1846) at thread 40458; the first verse is essentially what you have posted.
De Blue tail Fly


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Blue-Tail Fly
From: GUEST,jzora77@yahoo.com
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 11:09 PM

I was wondering if you knew where the song comes from. If you know what the story behind the song was? I have a slight theroy about the verses but I can't tie in the chorus. If you know e-mail me, I would really appreciate it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Blue-Tail Fly
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 02:33 AM

If you'll look at the top of this page, you'll see links to about eight other threads discussing this song. I think you'll find lots of information there. If you don't find what you're looking for, come back and ask again.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Blue-Tail Fly
From: Q
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 01:46 PM

Thread 40458 has the original minstrel songs, c. 1846-1850. Daniel Emmett is considered to be the author of De Blue Tail Fly. The songs De Blue Tail Fly and Jim Crack Corn quickly became popular everywhere, and were yoked together as one song almost immediately.
De Blue Tail Fly


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Blue-Tail Fly
From: Joybell
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 06:34 PM

Q Have you been to the Adelphi theatre site where the song "The Blue-tail'd Fly" is listed among the songs sung there in 1824!!! ? I hate to bring all this up again but I'm sure I've got a point.
      Best Regards, No1 member of The Australian Blue-tailed Fly fan club.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BLUE TAIL'D FLY (English broadside)
From: Q
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 07:23 PM

Cite references. The same blue tailed fly? No evidence in North American or British print about the minstrel song before the 1846 printing.
There is another, unrelated English song, "The Blue Tail'd Fly," which is earlier, prob. c. 1830.

Lyr. Add: THE BLUE TAIL'D FLY

A hungry fish chanced to spy,
Fal de ral, etc.
A little wicked blue tail'd fly,
Fal de ral. etc.
This fly unto the fish did say,
As in the flood he saw him play,
If you can bite my tail you may,
Fal de ral, etc.

This hungry fish then made a spring,
Fal de ral, etc.
But he could not catch this blue tail'd thing,
Fal de ral, etc.
So like the fox he lost a treat,
For the fish the fly could not eat,
So says he your nasty tail's not sweet,
Fal de ral, etc.

Now a little man by chance came by,
Fal de ral, etc.
And he caught with his hand this blue tail'd fly
Fal de ral, etc.
Then on a hook this fly he hung,
And in this river this blue tail flung,
Where death soon stopt his wicked tongue,
Fal de ral, etc.

This hungry fish saw the blue tail'd fly fall,
Fal de ral, etc.
I'll eat says he his body and all
Fal de ral, etc.
My hungry belly you shall fill,
The fly I'fll eat against his will,
He bit- but the hook stuck in his gill,
Fal de ral, etc.

The little man drew him on land,
Fal de ral, etc.
And took this hungry fish in hand,
Fal de ral, etc.
Then on a twig did him suspend,
For to eat this fish he did intend,
So my song good folks is at an end.
Fal de ral, etc.

Bodleian Ballads, Harding B 11(2226), Catnach, c. 1813-1838; also Firth b.26(36), c. 1819-1844.

No, probably not by Izaak Walton. Could be an English minstrel or music hall song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Blue-Tail Fly
From: Q
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 07:30 PM

Should have put Lyr. Add; The Blue Tail'd Fly (English), to separate the two songs.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Blue-Tail Fly
From: Joybell
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 07:37 PM

Ah! Thanks Q. Maybe the answer I've been seeking. I have never been able to find the words to the 1824 song of this name, nor the words of the song as sung by London-born Robert Barlow who became "Australia's Blue Tailed Fly" I don't think my search is over yet but you have maybe tied up a loose end for me. Thank you. I have posted a thread about "crow scaring songs" in an attempt to find a few possible links there. I know that Robert Barlow was a minstrel and that he sang "The Blue-tail'd Fly" beyond that the proof as to which "Blue-tailed Fly" is wanting.   Still searching. Joy


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Blue-Tail Fly
From: Q
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 08:38 PM

Scarre crowes (scar-crow) go back a fur piece, being mentioned in print ca. 1550. Both the made-up figure or little boys.
Can't find any songs, but agree that there should be some.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: Q
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 06:35 PM

A minstrel routine in American Memory, "Sittin' On a Rail," or "The Raccoon Hunt," has these verses, among others:

My ole massa he lub gin,
De way he drink him was a sin;
It case um him to tumble in
A hole bout eight feet deep.

Spoken- You see, my ole massa, he did lub gin to obstruction, an he git drunk one night and go to bed on de wiskey barrel, an he wake in de mornin, an he fine heself dead, an I mak calffimalashund how he die juss fore he time cum, an I spose- seein, dat my massa dead, dare no harm for de nigger to sing little bout him.

O my ole massa dead and gone,
De debil sing him funeral song;
A little poison help him on,
Bress um, let um go- bress um let um go-
bress um, let um go, wid de bottle in de hand.

Probably inspired by the Emmett's De Blue Tail Fly.
Undated, Boston and Middlebury, VT, L. Deming, 19c undated.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: Q
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 09:38 PM

American Memory: Search
Insert Sittin on a Rail in the Search box, and it will appear at the top of the list, 1.

Max I certainly am not- If I had to fiddle with the computers, Mudcat would be down 100% of the time!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: masato sakurai
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 09:38 PM

Sitting on a rail, or, The raccoon hunt. Sold, wholesale and retail by L. Deming, No. 61 Hanover Street, Boston. [n. d.]

For transcription, click on "Bibliographic information."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: GUEST,freeatlast
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 05:21 PM

The clue for 13 down in the January 13th, 2004 cryptic puzzle in the "Globe and Mail" was: "Poorly made Russian fighter goes up with a bang (8)".
The answer, of course, is GIMCRACK.
I know, I know… you don't care.
Anyway, "gimcrack" or "jimcrack" got me to thinking about the song and just what "Jim-crack Corn" might be. As the crossword clue says, gimcrack means "poorly made." And "corn," as we all know, is a care banishing beverage.
The narrator of the song says, "When I was young." This means he is no longer young. This would make him what -- old?
He's got a lot to think about; some of it is painful. His carefree youth when all he was required to do was to brush away a few flies might seem pretty golden when viewed through a whiskey bottle.
Jimcrack corn might just be cheap whiskey, moonshine, Tennessee wine, granny's rheumatiz medicine. It's still good for what ails you – especially at those moments when you realize that none of us are ever going to be free.
Cheers


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: Joybell
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 05:51 PM

I don't want to go here again because I am not interested in point scoring, but I am still trying to find the link between Robert "Billy" Barlow and "The Blue-tail Fly". He was called "The Blue-tail Fly" because of the song he sang by that title. (which was called "his") BUT WHICH "Blue-tail Fly"? That is the question - or one of the questions. I'm not suggesting he DID write either of these songs, just making the point that he COULD have. He was England born, in America in the 1840s, and settled in Australia by the early 1850s. I already have a lot of information about him, and am in contact with a descendant of his, but I'm no closer to finding his connection with "The Blue-tail Fly".
Please Q let's not go down the Billy Barlow path again - I'm asking questions here as an interested researcher.


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Subject: Lyr Add: JIM CRACK CORN, or THE BLUE TAIL FLY
From: chico
Date: 08 Jan 06 - 02:27 PM


    E             A       7
When I was young a us'd to wait
    E             F#7    B7
On Massa and hand him de plate;
Pass down the bottle when he git dry,
    B7             E
And bresh away de blue tail fly.

E                B7
Jim crack corn and I don't care.
                   E
Jim crack corn and I don't care.
7                A       Bb°
Jim crack corn and I don't care.
    B7            E
Old Massa gone away.

Den arter dinner massa sleep,
He bid dis niggar vigil keep;
An' when he gwine to shut his eye,
He tell me watch de blue tail fly.

An' when he ride in de arternoon,
I foiler wid a hickory broom;
De poney being berry shy,
When bitten by de blue tail fly.

One day he rode aroun' de farm,
De flies so numerous dey did swarm;
One chance to bite 'im on the thigh,
De debble take dat blu tail fly.

De poney run, he jump an' pitch,
An' tumble massa in de ditch;
He died, an' de jury wonder'd why
De verdic was de blue tail fly.

Dey laid 'im under a 'simmon tree,
His epitaph am dar to see:
'Beneath did stone I'm forced to lie,
All by means ob de blue tail fly.'

Ole massa gone, now let 'im rest,
Dey say all tings am for the best;
I nebber forget till de day I die,
Ole massa an' dat blue tail fly.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Blue-Tail Fly
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Jan 06 - 04:58 PM

See this version attributed to Leadbelly:

Chorus: Jimmy, crack corn, and I don't care.
Jimmy, crack corn, and I don't care,
Jimmy, crack corn, and I don't care,
My mastas gone away.

Rod-a, he ride him and he jumped a ditch,
He ride-a, he rode him, and the pony did pitch.
The pony, he felt a little bit shy,
'Cause he's bitten by that blue-tailed fly. (Chorus)

When I went down in Louisiana,
I stayed a little while in Texarkana.
Every once in a while, I felt a little bit shy
'Cause I was bitten by that blue-tailed fly. (Chorus)

I was on my to Shreveport, Louisiana,
Then I stopped out in Caspiana.
And I felt a little bit shy,
'Cause I was bitten by that blue-tailed fly. (Chorus)

When I was drivin' along in my car
I was stoppin' most anywhere.
Once in while I look up in the sky
'Cause I was bitten by that blue-tailed fly. (Chorus)

Once in a while I do a little bit o'dance,
And some of the people come around and says, "Will you allow me a little chance?
But every once in a while I feel a little bit shy
'Cause I was bitten by that blue-tailed fly.
(Chorus) (2x)

-snip-

Source: Leadbelly version of Jimmy Crack Corn

This site notes the following about the origin of this song:
"Credited to Daniel Emmett by Spaeth but it's likely that if he wrote it from other sources. One of the earliest publications was in a series credited to him -- but the absence of his name on the earliest copies goes far toward discrediting his authorship. The subtext for this song is that the slave in fact killed the master himself, blaming it on the blue-tail fly. This is hinted at, to varying degrees, in some versions of the song".

-snip-

There's alot of theories on what "Jimmy Crack Corn" means. Here's several theories from that same site -and notice that an anonymous poster from Mudcat Discussion Forum is mentioned:

"CRACK CORN? The Civil War song, Jimmy Cracked Corn, was one of Abe Lincoln's favorite songs! However, in the song, Jimmy wasn't really cracking corn. He was sleeping, and "cracking corn" was another term for snoring.

"Jimmy Crack Corn" was slang for "gimme cracked corn" or corn liquor. "Jimcrack o' corn and I don't care" "Jimcrack" is a measure of whiskey.

"Cracking corn" for telling jokes or tall tales: "I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless bunch of rascals on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode. G. Cochrane, 1766, in "Letters," 27 June. OED; The term comes from the Scottish-northern English word crack (crake), meaning boasting, which has been used in that sense from 1460 in print. See OED, 1971 and later eds. Georgia apparntly was first called the Cracker State in print in 1808, in "Balance," Verses by a Cracker Planter.

According to "The Cassel Dictionary of Slang" "Crack-Corn" referred to White People and originally meant the White natives of Kentucky. It was apparently a variation of "corncracker" which meant a poor white farmer and was apparently applied to the natives of Florida, Georgia, Kentucky or Tennessee possibly because of their dependance on corn or maize. Corn in the British Isles refers to wheat, oats or barley as distinct from the American meaning. (From Mudcat Discussion Forum)"

-snip-

Other websites such as The Mavens' Word of the Day indicate that "To crack corn is to break or crush it into pieces".

Are there any other theories you want to throw in the mix?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Blue-Tail Fly
From: Joybell
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 05:16 PM

Yes there's mine, but I have nothing except word-of-mouth information. Here it is from my father. He told me in 1949, here in Victoria Australia:
"Jimmy is the old name for The Crow. The Crow was called Jimmy in England. 'Jimmy crack corn and I don't care' means that the Crow may crack, and eat, the corn because there's no one to care now that the 'Master' of the farm is dead."
If the teller of the tale had among his tasks the scaring of the birds, from the cornfield, this would make a lot of sense.

This ties in with my theory - and it's speculation, that the chorus of this song came from an English Crow-scaring song. I repeat - THE CHORUS of this song - only.
There are examples of crow-scaring songs from both England and America. Children were employed for this task and the songs were collected from them. I've never actually found an ancestor for this song but I live in hope.
For what it's worth. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) BLUE TAIL FLY
From: GUEST,forsynthia42@yahoo.com
Date: 30 Apr 06 - 08:02 PM

I have a 45 that has blue tail fly with vocal and full Orchestra on 2001P and on the other side is the song Carry Me Back To Old Virginny 2oo1P.With vocal and full orchestra . The record guild of america,INC. N.Y. Copyrighted,made in U.S.A. This record is made of some sort of cardboard and still plays the music. It has full pics of the meanings of these songs. They are very well done. For a 45.
Question what time frame did it come from and why cardboard. How many where made this way ect.   
I have hade this record since the early 70s.It looked very old then.
Please send info to me on this great 45.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: (De) Blue Tail Fly
From: GUEST,Black Deep
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 03:21 PM

Crack Corn. Moon shine was made from cracked corn, then mixed with sugar and water and fermented, the distilled. Up until I was in my early 30's they called it cracking corn. Or another term for moonshining wisky.


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