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There's a man going round taking names

Related thread:
Lyr Req: King of Names (30)


GUEST,Marion 19 Apr 02 - 02:13 PM
Mrrzy 19 Apr 02 - 02:14 PM
Amos 19 Apr 02 - 02:29 PM
Charley Noble 19 Apr 02 - 02:33 PM
Wincing Devil 19 Apr 02 - 03:10 PM
Dicho 19 Apr 02 - 03:39 PM
masato sakurai 19 Apr 02 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,Marion 20 Apr 02 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 20 Apr 02 - 04:09 PM
Ol Gurl 20 Apr 02 - 11:47 PM
Dicho 21 Apr 02 - 12:31 AM
masato sakurai 21 Apr 02 - 06:06 AM
Charley Noble 21 Apr 02 - 04:57 PM
wysiwyg 07 Oct 03 - 12:47 PM
rangeroger 07 Oct 03 - 09:32 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Oct 03 - 10:09 PM
Jim McLean 08 Oct 03 - 06:39 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 25 Jul 05 - 02:07 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 25 Jul 05 - 08:07 PM
Uncle_DaveO 25 Jul 05 - 09:38 PM
JohnInKansas 26 Jul 05 - 01:48 AM
Big Al Whittle 26 Jul 05 - 01:52 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Jul 05 - 01:57 AM
GUEST,Dave'sWife 26 Jul 05 - 07:24 AM
JohnInKansas 26 Jul 05 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,Tír Eoghain 26 Jul 05 - 08:15 AM
GUEST 26 Jul 05 - 08:21 AM
JohnInKansas 26 Jul 05 - 12:38 PM
Margret RoadKnight 26 Jul 05 - 08:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Jul 05 - 09:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Jul 05 - 09:28 PM
GUEST,Dave'sWife 26 Jul 05 - 10:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Jul 05 - 03:52 PM
Inukshuk 27 Jul 05 - 07:12 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Jul 05 - 03:47 PM
JohnInKansas 28 Jul 05 - 05:02 PM
Azizi 28 Jul 05 - 05:25 PM
GUEST,Saritaw 31 Mar 12 - 10:22 PM
GUEST 07 Apr 12 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,Bill Webster 24 Jun 15 - 07:30 PM
Steve Shaw 24 Jun 15 - 07:50 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 24 Jun 15 - 09:20 PM
FreddyHeadey 25 Jun 15 - 09:26 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 26 Jun 15 - 02:29 AM
Charley Noble 22 Dec 16 - 10:42 PM
GUEST,Coleman 12 Feb 17 - 11:07 AM
sed 16 Feb 17 - 06:33 PM
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Subject: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 19 Apr 02 - 02:13 PM

I have the lyrics to this Leadbelly song, but I don't know what they mean. Who's going around taking names, and why?

Marion


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Mrrzy
Date: 19 Apr 02 - 02:14 PM

Ooh, I remember this! Vaguely... Anybody else?


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Amos
Date: 19 Apr 02 - 02:29 PM

I listened to this song a hundred times when I was a boy; I concluded it was a poetical metaphor for the figure of death itself, OR, a reflection on white law-enforcement practices in the South in the Forties.

But I have no data to support either interpretation.

A


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Apr 02 - 02:33 PM

I believe it was originally "Death" but then back in the witch hunt days of the Joe McCarthy period, way back in the 1ate 1940's and 50's, some radical singer-songwriters updated the lyrics. Maybe it's time for some new verses.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Wincing Devil
Date: 19 Apr 02 - 03:10 PM

I've got lyrics

THERE'S A MAN

There's a man going round Taking names
There's a man going round Taking names
He has tak'n my father's name
And he left my heart in pain
There's a man going round Taking names

He has tak'n my mother's name

He has tak'n my brother's name

He has tak'n my sister's name

He has tak'n my family's name  

 

A chilling song... It really got me as a young teen listening to PP&M

WD


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Dicho
Date: 19 Apr 02 - 03:39 PM

Wincing Devil has the old one, not quite a spiritual, but related in time and feel. The versions noted by Charlie Noble ought to be in the DT. I found one: "The John Birch Society." But there should be another about the McCarthy era.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: masato sakurai
Date: 19 Apr 02 - 07:01 PM

For more info & other versions, go to this thread: Lyr Req: 'King of Names'.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 20 Apr 02 - 01:47 PM

Sorry about that Masato, I did do a search but didn't recognize that thread title as related. Thanks for the link.

Marion


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 20 Apr 02 - 04:09 PM

Carl Sandburg sang this on his folk recording, ended it by reciting 'he's God's own census taker'.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Ol Gurl
Date: 20 Apr 02 - 11:47 PM


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Dicho
Date: 21 Apr 02 - 12:31 AM

Has anyone located any printed reference to the song, "There's a Man Going Round Taking Names, before the 1927 publication by Sandburg? He heard it in South Carolina, and the subject was the great Enumerator. It was sung by a servant named Rebecca, who was well along in years at the time. This anecdotally takes the song back to the Civil War days.
There are no versions that suggest that the song had anything to do with slaves having to take Christian names or any names provided to them, rather, it seems to be a true spiritual.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: masato sakurai
Date: 21 Apr 02 - 06:06 AM

The Traditional Ballad Index says "1927" is the earliest date (Click here), though William Arms Fisher, Seventy Negro Spirituals, which I haven't seen, was published in 1926.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Apr 02 - 04:57 PM

I'm glad we have folks around here to help newer members, and guests, to discover what resources exist here in terms of references and previous discussion.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 12:47 PM

Hear a version of it online by the Park New Choir, HERE.

~S~


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: rangeroger
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 09:32 PM

The day that johnny Cash passed on,I watched the video "The Hunted" with Tommy Lee Jones. The movie started with the voice of Johnny Cash reciting the words to Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited". At the end of the movie Cash sang "The Man Comes Around".He also recites the verse from Revelation about death riding a pale horse.

Stopped me in my tracks.Then the next day I read on Mudcat that he is gone.

Today,I picked up the CD "American IV: The Man Comes Around" I'm listening to it right now and it is a real treat.

rr


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Oct 03 - 10:09 PM

Lyr. Add: DERE'S A MAN GOIN' ROUN' TAKIN' NAMES

Dere's a man goin' roun' takin' names, (twice0
He's a-taken mah mother's name
An' has left mah heart in pain,
Dere's a man goin' roun' takin' names.

Oh, Death is de man takin' names; (twice)
He's a-taken mah father's name
An' has left mah heart in pain,
Dere's a man goin' roun' takin' names.

Full sheet music as arranged by William Arms Fisher, pp. 28-29, from Seventy Negro Spirituals, 1926, edit. W. A. Fisher, "for low voice." Oliver Ditson Co. No discussion of this song in his notes.
This may have been posted previously in thread 20724. Man goin' roun'


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Jim McLean
Date: 08 Oct 03 - 06:39 AM

The phrase 'There's a man...' sounded a curious echo in my head regarding a poem by Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, 1759 to 1796.
He was writing concerning a certain Captain Grose who was touring Scotland '.. collecting antiquities of that Kingdom' and Burns says, '.. A man's among you taking notes, and he'll surely print it.'
(A chiel's amang ye takin' notes, an' faith he'll prent it)


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Jul 05 - 02:07 PM

Postscript to "Dere's a Man ...". "Taken down by the Editor from the singing of Mr. Edward Boatner, one of the contributors ...."


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Subject: LYR. ADD: DONE WRIT DOWN YO' NAME
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Jul 05 - 08:07 PM

Lyr. Add: Done Writ Down Yo' Name
(Spiritual or early 'gospel.')

Rise, mourner, rise, and don't be ashame';
Fer Jesus Christ, de Lamb of God,
Done writ down yo' name.
"I believe it!" (1) (Shouted by the preacher)
Done writ down yo' name.
"Up in Heaven!"
Done writ down yo' name.
"On de Lamb's Book!"
Done writ down yo' name.

I hear dem bells a-ringin';
It's time fer me to go;
De hebbenly breakfast waitin'
On de hebbenly sho'.
"I believe it!"
Done writ down my name, etc.

(1) "We have here the beginning of a kind of religious drama" (Perrow).
Possibly related to "Dere's a Man Takin' Names." "From Alabama; Negroes; MS. of W. O. Scroggs; 1908."

No. 25, IV Religious Songs and Parodies of Religious Songs, E. C. Perrow, 1913, "Songs and Rhymes from the South," Part 2. Jour. American Folklore, vol. 26, pp. 123-173.
On line at www.immortalia.com, courtesy John Mehlberg.

Spirituals from Perrow's article (46 of them) not listed in the "Cleveland Index to Negro Spirituals," 1991.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Jul 05 - 09:38 PM

I suppose a very minor distinction on the text.

Carl Sandburg sang it this way:

There's a man goin' 'round, takin' names
There's a man goin' 'round, takin' names
An' he took my father's name
An' he leave my heart in pain
There's a man goin' 'round, takin' names

And he works through mother, brother, etc.

And at the end he speaks

Brother and sister, aunt and uncle
Man goin' 'round takin' names
He git 'em all
God's own census taker.

Besides the spoken quatrain at the end, note the little difference, in that he uses "took" rather than "has taken". Not only does it scan better, but it seems a more simple utterance for a simple person.

Dave Oesterreich
Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 01:48 AM

A "Union Songs" book (mimeo sheets) that I saw a couple of times ca. 20 years ago had a parody in which the "man takin' names" was the company spy at the union meetings and picketings. I don't recall any attribution, and never got more than brief "flip-throughs" of the book.

John


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 01:52 AM

I suppose Readers Digest must have got my name from somewhere....perhaps it was the mentioned chap in the song.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 01:57 AM

Sandburg used the title, "Man Goin' Round," collected from a black servant he named as "Rebecca." He did not publish the spoken quatrain cited above in "The American Songbag, p. 447." That quatrain is not in character with the song.

The tune collected by William Arms Fisher is not the same as that printed by Sandburg, but it is closer to the one Randolph collected in 1921. Like many of the spirituals, tunes vary, although one may become dominant among singers. Lomax copied the music given by Sandburg (ABFS p. 591).

Randolph collected the song in 1921 from Mr. Enos Calkins of Little Rock, Ark., with the title "The Angel of Death." Calkins, who was white, said he had learned it in Missouri in the 1890s.

The version in Randolph goes through mother, father, "brother, sister, dear wife, dear son, daughter, sweetheart and so on."

Is the song a spiritual, or originally the product of a white camp meeting preacher? We probably will never know for certain, but it's form, as collected, seems to be African-American.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,Dave'sWife
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 07:24 AM

wow - finally my youth listening to old Union songs comes in handy!

I heard this version of the song as a child in the early 1970's about ten to twelve years after a very ugly Unionization effort in an Adirondack Paper Mill. That organizing effort was eventually successful but noit until after a 2 year strike held during which shots were fired on the picket lines.



There's a man goin' round taking names
There's a man goin' round taken names
You could be his father or his brother, to him it's just the same
there's a man goin' round taking names

There's a man goin' round taking names
There's a man goin' round taken names
gonna take his list to the boss's house up the lane
there's a man goin' round takin' names



There are a bunch more verses about the man taking names, who is a local man turned on his own people and kin by the owner/boss trying to break the union. I just don't remember them off the top of my head. I may have them written down somewhere.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 07:41 AM

Dave's Wife -

That looks like the one I saw. I'd probably be able to remember better, but we never could get any of our guys/gals to do much singing whenever there were "troubles."

John


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,Tír Eoghain
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 08:15 AM

I know the last verse as :

Don't let him catch you with your work undone when he takes your name (X2)
Don't let him catch you with your work undone.
If you do, Hell will be your home
There's a man....


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 08:21 AM

JohninKansas -

what part of the country did you see/hear these lyrics? And what approximate year? 20 years ago is what.. 1985? That's not too long ago.

Glad to know I'm not the only one that remembers these.


If I had to put a year to the origin of the lyrics I heard, It would be 1960-1961 the year of the big organizing effort. My Grandfather was one of the Union organizers and it was from him I heard the song. I recall hearing it BEFORE Nixon resigned and if memory serves, my days of hanging around the Old Union Hall in Summertime were 1972 and 1973. I would have been 8 or 9 years old then.

This was pretty far Upstate New York too. Closer to Canada really, than any major US City. I never did see them written down anywhere besides any notes I may have made with a verse or two and a tab note for guitar. I do recall there being a verse where the 'man taking names' gets his in the end via divine retribution. The details though - all gone out of my mind.


I remember those summers very clearly because I still have notebooks where I wrote down the lyrics to 'Which side are you on?" and other Union oldies but goodies. I was a budding song collector even then!

Everyone in my family played at least Guitar and it's amusing to compare the songs I still have in my notebooks from the ones my Sister has from the same Era. She's four years older and hers are filled with John Denver, pop tunes and hymns from Mass. Mine are filled with Murder ballads, Union Songs and Civil Rights songs. Lordy! Also, my notebooks have gaelic lyrics and hers don't. Our sources were the same 4 grandparents and other relatives. How do ya figure on the differences?

I shared this info with my dad one night on the phone and he just laughed about it and said memory was a funny thing, that 2 siblings growing up in exact same environment can have 2 completely opposing experiences. Funny how that goes. I'll ask her if she remembers any of the other lyrics. WHo knows, we may get lucky.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 12:38 PM

The mimeo (not Xerox) "book" that I saw belonged to a union member in Wichita Kansas. The pages were apparently fairly old when I saw them ca. 1969 or 1970. The owner made reference to having copied "a lot of them" from a published book of union songs, but so far as I can recall never specifically identified the book. I don't know whether this particular song was a published one, or was something he picked up somewhere else.

Google gives lots of hits for "Union Songs" but nearly all of them have nothing except a link back to Union Songs This site has a search box, but has no index or table of contents, so the only way to find a song is to know its title so you can search for it. I searched for some variants of "Man taking names" with no luck. The site does claim to have QuickTime/mp3/midi sound files for some or all of the tunes they have - but no indication of how many tunes are there.

One other page, at UnionSong has titles for about 280(?) songs, with links to the lyrics for each of them. It looks like it's part of the same site linked above - perhaps that missing TOC, but I couldn't figure out how to get from one to the other.

A few other sites each have a handful of songs, but they seem mostly to be the "well known" ones (Joe Hill, Factory Maiden, etc.) or "specials" like the one site that has only "union songs written by women" posted (and only 5 of them). Sorry, I didn't collect the site URL for this one.

Several unions, large and small, have periodically published song books, but it seems you have to be (or know) a member to get one. I have a suspicion that the "source" for my associates copies may have been a UAW or AFL/CIO "official songbook," but that's just a guess.

Another possible resource might be SingOut!. I've seen a few such songs scattered about there, but you'd need the annotated index to dig them out piecemeal. I've indexed my copies of Vol I and Vol II of the SingOut! "collections" and don't find this union song in them.

John


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Margret RoadKnight
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 08:55 PM

"Sing Out!" magazine has a full song index at
http://www.singout/org/sng-ndx1.html


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 09:04 PM

Very interesting that there is a union version of the song. I hope that y'all will search your memories and notes so that we may have the song preserved.
I looked through but didn't find it in "Songs of Work and Freedom," Edith Fowke and Joe Glazer, "Rise Up Singing" (could be in one of the issues) or other books I have.

Any other versions out there that can be contributed?


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 09:28 PM

Margret, I get 'syntax invalid' with that address, but I was able to get the index through the home page. Tried Taking names, Man going round, and There's a man... but not under those.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,Dave'sWife
Date: 26 Jul 05 - 10:28 PM

This song also goes by the title 'king of names' but I have it in my old notebook from childhood as 'Man taking names.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Jul 05 - 03:52 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Inukshuk
Date: 27 Jul 05 - 07:12 PM

Long time ago, when I was still a teacher, we sometimes used this song at the end of the day to line up for dismissal.
   There's a man going round taking names etc.
   He took down _______'s name
   Now isn't that a shame
   There's a man going round taking names.
The child named would have to stand up and do a little dance before proceeding to the exit line.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 03:47 PM

Inukshuk. Thanks, and where was this?


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 05:02 PM

I haven't checked recently, but at my last look the Sing Out! index included only the "published" songs. It does not index lyrics and lyric fragments that pop up in the correspondence and commentary columns - which is where something like the union parody would most likely be found. I'm not sure whether it even includes stuff from the SongFinder column - my recollection is that it did not.

My own index of some of the "interesting" fragments for the magazine issues we have doesn't show anything; but maybe it just wasn't interesting when I went through them - although anything that triggered a memory probably would have been noted.

John


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Azizi
Date: 28 Jul 05 - 05:25 PM

Inukshuk, Q asked where was it that this song was used in the manner you described. I'd like to also ask when was this {like 1960s, 1970s}?

Thanks in advance.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,Saritaw
Date: 31 Mar 12 - 10:22 PM

Does anyone have a link to audio for this in its more traditional spiritual-feel form? I am able to find the Leadbelly version and the segment in Johnny Cash, but not otherwise.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Apr 12 - 01:38 PM

Josh White recording is great.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q97fm54JaLo


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,Bill Webster
Date: 24 Jun 15 - 07:30 PM

There's a man going round town, taking names.

My father's Uncle REV. JESSE WEBSTER, who lived and died in Crowley, LA said that he was told that this was a song MADE UP BY SLAVES. These SLAVES made up the song after the WHITE PROTESTANT MISSIONARIES (who used to visit plantations during the time of slavery) TAUGHT THE SLAVES the Bible story of the JEWISH PASSOVER, that old story about how THE ANGEL OF DEATH killed the FIRSTBORN in the EGYPTIAN households UNTIL PHAROAH, the Egyptian King, gave the order to release and free the Jews.

The SLAVES sang on a rhythm: THERE'S A MAN - - - GOIN' ROUND TOWN - - - TAKIN' NAMES - - - (Repeat) TOOK MY PAPA'S NAME, LEFT MY HEART IN PAIN, THERE'S A MAN - - - GOIN' ROUND TOWN - - - TAKIN' NAMES..

That was the EXACT MELODY AND RHYTHM used by RAY CHARLES when he wrote:
I GOT A WOMAN - - - WAY OVER TOWN - - - GOOD TO ME - - - .

The song is INCREDIBLY CLEVER, considering it was made up by ILLITERATE BLACK SLAVES who LIVED THEIR ENTIRE LIVES on, say 1,000 acres of land. Think of how clever and economical the song is.

Some say LEADBELLY started singing the song first. MAYBE. But I'm now 84 YEARS OLD, and I heard this song song MANY TIMES BEFORE AND DURING CHURCH as far back as 1935 at ST JOSEPH and JERUSALEM baptist churches in Crowley, Louisiana.

I believe this church was circulated IN THE BLACK PROTESTANT CHURCHES, well before the turn of the 20th Century.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 24 Jun 15 - 07:50 PM

Jessye Norman made a great recording of this song many years ago on an album consisting mostly of spirituals. That's all I can remember!


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 24 Jun 15 - 09:20 PM

Thank you Mr. Webster,

Could you .... would you provide:

The approximate date, location YOU heard this?

And the approximate same for the family member.

You note 1935... Louisiana....

But, if you can recall more datails....PLEASE.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 25 Jun 15 - 09:26 AM

btw
here is a link to a photo of the page in the 1927 Carl Sandburg book mentioned above.
Dicho - 21 Apr 02 - 12:31 AM


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 26 Jun 15 - 02:29 AM

FreddyHeady

This is quite an amazing resource.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Dec 16 - 10:42 PM

Unfortunately, it's time to revive this old thread.

When will they ever learn?

But the discussion is wonderful.

Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: GUEST,Coleman
Date: 12 Feb 17 - 11:07 AM

This song first came to my attention while watching the documentary "13th" on Netflix. The film deals with the mass incarceration of black/brown males. So I think the comments on this thread that state it originally meant Death (the man going around being the Grim Reaper) but for some folks has come to mean the police or that the man is some sort of law enforcement authority.


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Subject: RE: There's a man going round taking names
From: sed
Date: 16 Feb 17 - 06:33 PM

Jessye Norman recording: https://youtu.be/uxvYSKs1QDQ

Kenneth Overton recording and video, 2016: https://youtu.be/awcRNRgS8LA


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