Nigger and the White Man

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X:1 T:Nigger and the White Man T:Seven Up M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Reel S:Rance Willhite (Jefferson County, OK.) B:Marion Thede - "The Fiddle Book" (1967) K:D [df]b/b/ a/e/f/e/|f/e/b/e/ de|f/e/b/e/ f/e/f/e/|d/f/e/d/ [df]|



NIGGER[1] AND THE WHITE MAN. AKA and see "Seven Up." American, Reel. USA, Oklahoma. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. This ditty was sung to the tune:

N..... and the white man playin' seven up,
N..... won the money and afraid to pick it up.

The verse is a 'floating' one, and have been traced back to 19th-century work songs, which were noted in an 1870s newspaper article [c.f. Giles Oakley, Giles, The Devil's Music: A History of the Blues, 1997]. Paul Oliver, in his book The Story of the Blues (p. 22) gives more detail:

In 1876 Lafcadio Hearn had published in the Commercial of Cincinnati, Ohio, a number of roustabout songs which he had collected on the city's levee waterfront. They included Kentucky slave songs, work songs with alternating line and chorus, as well as verse and refrain songs with an Anglo-Scots origin: "Farewell, Liza Jane" and "The Wandering Steamboatman." One of these, "Limber Jim," had clusters of verses which moved freely between the songs of the period and had a hitherto unnoted asperity:

N..... an' a white man playing seven-up
White man played an ace; an' n..... feared to take it up,
White man played ace an' n..... played a nine,
White man died, an' n..... went blind.

The couplet can also be found in later blues songs such as Tommy McClennan's 1930 recording "Bottle It Up and Go, and "Julius Daniels' 1927 song "Can't Put the Bridle on that Mule this Morning" (Victor 21359-A). The latter contains:

N..... an' a white man playin' seven-up this mornin'
N..... an' a white man playin' seven-up this mornin'
N..... an' a white man playin' seven-up,
Well n..... win the money but he scared to pick it up,
This mornin' that' too soon for me.

The lines about playing Seven Up were also used in the Georgia Pot Lickers 1930 recording "Up Jumped the Rabbit," albeit somewhat sanitized; the racist meaning would have been clear to the record-buying audience, however.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Rance Willhite (Jefferson County, Oklahoma) [Thede].

Printed sources : - Thede (The Fiddle Book), 1967; p. 68.






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