McClurg Jam

McClurg Jam

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Run Nigger Run by the Skillet Lickers

I find stuff like this interesting. Not because I am a racist. I certainly am not. Nor do I approve of the use of the word Nigger.

Whether you like it or not, this was once common stuff. Especially in the twenties. These were common Minstrel show tunes.

I actually heard Jimmy Driftwood play this tune but he redid the lyrics from "Run Nigger Run" to "Run Johnny Run". The tune is really pretty good. Jimmy Driftwood actually used a lot of fiddle tunes for his songs. Just as Bill Monroe did too.

So, here is an example of racist lyrics as played by bands in the twenties. I think it's important that folks know everything about our past. Even music. So, we must face up to the racism found in our culture and admit it.

When the day comes for me to play the tune, I am going to follow Jimmy Driftwoods lead.


The original poster of the video in YouTube notes this song was sung by BLACK folks who were talking about running for freedom. So get off your high horses.




UPDATED 2/26/2011
THIS POSTING IS THE MOST VIEWED IN MY BLOG. INTERESTING, THAT. I THINK THE COMMENTS MADE BY OTHERS HERE WERE VERY HELPFUL AND ADDED TO THE POST A GREAT DEAL. THANKS FOR THOSE COMMENTS.

I BELIEVE IN AUTHENTICITY AND HONESTY. THAT'S WHAT YOUR GOING TO FIND HERE IF I CAN HELP IT.

5 comments:

  1. Another name this tune goes by is Run, Boy, Run or as you said, Run, Johnny, Run. My idea on these old "racist" lyrics is that if you can replace the words nigger, coon, darkie, etc. with your best buddies name and it`s still comical, the song really was written for comedy content, not to be just racist. Just at the time these songs were written, the most comical characters were the old southern darkey, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your exactly right on that Allen. I originally wrote a long post which included a long discussion on Minstrel Shows in the twenties. It was lost by the error so I skipped rewriting it.
    In KC in the twenties, Minstrel Shows were common phenomena. Churches even put them on where huge casts of whites in blackface put on the skits and music. I have seen the photos and it is really remarkable to see.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It may be that some of the folks who bought these records did so because the words made fun of black folks. But the truth is that more often than not these tune titles and words came from the African-American tradition itself. It is a constant in the history of American popular music that whites follow the trend setting of African-Americans, from the Skillet Lickers to HipHop. The Skillet Lickers were no more necessarily racists than white rappers are now. Moreover the title and even the words were often not a matter of racial malice but simply what the fiddler and singer had learned from their sources. There was indeed much more interaction between white and black old time players back then than there is now. I suspect the Gid and the boys were not paragons of racial tolerance but their music does not prove it one way or another.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I basically agree with you frfiddle. I did not mean to throw stones at Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers. Just used them as examples.
    The purpose of the post was to call attention to a phenomena of Old Time culture and American culture of the past.
    I also would like to see the tunes saved and used but with changed lyrics but with consciousness of what they used to be.
    Note that I am trying to tread a difficult subject here and restrained myself considerably. Thanks for your comments all!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I almost forgot. Note in one of my comments I observed that "Run Nigger Run" came from black folks who were talking about making a run for it to freedom.

    ReplyDelete

English only. Spam comments are deleted.