XIV
BLUES AND MISCELLANEOUS SONGS

THE miscellaneous songs concluding this group are so placed because, like the boll weevil, they were "jes' a-lookin' for a home." This section seemed as good a home for them as any. Most of them except the lullabies are in reality work songs which express random thoughts not especially applicable to any particular form of work. They are a part of a large number of work songs in this collection expressing random thoughts; but all such songs except those in this section were referable to some particular branch of work through the conditions under which they were observed as being sung.

The blues in this section are by no means all that the collection contains. A number will be found classified under other groups. Some, again, are not so easily recognizable; for in spite of the typical tunes and the two or three easily recognizable formulas, there are a number of so-called blues that do not conform to the general type. Probably many such in the present collection were not blues when collected and have since been absorbed into that category. For when most of them were collected, the recent craze for blues was just beginning to gather momentum. Any collection made since 1915 would show a much greater influence of blues upon almost all types of Negro songs, as is true of Odum and Johnson Negro Workaday Songs.

The blues are, more definitely than any other Negro songs, the songs of a single singer. They express an individual reaction, usually one of depression, but often, as Mr. Niles has pointed out, one of humorous acceptance of the inevitable. Their early significance is shown by several of the songs in this group; they were "the poor man's heart disease," "a woman on a good man's mind," a good man feelin' bad" -- in other words, personal restlessness or depression. They stressed melancholy, love, misfortune, complaint, homesickness, and often brought in other themes from other songs by the mere impulse of lengthening the present outburst. They varied considerably in length and form, partly because of the inclusion of extraneous elements; but typically they consisted either of one line sung three times or a line sung twice (either with or with-

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American Negro Folk-Songs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Foreword v
  • Preface xxi
  • Contents xxv
  • I The Negro Song in General 3
  • II Religious Songs 31
  • III Upstart Crows -- The Reaction From Religion 130
  • IV Social Songs -- Dance and Banjo 148
  • V Social Songs: Narrative Songs and Ballads 185
  • VI Songs About Animals 224
  • VII Work Songs--Gang Laborers 250
  • VIII Rural Labor 281
  • IX General and Miscellaneous Labor 290
  • X Songs About Women 311
  • XI Recent Events 341
  • XII The Seamier Side 356
  • XIII Race-Consciousness 376
  • XIV Blues and Miscellaneous Songs 387
  • APPENDICES 403
  • Bibliography 467
  • INDICES 481
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