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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Throw Me Anywhere, Lord" Song & The Buzzard Lope Dance

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information, lyrics, sound file, and video of a performance of the traditional religious dance "The Buzzard Lope" and the song "Throw Me Anywhere, Lord" that accompanied that dance.

My thanks to the unknown composer/s of "Throw Me Anywhere Lord" & the unknown choreographer/s of "The Buzzard Lope". My thanks also to Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers for their important work of preserving this song and other traditional African American songs. Thanks also to the authors & commenters whose quotes are featured in this post, and the videographers and uploaders of these sound files and videos.

All rights remain with their owners.

FEATURED VIDEO, SOUND FILE, & COMMENTS

Example #1: Throw Me Anywhere Lord



Uploaded by mediageneration on Dec 12, 2009

Georgia Sea Island Singers from the DVD- The Films of Bess Lomax Hawes- available from http://www.media-generation.com

Here's a comment from that video's uploader:
"The dance is called the Buzzard Lope, and John Davis is the buzzard circling the carrion and picking it up at the end of the song."
-mediageneration; 2010

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LYRICS: THROW ME ANYWHERE LORD
[traditional African American, unknown composers, late 19th century or earlier]

Throw me anywhere, Lord.
In that ole field.
Throw me anywhere, Lord.
In that ole field.

Throw me anywhere, Lord.
In that ole field.
Throw me anywhere, Lord.
In that ole field.

Oh, throw me anywhere, Lord.
In that ole field.
Oh, throw me anywhere, Lord.
In that ole field.

Don't care where you throw me.
In that ole field.
Don't care where you throw me.
In that ole field.

Since King Jesus owns me
etc [use above pattern]

Don't care how you do me.
etc.

Since King Jesus choose me.
etc.

You may be and bang me.
etc.

Since King Jesus saved me.
etc.

Don't care how you treat me.
etc.

Since King Jesus meet me.
etc.

Throw me anywhere, Lord
etc.

Throw me anywhere, Lord.
etc.

From http://www.media-generation.com/DVD%20PAGES/Bess/master.pdf The Films Of Bess Lomax Hawes "Buzzard Lope" page 8 of 34

The notes to this song include considerable information about how the Buzzard dance is performed and the possible origin of that dance among the Ashanti-Fanti people of Ghana where the vulture is a sacred messenger to the gods. Among the information included in those notes is the statement that the dancer wanted to wear his suit coat because it would show the flapping of his wings better. However, not understanding this, the film producer [Bess Lomax Hawes] told him to take off his coat since he hadn't worn it for any other segments of the film.

My interpretation of the lyrics "Throw me anywhere, Lord" is that this statement wasn't directed to the Lord (meaning the person didn't mean for the Lord to throw him or her anywhere.) Instead, I believe that the word "Lord" was used at the end of the line in a similar manner as the phrases "my Lord" or "Yes Lord".

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Example #2: Bessie Jones - The Buzzard Lope [Throw Me Anywhere, Lord]



Uploaded by laneotc on Feb 3, 2012

The Buzzard Lope sung by Bessie Jones and backup singers a capella.
-snip-
Comment excerpt from http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=4101#166891 posted by Stewie, January 22, 2000
"Alan Lomax recorded the great Bessie Jones of the Georgia Sea Islands leading a song called 'The Buzzard Lope'. It has been reissued in the Lomax 'Southern Journey' series on Rounder - the final volume, volume 13, 'Earliest Times: Georgia Sea Island Songs for Everyday Living' Rounder CD 1713. The song itself has the words 'buzzard lope' only in its title. Lomax noted:

Bessie Jones leads a most beautiful and interesting African-American litany, which may be one of the most intact pieces of African dance in North America. It makes reference to a time when slaves were not given a proper burial. 'Throw me anywhere, Lord, in that old field' are the words of a slave identifying with Jesus at Golgotha, saying that, although he may be thrown in a field like carrion for the buzzards to eat, Jesus owns and chooses him.*

While a ring of singers claps out the refrain ['In that old field'], a coat representing carrion, is dropped in the centre. A male dancer, his shoulders hunched up around his ears, his arms spread out, dipping, waving and thrusting forward his head with fierce gestures, comes high stepping into the ring. He is the buzzard. He spots the carrion and suddenly stoops over, crouching and circling lower and lower, his head thrust forward like a bird's, approaching and fluttering away, until finally he swoops low and snatches the cloth with his teeth or fingers and whirls away like a bird of prey with its meat. The cloth is replaced and the dance repeated, each dancer enacting the part of the buzzard in his own way.

Bessie Jones gave a spoken introduction to the song:
Now this song, 'The Buzzard Lope', is one of the old plays that we had, as though the buzzard had found some carrion. And we playin' that this thing lyin' on the floor here is the carrion. And this boy here is acting as the buzzard, as he goin' around, and he goin' to pick out the carrion's eye, whether he's a cow or a dog or whatever he is. He going to pick out his eye, then he going to pull out his tail, and then he's going to [get] him after awhile, and he's going to run the dogs from him. This is not our real Buzzard Lope boy tonight, but his brother."

*Italics added by me to highlight the true purpose of "The Buzzard Lope" song & dance.

Here's another text version of "Throw Me Anywhere, Lord" whose title is "Throw My Body Anywhere"

THROW MY BODY ANYWHERE

Throw my body anywhere, in that ol field
Throw my body anywhere, in that ol field
Don't care where you throw me, in that ol field
Don't care where you throw me, in that ol field
Go down to the levee, in that ol field
Go down to the levee, in that ol field
So long as Jesus loves me, in that old field
So long as Jesus loves me, in that ol field

From http://supersearch.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=77864&messages=64&page=1&desc=yes#1892896 Sep 1998

Here's a comment which Barry Finn wrote that prefaced those lyrics:
"From the Georgia Sea Islands comes a song from slave times on the Plantations, when the slaves were discarded after falling down on the job."
-snip-
Barry Finn also shared these record notes:
"Common enough in the West Indies, such miming dances are rare in America. The song tells of a time the slave was not properly buried when he died but was simply cast out in a field"...

Lydia Parrish also collected & reported of the dance the Buzzard Lope in her "Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands". She says "This group used an old religious song with narrative lines of a suitable character. In ante-bellum days the slaves called the graveyard 'the ole field'". The song being close to what's already been given, called "Throw Me Anywhere". She also has another song "In That old Field" sung in a minor key that she relates to a dance but doesn't connect this to any dance in particular much less the Buzzard Lope even though it's clearly related to the others already given. She does mention the song being of a spiritual or religious nature but not the dance itself."

****
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS ABOUT THE BUZZARD LOPE
From http://www.streetswing.com/histmain/z3buzzardlope1.htm
"The Buzzard Lope (1880s)
The Buzzard Lope was similar to the more modern Eagle Rock Dance and was very popular in the South and most likely related to the W. African Buzzard dance. Sunbury Georgia was the first discovery of this dance but may not have originated there.

The Buzzard Lope used outstretched arms like a bird and consisted of a shuffle step and a little buzzard like hop. The dance is said to be similar to the West African Buzzard Dance. It's original form is representing a Turkey Buzzard getting ready to eat a dead Mule (some report a Cow). Many people in the sidelines watching the dance would do a 'Patting', or make a rhythm by slapping (patting) their thighs, etc. while someone would call out the cues."
-snip-
For more information and comments about The Buzzard Lope, click http://supersearch.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=77864&messages=64&page=1&desc=yes#1892896 25 Nov 06 - 04:01 PM Azizi and 25 Nov 06 - 03:53 PM Azizi

Here's an excerpt from one of those posts (posted with corrected typos):
"The Buzzard Lope had been known to song-collector Lydia Parrish since 1915. M. J. Herskovits told her that he had seen a similar dance done in Dahomey. She described the Buzzard Lope seen in the Georgia Sea Island as follows:
"On Sapeko Island, I found in the Johnson family a combination fo the old dance forms with rather modern steps than the original African pantomime warranted. Of the twins, Naomi did the patting while Isaac did the dancing; an older brother rhythmically called out the cues in a sharp staccato, and another one lay on the floor of the wide veranda representing a dead cow. Anyone who has seen turkey buzzards disposing of "carr'on" will recognize the aptness of the following directions:

March aroun'! {the cow}
Jump across! {see if she's daid}
Get the eye! {always go for that first}
So glad! {cow daid}
Get the guts! {they like them next best}
Go to eatin'! {on the meat}
All right-cow mos' gone!
Dog comin'!
Scare the dog!
Look around for more meat!
Alright!-Belly full!
"Goin to tell the res'"
[Lydia Parrish, Slave Songs Of The Georgia Sea Islands, Creative Age Press, 1942]

The parenthetical asides were given to Miss Parrish by the Negroes who were performing the dance."

Editor's Note: In my 25 Nov 06 - 04:01 PM post, I quoted a 1890 newspaper article about The Buzzard Lope. The racial slurs and statements in no way reflect my feelings. I included that quote for its historical context only.

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Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qpuwCOsLCs "The Buzzard Lope at Stan's in Goodland" (Stan's Idle Hour Seafood Restaurant in Goodland, Florida) for a video of a non-religious Anglo-American adaptation of this African American religious dance which is performed as part of that bar's Mullet Festival and Buzzard Lope Queen Contest. Here's an excerpt of a song written by Stan Goper that is sung with that Anglo-American Buzzard Lope dance:
"Going down the highway feeling fine
Doing 55 and right on time
Look up ahead and saw something in the highway, looks dead
A bunch of buzzards standing around
They all step back, with a lot of hope
Start doing the Buzzard Lope . . . .
Flap your wings up and down
Take a few steps back
Go 'round and 'round . . . ."

From: http://www.stansidlehour.net/TheBuzzardLope.html

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2 comments:

  1. just a wondrous fountain off my histories. am so grateful for all your work, time and love you have put into this project

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment kiss the sky.

      It's a pleasure to share information about and examples of these cultural treasures.

      Delete