Monday, June 3, 2013

Videos Of The Black Cat Piddled In The White Cat's Eye

Edited by Azizi Powell

"The Black Cat Piddled In The White Cat's Eye" is part pf a floating verse that is found in 19th century American minstrel songs. That verse & some of those songs probably were originally, at least in part, of African American (Southern plantation) origin.

"The Black Cat Piddled In The White Cat's Eye" is also the title of a 19th century Australian dance tune. There's little doubt that that tune is derived from American minstrel, as White blackfaced minstrel performer Dan Emmett & other American White (and Black) blackfaced minstrels toured Australian in the those decades.

There are also children's rhymes in England about a black cat piddling [peeing] in a white cat's eye. Those rhymes are also derived from American minstrelsy since White (and also Black) blackfaced minstrel troupes toured that country in the 19th century & popularized minstrel songs there & elsewhere (such as in South Africa).

This post showcase selected videos of instrumental pieces of that "Black Cat..." song. This post also showcases selected videos of the song "Jim Along Josie" which include a "Black Cat..." verse.

This post also serves as a companion to this page of my Cocojams website that provides information about that song:

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

(These videos are posted in chronological order with videos with the oldest dates posted first.)

Video #1: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye

CharltonSoundUploaded on May 7, 2008

Fiddlers' Tour jam session at Muddy Cup Cafe, Schenectady NY. This is a Tazmanian tune, brought to the states by one of the session's fiddlers who took up residence "down under." She takes the prize for the person who has traveled the farthest just to get to a jam.

Video #2: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye, Frances Folk Gathering 2009

Dmentias, Uploaded on Feb 22, 2009

Black Cat is an Australian collected tune from the Cape Barren islands in Bass Straight. Catchy and fast and popular at sessions or wherever folk musicians meet. This version is played in G the most popular key for the area.

Video #3:Jenny Lind Polka/The Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye

warren fahey, Published on Apr 18, 2012

Performed by Warren Fahey's Australian Bush Orchestra

Jenny Lind was the world's first international singing star and was known as 'The Swedish Nightingale'. By the 1850s goldrush she was well-known in Australia and was the gold miner's fantasy - they even named their mining cradles for her. The polka was extremely popular for bush dances. The 'Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye' is another well-known Australian bush dance tune. The Australian Bush Orchestra album is available on iTunes (ABC Music). Clip editing by Mic Gruchy. For more info on Australian folk music ALSO view our other clip 'Old Dan Tucker in Australia'


Video #1: Jim Along Josie

tmasei, Uploaded on Nov 23, 2009

Video #2: Coon Creek Girls - Jim Along Josie

J. A. Stump, ploaded on Dec 1, 2010
"The Coon Creek Girls were a popular all-girl "string band" in the Appalachian style of folk music (a precursor of country music) which began in the mid-1930s. Created (and named) by John Lair for his Renfro Valley Barn Dance show, the band originally consisted of sisters Lily May and Rosie Ledford (from Powell County, Kentucky) along with Esther "Violet" Koehler (from Indiana) and Evelyn "Daisey" Lange (from Ohio)…
In 1939, when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the White House of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, there were numerous musical acts, including Lawrence Tibbett, Marion Anderson, and Kate Smith. Also included were a troupe of Bascom Lunsford's square dancers, and the Coon Creek Girls.[1]
Years active: 1937–1957"
Another video of this same song indicates that it was recorded in the 1940s or 1950s.

"[Leader of the Coon Creek Girls singing group] Lily May was not only an authentic mountain girl who interpreted the real songs from her region but she had a natural feeling for bluesy songs of African-American origin...

Many of the hillbilly songs were passed around from both white and black sources and the first big hillbilly star was Jimmie Rodgers, a white interpreter of the blues. Bill Monroe was strongly influenced by a black guitarist. Other Kentucky hillbilly artists like the Carlisle Brothers reveled in the magic of the blues even to an extent where their racy lyrics were considered to be offensive by listeners in their region.

With this background information, let's look at the Coon Creek Girls (led by Lily May) version of Jim Along Josie:

JIM ALONG JOSIE by the Coon Creek Girls


Down in Mississippi as you well know
There’s a song named Jim Along Joe
Folks call out when the bell does ring
And this is the song that they do sing:

Chorus: Hey get along, Jim along Josey,
Hey get along, Jim along Joe! (REPEAT optional)


Sister the other night did dream,
She was floating up and down the stream
When she awoke she began to cry,
And the white cat scratched out the black cat’s eye.

Chorus: Hey get along, Jim along Josey,
Hey get along, Jim along Joe!

Chorus: Hey get along………, Jim along Josey,
Hey get along……………, Jim along Joe!

...NOTES: AABB form and also AB form (the verse being only two lines instead of four). Original sheet music (1840) key of C. “Jim Along Josey” is a minstrel song written by Edward Harper around 1838. It is not clear if the song was in the African-American tradition before 1838 and adapted by Harper or whether it was an original composition. I suspect Harper rewrote (adapted) the song from traditional sources.

In the title "Jim Along Josey" the word- Josey, is used as a name (could be a man's or woman's name) The word "Josey" is an African-American dance step. The word, Jim, is not really used for a name. "Get Along Josey" could just as easily be substituted for "Jim Along Josey." There is one version entitled, "Git Along Josie."...

There are two distinct versions:

The Minstrel Version: Based on the Harper 1838 version which entered the folk process and eventually changed the number of verses from 4 verses to two verses. Other verses were created and added to the mix.

The Play Party Version: The first word in the chorus line is changed- Hey jim along, jim along Josie/Walk jim along, jim along Josie/Hop jim along, jim along Josie, etc.
Also, a "josie" (a "joseph") was the name of a woman's cloak (coat).
From a comment that I posted in 2004 on this Mudcat Cafe discussion thread:
[quoting] "John Russell Bartlett, The Dictionary of Americanisms (New York Crescent Books, originally published 1849.) "Joseph, a very old riding coat for women, scarcely now to be seen or heard of-Forby's Vocabulary. A garment made of Scotch plaid, for an outside coat or habit, was wornin New England about the year 1830, called a Joseph by some a Josey.
Olivia was drawn as an Amazon, sitting upon a bank of
flowers, dressed in a green Joseph.
-Godsmith, Vicar of Wakefield."

Thanks to all those who composed these songs & those who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to the publishers on YouTube of these videos.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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