Translate

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mama, Bake That Johnny Cake, Christmas Comin’ (examples & lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post includes information & comments about Caribbean johnny cakes and showcases three examples of the Caribbean Christmas song "Mama Bake Dat (That) Johnny Cake". This secular song is also known as "Mama Make The ["Dat" or "That"] Johnny Cake" and "Christmas Comin'". "Mama Bake That Johnny Cake" is widely known in the Caribbean and is closely associated with Jonkanoo celebrations in that region.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

****
INFORMATION OF JONKANOO
http://www.caribbean.com/bahamas/junkanoo/
“Jonkanoo” Boxing Day (26th December) and New Year's Day 2am to 8am
Originally published BAHAMASNET.COM - 1996 © Etienne Dupuch Jr Publications Ltd
...“Long hours of work in top-secret Junkanoo "shacks" result in museum-quality costumes painstakingly made from coloured paper. These works of art used to be trucked to the city dump. Today, the best are restored and preserved as Junkanoo Expo visitor attractions at the Prince George Wharf museum.

Competition becomes fierce when the various groups present their latest designs and themes at Junkanoo judging time the following morning. Regular competitors in Nassau include the Valley Boys, Saxons, One Family, Vikings, Music Makers, Most Qualified, Roots, Fancy Dancers, Z-Bandits, Fox Hill Congos, the PIGS (Progress through Integrity, Guts and Strength) and many other groups. Cash awards are passed out at both the Boxing Day and New Year's parades.

Plan early for a good vantage point. Upstairs locations on Bay Street are prime viewing venues. Bench seats lining Bay St may be reserved but there have been incidents when these seats have been usurped.

Special songs put Junkanoo in proper musical perspective. "Mama, bake your Johnny Cake, Christmas coming," is an all-time Junkanoo Christmas hit."

****
INFORMATION ABOUT CARIBBEAN JOHNNY CAKE
From http://latinfood.about.com/od/glossarypronunciation/a/johnny-cake-definition.htm
"Johnny Cake is not unique to Jamaica. Versions can also be found in the Eastern Caribbean islands as well as places like Turks and Caicos, Cayman Islands and St. Croix.

Johnny Cakes are fried dumplings. The dough, once kneaded is formed into balls and deep fried. Johnny Cakes are a real treat especially when served with sauteed salt fish. They can, however, be eaten as is, with jam, butter or cheese. Johnny Cakes were originally called Journey Cakes as they were made and packed as a part of a lunch and snack for the plantation workers, for a long lasting journey."

****
From
http://answers.ask.com/Food_and_Drinks/Other/what_are_johnny_cakes
"Johnny cakes are different in the [United] states as they are in the Caribbean. In the Caribbean they are similar to fried dough that you will find at the fairs and carnivals. In the states I have seen corn bread being called Johnny Cake. Both are a bread like substance with different ingredients."

****
From http://news.ai/ref/johnnycakes.html
"What are "johnny cakes"? Johnny Cakes are bagel-sized biscuits, usually fried, that are made all over the Caribbean.

Legend has it that the name derives from "journey cake", meaning a bread that could be cooked ahead when going out to work or on a journey.

In any case, there are as many recipes for Johnny Cake as there are cooks in Anguilla, ranging in style from something like hard-tack to something more like a donut. If you eat at local places in Anguilla, you will have Johnny Cakes eventually."
-snip-
This page includes a recipe for johnny cakes.

Click http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Johnnycakes.htm for information about and a recipe for New England [United States] cornmeal flatbread that are called "Johnnycakes, johnny cakes, jonnycake, ashcake, battercake, corn cake, cornpone, hoecake, hoe cake, journey cake, mush bread, pone, Shawnee cake, jonakin, and jonikin."

****
FEATURED VIDEOS
(These examples are presented in chronological order based on their posting dates on YouTube, with the oldest dates given first.)

Example #1: Ma Ma make dat johnny cake - Dynamite Dancer's Christmas Time



Denton255 Uploaded on Dec 13, 2008

Dancing MaMa make dat johnny cake, Christmas coming. Let me kno wat u think.
-snip-
According to a commenter, this video was taken in Abaco, the Bahamas.

Here's another comment from that sound file's viewer comment thread:

sherry Pollack, 2009
"Hey Denton, Compliments of the Season. Thank You for posting "Mama Bake da Johnny Cake" - Especiallly with Junkanoo Music, been looking for that for a loooonnnggg time. Two the for price of One LOL - That's great during these here "Recession days"!!! I hope you dont mind, let me know if you do, but I'm gonna try to pput that on my site. Fantastic dancing and Music. Thank you - Have a Wonderful Merry Christmas!!!
-snip-
I'm not sure whether "Mama Bake Dat Johnny Cake" is a traditional folk song or if the composer of this song and the date of its composition is known. If you have any information about this song, please share it in the comment section below. Thanks in advance.

I also don't know the name of the artists who recorded the version of "Mama Bake That Johnny Cake" which is featured in this video. That version combines that song's lyrics with lyrics of two religious songs and one other secular song. Here's my attempt to transcribe the lyrics to this version of "Mama, Bake That Johnny Cake":

Mama, bake your johnny cake
Christmas comin’
Mama, bake your johnny cake
Christmas comin’

Christmas comin
Christmas comin
Christmas comin

Mama, bake that johnny cake
Christmas comin’
Mama, bake that johnny cake
Christmas comin’

Christmas comin
Christmas comin
Christmas comin

Mama bake that johnny cake
New Years comin

[Follow the pattern that is given above.]

Lead singer: This time another year
Group - (I may be gone)
Lead singer - In some lonesome graveyard
Group -(Oh, Lord how long)

Repeat several times then instruments play the melody while group repeatedly sings in response "I may be gone" and "Oh Lord how long"' The song then returns to the "This time another year" verse song above.]

[Then sing the church song "Amen" which is just composed of the word "Amen" sung different ways]

If you want to party meet me on the street
If you want to jam then meet me on the street
'Cause everybody's gettin’ down
‘Cause Jonkanoo is downtown
If you want to party meet me on the street

[Sing several times and end with the first verse "Mama, Bake That Johnny Cake"]
-snip-
Transcription by Azizi Powell from the recording. Additions and corrections welcome.

****
Example #2: Ma Ma make your Johnny Cake



Riddim Galore , Uploaded on Nov 27, 2009

The traditional Christmas song by Stanley & the Ten Sleepless Knights from St. Croix, Virgin Islands.
-snip-
Here are some selected comments from this sound file's viewer comment thread:

2011

Matt Shipman
"A friend of mine grew up in the V.I., and apparently this is THE Christmas song there. Not only is it on the radio, but the band would drive around St. Croix playing on the back of a flatbed truck. It's pretty great.

Now, who's up for a conch fritter and some beers?"

**
DocKnight
"Mama make yo Johnny cake Christmas coming Ooooo Ahhh!!! Big Tunes back then..."

**
Blisscious
"hey like to talk them story and nursery rhymes bout the gingerbread man...ha! Cyan touch Johnny cake, on a good day!!!! Ma Ma make yuh Johnny cake!!!"

**
Thomoya Casimir
"I REMEMBER WHEN THEY USE TO TEACH US THIS SONG IN SCHOOL!"
****
Example #3: Mama Bake A Johnny Cake - Tropical Depression - Rake N' Scrape Music

.

Vinny C, Uploaded on Feb 8, 2011

Harbourfest - Virginia - 2008
-snip-
Here's some information about Rake N' Scrape music:
Fromhttp://www.bahamasentertainers.com/Paper/rkeNscr.html
..."Musicians beating on the goombay drum and scraping a carpenters saw and playing melodious tunes on the concertina were not only recorded as having roots in Cat Island, but in other Family Islands [islands other than the city of Nassau] as well. According to Franklyn 'Count Bernadino' Ellis, a top Bahamian entertainer, he witnessed this style of music being performed on the island of Abaco as a child (Ellis 2004) where they called it simply "African music". Rake 'n' scrape music is reported to have its roots in Cat Island, but evidence shows that that music was being developed in various islands simultaneously.

Today, Rake 'n' Scrape music is almost identical to 'rip saw' music of the Turks and Caicos Islands (a territory off the southernmost island of The Bahamas), which chose to remain under British rule when the Bahamas sought independence in 1973. During the 20's, 30's, and 40's, there was an intermingling of the two cultures, i.e. the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos cultures, which shared their traditions of music, story telling, ring games, and other cultural art forms. Among the shared cultural traits is the music of rake 'n' scrape. It is a futile exercise to debate as to the true origin of this music, but it is safe to say that many of the islands of the Caribbean because of movement of contract workers in the early days, shared and enriched each other’s cultures."

****
ADDENDUM
Here's a version of "Mama Bake That Johnny Cake" that appears to me to have been adapted for use in elementary schools:

From http://www.cityschools.com/kmilai/files/2010/09/holidaylyrics10.pdf

Mama, bake the Johnny Cake, Christmas Coming! (clap)
Mama, bake the Johnny Cake, Christmas Coming! (clap)
Christmas Coming, (clap) Christmas Coming (clap),
Christmas Coming (clap), Christmas Coming (clap).

Papa, hang the pretty lights, Christmas Coming!
Papa, hang the pretty lights, Christmas Coming!
Christmas Coming (clap), Christmas Coming (clap),
Christmas Coming (clap), Christmas Coming (clap).
-snip-
"Mama Bake That Johnny Cake" is an open ended song whose structural pattern can easily accommodate the addition of other verses which children, youth, or adults can make up.

The tune for the song "Shortnin' Bread" could be used as an alternative tune for this song. Here's two verses I made up using that tune:

Mama bake the johnny cake
johnny cake
johnny cake
Mama bake the johnny cake
Bake it nice and brown.*

Christmas is coming
coming coming
Christmas is coming
Let out a cheer!
-snip-
*The "bake it nice and brown" line is lifted from a version of the 19th century song "Bile them Cabbage Down" which mentions "hoecakes". Click http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=4566 for information & comments about that song and lyrics for that song.

"Hoecakes" are cakes which are similar to contemporary United States Southern cornbread. One theory is that hoecakes got their name because they were made on a cooking utensil called a hoe, and not the actual gardening tool called a "hoe". Click http://www.historiclondontown.com/files/Hoe-Cake-Etymology-web.pdf for an article about the etymology of the term "hoe cake".

****
Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the singers, musicians, and dancers who are featured in these showcased videos & sound files. Thanks also to the publishers of those videos & sound files on YouTube.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitors comments are welcome.


6 comments:

  1. I wonder if the Caribbean tradition of associating baking johnny cakes with Christmas came from the Pancake Day customs in the United Kingdom. For instance, here's an excerpt from Iona & Peter Opies' The Lore And Language Of School Children
    "Away in the West Country in remote farmsteads of Exmoor and in the Brendan Hills children still give voice to this wistful entreaty:
    Tippety tippety tin
    Give me a pancake and I will come in.
    Tippety tippet toe
    Give me a pancake and I will go.

    “If your doors are left open, writes a correspondent, ‘the children with blackened faces will creep in and throw a load of broken crocks all over the floor and try to decamp unseen. If the householders catch them, they further black their faces with soot, and then give them a cake before letting them go."
    [p. 239]

    Here's some information about Shrove Tuesday from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrove_Tuesday
    "Shrove Tuesday (also known as Pancake Tuesday and Pancake Day) is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is determined by Easter; its date changes annually.

    The expression "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the word shrive, meaning "confess."[1] Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. The term Mardi gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday."
    -snip-
    I think that the custom of baking pancakes to use up all of the rich fatty foods before Lent and the custom of children going door to doo,r singing & asking for treats and money during that times combined with West African customs of masquerading for special reasons and special occasions resulted in the association in those Caribbean nations of johnny cakes with Christmas and the creation of other Jonkanoo traditions.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This song has been first recorded in 1959 in the Bahamas. By popular artist Joseph Spence and it was adopted likely by other countries in the region.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I meant by the Fresh Creek band in 1959. Mama bake the Johnny Cake is originally from the Bahamas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous, thanks for sharing this information about the song "Mama, Bake The Johnny Cake".

      Please feel free to share other information and corrections and suggest other possible songs/dances from the Bahamas which can be featured on this pancocojams cultural blog.

      Delete
  4. Yes no problem. I also found the origins of how the song spread. It was Blind Blake Higgs a Bahamian artist whose recording of the song is played by many people. So he is likely the origin of the Spread of the song in America and the Caribbean at large. He has the copyright for the song and most of the music you find for it associated with him, so he is definitely the source of the spread of the song. http://www.copyrightencyclopedia.com/the-prettiest-girl-i-ever-saw-based-on-a-traditional-theme/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous, here's the hyperlink that you shared with us http://www.copyrightencyclopedia.com/the-prettiest-girl-i-ever-saw-based-on-a-traditional-theme/.

      That page is very interesting. I recognize some of the songs listed there and I featured a video of Blind Blake in this pancocojams post: https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/05/song-sources-for-down-by-banks-of-hanky.html Song Sources For Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky.

      This post showcases nine examples of songs or rhymes that influenced the development of the playground rhyme "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" or versions of that large "family" of playground rhymes. The video (actually a sound file) that I'm referring to here is for Example #3 for "Foolish Frog" by Blind Blake (1952).

      I gather that "copyright" means that Blind Blake registered his version of the song that are listed in that website, and wasn't the original composer of those songs. Is that your take on that website?

      Also, does that website list the year that those copyrights were given? If so, where is that listed on that page?

      Delete