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Monday, December 9, 2013

Raise A Ruckus Tonight (examples & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases four examples of the Old Time Music song "Raise A Ruckus Tonight". The word "ruckus" is usually pronounced "roo-kus" in these songs.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

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INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SONG
"Raise a Rucus Tonight" is included in African American scholar & folk music collector Thomas W. Talley's now classic 1922 collection of African American secular folk songs Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise And Other Wise. That song has been adapted and recorded by numerous performers and serves as the source for a number of songs, including the children's playground rhyme "Ten [Three] Little Angles [devils] Dressed In White".

Click http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=73087#1264845 for a 2004 comment that I posted to a Mudcat folk music discussion of that song. Here's the first part of that comment with the important correction of the century that I believe that this song was first collected and the change of the word "song" for the word "tune" that I had written then.

" "Raise a Rucus" is an opened ended dance song dating from the early 20th century or the late 19th century. The song makes use of a varied number of floating verses that can be found in a number of other secular slave songs."

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FEATURED TEXT EXAMPLES OF "RAISE A RUCKUS TONIGHT"
Example #1:
[Here's a comment that I wrote September 2004 on this Mudcat folk music forum discussion thread http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=73087 Lyr Add: Raise A Ruckus Tonight

I've made a minor change in how I'm writing what is now called the n word, a few minor typographical corrections, a few word changes, and an added hyperlink.]

"Raise a Rucus is an opened ended dance song dating from at least 19th century Southern United States slavery. The song makes use of various of floating verses that can be found in a number of other secular slave songs.

Here is a version of Raise A "Rucus" Tonight from Thomas W. Talley's Negro Folk Rhymes, originally published in 1922, p. 90.
electronic book http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27195/27195-h/27195-h.htm

I am using N----rs for you-know-which group referent since that referent is probably even less politically correct now than it was in 1922. Otherwise, this is as Talley presented it.

Two liddle N----rs all dressed in white,
Raise a rucus to-night)
Want to get to Heaben on de tail of a kite.
(Raise a rucus to-night)
De kite string broke; dem N----rs fell;
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Wha dem N----rs go, I hain't gwineter tell.
(Raise a rucus to-night)

A N----r an' a w'ite man a playin' seven up;
(Raise a rucus to-night)
De N----r beat de w'te man, but 'e's skeered to pick it up.
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Dat N----r grabbed de money, an' de w'te man fell
(Raise a rucus to-night)
How de N----r run, I'se not gwinter tell.
(Raise a rucus to-night)

Look here, N----r! Let me tell you a naked fac':
(Raise a rucus to-night.)
You mought a been cullud widout bein' dat black;
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Dem 'ar feet look lak youse sh' walkin; back'
(Raise a rucus to-night)
An' yo' ha'r, it look lak a chyarpet tack.
(Raise a rucus to-night)

CHORUS: Oh come 'long chilluns, come 'long
W'le dat moon are shinin' bright
Let's git on board, an' float down de river,
An' raise a rucus to-night.

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Just a couple of comments:
These floating verses are probably more suitable for historical/anthropological folk study than present day singing, particularly the last verse of "rips" (insults). At the very least, it should be stated that this dance song was not meant to be performed for audiences other than African Americans, and at that only certain groups of African Americans on certain, shall we say "informal" occasions.

I believe that the first verse of "Raise A Rucus Tonight" is the source for the African American children's rhyme "Ten Little Angels" (Ten little angels dressed in white/tryin' to get to heaven by the tail of a kite/but the kite string broke/and one of them fell/instead of going to heaven she when to __/nine little angels etc.)

The first verse's avoidance of the word "hell" reminds me of the children's folk rhyme "Miss Susie had a Steamboat" in which the "hell is changed to "Hello, operator"...

Also, with regard to the use of "d" in place of "th" I would like to call your attention to this excerpt from Lorenzo D. Turner's "Problems Confronting The Investigator Of Gullah", p. 132 in Mother Wit From The Laughing Barrel, edited by Alan Dundes (Prentice-Hall, 1973)

"Mr. Cleanth Brooks, in his monograph entitled 'The Relation of the Alabama-Georgia Dialect to the Provincial Dialects of Great Britain' (Baton Rouge, 1835), reveals some confusion in his discussion of the Negro's substitution of initial d for th in such words as this, that, them, then, these, etc. Assuming that all the peculiarities of the Negro's pronunciation stem from the British dialect of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, he devotes several pages (75-91, to be exact) to an attempt to show that the use of initial d for th in such words occurred in certain British dialects early enough for the white settlers in Alabama and Georgia to pass it on to the Negroes. He obviously did not realize that in none of the West African languages spoken by the Negroes who were coming to Georgia direct from Africa until practically the beginning of the Civil War does the th sound occur.... Moreover, when the native West African today first encounters the "th" sounds, whether in the United States, the Caribbean, West Africa, or elsewhere, he substitutes for them "d" and "t" with which he is thoroughly familiar and which he considers closer to the English th than any of the other sounds of his language. This is true whether he is literate or illiterate....
-end of quote-
A few more comments:
"Seven up" mentioned in this song is a card game. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Up_(game)

The last verse in this song is made up of "diss" (insults) about a Black person's dark skin color and about a Black person's hair texture.

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Example #2: Gus Cannon - Gonna Raise a Ruckus Tonight



AlvisaMinidoruv, Published on Feb 16, 2013

Do I need to say anything? More from Cannon's Stax record. Pictures of euchre players, a girl with a banjo, and then a bunch of girls with banjos.

Gus Cannon: banjo, vocals
Will Shade: jug, vocals
Milton Roby: washboard
-snip-
LYRICS: (Gus Cannon version)
Chorus:
Come along, little chillun, come along,
While the moon is shinin' bright,
I imma git on board, where the river flow
I'm gonna raise a ruckus tonight.

My ol' mistiss promise me,
(Raise a ruckus tonight)
When she died, she'd set me free,
(Raise a ruckus tonight)
Oh she here so long till her head got bald
(Raise a ruckus tonight)
Thought I had to kill her with the white oak maul
(Raise a ruckus tonight.)

Chorus

Raise a ruckus tonight
(Raise a ruckus tonight)
Been so long till her head got bald
(Raise a ruckus tonight)

Raise a ruckus tonight
(Raise a ruckus tonight)
Raise a ruckus tonight
(Raise a ruckus tonight
Bouta git on board, down where the river flow
I'm gonna raise a ruckus tonight.

[instrumental]

Chorus
Well, well come along, little chillun, come along,
While the moon is shinin' bright,
Git on board, where the river flow
I'm gonna raise a ruckus tonight
-snip-
Transcription by Azizi Powell. Italics mean I'm not sure about that word. Additions and corrections are welcome.

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Example #3: BUSTER BROWN & GROUP- RAISE A RUCKUS TONIGHT (1962)



TheNickNicola, Published on Mar 6, 2012

LYRICS (as sung by Buster Brown)

Come along, children come along
While the moon is shinin' bright
Get on board, down the river flow
We're gonna raise a ruckus tonight

Ain't no need to be workin' so hard
(Praise the Lord)
I got a gal in my backyard (praise)
(Praise the Lord)

When she killin' chicken
She save me the head
(Praise the Lord)
Worked so much
I been lyin' in the bed (yeah, yeah)
(Praise the Lord)

Oh, come along
Oh children come along
While the moon is shinin' bright
Get on board, down that river flows
We're gonna raise a ruckus tonight
(We're gonna raise a ruckus tonight)

When she killed a chicken
Saved me the piece
(Praise the Lord)
Worked so much
You better throw another piece (yeah, yeah)
(Praise the Lord)

Ain't no need a-me gettin' the blues (praise)
(Praise the Lord)
You swing Sally an I'll swing Sue
(yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
(Praise the Lord)

Ooh, come along
Lord, children come along
While the moon is shinin' bright
Get on board, down the river flow
We're gonna raise a ruckus
(We're gonna raise a ruckus tonight)

Woo!
(Prayer of God)
Woo! (oh yeah)
(Prayer of God)
Woo! (yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah)
(Prayer of God)
Woo!

(Prayer is God)
Oh, come along
Lord, children come along
While the moon is shinin' bright
Get on board, down the river flow
We're gonna raise a ruckus
(We're gonna raise a ruckus tonight)

Sing above me
Ain't gonna sing no mo'
(Prayer of God)
My baby called me
An I got to go (yeah, yeah)
(Prayer of God)
I wonder where could my baby be?
(Prayer of God)
I can't find her, she can't find me
(Prayer of God)

Oh, come along
Lord, children come along
While the moon is shinin' bright
Get on board, down the river flow
We're gonna raise a ruckus
(We're gonna raise a ruckus tonight)

Woo!

(Prayer of God)
(Gonna pray, yeah!)
(Prayer of God)
Woo!
(Prayer of God)
Woo!
(Gonna pray, yeah!)
(Prayer of God)
Woo!
(Prayer of God)
Woo!
(Gonna pray right now)

http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858913932/

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Thanks to Thomas W. Talley for collecting this song and others. Thanks to these featured vocalists who recorded this song. And thanks to the publishers of these sound files on YouTube.

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Visitor comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the song "Raise A Ruckus Tonight" was at least partly a source for the character "Uncle Ruckus" in the African American comic strip/television series the "Boondocks".

    Since Uncle Ruckus is a self-hating Black man, he would want to remove himself from the downhome-if not minstrel like -connotations of the "Raise A Ruckus" song. But his name ties him to that part of his heritage.

    Click ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_Ruckus for more information about Uncle Ruckus. Warning - "the n word" is fully spelled out on that page.

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