Edited by Azizi Powell
This post showcases the Johnny Moore version of the prison work song "Early In The Morning".
The addendum to this post presents Barry Finn's comments about various versions of the work song "Early In The Morning" and information cross cutting work songs. Barry Finn was an Anglo-American folk singer and blogger on Mudcat, an online Folk & Blues forum.
The content of this post is provided for folkloric, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are featured in this recording. Thanks also to Alan Lomax for collecting this and other songs & providing transcriptions & commentary about those songs. In addition, thanks to Barry Finn for his comments, thanks to other commenters, and thanks to theschmcc, the publisher of this sound file on YouTube.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/06/early-in-morning-prison-work-song-1947.html for a post about another version of the "Early In The Morning" work song.
SHOWCASE EXAMPLE: Johnny Lee Moore - Early in the Mornin'
theshmcc Uploaded on Jul 8, 2011
Johnny Lee Moore from The Alan Lomax Collection: Southern Journey, Vol. 5 - Bad Man Ballads (Prison Songs)
LYRICS: EARLY IN THE MORNING
(sung by Johnny Moore and other men)
Wake up in the mornin', well-a,
With a cup and a pan (2x)
Well, you say anything about it,
Well-a have trouble out the man. (2x)
Oh captain, captain, don'tcha,
Well-a, know my name? (2x)
Well, I used to be the porter, well-a,
On the southbound train. (2x)
I'm the same grand rascal, well-a,
Stole your watch and chain (2x)
Cryin' ol' Mamie, well-a, Oh Lordy, gal! (2x)
Well, Mamie in Meridian, livin' at ease, (2x)
Well, I'm on Parchman, got to work or leave. (2x)
I'll call Alberta from the woman's wall. (2x)
Well, look over yonder, sun done gone, (2x)
Well, way over yonder, where the western sun. (2x)
transcription by Alan Lomax, with these comments by Mudcat blogger Ken Schatz, Date: 12 Jun 09 - 10:19 PM http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=121526
"Right. A couple of problems, though:
1. This transcription is a little loose. If you listen to the field recording, you'll hear a couple of small deviations.
2. Before "I'll call Alberta..." there is a whole other line that I can't quite make out, and which Lomax omits - I think because he couldn't make it out either. It's a veritable mondegreen festival, something like:
"I'm gonna holler like - [give a mighty good squall]?"
But it seems like that might not be it. I've done some cursory checking for the couplet in other references, books and recordings, and I can't find what it might be. Paging Dr. Finn! Barry might know.
PS About the shouts at the end, William Ferris, in Blues from the Delta, says:
"When a tree is cut or the hoers reach the end of a row, the caller signals the end of his chant by crying 'Mud! Mud! Mud!'"....
ADDENDUM -INFORMATION ABOUT THE WORK SONG "EARLY IN THE MORNING" AND ABOUT PRISON CROSS CUTTING WORK
Subject: ADD Version: Early in the Morning
From: Barry Finn
Date: 15 Jun 09 - 11:48 PM
"There are 2 different distinct prison worksong by the name of "Early In The Morning". Both Ken & I do one, sometimes together, sorry it's not the one you're looking for.
The one you're looking for is found as you know on the Alan Lomax Collection--"Southern Journey, Vol. 5: Bad Man Ballads" recorded at Camp B Lambert, Miss on Sept, 1959 from the singing of Johnny Lee Moore & group.
It can also be found sung slightly different but used for the same type of work (logging-standinng on a felled tree after it's branches have been cleared & chopping down, with the axe between one's feet in order to cut the long log into small bits- a moderatly paced song) on "Prison Worksongs on the Arhoolie lable (CD-448) recorded at the Louisiana State pen at Angola by Dr Harry Oster 1959, ffrom the singing of Johnny Butler & group. Also on, & most recently collected by Bruce Jackson on Rounder records at the Ellis facility in Texas on March 1966. This recording can also be found in Jackson's accompanying printed collection under the same title name as the CD "Wake Up Dead Man" still very much available on CD (CD2013) & in print on page 269-273) published by Harvard University Press 1972. This was collected from the singing of Willie "Cowboy" Craig & group"..
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Prison Work Song
From: Barry Finn
Date: 16 Jun 09 - 07:46 PM
.... the "Early In The Morning " (you may have to scroll up a bit) song that Ken [Schatz] & I both do is a double cross cutting song, the fastest of the prison worksong. You might want to give that one a listen just to compare the differences between the 2 songs.*
Where logging the axe comes down between the legs making the arc that the blade trave[l]s longer [.] the cross cut is a sideways swing into a standing tree in order to fell the tree. The "double" comes in when instead of 4 men standing at the 4 compass points around the tree you have 8 man at the same compass points so the doubled up men are working back to back swing in opposite directions & as one swings into the tree the opposite is bring the axe back out [.] If they struck together, no problem but whenb [sic] they both brought the axes back out their axes would cross & clash. Newbies wen't [sic] allowed to just get in on the action, they had to be brought along so that they would learn the ropes in order to survive mishaps.
So the beat between a cross cut doubles in tempo when you double cross cut"
The spelling & punctuation additions to this comment that I included are given in brackets. I think that those errors occurred for no other reason but a rush to type & share his thoughts online.
Read that Mudcat post for more commentary about and lyrics of versions of "Early In The Morning" prison work songs.
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