Friday, September 12, 2014

"Sangaree" And "Sandy Ree" Song Lyrics

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part series about the Georgia Sea Islands [United States] songs "Sangaree" and "Sandy Ree".

This post showcases a version of the 19th century Black American song "Sangaree" [with later verses] and a 20th century version of that song entitled "Sandy Ree". I'm referring to these examples a "versions" because, as is the case with other folk songs, the lyrics and order of verses of those songs can be changed each time they are sung. However, these are the only examples of these songs that I've found to date.

Click for Part II of this seris. Part II of this series presents speculations about the origins
and meanings of "sangaree" & "Sandy Ree".

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who composed and collected these songs. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.

posted by Jim Dixon on Lyr Req: Sangarie.
"From Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands by Lydia Parrish (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1942, reprinted 1992), page 99 (There is a lead sheet on page 101.)

This ring-play varies in action whenever I see it done. For that reason I will attempt no description. The tune, however, always remains the same.

1. If I live (Sangaree)
Don' get kill' (Sangaree)
I'm goin' back (Sangaree)
Jacksonville (Sangaree)

CHORUS: Oh Babe (Sangaree)
Oh Babe (Sangaree)
Oh Babe (Sangaree)
Oh Babe (Sangaree)

2. If I live (Sangaree)
See nex' fall (Sangaree)
Ain' goin' t' plant (Sangaree)
No cotton at all (Sangaree) CHORUS

3. Chicken in the fiel' (Sangaree)
Scratchin' up peas (Sangaree)
Dog on the outside (Sangaree)
Scratchin' off fleas (Sangaree) CHORUS

Extra verses contributed by a Darien singer:

4. My husban's got the shovel (Sangaree)
An' I got the hoe (Sangaree)
If that ain't farmin' (Sangaree)
I don't know (Sangaree)

5. If you want t' see a [n word]* (Sangaree)
Cut the fool (Sangaree)
Let him ride (Sangaree)
A white man's mule (Sangaree) CHORUS
My comments:
*"The n word" was fully spelled out in these lyrics. The words "black man" can be substituted for what is now considered to be a highly pejorative referent.

Here's some information about the Georgia Sea Islands:
"The Gullah are the descendants of enslaved Africans who live in the Lowcountry region of the U.S. states of South Carolina and Georgia, which includes both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands...Historically, the Gullah region extended from the Cape Fear area on the coast of North Carolina south to the vicinity of Jacksonville on the coast of Florida; but today the Gullah area is confined to the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry. The Gullah people and their language are also called Geechee...

Because of a period of relative isolation in rural areas, the Gullah developed a culture that has preserved much of their African linguistic and cultural heritage from various peoples, as well as absorbing new influences from the region. They speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords and influenced by African languages in grammar and sentence structure. Properly referred to as "Sea Island Creole," the Gullah language is related to Jamaican Patois, Barbadian Dialect, Bahamian Dialect, Trinidadian Creole, Belizean Creole and the Krio language of Sierra Leone in West Africa."
Verse #2 in that version of "Sangaree" is a floating verse that is found in several number of 19th century Black American southern plantation dance songs, including the song "Susan Jane" in Thomas W. Talley's Negro Folk Rhymes ; originally published in 1922 [The Project Gutenberg EBook, p. 77
"If I lives to see nex' Fall;
Susan Jane! Susan Jane!
I hain't gwineter sow no wheat at all.
Susan Jane! Susan Jane!"

From Step It Down: Games, Plays, Songs & Stories from the Afro-American Heritage by Bessie Jones & Bess Lomax Hawes (1972) pp. 133-135

Way down yonder,
Sandy ree
Where I come from,
Sandy ree
Girls love boys,
Sandy ree
Like a hog loves corn,
Sandy ree

(Refrain, to be used ad lib)
Oh, babe,
Sandy ree
Oh, babe,
Sandy ree
Oh, babe,
Sandy ree

Papa got theee shovel
Sandy Ree (etc.)
Mama got the hoe
If that ain't farmin'
I don't know

Dog on the porch
Kicking off fleas,
Chickeeen in the yard,
Scratching up peas.

Old brother rabbit,
Died with a habit.
In my garden,
Eating up cabbage.

If I live to see next fall.
I ain't gonna plant,
No cotton at all.

Mama in the cotton patch,
Picking up cotton,
Papa in town,
Drunk and sloppin'

Well, if I live,
And I don't get killed,
I'm going back,
To Jacksonville.

Road is wet,
Woods is muddy,
Daddy's so drunk
He can't stand studdy.

Down in the bottom,
Cotton goes rotten,
Can't get a bale,
It's no need of trottin'.

Your dark bark.
He don't see nothin;,
My dog bark.
He done see somethin'.

One of these days
And it won't be long,
You'll look for me
And I'll be gone.
This collection is of songs from the Georgia Sea Islands (Gullah tradition).

Notice that a few of these verses are the same as or very similar to verses found in the 19th century version of "Sangaree". The last verse is a floater from Black American religious songs.

"He can't stand studdy" = He can't stand steady.

"the bottom" = "Usually, bottoms. Also called bottom land. Physical Geography. low alluvial land next to a river."
alluvial= "made up of or found in the materials that are left by the water of rivers, floods"

"It's no need of trottin'" = It's no need to hurry (to walk fast; trot) to get to the cotton

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  1. Thank you.

    We sang a version of this song in school, in Pennsylvania in the early 1980s. The lyrics went "Whoah, baby, Sandy Ree / Like a hog loves corn / Sandy Ree / kickin' up dust / Sandy Ree..." 'Wish I could find the old school songbook that had this in it.

  2. You're welcome, anonymous April 11, 2015.

    Some songs from old school music books certainly seem to stay with us, don't they?