Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Folk Songs, Blues, & Children's Rhyme Examples Of The Verse "Never Went To College, Never Went To School"...

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post cites four examples of the floating verse "never went to college, never went to school/ but..... a fool" or similar worded verses from African American songs and children's rhymes.

A 2014 pancocojams post documents examples of this verse from African American children's rhymes given below and not from 19th century African American social songs and from Blues.

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

I'm interested in learning about other examples of social songs, Blues, or children's rhymes that include this verse. Please add any other song titles and lyrics that you know to this post's comment section.

Thanks to all who have contributed online lyrics/words for the examples of songs and rhymes that I refer to in this post.

These examples are given in relative chronological order with the oldest examples given first.
UNCLE JESSE [19th century "African American" secular song

Source: Dorothy Scarborough, On The Trail Of Negro Folk Songs (first published in 1925, pp 71-72}. Note: I'm using "N__" for what is commonly known now as "the n word".

Old Jesse was a gemman {gentelman}
Among de olden times.

Verse 2
N__ never went to free school,
Nor any odder college.
An' all de white folks wonder whar
Dat N_ got his knowledge.

UNCLE BUD (DOG-GONE HIM) [social song/Blues]
(As sung by Tampa Red on "Tampa Red Vol. 2 (1929)" (2005).

[verse] 4. He ain't got no sense 'cause he didn't go to school,
But the women all thinks he's a jelly-beatin' fool.
Click for a pancocojams post about this relatively clean version of an "Uncle Bud" song.
In the context of this song, the women are praising Uncle Bud when they think is a jelly beating fool. In other words, they think that he is "very good in bed".

[children's rhymes, pantomime chants]

This verse is chanted towards the end of this rhyme:

Well I've never been to college
I never been to school.
But when it comes to boogie.
I can boogie like a fool.

I've never been to college
I never been to school.
But when it comes to boogie.
I'm an educated fool.
The word "boogie" means "dance". "I can boogie like a fool" means "I can dance really good". "I'm an educated fool" means that I'm really good at what I do.

I'm not sure which of these forms was used first*. But both of these lines are examples of self-praise and both forms have been used for either "Aunt Jenny Dies" or "Ladies And Gentlemen, Children Too".

*According to "Boogie-woogie is a musical genre that became popular during the late 1920s, but developed in African American communities in the 1870s....The Oxford English Dictionary states that the word is a reduplication of boogie, which was used for "rent parties" as early as 1913."

I've also found an example of the "I've never been to college verse online with the word "'Frisco" [San Francisco, California] substituted for the word "college".

I wonder if these verses were composed as retorts to brags from people who were attending college or who had attended college. And
I wouldn't be surprised if this children's verse was folk processed from the Uncle Bud verse that is given above.

Click and for text examples and a sound file example of "Aunt Jenny Died".

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