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Sunday, March 19, 2023

Five YouTube Video Examples Of Singers' Hand Clapping & Other Hand Motions That Are Performed By Singers In The Ghanaian (Ewe) Music Group Edzordzinam Fafali Borborbor Band


Edzordzinam Fafali Officials, May 13, 2021

I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music.👌 Let’s support our Ewe Culture Music and don’t hesitate to Call us for any Proggam or for any sponsorship Deal God bless y’all for the support.

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Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part pancocojams series about Borborbor music and dance from Ghana, West Africa and from Togo, West Africa.

This post showcases a few videos of the Ghanaian (Ewe)  music group Edzordzinam Fafali Borborbor Band with a focus on the hand clapping and other hand motions that are performed by that band's singers.

Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2023/03/article-excerpts-about-ghanas-togos-ewe.html for Part I of this two part pancocojams series. That post showcases a YouTube video of 
Edzordzinam Fafali Borborbor Band and provides some information about Borborbor music.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the founders, leaders, and other members of Edzordzinam Fafali Borborbor Band and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

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PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S NOTE
I am an African American self-described "community folklorist who knows nothing about African culture besides what I've read and watched online. I first learned about Borborbor music and dance in 2012 as a result of "happening" upon a video while "surfing" YouTube for traditional African music and dance. [The link for the pancocojams post that was the result of my finding out about Borborbor is given above.]

Most of the articles and comments that I've read about Borborbor dancing focus on its drumming style and/or it allegedly being the source for or resembling contemporary "twerking" dancing.

I haven't found any online content about how Borborbor singers' alternate between clapping their own hands and performing other synchronized hand motions.

I'm not a musician but it appears to me that the Borborbor singers in the videos that I've watched which show those singers clap their hands on the first and second beats and then (usually) do some other synchronized hand motions on the third and fourth beat. 

 *By "individual" I mean that the singers are clapping their own hands and not the hands of anyone else.

**By "synchronized" I mean that it usually appears that all or many of the singers at a particular time in a video  are doing the same alternate hand motions after they clap their hands. I don't know what-if anything- those motions mean in Ewe culture. Usually the singers stand in place without moving while doing these hand claps and other hand motions. However, sometimes they move from side to side and/or appear to perform some dance moves without leaving their spot.

These videos are given in no particular order. Numbers are added for referencing purposes only.

DISCLAIMER

This pancocojams post doesn't provide examples of all the hand motions that I've seen in 
 Edzordzinam Fafali Borborbor Band. Idon't know if singers in other Borborbor bands do the same or some different hand motions.

This post also doesn't 
YouTube videos of this these post doesn't include any time stamps or descriptions of the singers' hand clapping or other hand motions simply because I don't believe I could adequately describe those motions. Please feel free to add your descriptions about these Borborbor singers' hand clapping signatures and these hand motions. 

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SHOWCASE VIDEO #2: Dzidzɔkpɔkpɔ nye dadanya ŋutɔ le míaƒe Bɔbɔbɔ dekɔnuwo ƒe domenyinu bliboa me.❤️


Edzordzinam Fafali Officials, Dec 20, 2022

Best traditional culture group Edzordzinam fafali borborbor band 💪💪 0277141434



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SHOWCASE #3 - Check this massive borborbor performance ❤️❤️dont forget to share abd subscribe to our channel ❤️❤️

Edzordzinam Fafali Officials, Sep 24, 2022

Proud Voltarian❤️❤️❤️ massive performance borborbor dance ❤️❤️from Edzordzinam fafali borborbor Band ( Abeka lapaz ). 0277141434

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SHOWCASE VIDEO #4 - Happiness is a very proud word of our whole Borborbor cultural heritage.❤️ Proud9❤️EdzordzinamFafali


Edzordzinam Fafali Officials, Sep 11, 2021

Welcome to Official Page if Edzordzinam Fafali Borborbor Band(Abeka Lapaz)  home Of Our rich and Beautiful Borborbor Culture ❤️ 


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SHOWCASE VIDEO #5 - BORBORBOR 💡Culture grow on the vine of tradition.( EDZORDZINAM FAFALI BORBORBOR BAND Abeka Lapaz)

Edzordzinam Fafali Officials, views  Sep 16, 2021

Welcome to Official Page if Edzordzinam Fafali Borborbor Band(Abeka Lapaz)  home Of Our rich and Beautiful Borborbor Culture ❤️

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This concludes Part II of this two part pancocojams series.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome. 


Article Excerpts About Ghana's & Togo's (Ewe) Borborbor Music & Dance


GhanaExpo, Aug 9, 2017

EDZORDZINAM FAFALI BORBORBOR BAND(Abeka Lapaz )

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Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part pancocojams series about Borborbor music and dance from Ghana, West Africa and from Togo, West Africa. This dance is also called "Bobobo Akpesse", "Bobobo", and "Akpessee".

This post showcases a YouTube video of Edzordzinam Fafali Borborbor Band and provides some information about Borborbor music.

Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2023/03/five-youtube-video-examples-of-singers.html for Part II of this two part pancocojams series. That post showcases a few videos of the Ghanaian (Ewe)  music group Edzordzinam Fafali Borborbor Band with a focus on how Borborbor singers alternate individual hand clapping with other synchronized hand motions.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the founders, leaders, and other members of Edzordzinam Fafali Borborbor Band and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publisher of this video on YouTube.
-snip-
Click 
http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/04/borborbor-performances-togo-ghana for a 2012 pancocojams post entitled "Borborbor Performances – Ghana and Togo, West Africa"

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ARTICLE EXCERPTS/COMPLETE REPRINT

These excerpts and one complete reprint are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only. However, based on current YouTube videos, some of these excerpts refer to traditional Borborbor music and dance instead of describing how that music and dance are performed in the 2000s. 

Excerpt #1
From https://www.localguidesconnect.com/t5/General-Discussion/Borborbor-dance-in-Ghana/td-p/1419603#:~:text=Borborbor%20is%20an%20African%20tribal,the%20use%20of%20%E2%80%9Cdrums%E2%80%9D.
"Borborbor dance in Ghana

*Borborbor dance*

Borborbor is an African tribal dance of the “Ewedome” community in Ghana, Africa. This “tribal” dance is said to have originated from the mid Volta region in Ghana. This dance is generally performed during “festive” occasions. In addition, this dance style essentially consists of music that involves the use of “drums”. Furthermore, the music used for this dance is also accompanied by “singing”. In addition, this form of dance is mainly performed in a group from dawn right until dusk.

 a. *History/origin of the Borborbor:

It is believed that the root of this dance form has been embedded within the culture of a village called Wusuta located around the Volta Lake in Ghana during the late 1940’s. It was however an ex-police officer belonging to a village called Kpando called Francis Nuatro who first developed a musical genre called “Borborbor”. He apparently fused styles of music such as the Konkoma to produce this (Borborbor) genre of music. Furthermore, it was then to the rhythms of this music that this dance form was eventually produced, and was quite aptly named “Borborbor”.

b. *Costumes used in the Borborbor:*

This dance form is performed mainly by females and the costume worn includes a colourful long dress and two white handkerchiefs.

c. *Instruments involved in the Borborbor:*

“Traditional instruments” belonging to the Ewe community is basically used in this dance style. They include a pair of castanets, container rattles, a small drum called “vuvi”, a supporting drum called “asivu”, and a master drum called “vuga”.

d. *Training availability and dance technique involved in the Borborbor:face_blowing_a_kiss:

In terms of the technique, this dance involves the performers forming a circle, and swaying to the rhythmic beats of the music produced by the drums played by the musicians. In addition, while dancing the performers are supposed to twirl two handkerchiefs in the air. As for training centres/schools there are none available around the globe since this is essentially an “African tribal dance” that is performed exclusively by a tribe in Ghana known as “Ewedome”.

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Excerpt #2
From 
https://ghanagoods.co.uk/ewe-dances/#:~:text=Also%20known%20as%20Agbeyeye%20or,Ewes%20of%20Ghana%20and%20Togo. Ewe Dances: Borborbor Dance by Disphoria, October 12, 2015
"The joy on achieving Independence in Ghana was expressed in various ways by the entire populace of the country. This “new life” envisaged, resulted in the emergence of several new musical types. These new creations relating to the “freedom” to be enjoyed through the said independence have roots in the popular Ghanaian Highlife. Boborbor is one of such musical creations of the period 1947 – 1957. Also known as Agbeyeye or Akpese; Boborbor originated from Kpando in the Volta Region of Ghana through the ingenuity of the late Francis Cudjoe Nuatro popularly called F.C. Boboobo is presently the most popular social music and dance of the central and northern Ewes of Ghana and Togo. It is generally performed at funerals and other social occasions. Boborbor music and dance ceremony is syncretic in character and it is performed principally in a circular formation."

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Excerpt #3
..."Bobobo, the second dance-drumming piece of the night, is a type of recreational dance-drumming of the Ewe people in Southeastern Ghana. It originated in Kpando, located in the Northern Volta Region, prior to Ghanaian independence in the late 1950s. Influences from West African highlife, for example the offbeat bell timeline, and Western hymn singing are evident. Most of the song lyrics in Bobobo are set in the Ewe language.

While many Ewe genres include mixed-gender dancing, the typical gender roles of this genre include female dancers, and male drummers. Drumming is typically performed only by men in Ghana. A trumpet or bugle is commonly used to accompany the singing and improvise around the melodies of the songs. The instrumentation includes the toke (boat-shaped single bell), kretsiwa (iron finger bell), akaye (gourd shaker), vuvi (small stick drum), asivui (hand drum), dondo (double-sided hourglass-shaped talking drum), vuga (master drum)."

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Complete reprint #4 
From 
https://tradancestudio.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/the-borborbor-dance-by-the-ewe-people/ By Edem Teigo
"B
orborbor dance historically is an African recreational dance by the people of Ewe ethic group in Ghana and started by the people of Ewedome before later spread to Kpando, Hohoe, Ho and southern part of Volta Region and other regions of Ghana. The Borborbor genre is also called “akpesee” and spread to all Ewe speaking areas including Togo and Benin.

The root of the dance has been embedded within the culture of a village called Wusuta, located around the Volta Lake of Ghana during the 1940’s. It was however an old ex_police officer from Kpando village by name Francis Nuatro who first started a musical genre called “Borborbor “. He is the grandfather of Borborbor – genius of the genre if there is any recognition of Borborbor today. He fused the original music form, Konkoma with other forms of music genres to the modern Borborbor sound. The genre gained ground and was recognized as one of the popular dance due to the hard work of Francis Nuatro as many songs of Borborbor were composed by him. During a visit to Kpando by Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, it was reported that the rhythms of the borborbor music used at the welcoming ceremony won his heart as he joined the dancing led by Nuatro group.

Traditional instruments found at the Ewe community are basically used for this dance style. They include a pair of castanets, a container rattles, a small drum called “vuvi” a supporting drum called “asivu” and a master drum called “Vuga” but many bands now use between two and four drums. The castanets go” kor kor kor, kor kor kor, in triple beat in almost all borborbor music. The smaller drums basically just keep the rhythm going. It is the bass drum that provides the distinctive borborbor sound. That is why the master drummer must be good. In a typical borborbor number, the lead singer may start alone or with the accompaniment of the castanets. The drums and the chorus follow after some singing. The interchange between lead singer and chorus go on for some time through different songs. Then the bugler blows his first two notes, usually drawing out the second one as long as possible (pa paaaaaa) whereupon the dancing girls will bend down (it is not called borborbor for nothing) adding some more styles to their movements. The master drummer will raise his act sometimes following the melody of the horn, at other times inter-lacing rhythmically with it. The bugler ends his long solo on a note that cues the lead singer to take up the singing again at the same time as the dancing girls will rise up, their white handkerchiefs fluttering in the air in a calculated dance movement.

The Borborbor dance has now adaptation of rhymes and high life as songs as traditional Borborbor songs has been adulterated thereby affecting the significant of that rhythmic dance form.The genre is performance at funeral, festival, naming ceremony and ceremony to welcome special guests."

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Excerpt #5
From http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=201101
"A traditional Borborbor group consists of a pair of castanets, container rattles, small drums (vuvi), supporting drum (asivu), and a master drum (vuga) but many bands now use between two and four drums. The castanets go ”kor kor kor, kor kor kor”, in triple beat in almost all borborbor music. The smaller drums basically just keep the rhythm going. It is the bass drum that provides the distinctive borborbor sound. That is why the master drummer must be good. In a typical borborbor number, the lead singer may start alone or with the accompaniment of the castanets. The drums and the chorus follow after some singing. The interchange between lead singer and chorus go on for some time through different songs. Then the bugler blows his first two notes, usually drawing out the second one as long as possible (pa paaaaaa) whereupon the dancing girls will bend down (it is not called borborbor for nothing) adding some more styles to their movements. The master drummer will raise his act sometimes following the melody of the horn, at other times inter-lacing rhythmically with it. The bugler ends his long solo on a note that cues the lead singer to take up the singing again at the same time as the dancing girls will rise up, their white handkerchiefs fluttering in the air. I have seen a group use black and red handkerchiefs. That is ugly. It is an abomination that will be sternly frowned upon by the borborbor aficionados. Anything other than white handkerchiefs detracts from the purity of the dance."...
-snip-
Based on the YouTube videos that I have watched, "white" isn't the only color cloth that is twirled by 
Borborbor dancers in the 2000s. 

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Excerpt #6
From http://www.bridgingdevelopment.org/culturepages/musicpages/borborbor.htm:
"Borborbor is the most popular style of recreational music in the Volta Region [of Ghana]. It links traditional drumming rhythms with proverbial lyrics that frequently include Christian themes. It is the ultimate blend of old and new. Borborbor is often played at celebrations and funerals. Borborbor drummers weave moderate beats while women dancers and singers revolve around them. Women singers carry two white handkerchiefs that they twirl in the air at the end of a drumming period. A bugle may be used to add spice to the music. There is usually one song leader who will sing the first line of a song and lead the people from one song to the next by combining the meanings of different songs in unique ways to evoke the spirit of the particular occasion. Everyone in the community may participate in these performances which usually begin at dusk and can continue well into the night and even until dawn. Borborbor dance is very suggestive and many boy-girl liaisons develop during these events."

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Excerpt #7
From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hue28PiuCow "BORBORBOR (AKPESSE) A TRADITIONAL EWE DANCE FROM GHANA & TOGO", published by Ndudu by Fafa, Jun 25, 2018  

"Borborbor is a traditional Ghanaian and Togolese dance. The drummers  are surrounded by women who sing and dance to the rhythm of the music.

The songs are proverbial in lyrics with Christian themes, which tend to inspire, motivate and uplift one's spirit.

The Nutifafa Borborbor Culture Group of Kpando, performed at my brothers funeral hence the ladies had red instead of white handkerchiefs."...

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This concludes Part II of this two part pancocojams series.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

 


 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Woody Guthrie's 1944 Folk/Southern Country Gospel Rendition Of The Religious Song "Little Black Train" & Indra Rios-Moore's 2015 Jazz/Folk Rendition Of "Little Black Train"



T.A. Sedlak, August 8, 2009

Woody Guthrie Little Black Train The Asch Recordings Vol. 2 (1944)

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This is Part II of a two part pancocojams series on the early 20th century African American and White American traditional* religious song entitled "The Little Black Train".

*Traditional means that the composer/s of the lyrics and music for this song isn't (aren't) known.
 
This post showcases Woody Guthrie's 1944 folk music/Southern Country rendition of "Little Black Train".

This post also showcases a 2015 YouTube video of a Jazz rendition of that song by ndra Rios Moore. The lyrics for these two versions of "The Little Black Train" are also included in this post.

Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2023/03/some-early-examples-of-black-american.html for Part I of this pancocojams series.  That post presents lyrics for and information about some versions of "The Little Black Train" from 1909-1940.

A sound file of The Carter Family's version of that song is also included in this pancocojams post. 

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the unknown composer/s of "The Little Black Train". Thanks to Woodie Guthrie and to Indra Rios-Moore for their renditions of this song. and thanks to the publisher of these videos on YouTube. 

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WOODY GUTHRIE'S LYRICS FOR "LITTLE BLACK TRAIN"

There's a little black train a-coming
Coming down the track
You've got to ride that little black train
But it ain't a-gonna bring you back


You may be a bar-room gambler
And cheat your way through life
But you can't cheat that little black train
Or beat this final ride


You silken bar-room ladies
Dressed in your wordly pride
You've got to ride that little black train
That's coming in tonight
Your million dollar fortune
Your mansion glittering white
You can't take it with you
When the train moves in tonight

Get ready for your saviour
Fix your business right
You've got to ride that little black train
To make this final ride


You silken bar-room ladies
Dressed in your worldly pride
You've got to ride that little black train
That's coming in tonight

 
You may be a bar-room gambler
Cheat your way through life
But you can't cheat that little black train
Or beat this final ride


There's a little black train a-coming
Coming down the track
You've got to ride that little black train
But it ain't a-gonna bring you back



online source - https://genius.com/Woody-guthrie-little-black-train-lyrics 
-snip-
Click https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woody_Guthrie for information about White American folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie ((July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967)


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SHOWCASE VIDEO #2 - Indra Rios-Moore - "Little Black Train" 

Indra Rios-Moore, Apr 15, 2015

Indra creates music that is timeless; music that is informed by jazz, folk, rock and country. On her new album, Heartland, her first album for impulse! label, it comes together in an eclectic mix that is simple and charming, yet so very elegant…..
-snip-
Click https://www.indrariosmoore.com/ for information about African American/Puerto Rican singer Indra Rios-Moore.


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LYRICS - LITTLE BLACK TRAIN
(As sung by Indra Rios- Moore) 

That little black train is coming
Get all your business right
You better set your house in order
Or the train may be here tonight


God spoke to Hezekiah
In a message from on high
You better set your house in order
For thou must surely die

That little black train is coming
Get all your business right
You better set your house in order
Or the train may be here tonight

He turned his face to the wall
To see the king and tell
He got his business fixed alright
And God spared him fifteen years

That little black train is coming
Get all your business right
You better set your house in order
Or the train may be here tonight

Listen men and listen women
They care nothing for the gospel life
Till the bell rang and the whistle blew
Oh that little black train in sight

That little black train is coming
Get all your business right
You better set your house in order
Or the train may be here tonight
You better set your house in order
Or the train may be here tonight


online source: https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/Indra-Rios-Moore/Little-Black-Train

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This concludes Part II of this two part pancocojams series.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Some Early Examples of The Black American & White American Religious Song "The Little Black Train" (1909 -1940)



I LOveOldies, Jan 31, 2011

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Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part pancocojams series on the early 20th century African American and White American traditional* religious song entitled "The Little Black Train".

*Traditional means that the composer/s of the lyrics and music for this song isn't (aren't) known.
 
This post presents lyrics for and information about some versions of "The Little Black Train" from 1909-1940.

A sound file of The Carter Family's version of that song is also included in this pancocojams post.

 Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2023/03/woody-guthries-1944-folksouthern.html for Part II of this pancocojams series. Thats post showcases Woody Guthrie's 1944 folk music/Southern Country rendition of "Little Black Train".

That post also showcases a 2015 YouTube video of a Jazz rendition of that song by ndra Rios Moore. The lyrics for these two versions of "The Little Black Train" are also included in that post.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the unknown composer/s of this song. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the collectors and identified singers of this song and thanks to the publisher of this song file on YouTube.

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SOME VERSIONS OF THE RELIGIOUS SONG "THE LITTLE BLACK TRAIN"

Pancocojams Editor's Note: These comments/lyrics are given in chronological order with the earliest entry given first (except for the second entry with a 1909 collections date. These comments/lyrics do not necessarily conform with the publishing date for the comments from  Mudcat Discussion Forum (an online folk music website) or other online sources.

"DESCRIPTION: Chorus: "Little black train is a-comin', Get all your business right... For the train may be here tonight." King Hezekiah is offered as an example. A young man lives a sinful life; when death comes, he is surprised and vainly begs for mercy

AUTHOR: unknown

EARLIEST DATE: 1922 (Brown)

KEYWORDS: death Bible train

FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE)

REFERENCES (7 citations):

Cohen-LongSteelRail, pp. 625-628, "Little Black Train" (1 text, 1 tune)

Lomax/Lomax-OurSingingCountry, pp. 46-47, "The Little Black Train" (1 text, 1 tune)

Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 541, "The Little Black Train" (1 text)

Botkin-TreasuryOfAmericanFolklore, pp. 914-915, "Little Black Train Is A-Comin'" (1 text, 1 tune)

Courlander-NegroFolkMusic, p. 41, "(Little Black Train)" (partial text)

Scarborough-OnTheTrailOfNegroFolkSongs, pp. 260-261, "The Little Black Train" (1 text)

ADDITIONAL: Harold Courlander, _A Treasury of Afro-American Folklore_, Crown Publishers, 1976, pp. 305-306, "(no title)" (1 text)

ST BAF914 (Partial)

Roud #11594

RECORDINGS:

Emry Arthur, "The Little Black Train Is Coming" (Vocalion 5229, 1928)

Dock Boggs, "Little Black Train" (on Boggs2, BoggsCD1)

Carter Family, "The Little Black Train" (OKeh 03112/Vocalion 03112, 1935; ARC 7-07-62/Conqueror 8815, 1937; on CGospel1)

Rev. J. M. Gates, "Death's Black Train is Coming" (Columbia 14145-D,1926)

Harmon E. Helmick, "The Little Black Train" (Champion 16744, 1934)

Silver Leaf Quartet, "Gospel Train" (on LomaxCD1708)

CROSS-REFERENCES:

cf. "This Old World Ain't Going to Stand Much Longer" (subject)

NOTES [70 words]: The story of Hezekiah's bout with sickness, God's threat, Hezekiah's repentance, and Isaiah's promise of fifteen additional years of life is told in 2 Kings 20:1-11 (repeated almost verbatim in Isaiah 38) and briefly summarized in 2 Chronicles 32:24-26.

The version in Brown accidentally replaces "Hezekiah" with "Ezekiel," but the former name is clearly correct. It tacks on the story of the Wise Fool, Luke 12:16-20. - RBW"
-https://www.fresnostate.edu/folklore/ballads/BAF914.html "Little Black Train Is A-Comin" [This is the complete reprint, retrieved March 17, 2023]. 
-snip-
Here's Dorothy Scarborough's quote about this song already given in excerpted form:

"A more sinister aspect of train-arrival [in "Negro" folk songs] is in another Holy Roller song from Texas. The little black train here represents Death, and the passengers for whom seats are reserved appear not to be crowding eagerly about the ticket window. This train had no schedule, but, like other public carriers, is uncertain in its time arrival and departure. But a delay here brings forth no complaints against the management."...
-Azizi Powell, posted 31 Dec 04 - 06:56 PM, https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=31582, Lyr Add: LITTLE BLACK TRAIN

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"Lyr. Add: THE LITTLE BLACK TRAIN

(Black and white gospel, Scarborough)

God said to Hezekiah
In a message from on high,
Go set thy house in order
For thou shalt surely die.

Chorus:

The little black train is coming
Get all of your business right;
Better set your house in order,
For the train may be here tonight!

He turned to the wall weeping,
Oh! see the king in tears.
He got his business fixed all right
God spared him fifteen years.

When Adam sinned in Eden
Before the birth of Seth,
That little sin brought forth a son
They called him conquering death.

Go tell the ballroom lady, And filled with earthly pride,
That death's black train is coming;
Prepare to take a ride.

This little black train and engine
And little baggage-car,
With idle thoughts and wicked deeds,
Must stop at the judgement bar.

A poor young man in darkness
Cared not for the gospel light,
Until suddenly the whistle blew
From the little black train in sight!

"Oh! death, will you not spare me?
I've just seen my wicked plight.
Have mercy, Lord, do hear me,
Please come and help me get right."

But death had fixed his shackles
About his soul so tight,
Before he got his business fixed
The train rolled in that night.

The rich fool in his granary said,
"I have no future fears;
Going to build my barns a little larger
And live for many years.

"I now have plenty of money,
I expect to take my ease,
My barns are over-running;
No one but self here to please."

But while he stood there planning,
The God of power and might
Said, "Rich fool, to judgement come;
Thy soul must be there tonight."

Scarborough- "....a Holy Roller song from Texas." "A delay here brings no complaint against the management."

Dorothy Scarborough, 1925 (1963), "On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs," Folklore Assoc. Inc., pp. 260-261.

Newman I. White (1925) heard a similar but fragmental version from Ed Lloyd, an African-American from North Carolina, "where he had heard it sung for many years." Another fragment from White:

Look here, ni—er*, do you figger on going up dar;
If you get your business right, get your heart in order;
For the little black train is going to come at night.
Heard in Durham Co., NC, 1909.
N. I. White, 1928, American Negro Folk-Songs, no. 6 A-B, The Little Black Train, pp. 65-66.


"Lyr. Add: LITTLE BLACK TRAIN IS A COMIN'

God tole Hezykiyah
In a message from on high;
Go set yo' house in ordah,
For thou shalt sholy die.
He turned to the wall a weepin',

Oh! See the King in tears;
He got his bus'ness fixed all right,
God spared him fifteen years.

 

Chorus:

Little black train is a comin',
Get all yo' bus'ness right;
Go set yo' house in ordah,
For the train may be here tonight.

Go tell that ball room lady,
All filled with worldly pride,
That little black train is-a comin',
Prepare to take a ride.

That little black train and engine
An' a little baggage car,
With idle thoughts and wicked deeds,
Must stop at the judgement bar.

There was a po' young man in darkness,
Cared not for the gospel light,
Suddenly a whistle blew
From a little black train in sight.

"Oh, death will you not spare me?
I'm just in my wicked plight,
Have mercy Lord, do hear me,
Pray come an' set me right."

But death had fixed his shackles
About his soul so tight,
Just befo' he got his bus'ness fixed,
The train rolled in that night.

 

With music (very different from that given in Lomax and Lomax). Collected in Kentucky, pp. 10-11, M. A. Grissom, 1930 (Dover 1969), "The Negro Sings a New Heaven." "

"Lyr. Add: THE LITTLE BLACK TRAIN

Brother Elihu Trusty, KY, 1937

Chorus:

There's a little black train a-comin'-
Get all your business right;
There's a little black train a-comin',
An' it may be here tonight.

Oh, the little black train is a-comin',
I know it's goin' to slack;
You can tell it by its rumblin'-
It's all draped in black.

The train we are singin' about,
It has no whistle or bell,
And when you find your station
You are in Heaven or Hell.

There's a little black train and an engine,
And one small baggage car;
You won't need to have much baggage
To come to the judgement bar.

O Death, why don't you spare me?
I see my wicked plight.
Have mercy, Lord, to hear me,
Come and set me right.

Oh, Death had fixed the shackles
Around his throat so tight,
Before he got his business fixed,
The train rolled in that night.

They are men and women
What love their sport and game,
Yet Death is ridin' with them
Will take them just the same.

Go tell that barroom lady,
All filled with worldly pride,
That Death's black train's a-comin'-
Prepare to take a ride.

There's a rich old man in his darkness
Says: "I have no such fears-
I'll build my barns a little larger,
For I'll live a million years."

So while he sat there plannin',
The God of power and might
Took the old fool to the judgement bar,
So his soul's in the fire tonight.

pp. 46-47, with music (not same as given by Grissom, see below). Lomax and Lomax, 1941 (Dover 2000), "Our Singing Country, Folk Songs and Ballads."

[This comment includes additional versions]

-
Q (Frank Staplin), 31 Dec 04 - 01:55 AM, https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=31582, Lyr Add: LITTLE BLACK TRAIN

****
"
LITTLE BLACK TRAIN

Chorus

There's a little black train a-comin';
Get all your business right;
Get your house in order;
The train may be there tonight.

1.

God spoke to Hezekiah
In a message from on high,
Said prepare yourself for dying,
For the little black train tonight.

2.

Hezekiah got in earnest,
Turned to the walls and prayed;
God heard Hezekiah prayin',
Spared him fifteen years.

3.

Go and tell the ballroom ladies
Who's filled with worldly pride,
Death's little black train is comin',
Get prepared to take a ride.

 

N. L. White, 1928, American Negro Folk Songs, collected NC 1925 from Ed Lloyd."
-Q (Frank Staplin), 28 Dec 06 - 02:14 PM,  

****

"THE LITTLE BLACK TRAIN

[CHORUS]

There's a little black train a-comin',
Set your business right
There's a little black train a-comin'
And it may be here tonight

Go tell that ballroom lady
All dressed in the worldly pride
That death's dark train is comin'
Prepare to take a ride

God sent to Hezekiah
A message from on high
You'd better set your house in order
For you must surely die

He turned to the wall and, weeping
We see him here in tears
He got his business fixed all right
God spared him fifteen years

[CHORUS AND INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

We see that train with engine
And one small baggage car
Your idle thoughts and wicked deeds
Will stop at the judgment bar

[CHORUS AND INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

That poor young man in darkness
Cares not for the gospel light
Till suddenly heard the whistle blow
With the little black train in sight

"Have mercy on me, Lord
Please come and set me right"
Before he got his business fixed
The train rolled in that night

[CHORUS AND INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]"
- The Carter Family, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tvp7VNSdaBQ [These lyrics are included in the summary of this YouTube sound file entitled "Carter Family - "Little Black Train". That sound file was published by ILOveOldies on Jan. 31, 2011
-snip-
Here's some information about The Carter Family's version of "The Little Black Train" from Stewie, 05 Mar 01 - 05:16 PM, https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=31582, Lyr Add: LITTLE BLACK TRAIN
..."Evidently, the song was first recorded (4 times) in 1926 by the redoutable Rev. J.M. Gates and later by various hillbilly artists, including Henry and Emry Arthur in 1928. The Carters did not record it until 1935, and 2 copyrights (1935 and 1937) were taken out in the Carters' names!"

****
"Lyr. Add: LITTLE BLACK TRAIN IS COMIN'

Ruby Pickins Tartt Coll., Alabama

 

Oh, de little black train is a-comin'

Hit'll git yo' bizness right.

Better fix yo' house in order,

Kaze hit may be here tonight.

 

Chorus:

Oh, de little black train's er comin',

Hit's comin' round de curve,

It's puffin' en hit's blowin',

Hit's strainin' every nerve.

 

God sent Keziah a message,

A message from on high,

Better git his bizness fixed all right

Kaze hit may be here tonight.

 

Keziah turned t' de wall a-weepin'

He seed king in *Caaz,

He got his bizness fixed all right,

He gave him fifteen years.

 

Oh, de little black train's er comin',

Hit's comin' round de curve,

It's puffin' en hit's blowin',

En hit's strainin' every nerve.

 

* May refer to the king in Assyria who was besieging the Israelites.

This spiritual was used by Kurt Weill in his folk opera, "Down in the Valley."

No music, p. 64, O. and J. Solomon, 1984, "Honey in the Rock," Ruby Pickins Tartt,  Coll., Alabama.
-snip-
No date is included for this version that was collected by Ruby Pickins Tartt (White American folklorist, writer, and painter . However, here's an excerpt from her  Wikipedia page (January 13, 1880 - September 29, 1974) :
"Field trips and song recordings

In the Great Depression, Tartt and her husband suffered financial difficulties. Needing work, Tartt got a job with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in York, AL. In 1936, she was appointed chair of the WPA's local Federal Writers' Project (FWP) in Sumter County. Through the FWP, she began collecting the life histories, stories, lore, and songs of the area's former slaves. Her activities drew the attention of ethnomusicologist John Lomax, who was then recording songs for the Library of Congress (LOC). In 1937 Lomax joined Tartt for a joint expedition collecting folk songs around Sumter County; together they gathered over 300 songs. Tartt went on several further expeditions both on her own and with Lomax gathering more material for the LOC's Archive of American Folk Songs. In 1939 and 1940, they collected recordings of over 800 songs and stories and over 80 photographs of singers."
-snip-
Based on that information, it appears that Ruby Pickins Tartt collected that version of "The Little Black Train" in the late 1930s or in 1940. 

****
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