Edited by Azizi Powell
This post presents examples of the children's rhyme/song "She's My One Black, Two Black".
A sound file of the 1928 Blues song "Chocolate To The Bone" by Barbecue Bob is presented in this post because I believe that song is the primary source for the "She's One Black, Two Black" rhyme/song
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/12/barbecue-bob-chocolate-to-bone-sound.html for the lyrics to "Chocolate To The Bone" as well as my comments about that Blues song.
Comments about that song are also included in this post.
The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
FEATURED SOUND FILE
Barbecue Bob - Chocolate to the Bone
PreWarMusic, Uploaded on Nov 23, 2008
A song recorded by Barbecue Bob, the most successful musician who played in the Atlanta Blues style who's recording career was cut short by his premature death in 1931.
EXAMPLES OF "SHE'S ONE BLACK TWO BLACK"
The only mentions of "She's My One Black Two Black" that I have been able to find to date are those given below from two different Mudcat Cafe discussion threads (Mudcat is an online discussion forum for Folk & Blues music.)
These examples are presented in chronological order with the example that has the oldest posting date given first.
"My father used to sing a variant of My Girl's a Corker.We think he learned it while at Georgia Military Academy (now Georgia Military College) in Milledgeville, Georgia in the 1940s.He may have learned it at Fort Benning, Georgia. He said they used it as a marching song. He has been gone now 8 years, and we occasionally think of that tune, but can't remember the rest of the words in his version. Anybody out there know?
I walk upon the track
She drives a Cadillac
I work both day and night
To keep her satisfied
She's my one black, two black sure enough true black
Chocolate to the bone."
-Guest, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=57013 Origins: My Girl's a Corker, August 22, 2006
This example includes made up verses that fit the pattern of the American song "My Girl's A Corker" with the "She's One Black Two Black" song/rhyme.
Here's a response to that post by Joe_F, another commenter on on that same discussion thread on that same date:
"Guest: That refrain is stolen from another song, which I could have sworn I had the text of, but now I can't find it. Anyway, it begins "She's got eyes like Jezebel, teeth like pearls". And "sure enough true black" used to be "honest-to-God shoe-black".
"My mom and I have been trying to remember the words to this song for months now. My uncle (her brother) taught it to me (us) when I was really young.
My mom thinks a section of the goes..."she's my one black, two black, honest to goodness shoe-black, chocolate to the bone...(then some more lyrics which we can't remember)then into "she wear's my bvd's, I stand outside and freeze, hey boys, that's where my money goes".
Has anyone ever heard of that version?
-Guest, deutschman3, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=57013 Origins: My Girl's a Corker, July 1, 2009
This example includes another variant form of the American song "My Girl's A Corker."
My mother used to sing this version:
She's my one black, two black, honest to goodness shoeblack, chocolate to the bone
If you see my gal walking down the street, you better leave her alone
She's got hair like a jezebel, teeth like pearls
Oh my lawd, she's a gift to the world...
that's all I remember but funny that just last week my sister was asking me if i remembered the words. if you think of any more please post.
-Guest, pnedwards, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=57013 Origins: My Girl's a CorkerSeptember 11, 2009
In one last comment to date about "She's My One Black, Two Black" was made on that same Mudcat: My Girl's A Corker discussion thread, the commenter remembers that rhyme/song as "a kid's rhyme" that was heard without any "My Girl's A Corker" verses. [Q, July 16, 2009]
The song comes to me from somewhere in my past, I have no recollection but after the fe fi stuff I remember this.
chocolate to the bone
if you see that gal
down the street
better leave that gal alone
she's got eyes like diamonds
teeth like pearls
guys don't cha mess
with that girl
chocolate to the bone
-posted by Guest, rusty on http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=65298&messages=79 Origins: Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah, November 15, 2009 [Be aware that this Mudcat comment thread contains songs with lyrics that have the "n word" completely spelled out as do a number of other Mudcat folk music threads.]
This comment implies that the "words" fe fi ["fo fum"?] were said before the rest of this rhyme. When I see or hear those words I think of the rhyme "fee fi fo fum/I smell the blood of an Englishmun".
As a matter of clarification, I don't believe that "She's My One Black, Two Black" rhyme/song has anything whatsoever to do with the song "Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah" unless "She's My One Black, Two Black" has the same tune as that the song medley "I've Been Working On The Railroad" (which is the name that is given to the two or more songs that include the "someone in the kitchen with Dinah" verse). That guest who posted the example above on that particular Mudcat discussion thread may have added to that thread by mistake. It's also possible that-for whatever reasons/- the words to that song medly being discussed reminded him (or her) of that "She's One Black Two Black" rhyme/song.
UPDATE June 2, 2017- It appears that I was mistaken when I wrote that I didn't believe that the song "She's My One Black, Two Black" had anything whatsoever to do with the song "Someone's In The Kitchen With Dinah". I should have written that some renditions of "I've Been Working On The Railroad" combined portions of "One Black, Two Blacks" and "Someone's In The Kitchen With Dinah".
Read this excerpt that I just found in this article: https://newfangleddad.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-dark-history-of-ive-been-working-on.html "The dark history of "I've Been Working On The Railroad" February 20, 2014 by Newfangled Dad
..."In case you're super curious, there is also a missing verse [to “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad”] popular in FL and GA where the "fee fi fiddley-i-o" section substitutes for this:
She’s a one black, two black
Honest goodness shoe black
Chocolate to the bone
And if you see my gal
Walking down the street
You’d better leave my gal alone!
She’s got eyes like a jezebel
And teeth like a pearl
Goodness God gracious,
She’s a gift to the world."
-end of Update-
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS ABOUT THE LYRICS OF "SHE'S MY ONE BLACK, TWO BLACK"
As is the case with the source song "Chocolate To The Bone", the essence of "She's My One Black, Two Black" is a song whose lyrics in which the singer is proud of having Black skin or being Black (or at least, in the case of "She's My One Black, Two Black", is proud of knowing someone who has dark skin color.)
The phrase "shoe shine shoe black" means the color black that is as dark as [still commercially sold) black [color] shoe shine polish.
Another way of saying "chocolate to the bone" is "brown [or "black"] through and through". Technically, the opposite of "chocolate to the bone" is a person who is of mixed Black/non-Black racial or ethnic heritage. However, in the United States- because any person with any degree of African racial ancestry is considered to be Black regardless how she or he looks- a person of mixed Black racial heritage could use and probably has used "chocolate to the bone" as a synonym for being part of the Black race.
Yet, it should be noted that still today in the United States, frequently Black children get "on a set" (get angry) if someone including another Black person who may or may not be their same skin color calls them "blackie". And the term "brownskin" is no longer used in Black songs or other cultural offerings. Indeed, people generally don't mention their race or another person's race in general conversation, which absolutely doesn't mean that that person's race isn't noted or guessed at if it doesn't appear to be clearly determined.
I wonder if the earliest words for "She's My One Black, Two Black" were these:
"She's my one and only Black [girl]."
The remaining words "Two Black, shoe shine shoe black" were probably created to serve as as a counting & rhyming sequence for jumping rope.*
POSSIBLE PERFORMANCE ACTIVITY FOR "SHE'S MY ONE BLACK, TWO BLACK"
I imagine that one girl or several girls jumped in the center of the rope while those turning the rope and other girls waiting their turn to jump recited the lyrics to this rhyme. One the words "One Black" the girl/s jumping would jump with one foot. On the words "two Black" the girl/s would jump with two feet. And on the words "sure enough true Black shoe shine shoe Black" the girls would show off some fancy jump movement.
This is only a guess. For the record (no pun intended), I should indicate that I've never heard about this rhyme before reading about it on Mudcat Cafe.
I suggest "jump rope" as the performance activity for this playground rhyme/song as, until about the end of the 1960s, groups jumping single and/or double Dutch rope were a very popular pastimes among African American girls under 13 years old. But after the 1950s and almost entirely by the end of the 1970s, the performance activity for jump rope rhymes [that were still sung] had changed to hand clap rhymes. Of course, new handclap rhymes (and, for a time in the 1980s and the early 1990s anyway) new foot stomping cheers- were created.
Also, in an attempt to revive the art of Double Dutch jump rope, that performance activity was organized by adults into a competitive sport, a sport that didn't include the recitation of rhymes. One unforseen consequence of this is that in the United States few children play non-competitive jumping Double Dutch or single jump rope.
Click http://cocojams.com/content/foot-stomping-cheers-0" for information about & examples of about the playground cheers & performance activity that I've termed "foot stomping cheers".
Click http://www.nationaldoubledutchleague.com/History.htm for information about the history of the Double Dutch sport.
A POSSIBLE ADDITIONAL SOURCE FOR A LINE IN VERSIONS OF THIS RHYME/SONG
I wonder if this verse from "Barbecue Blues", another Barbecue Bob song, influenced the "she's got eyes like diamonds/teeth like pearls" line in that "She's My One Black Two Black" rhyme:
"I know I ain't good looking : teeth don't shine like pearls
So glad : good looks don't take you through this world"
The entire lyrics for that song are found at http://www.maxilyrics.com/barbecue-bob-barbecue-blues-lyrics-26a4.html
I should clarify that I don't mean to imply that children who recited "She's My One Black, Two Black" knew what those words meant.* Nor do I mean to imply that all of the people or most of the people those who recited or sung this rhyme/song were Black. That said, given the words to this song and given the Blues song which I believe is its primary source, it's my strongly held opinion that "She's My One Black, Two Black" is of African American origin.
*Notice that I've used the past tense. I don't get the sense that this rhyme is still recited.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND THANKS
Thanks to the legacy of Bluesmen Barbecue Bob. Thanks also to the uploader of this sound file. Also, my thanks to those commenters from Mudcat Cafe who I quoted in this post.
Finally, thank you for visiting pancocojams.
Visitor comments are welcome.