Saturday, August 17, 2013

Black & White Versions Of "Charley He's A Dandy"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides examples of the song "Charley He's A Dandy" from Black American & White American culture.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, and recreational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who composed this song and are mentioned in this post.

"Charley He's A Dandy" is an alternative title for play party songs that may be most often known as "Weevily Wheat". Those songs are also known as "Four In The Middle", "Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss”, "Coffee Grows On White Oak Trees", and "Over The River (or "The Water") To Charley".

Links to some other pancocojams posts about those songs are found in the Related Links section below.

"Charlie's A Dandy" is an example of a Southern & Appalachian play party song that has both Black versions & White versions. In the rare event that any racial demographics are given online for these songs, they are using only attributed to White Americans. That attribution ignores the extensive cross pollination that occurred between Black & White Southern & Appalachian residents regarding dance tunes & songs, play party songs, and minstrel songs.

In 1967 when I first happened upon Thomas W. Talley's 1922 book Negro Folk Songs: Wise & Otherwise, I thought that the inclusion of those songs or rhymes in that book meant that African Americans originally composed all of those examples "from scratch", without those songs being based, inspired by, or were portions of any previously composed song. I now know that that assumption is just as much mistaken as the belief that no Southern or Appalacian American secular dance or play party song was created in whole or in part by Black Americans.

Example #1:
From electronic book version of Thomas W. Talley's 1922 book Negro Folk Rhymes [pages 84-85]

Mistah Buster, he loves sugar an' tea.
Mistah Buster, he loves candy.
Mistah Buster, he's a Jim-dandy!
He can swing dem gals so handy.

Charlie's up an' Charlie's down.
Charlie's fine an' dandy.
Ev'ry time he goes to town,
He gits dem gals stick candy.

Dat N***ah, he love sugar an' tea.
Dat N***ah love dat candy.
Fine N***ah He can wheel 'em 'round,
An' swing dem ladies handy.

Mistah Sambo, he love sugar an' tea.
Mistah Sambo love his candy.
Mistah Sambo; he's dat han'some man
What goes wid sister Mandy.
Editor's comments
The n word
What is now known as "the n word" was fully spelled out in this example.
"One that is very pleasing or excellent of its kind.
Jim (nickname for James) + dandy."

"Jim-dandy! First Known Use: 1887: something excellent of its kind"

Simply put, using contemporary African American colloquialism, a "dandy" is a "sharp dresser", a man who is very attentive to fashion.

The word "dandy" may have come from the 1843 minstrel song “Dandy Jim from Caroline”. Click for lyrics for that song. WARNING: Lyrics Include a form of the n word.

Note that the name "Jim Dandy" and the name "Dandy Jim" probably influenced the title of 1960s R&B Jim Dandy songs such as "Jim Dandy To The Rescue". However, the characterization of the "Jim Dandy" in those 1960s songs is different from the older characterizations.

UPDATE: March 23, 2015
..."Bragging about sexual prowess was a feature of the "hokum" style of early blues recordings. The reference to "Dan" (alternatively, "Jim Dandy") dates back at least to minstrel shows in the nineteenth century. A common reference was to "Dan, the Back Door Man" - the lover of a married woman who would leave her house by the back door - as in a song of that title recorded by Georgia White in 1937."

for a post on two dirty Blues songs "Take It Easy, Greasy" & "Dan, The Back Door Man".

Example #2:
"Origins: Weevily Wheat"

From EFFSA Cecil Sharp
Sung by Mrs. Laura V. Donald
Dewy Va. June 10, 1918

As I come over we trip together,
It's in the morning early.
Heart and hand I give to thee,
So true I love thee dearly.

I won't have none of your weavil wheat,
And I won't have none of your barley.
Give to me the good old wheat,
To bake a cake for Charlie.

Charlie he's a nice young man,
Charlie he's a dandy.
Charlie he's the very one
That sold his daddy's brandy.

I've got a sweet little wife,
A wife of my own choosing.
Hug her neat and kiss her sweet,
And no more go a-courting.
Editor's note:
"Trip together" probably means "skip together".

A number of other lyrics of this song are found on that Mudcat discussion thread.

Example #3:
From [No date given]

Sung by: Emma Puterbaugh Medlin

Coffee grows on white oak trees,
The river flows with brandy o’er.
Go choose you one to roam with you,
As sweet as sugar and candy, too.
Rally-ally-um-bum, sugar and tea.
Rally-ally-um-bum, candy.
Rally-ally-um-bum, sugar and tea,
Swing your little miss so handy.
Handy, handy, handy
Candy, candy, candy.

NOTES [from that link] : "This is part of the large Western Country family of songs that includes “Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss," "Four in the Middle" and “Wheevily Wheat.” The versions from Wolf Folklore collected in the 1950s and 1960s are listed Coffee Grows (Four in the Middle) showing the relationship with the play-party song "Four in the Middle." Also found in Randolph, Vol. III, #524, "Four in the Middle"; Brown, Vol. III, #78, "Coffee Grows on White Oak Trees." Randolph's Ozark version gives the tune as "Skip to My Lou."..."

Ray Heatherton - Weevily Wheat

boyjohn, Uploaded on Sep 3, 2010

From the Playtime records 78 rpm #369.
"Weevily wheat" means wheat that has weevils in it.


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