Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Forty-Four" - From Thomas W. Talley's 1922 Book "Negro Folk Rhymes"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a five part series about "The Forty Fours" Blues songs. This post provides the text to the song entitled "Forty-Four" that is included in African American folklorist & Fisk University professor Thomas W. Talley's 1922 collection Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise & Otherwise.

Part II provides a sound file & lyrics to Roosevelt Sykes's song "44 Blues". Click for that post.

Part III provides information about Leothus Lee Green's song "Number 44 Blues" as well as a sound file & the lyrics to that song. Click for Part III of that post.

Part IV provides the lyrics and sound file to "Vicksburg Blues" by Little Brother Montgomery. Click for that post.

Part V provides a sound file and lyrics to Howlin Wolf's "Forty Four". Click for that post

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

This song which is entitled "Forty Four" song was published in Thomas W. Talley's 1922 collection Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise & Otherwise. As such, this is a precusor to the "Forty Four" Blues songs. The earliest recorded version of "Forty Four" Blues songs is Roosevelt Sykes' "44 Blues"(1929).

Information about those songs can be found at Visit the pancocojams posts which are hyperlinked above for examples of those songs.

"Recognized during his lifetime primarily as a chemist, teacher, and administrator at Fisk University, Thomas W. Talley (1870- 1952) was also Tennessee's first African-American folklorist. A native of Bedford County, he began collecting folk songs about 1900, and published many of them in Negro Folk Rhymes in 1922. Later, he compiled the state's first collection of Black folk tales, Negro Traditions. Talley was also a skilled singer and composer."
In his published notes in this book, Thomas W. Talley indicated that the songs in his collection were from his memory and his [African American] student's memories. He also indicated that some of these songs were quite old. However, no dates, source names, or demographical information is given for any of these songs.

(author unknown; Thomas W. Talley, editor "Negro Folk Rhymes")

If de people'll jes gimme
Des a liddle bit o' peace,
I'll tell 'em what happen
To de Chief o' Perlice.
He met a robber
Right at de dō'!
An' de robber, he shot 'im
Wid a forty-fō'!
He shot dat Perliceman.
He shot 'im shō'!
What did he shoot 'im wid?
A forty-fō'.

Dey sent fer de Doctah
An' de Doctah he come.
He come in a hurry,
He come in a run.
He come wid his instriments
Right in his han',
To progue an' find
Dat forty-fō', Man!

De Doctah he progued;
He progued 'im shō'!
But he jes couldn' find
Dat forty-fō'.

Dey sent fer de Preachah,
An' de preachah he come.
He come in a walk,
An' he come in to talk.
He come wid 'is Bible,
Right in 'is han',
An' he read from dat chapter,
Forty-fō', Man!
Dat Preachah, he read.
He read, I know.
What Chapter did he read frum?
'Twus Forty-fō'! [Pg 71-72]
Thomas W. Talley Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise & Otherwise [New York, Macmillan Press, 1922]

Thanks to the unknown composer/s for composing this song. Thanks to Thomas W. Talley for his life legacy.

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