Edited by Azizi Powell
This post is Part I of a two part pancocojams series that focuses on two 1926-1927 comedic Blues songs about African Americans and chicken. This post showcases the song "All Birds Look Like Chicken To Me" by Sweet Papa Stovepipe (McKinley Peebles). Some information about Sweet Papa Stovepipe and a brief note about the composition of this song are also included in this post.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/07/frank-stokes-beale-street-sheiks.html for Part II of this series. Part II showcases the song "Chicken You Can Roost Behind the Moon".
The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thank to Sweet Papa Stovepipe (McKinley Peebles) for his musical legacy. Thanks also to those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this sound file on YouTube.
INFORMATION ABOUT SWEET PAPA STOVEPIPE
"Sweet Papa Stovepipe [was] a singer from New York City who probably got the nickname by wearing a top hat and whose "All Birds Look Like Chicken to Me" taps into the minstrel tradition of the 1890s. This individual's given name was McKinley Peebles. http://www.allmusic.com/album/rare-paramount-blues-1926-1929-mw0000054537
Very little information about Sweet Papa Stovepipe is known besides his real name and that he recorded "All Birds Look Like Chicken to Me," and "Mama's Angel Child" (both circa 1926). However, some additional information about that singer can be gleaned from these two comments published on http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=155033&messages=7 "New CD of Bessie Jones due out Oct 2014" by Matthew Edwards,
17 Jul 14 - 04:37 PM and Matthew Edwards, 17 Jul 14 - 07:26 PM
..."The Association for Cultural Equity website notes that he [Sweet Papa Stovepipe] was recorded with Bessie Jones in New York in 1961 singing You've Got To Reap Just What You Sow under the name of the Reverend McKinley Peebles"...
..."Google Books also turns up part of an article by Anton J Mikofsky in the Encyclopedia of the Blues, Gerard Herzhaft, 2nd edition, 1997 describing McKinley Peebles/ Sweet Papa Stovepipe as a well-known street performer in 1970's New York with a theatrical style, and also a colleague of the Rev. Gary Davis."
Sweet Papa Stovepipe shouldn't be confused with "Daddy Stovepipe (Johnny Watson), one of the earliest born blues performer to record and Stovepipe No.1 – (real name Sam Jones), who also first recorded as a one-man band in 1924. Daddy Stovepipe and Stovepipe No.1 were deemed to be the first blues one-man bands ever to be recorded on disc."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daddy_Stovepipe
"Stovetope hats" (top hats) were considered to be part of the attire for a sophisticated man, which is why they were adopted by some early Blues and medicine show singers to set them apart from the average man and other performers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_hat
THE COMPOSITION OF "ALL BIRDS LOOK LIKE CHICKEN TO ME"
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=155033&messages=7 "New CD of Bessie Jones due out Oct 2014" by Matthew Edwards, 17 Jul 14 - 07:26 PM
..."According to Songfacts the song ["All Birds Look Like Chicken To Me"] was written by the black songwriter Irving Jones in 1899, in response to the hit song by Ernest Hogan "All Coons Look Alike To Me"."
Note that Ernest Hogan was also African American.
That comment by Matthew Edwards continues: "So this song perhaps has some claim to being an early anti-racist song". end of quote. However, while the title of the song "All Birds Look Like Chicken To Me" undoubtedly came from the "All Coons Look Alike To Me" song, its lyrics are by no means anti-racist. Instead, that song is part of the Southern plantation/minstrel and medicine show category of songs about Black people's fondness for chicken and Black people stealing chickens. Read my comments about that subject in the pancocojams post http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-story-behind-stereotype-of-black.html "The Story Behind The Stereotype Of Black People & Fried Chicken"
"All Birds Look Like Chicken To Me" is an African American medicine show song. Here's an excerpt from http://www.folkstreams.net/context,124, an article about Black performers in "black-faced minstrel shows" and Black performers in "medicine shows":
..."As long as medicine shows have toured this country, blacks have played in them. Medical entrepreneurs, quick to exploit the increasing fascination of whites whith [sic] African-American culture, employed blacks as novelty entertainers in otherwise white shows. Jug bands, buck and eccentric dancers, harmonica players, even jubilee quartets, became standard features on the med circuit...
Playing to African-American audiences, black med [medicine show] troupers adapted the racial stereotypes of minstrelsy to their own ends and expanded their repertoires. Their medicine shows became an amalgam which included brass bands, tap dancers, ragtime guitarists, comedy teams, and classic blues shouters. Folk and vernacular elements alternated with Tin Pan Alley, burnt-cork minstrelsy with vaudeville. “Foreign” traditions were tempered by the black aesthetic to reflect the African-American experience...
At the pinnacle of the black med show business were full-fledged minstrel troupes mounting elaborate spectacles in vast tents that seated 2000 people. Most of these were headed by white pitchmen like Doc Robinson of the Silver Minstrels, Doc Byar of the World’s Minstrels, and Doc Bartok of Bardex. The closing of The Bardex Minstrel Show in 1960 marked the end of a proud tradition of black artistry in med minstrelsy."
Sweet Papa Stovepipe All Birds Look Like Chicken To Me (1926)
Randomandrare, Uploaded on Oct 18, 2009
I do not own the copyright to this recording. This video is for historical and educational purposes
Sweet Papa Stovepipe (real name unknown):Vocals & Probably Guitar
Recorded in Chicago, IL. November, 1926
Originally issued on the 1926 single (Paramount 12404) (78 RPM)
This recording taken from the 2004 4CD Box Set "The Paramount Masters"
Note: This is a beginning transcription attempt for "All Birds Look Like Chicken To Me". I'm posting it because I haven't found the lyrics for this song online. However, in spite of repeatedly listening to this recording, I'm very unsure about many of its lyrics. Additions and corrections to this transcription would be appreciated.
ALL BIRDS LOOK ALIKE TO ME
(as sung by Sweet Papa Stovepipe, 1926)
All birds look like chicken to me
They look like little fat hens
I fork them with my butter and fries
And eat them all one size
That chicken looks great to me
Looks like a little fat hen to me
Eat'em in an hour
All kind of power
They look like chicken to me
Me and my oldest brother
Went out at night to have a little fun
We met that pullet early
We met him about at one
Well I grabbed hold of the rooster
And swung him all round and round
I saw the other one wheezing
Gonna beat everyone in town
If there’s no roosters over yonder* [meaning heaven]
Don’t wanna go there
Take me down to the __ on the table
I’d do real good there
Here’s the only thing I crave
Wanna ___ until my grave
If there’s no roosters over yonder
I don’t wanna go there.
I had no use a for the pullet
Since one day in the spring
I ??? eat them up
All on his wings
I grabbed that other rooster
And slapped all around and round
And the next time I come around ‘he get out of the way
He __ ‘bound
One spring I was walkin
Walkin far away
There’s nothing there for me to
Eat one morn to stay
Now chicken now get ready
And let us all get right
I’m gonna take you all to see God
And see you home tonight.
Come right here to me
I know we can agree
Fly right here to me
Cause we can not agree
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