Wake Up Dead Man: Afro-American Worksongs from Texas Prisons



Wake Up Dead Man: Afro-American Worksongs from Texas Prisons

This edition

"Wake Up Dead Man: Afro-American Worksongs from Texas Prisons" . Ed. Bruce Jackson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1972. xxii+326 pp.

Other editions, reprints, and translations

• LP compilation: "Wake Up Dead Man". Albatros, 1977. (with 12-page booklet)

Table of contents

Introduction -- Cotton and cane : solo songs. Three Moore brothers (Mr. Tom Moore) ; Poor boy (Cold penitentiary blues ; Poor boy number two) ; I can buckle a wheeler (I worked old moll) ; Yon' come Roberta ; Butt-cut ruler ; Should a been on the river in 1910 ; Roberta ; Make a longtime man feel bad ; If you see my mother ; Mack's blues (Easy rider) ; I'm so glad my time have come ; Ration blues ; Been on the chain gang -- Cotton and cane : group songs. Please have mercy on a longtime man (Walk straight ; Pull-do) ; Midnight special ; My lord says there's room enough in heaven for us all ; Grey goose ; Goodbye, my lover, goodbye ; Pick a bale of cotton ; Stewball ; Go down old Hannah ; Shorty George ; Sure make a man feel bad ; Old Aunt Dinah ; Jolly ; No more cane on the brazos (Godamighty) ; Captain don't feel sorry for a longtime man -- The songs of J.B. Smith. No more good time in the world for me ; Too much time for the crime I done ; I heard the reports of a pistol ; Ever since I been a man full grown ; Woman trouble ; The major special ; No payday here -- Axe songs : crosscutting. Jody (Jody's got my wife and gone) ; I need another witness ; Grizzly bear ; Hammer ring (Don't you hear my hammer ring ; Black Betty) ; Crooked-foot John (Lost John ; This old tree ; Long gone) ; I'm in the bottom ; Plumb the line (Down the line) ; Fallin' down (Timber gettin' limber) ; Fall tree ; So soon this evenin' (Done had my dinner) -- Axe songs : logging. Julie ; John Henry ; Take this hammer (This old hammer killed John Henry) ; Haming on a live oak log (I was down in the bottom) ; Drinkin' that wine ; Drop 'em down ; Drop 'em down together ; Believe I'll call the rider ; Choppin' Charlie ; Godamighty (I got the crane wing ; I got a record) ; Texarkana Mary (Wonder what's the matter) ; Early in the morning (Godamighty knows) -- Flatweeeding songs. Raise 'em up higher (Twenty-one hammers ; Forty-four hammers ; Alberta) ; Down the line ; Long hot summer days ; Yellow gal ; I shall not be moved ; Rattler ; Black gal ; Tampa ; On my way to Mexico -- Appendix 1 : A note on nicknames -- Appendix 2 : Responsorial patterns.

Reviews and notices of anthology

• n/a

Commentary on anthology

• Collection of "worksongs and toasts, mainly from Texas prisons" (Kinnamon 1997: 480).
• "Making it in Hell is the subject of this revealing collection of Afro-American worksongs. The inmates sing about prison--the guards, length of sentence, sickness, death, guns--and about the world outside, to pace their work and to make a miserable life bearable. Jackson has made it possible for many more people to get a glimpse of a magnificent musical tradition. It is good to know that the need for such songs is ending, but it is also good to know that Jackson has documented them so well. The book contains some excellent introductory material, photographs, a bibliography, a glossary, a discography, and an index. It contributes to our knowledge of a little known part of American life, and the reader cannot help but be impressed by the creative and inventive men responsible for these songs. The importance of prison worksongs and their relationship to Blues cannot be understated. Both have their roots in Africa, both flourished in the plantation fields of the South, both are based on the call-and-response closely associated with blues, and both act, or have acted, as a form of release and relief for the singer and singers alike" (publisher's description; WorldCat)

Cited in

Kinnamon 1997: 480]

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