Why Doesn’t Anybody Care When Jimmy Cracks Corn?

26 Apr

We don’t remember where we learned them, but we know all these cute songs from our childhood. Most of them make no sense, so what do they really mean?

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Jimmy Crack Corn

Most of us only know the “Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care” line of this song. There are actually many others, here are the middle verses of what is believed to be the original song: 

“…One day he rode aroun’ de farm,

de flies no numerous dey did swarm;

One chance to bite ‘im on the thigh,

De debble take dat blu tail fly…”

The song is about an slave in  the United States “Antebellum” or Old South. This slave was trying to keep a species of fly from landing on his master’s horse. Between each verse is the iconic phrase, “Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care”.  What does “Jimmy Crack Corn” mean? Corn can refer to corn whiskey or cracking open a jug of whiskey. The most popular ideal is that “crack corn” is refering to an overseer of the slaves who only has a bullwhip to keep the slaves in line.

This song is believed to have been first sung in Blackface minstrel shows in the 1840’s.

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

Original rhyme from 1744

“Baa, Baa, black sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes merry have I,

Three bags full,

One for my master,

One for my Dame,

One for the little boy who lives down the lane…”

The most common explanation of this poem is that is talking about the “Custom Wool Tax” were a collection would be given to different people (the king, the church, etc…).

Another idea is that this song is about the slave trade. There is no connection between these two.

Jack and Jill

The first verse:

“Jack and Jill went up the hill

to fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down and lost his crown

And Jill came tumbling after…”

The most common connection is that this poem refers to a Norse myth. Jack and Jill can also refer to the French Revolution, where King Louis XVI who lost his “crown” and was beheaded. His wife, Marie Antoinette, was beheaded later (came tumbling after). Jack and Jill have a happy ending in the rhyme, while Louis and Marie obviously do not.

Rock-a-bye Baby

The original poem:

“Hush-a-by baby

on the tree top

When the wind blows

the cradle will rock.

When the bough breaks,

the cradle will fall,

Down tumbles baby,

cradle and all…”

If a mother did this today she would be arrested. This song may have been written by an English immigrant who witnessed how the Native American mothers would “rock” their babies to sleep. They put their babies in birch-bark cradles that were suspended from trees, which allowed the wind to rock the baby.

The song could also refer to a local woman from the area where the song was written. A woman, her husband, and their eight children lived in a house made from a hollowed out tree. In their tree house ( 😆 get it?) a hollowed-out bough served as a cradle.

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It”s weird that some strange events can become children’s songs.

:mrgreen: Sara :mrgreen:

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