Modern Street Ballads


I cam from ole Kentucky,
A long time ago,
Where I first larn to wheel about,
And jump Jim Crow.

Wheel about and turn about,
And do jus so,
Ebry time I wheel about
I jump Jim Crow.

I us’d to take him fiddle,
Ebry morn and afternoon,
And charm the sole Buzzard,
And dance to the Racoon.

I landed fust at Liverpool,
Dat place of ships and docks,
I strutted down Lord Street,
And ask’d de price of Stocks.

I paid my fair den up to town,
On de coach to cut a dash,
De axletree soon gave way,
And spilt us wid a smash.

I lighted den upon my head,
All in de nassy dirt,
Dey all thought dat I war dead,
But I laughed and wasn’t hurt.

Dis head you know, am pretty tick,
Cause dere it make a hole,
On de dam macadmis road,
Much bigger dan a bowl.

When I got into Lunnon,
Dey took me for a savage,
But I war pretty well behaved,
So I ‘gaged with Mr. Davidge.

Dem young Jim Crows bout de streets
More like a Raven rader,
Pray good people, don’t mistake,
Indeed, I’m not dare fader.

Dem urchin’s what sing my song,
Had better mind dar books.
For any how dey can’t be Crows,
You see d’ar only Rooks.

I have purposely refrained from giving any Nigger songs, although they belong to Street melody, except in the case of “Jim Crow,” which was the first of the flood which has been let loose upon us. There were many versions, but I have here given the copyright words, as sung by the author, and original “Jim Crow,” Thomas D. Rice, or, as he was better know, “Adelphi Rice” He introduced it, in 1836, into a play called “A Flight to America,” and it so tickled the ears of the groundlings that it became the most popular of all modern street ballads. We may wonder what merit our grandfathers and fathers found in it, but it created an absolute furore.

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