Mudcat Café message #742204 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #48893   Message #742204
Posted By: John Minear
04-Jul-02 - 10:27 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Limber Jim
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Limber Jim: History & Lyrics
I've been taking "Limber Jim" apart and looking at the various pieces and trying to trace possible connections. The chorus part of the "Limber Jim" collected by Lafcadio Hearn is in a "call and response" form. The response "Shiloh!" is interesting. I have found two other references on this. First of all is the play-party song in Ruth Crawford Seeger's AMERICAN FOLK SONGS FOR CHILDREN, pp. 96-97, called "Scraping Up Sand In The Bottom Of The Sea". You can find it on another thread here Click here and here Click here The chorus goes:

Scraping up sand in the bottom of the sea, Shiloh, Shiloh,
Scraping up sand in the bottom of the sea, Shiloh, Liza Jane.

Seeger says that this comes from "The Missouri Play-Party" by Mrs. L.D.Ames, Vol. 24 of the AMERICAN FOLKLORE SOCIETY's bulletin.

There is a verse in this song that goes:

Black those shoes and make them shine,
Shiloh, Shiloh,
Black those shoes and make them shine,
Shiloh, Liza Jane.

Vance Randolph, in his OZARK FOLKSONGS (Vol ?, p. 359) has a version of this song, without the "Shiloh" response, that goes:

Black them boots an' make'em shine,
Good-bye, good-bye,
Black them boots an' make'em shine,
Good-bye, Lazy Jane.

Oh how I love her, ain't that a shame?
Goobye, goodbye,
Oh how I love her, ain't that a shame?
Goodbye lazy Jane

See that snail a-pullin' that rail?
Goodbye, goodbye,
See that snail a-pullin' that rail?
Goodbye, lazy Jane.

In his headnote, Randolph says, "Compare the "Shiloh" game-song reported by Ames (JAFL 24, 1911, p.317), also a similar item published by Hamilton (JAFL 27, 1914, p.296) under the title "So Goodbye Susan Jane."

In THOMAS W. TALLEY'S NEGRO FOLK RHYMES: A NEW, EXPANDED EDITION, WITH MUSIC, edited by Charles K. Wolfe, there is a song, #110, called "Salt Rising Bread" (pp. 71-72), that has a verse that refers to dancing "Shiloh":

I loves saltin', saltin' bread.
I loves saltin', saltin' bread.
You loves biscuit, butter, an' fat?
I can dance Shiloh better 'an dat.
Does you turn 'round an' shake yo' head?-
Well;I loves saltin', saltin' bread.

I've not found any other references to a dance called "Shiloh", but this suggestion would tie in with the "Juba" context in Hearn's version. There is a very interesting discussion at the end of Talley's book on call and response and on dancing Juba(p.269). The response "Shiloh!" would be given by the larger group of people, which is what is indicated in the Hearn version.

Aside from the Shiloh battle songs, which don't seem to be related here, does anyone know of any other references to "Shiloh" as a call/response dance or play-party song?