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Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?

slidincharlie 26 Jan 19 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 26 Jan 19 - 12:58 PM
Dave the Gnome 26 Jan 19 - 02:08 PM
GUEST 26 Jan 19 - 03:08 PM
BTMP 26 Jan 19 - 03:35 PM
leeneia 27 Jan 19 - 12:12 AM
michaelr 27 Jan 19 - 12:36 AM
GUEST 27 Jan 19 - 04:06 AM
slidincharlie 27 Jan 19 - 05:14 AM
gillymor 27 Jan 19 - 06:05 AM
GUEST 27 Jan 19 - 06:11 AM
Bonzo3legs 27 Jan 19 - 06:32 AM
slidincharlie 27 Jan 19 - 11:06 AM
gillymor 27 Jan 19 - 11:39 AM
Jack Campin 27 Jan 19 - 12:27 PM
GUEST 27 Jan 19 - 12:49 PM
Rapparee 27 Jan 19 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Don Day 27 Jan 19 - 05:18 PM
Jack Campin 27 Jan 19 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 27 Jan 19 - 06:31 PM
Shezinaussie 28 Jan 19 - 12:13 AM
GUEST 28 Jan 19 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 28 Jan 19 - 08:47 AM
leeneia 28 Jan 19 - 02:26 PM
slidincharlie 28 Jan 19 - 02:36 PM
Dave the Gnome 28 Jan 19 - 03:03 PM
Rapparee 29 Jan 19 - 07:02 PM
Rapparee 29 Jan 19 - 07:38 PM
leeneia 01 Feb 19 - 03:00 PM
GUEST 01 Feb 19 - 03:49 PM
Thomas Stern 01 Feb 19 - 04:41 PM
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Subject: Origins: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: slidincharlie
Date: 26 Jan 19 - 12:56 PM

Hey folks,
I wonder if the white lightnin' is something specific - I mean something else than a bad weather phenomenon.
I heard it mentioned in some blues songs like e.g. Jumper On The Line by RL Burnside.
'Guess white lightnin' done gone to my head'... what does it mean?

--Carlo
from Italy


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Subject: RE: Origins: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 26 Jan 19 - 12:58 PM

Home distilled spirits.


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Subject: RE: Origins: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 26 Jan 19 - 02:08 PM

There was a "cider" in England called White Lightning. Presumably named after the spirit and in quotes because it owed far more to chemical interference than apples to reach its 8.4% ABV. When mixed with Carlsberg Special Brew it created a concoction known as snake bite on speed that would remove any remaining brain cells within 4 pints.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jan 19 - 03:08 PM

White Lightning in the UK

Snakebite in the UK


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: BTMP
Date: 26 Jan 19 - 03:35 PM

As a teenager in Alabama, I had my initial exposure to white lightning, or moonshine as it was called locally. Fortunately, I was with a couple of older friends who knew how to tell the good stuff from the bad. They poured a few drops into a bottle cap and lit a flame. If it burned blue or clear, it was good. If the flame was yellow or orange, that meant there was lead present - bad stuff.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: leeneia
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 12:12 AM

At the McCormick Distillery in Weston MO we were told that white lightning was the clear alcoholic liquor which goes into barrels to be aged and to turn into whisky. The liquor picks up color and flavor from the barrels.

The phrase may mean something different when it comes to moonshine, of course.

Don't ever drink any moonshine.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: michaelr
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 12:36 AM

Moonshine in America, poitin in Ireland. Illegally distilled alcohol.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 04:06 AM

Yes there is white lightning that is cider in the UK, but that is not what those guys are singing about. It is as others have already said ... moonshine.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: slidincharlie
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 05:14 AM

Thank you. This is what I suspected - a homemade liquor.
I've been singing Jumper On The Line for quite a while before I started to wonder about the true meaning of that 'white lightning' :-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: gillymor
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 06:05 AM

White Lightning by George Jones, I think The Big Bopper recorded this previously. I used to stop at a tavern in rural Maryland way back in my truck driving days where the owner kept a gallon jug of the stuff under the bar and would give you a snort for a buck, with devilish delight, that felt like it would blow the top of your head off when it combined with all the other substances we were ingesting back then.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 06:11 AM

>> I've been singing Jumper On The Line for quite a while

Yes, and how about the true meaning of Jumper


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 06:32 AM

Well, the "G" men, "T" men, revenuers, too
Searchin' for the place where he made his brew
They were looking, tryin to book him, but my pappy kept on cookin'
Phoo, white lightning

White Lightning!!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: slidincharlie
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 11:06 AM

>>>> I've been singing Jumper On The Line for quite a while

>> Yes, and how about the true meaning of Jumper

Pleeease! What does JUMPER mean?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: gillymor
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 11:39 AM

I've heard that it has to do with a woman hanging her jumper on the clothesline to let her lover know that her husband's not around.
Great song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 12:27 PM

In the UK a jumper is (inter alia) someone who commits suicide by jumping in front of a train, usually on the London Underground.

There is a really fine and gloomy song about that - a woman on her way to a dismal dead-end job gets her train held up by a suicide, arrives late, gets fired and as a result jumps under one herself in the last verse. Anybody know the one I mean?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 12:49 PM

?? in England at least a jumper is a pullover, a sweater. I'm sure I had it on when I had my tea, and I think I had it on in the lavatory. I believe a jumper in American is a different piece of clothing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: Rapparee
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 12:53 PM

The stuff that drips out of the still on the third distilling ("triple twisted" stuff) is called "white lightin'" as well as other things like "white mule". Generally about 180 proof (90% alcohol). Put some gunpowder on a rock or a piece of wood (about the size of the end of your little finger), wet it with some of your "run", light it; if the alcohol burns and "poofs" the powder the stuff is about 90% -- that's called "powder proofing".

This is all assuming that it's from a proper copper still and copper worm or spout that well cared for. If it comes out of a car radiator or lead piping, well, don't drink it.

Prisoners have been known to put several small or a couple of large cans of fruit cocktail in a plastic garbage bag, toss in a couple slices of bread (for yeast), and let it "cook" until the bubbling stops. Strain the fruit out and drink away -- it'll at least get you a trip to the prison hospital and probably a stretch of "bad time" as well.

I've had the good stuff and it's very, very good -- sort of like calvados. I have no intention or desire to even taste the other stuff.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: GUEST,Don Day
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 05:18 PM

Something from the past tells me that White Lightning was metal polish strained through a loaf of bread. Can anyone comment on this?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 05:40 PM

Yes, jumper does mean sweater - or an electric cable with a clip on each end - that's why I wrote "inter alia". But if you're writing a depressing song about trains, the suicide is the obvious connection.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 27 Jan 19 - 06:31 PM

I have known the term in regard to distilled mountain moonshine.

I also know the term in regard to automobile racing in the eastern mountain range.

It also, in its most refined form , provides a high performance fuel for dragsters.

It can also be drunk.

si cerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: Shezinaussie
Date: 28 Jan 19 - 12:13 AM

one definition is: milk added to metho - turns it white - song by John Dengate refers to 'white lady' - same thing really!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jan 19 - 07:35 AM

If you said jumper to mean jump lead I would not understand you, and I would never use the word myself in the sense of someone about to commit suicide. But how you or I would use the term is not relevant at all.

The relevance is how a certain group of people in America (or part of America) at a certain time in the past used the word, and what they used it to mean. And from those lyrics in those songs where I have heard it, they are not singing depressing songs, and they are not singing about trains.

I believe that every time they are talking about some item of clothing, and I assume that it is not the same as what I would call a jumper.

Too bad that blues lyrics compendium has gone offline, so I can just quote some lyrics I remember. As already stated above, there are several songs with something along the lines of:

If you see my jumper hanging up on the line (or on the wall), then ....

I don't think they are singing about a railway line there, but a washing line, and the fact that it might equally be hanging on the wall ... anyway, it seems to be a signal for something or other, and not always the same thing.

More definitively from Tommy Johnson:

Would you wash my jumper
Starch my overalls
I'm gonna find my woman
She's in the world somewhere


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 28 Jan 19 - 08:47 AM

The ultimate jumper song:

Sultans of Ping : Where's me jumper..


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: leeneia
Date: 28 Jan 19 - 02:26 PM

I followed your link, Peter. I really tried, but I could only stand it for about 60 seconds. It was the repeated harsh croak on 'where's' that drove me away.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: slidincharlie
Date: 28 Jan 19 - 02:36 PM

Thank you guys.
Re: jumper, I definitely believe that the meaning related to a message of a woman to her lover is the right one.

Anyway, this is the song where I took both terms (jumper and white lightning):

Jumper on the line    (RL Burnside)

See my jumper, Lord
hangin' out on the line (x2)
You know by that
there’s something’s on my mind

I wouldn't be here, baby
if it hadn't been for you (x2)
We’re down here, the way you wanna do

See my jumper, Lord
hangin' out on the line (x2)
You know by that
there’s something’s on my mind

Fix my supper, baby
let me go to bed (x2)
Guess white lightnin'
done gone to my head (x2)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 28 Jan 19 - 03:03 PM

A jumper hanging on a line here is a woolly garment put out to dry!

I'll never get the knack of these Americanisms. I think I'll go out to roll a fag...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: Rapparee
Date: 29 Jan 19 - 07:02 PM

Well, I hope he's a good one if you're on the nut. If you're gonna do a roll you should get a real roll for your trouble. Pick a blotto mark, maybe put yourself up as a queen, and take him out back for the job. Be careful, he might be a prison wolf. But ya gotta take chances, 'cause chintzy pickin's ain't worth the powder ta blow 'em ta hell.

Hey, ain't yer bim knocked up? You gonna take a bunk or what?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: Rapparee
Date: 29 Jan 19 - 07:38 PM

There's Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper. Died jumping from a platform 125 feet above Genesee Falls in New York State.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: leeneia
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 03:00 PM

To see an American jumper, copy this:

https://www.google.com/search?q=jumper+garment+image&oq=jumper+garment+image&aqs=chrome..69i57.6032j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

The second and fourth pictures show jumpers - dress-like garment that goes over a blouse or pullover.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 03:49 PM

Leeneia, thanks for that. I wonder whether it is actually some other garment they are singing about though: I mean the blues jumper seems as though it's a piece of clothing that could be worn by men, whereas the modern/current American jumper looks like something for ladies only.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: White lightnin' - what is it?
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 01 Feb 19 - 04:41 PM

fwiw:
I am aware of 2 LPs by the group WHITE LIGHTNIN - Byard Ray and Obray
Ramsey. If you are interested in Old-Timey and Appalachia you should
be aware of these musicians.

Cheers, Thomas.


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