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Dec 3, 2021 - 8:32:01 AM
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326 posts since 8/11/2007

Link to video: https://youtu.be/HzxL3tMNnRg


fB?FB?C ~ gCGCD (aka Hook & Line tuning). I learned "You Shall Be Free" from a 1920s recording of Bill and Belle Reed. Almost nothing is known of the duo beyond their stage names, yet they were libeled by the owners of Dust-to-Digital in a recent New York Times interview.

While the song does contain numerous racial epithets, it does not contain any reference to lynching, as was falsely claimed by April and Lance Ledbetter. I contacted the Ledbetters and NYT to explain their error and request a correction, to no avail

 

The verse in question:

"Some folks say a ****** won't steal

But I caught three in my corn field,

One had a bushel the other had a peck

One had a roasting ear around his neck."

 

"... One had a crib tied around his neck."

 

This was misquoted by the Ledbetters as:

"... One had a rope tied around his neck."

 

The Reeds never "jubilantly harmonized about a lynching," as the Ledbetters maintain. In truth, the verse references traditional maize agriculture. Red roasting ears were a prize shown off during corn-shucking parties, and a "crib" is a small manger used to feed livestock.

Dec 3, 2021 - 8:46:52 AM
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662 posts since 6/6/2007
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Maybe it’s only a matter of semantics here, and I don’t argue with your sentiments, but they weren’t “libeled,” according to law (it being a legal term). Only the living can claim to have been defamed, the basis for libel, I believe.

Steve

Edited by - DH#52 on 12/03/2021 08:48:30

Dec 3, 2021 - 11:31:26 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26716 posts since 8/3/2003

Perhaps whoever was transcribing the music misunderstood the words and just put in what they thought they were or perhaps they were just using artistic license to change the verse to the way they wanted it to go. As long as they don't state those are the original author's words, what's the harm?

I change song wording lots of time to change the gender of the song. Somehow, singing a song about my wife just doesn't do it for me, so I change it to my spouse or husband. Sometimes I'll change the color of eyes or hair to match someone I know or love. It's a song, it's out there, so it should be open to interpretation of the singer. Just my 2 cents.

Dec 3, 2021 - 12:45:43 PM
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ndlxs

USA

451 posts since 9/26/2006

I have to say that I bought the otherwise very fine box set that had this on it from Dust to Digital; I did seek out the song in question to listen to it myself.  I heard what they claimed was there; as has been posted by others here there are other candidates for what those words are that could well be correct.

That may well be; but context is everything, but on my first listening I heard that term loud and clear, as would others who don't have the benefit of or patience for hearing the context and explanations.  If it was MY business that I had put years of hard work into that was on the line for a backlash against the release of that song, I would do what they had done. It could well have destroyed their livelihood. Anyone who must hear it can find it like I did. 

I also agree that we are free to change the words. I do it all of the time when I learn songs. Usually, though, it is to avoid fake accents, which drive me nuts when I hear them. One great example of an otherwise good song that folkies do: "The Year of Jubilo", in which a color-related term is replaced with a two syllable word like "workers" or "brothers".  It is a small price to pay to rescue a song that has a historical story to tell. 
 

Dec 3, 2021 - 12:49:58 PM
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ndlxs

USA

451 posts since 9/26/2006

Many artists have already changed this particular song to meet their needs:
http://bluegrassmessengers.com/shout-mourner-version-2-oh-monah-weems-1931.aspx

Dec 3, 2021 - 1:37:50 PM
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YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

616 posts since 5/11/2021

I never realized that the John Hartford lyrics from 'Up on the Hill' were based on this verse. So I learned something today.

Some folks say that a hippie won't steal, but I caught 3 in my cornfield. One had a flag and another had a bomb and the 3rd old boy was gettin on home.

Dec 3, 2021 - 1:44:33 PM
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YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

616 posts since 5/11/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

Perhaps whoever was transcribing the music misunderstood the words and just put in what they thought they were or perhaps they were just using artistic license to change the verse to the way they wanted it to go. As long as they don't state those are the original author's words, what's the harm?


This is a good approach, we should always try to assume error or at least assume good intentions in these situations. But we can't ignore context. We must view this most recent article within the context of the writers and publishers recent and continued push to paint US and southern culture as inherently racist. This is yet another article in a long list of false narrative creation, and it's good that we have people calling it out as such. 

Dec 3, 2021 - 2:09:03 PM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26716 posts since 8/3/2003

quote:
Originally posted by YellowSkyBlueSun
quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

Perhaps whoever was transcribing the music misunderstood the words and just put in what they thought they were or perhaps they were just using artistic license to change the verse to the way they wanted it to go. As long as they don't state those are the original author's words, what's the harm?


This is a good approach, we should always try to assume error or at least assume good intentions in these situations. But we can't ignore context. We must view this most recent article within the context of the writers and publishers recent and continued push to paint US and southern culture as inherently racist. This is yet another article in a long list of false narrative creation, and it's good that we have people calling it out as such. 


Let's not get started on what is and isn't racist.  That will get the topic locked. 

Dec 4, 2021 - 6:57:49 AM

326 posts since 8/11/2007

quote:
Originally posted by DH#52

Maybe it’s only a matter of semantics here, and I don’t argue with your sentiments, but they weren’t “libeled,” according to law (it being a legal term). Only the living can claim to have been defamed, the basis for libel, I believe.

Steve


Thanks for that info, Steve, I will reconsider my terminology. 

That must be an appropriate term for defaming the deceased other than "character assassination" or "misrepresentation." Dust-to-Digital and NYT are definitely withholding information and outright lying at this point. They have been made aware of the facts, and they've chosen to ignore those facts to save face at the expense of two innocent people.

Dec 4, 2021 - 8:25:09 AM

662 posts since 6/6/2007
Online Now

I don’t disagree, and I shouldn’t have mentioned what I did. In retrospect, it sounds petty to me. My apologies.

Steve

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