Old Moke Pickin' on the Banjo (Song of the Pinewoods)

DESCRIPTION: Singer lands in America in 1844 and works in the pinewoods. An Irish girl offers him whiskey and looks him over. He describes the teamsters with whom he works. Song may have many floating verses and a nonsense chorus.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1941 (Beck)
KEYWORDS: lumbering work emigration floatingverses music
FOUND IN: US(MW)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Beck 22, "Song of the Pinewoods" (1 text)
Hugill, pp. 340-341, "The Old Moke Pickin' on the Banjo" (1 text, 1 tune) [AbEd, p. 255]
Sharp-EFC, IV, pp. 4-5, "He-Back, She-Back" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, OLDMOKE*

Roud #862
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Whoa Back, Buck" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Shule Agra (Shool Aroo[n], Buttermilk Hill, Johnny's Gone for a Soldier)" (floating lyrics)
cf. "I'm a Rowdy Soul" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Daddy Shot a Bear" (lyrics)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
He-bang, She-bang
Tapiocum
NOTES: Clearly we have a muddle here. Beck notes that this song can have a huge number of verses, but he lists only four, and the song makes little sense as a result. The chorus, meanwhile, is a reworking of "Shule Agra", with a last line close to "Tighten on the Backband (Whoa Back Buck)." Ah, the folk process! - PJS
A muddle indeed, and one with bounds very hard to define. Beck's refrain for this piece runs
Shu-li, shu-li, shula-racka-ru
Hacka-racka, shacka-racka, shula-bobba-lu
I'm right from the pinewoods. So are you
Johnny, can't you pick it on your banjo?
The more common chorus to this seems to be something like
Hooraw! What the hell's the row?
We're all from the railroad, too-rer-loo,
We're all from the railroad, too-rer-loo,
Oooh! The ol' moke pickin' on the banjo!
This chorus occurs, with variations, in Hugill and Sharp. - RBW
Hugill cites a Negro shanty titled "Tapiocum" found in v.3 of the Folk Song Journal. He only quotes one verse but believes that it is a variant of "Old Moke." - SL
Last updated in version 3.2
File: Be022

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