Long Tail Blue
DESCRIPTION: The singer has "come to town to see you all... And sing a song not very long About my long tail blue." He is proud of having two coats, a jacket for everyday and the blue for Sunday. He advises others to acquire a similar coat and keep it well
AUTHOR: George Washington Dixon?
EARLIEST DATE: 1855 (Christy's Negro Songster); Dixon is said to have performed the piece in 1827
KEYWORDS: clothes courting
FOUND IN: US(SE) Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (4 citations):
BrownIII 416, "My Long Tail Blue" (1 text)
Williams-Thames, p. 218, "The Long-tailed Blue" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 188)
Emerson, pp. 32-34, "My Long Tail Blue" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: The United States Songster, (Cincinnati, 1836 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 191-193, "Long Tail Blue" (1 text)
Bodleian, 2806 c.13(135)[first four verses and chorus illegible], "Long Tail Blue" ("I've just dropt in to see you all") , J. Harkness (Preston), 1840-1866; also Firth b.26(454), Harding B 25(1137), "Long Tail Blue"
LOCSinging, as108020, "Long Tail Blue" ("I've just drop'd in to see you all"), L. Deming (Boston), no date
NOTES: There are no signs of minstrel origin -- clear in The United States Songster and Bodleian and LOCsinging broadsides -- in the Williams-Thames text.
The Bodleian library dates Firth b.26(454) and Harding B 25(1137), duplicate texts printed by J Todd (Easingwold), to c.1815. The date is suspect because the Bodleian dates all but one Todd broadside to "c. 1815" except one for which they have a definite date of 1838.
The longest text I've seen is LOCSinging as108020: 16 verses plus chorus.
The text in The United States Songster includes current event references to President Jackson and to "Crockett's gone to Texico." -- BS
Harry Dichter and Elliott Shapiro, Early American Sheet Music: Its Lure and Its Lore, 1768-1889, R. R. Bowker, 1941, p. 52, list a piece called "My Long Tail Blue," which was presumably this, as published by J. L. Hewitt & Co in 1836 or 1837. No composer is listed.
George Washington Dixon has also been credited with "Old Zip Coon," but the evidence for that is even murkier than the evidence for this song.
"Long Tail Blue" is said to have been a very early minstrel piece, joining the repertoire soon after the "original" minstrel song, "Jump Jim Crow"; see Harold Vincent Milligan, Stephen Collins Foster: A Biography of America's Folk-Song Composer, 1920 (I use the 2004 University of Hawaii reprint), p. 41. This is strong support for the 1820s date. Milligan, pp. 41-42, says that Dixon was singing "Coal Black Rose" in 1827, and "Longtail Blue" and "Zip Coon" by 1829.
On the other hand, Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 170 says that Dixon began his career in 1828, but allows that he may have originated "Long Tail Blue" (note the different orthography). - RBW
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