Black Thing, The
DESCRIPTION: A hairy, toothless, "wee black thing" sits on a cushion. A piper and two little drummers come to play. The piper goes in and "when he came out he hang doon his head"
EARLIEST DATE: 1828 (Lyle-Crawfurd1)
KEYWORDS: sex bawdy humorous
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Bord))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Lyle-Crawfurd1 69, "Black Joke" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: G. Legman, _The Horn Book_, (New Hyde Park, 1964), pp. 191-192, ("A little black thing on a cushion sat down")
cf. "Black Joke" (tune, per Legman; one line in Lyle-Crawfurd1's version, bawdy text)
Shandrum Boggoon (File: CrPS287)
The Rebels ("Ye brave, honest subjects, who dare to be loyal") (Rabson, pp. 50-51)
NOTES [431 words]: The Lyle-Crawfurd1 text has as a chorus a standard line from "Black Joke": "We her black Jock and her belley so white." The "plot" of Lyle-Crawfurd1 is different from the various "Black Joke" texts; Lyle-Crawfurd1 plays a single metaphor while the "Black Joke" texts are literal in which each verse tells about a different man's experience with the harlot. Lyle-Crawfurd1 is very close to the text [no indication that it is sung] in Arthur Huff Fauset, Folklore from Nova Scotia (New York, 1931), #18 p. 133, ("Two little drummers whose fifes was so fair"). Where the Lyle-Crawfurd1 text has "A piper and twa little drummers came there To play wi the wee thing well covered o'er wi hair," Fauset has "Two little drummers whose fifes was so fair Seeking a castle all covered with hair." Fauset adds a final line, "Great God, says the drummer, the fifer is dead." Since "Black Joke" refers to a set of other songs and since, as Faucet shows, the black joke theme is incidental to this song, perhaps a better "master title" might be "Two Drummers and a Piper."
See Digital Tradition for much more about "Black Joke" including the tune (see "Black Joke," "Black Joke (3)," "Black Joke (4)," and Robert Burns's "My Girl She's Airy."
Definitions from Jonathon Green, Cassell's Dictionary of Slang (2nd edition, 2005):
"black jock n.1 1 [late 18C] pubic hair. 2 [late 19C (also brown jock, grey jock) the vagina...."
"black joke n (also coal-black joke) [mid-18C+] the female genitals. [.... E.P. suggests 'something to be cracked']."
For more on "joke" as "a bawdy name for the female genitalia," see Edgar V. Roberts, "An Unrecorded Meaning of 'Joke' (or 'Joak') in England" in American Speech, Vol. XXXVII, No. 2 (May 1962 (available online by JSTOR)), pp. 137-140. In case there remained any doubt, Roberts, in a later paper, says, "the adjectives of color in phrases like *black joke* refer simply to the surroundings in which the *joke* itself appears; that is a *black joke* = a brunette, a *white joke* = a blonde, and so on" [Edgar V. Roberts, "More about 'Joke'" in American Speech, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 2 (May 1963 (available online by JSTOR)), p. 152].
The Legman text, attributed to Scott Douglas, replaces the Lyle-Crawfurd1 chorus with "with a fal, [&c]" and adds two explicit verses, in case the listener missed the point: "The piper had better been out o' the way And not be so fond to play f-u-c-k." "But pray who would not in the piper's place be To enjoy such a pretty black c-u-n-t?" Lyle-Crawfurd1 p. xlvi dates the Douglas text to "the late nineteenth century."- BS
Last updated in version 4.4
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.