On the Bluff (Alligator Song)
DESCRIPTION: "'Twas on the bluff In the state of Indiana, Dat's where I useter lib." The singer is a good fisherman, but partial to drink; he fights with an alligator, only to find it is a log. He hides from a white man by playing a mile-post. At last he buries master
EARLIEST DATE: 1925 (Scarborough)
KEYWORDS: river fishing drink slave humorous burial
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 72, "'Twas on de Bluff" (1 text)
ST ScaNF072 (Partial)
NOTES: There is a song in the Edith Fowke collection which appears to be a version of this, so it appears to have been known in Canada as well as wherever it was that Scarborough located it. But I can't absolutely prove it at this time.
It might be objected that Indiana is not a slave state, and this is true -- but it was also quite anti-Negro, and locals might have looked the other way at a slaveholder. Or, of course, the actual location of the song might have been Kentucky, across the river from Indiana. Though it's hard to imagine alligators on the Ohio River.
In any case, this looks more like a minstrel piece than a real folk song. - RBW
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