Old Marse John
DESCRIPTION: Lyrics about a slave promised freedom by his mistress -- but the freedom does not arrive as scheduled. Many floating verses about southern life. Chorus: "O mourner, you shall be free... When the good Lord sets you free."
EARLIEST DATE: 1925
KEYWORDS: slave freedom animal food clergy floatingverses
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 271, "Old Marse John" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 471, "Jigger, Rigger, Bumbo" (1 fragment)
cf. "Raise a Ruckus" (lyrics)
cf. "My Ole Mistus Promised Me" (lyrics)
cf. "Mourner, You Shall Be Free (Moanish Lady)" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Hard Time in Old Virginnie"
cf. "Poor Old Man (Poor Old Horse; The Dead Horse)" (floating lyrics)
NOTES [100 words]: About half of this song, as found in Lomax, is identical to "Raise a Ruckus." But the chorus is different, and the similarities could be due to the Alan Lomax's "improvements." So I've classified them separately.
The Brown fragments "Jigger, Rigger, Bumbo" is another mystery unto itself. It has the "Raise a Ruckus"/"My old marster promised me" opening, and a chorus, and that's it. At some point, there comes a limit on separating songs based on nonsense choruses. So I tossed it here. Roud appears to have a whole category (#11723) of fragments around the "My old master/mistress promised me." - RBW
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