DESCRIPTION: "Oh Lawd, Black Betty, bam-ba-lam (x2), Black Betty had a baby, bam-ba-lam (x2)." "Oh, Lawd, Black Betty... It de cap'n's baby." "Oh, Lawd, Black Betty... but she didn't feed the baby. "Oh Lawd, Black Betty... Black Betty, where'd you come from?"
EARLIEST DATE: 1934
KEYWORDS: prison prisoner punishment chaingang
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Lomax/Lomax-AmericanBalladsAndFolkSongs, pp. 60-61, "Black Betty" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Moses Asch and Alan Lomax, Editors, _The Leadbelly Songbook_, Oak, 1962, p. 34, "Black Betty" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mose "Clear Rock" Platt, "Black Betty" (AFS 2643 B2, 1939)
NOTES [54 words]: According to the Lomaxes, "[Black Betty] is the whip that was and is used in some Southern prisons." Jackson, Wake Up Dead Man, p. 194, notes this use in the Lomax songs but says that in Texas prisons, "Black Betty" does not mean a whip but rather the locked and barred wagon used to take prisoners to and from prisons. - RBW
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