Old Joe

April 16, 2014 2:51 PM

A popular 19th century minstrel tune with fretless banjo, tambourine and vocals. (Different from the old-time tune by the same name, and not related to Old Joe Clark either.) Lyrics as recorded are not offensive.*

I was hoping to add bones, but I seemed to be running into latency issues with Audacity.

*I tweaked the chorus. The phrase 'Old black Joe' is used once, but not especially pejoratively. I debated changing that to 'big old Joe' or some such, but decided to leave it as is. There is also a reference to the title character working in the field, which in this context would certainly have implied that he is a slave.

None of this is intended to offend; I figure if I struggle with the nature of these old songs and how to perform/preserve them, then maybe listeners should too; we don't get to celebrate the high points in our cultural history without confronting the low ones, too. The temptation is there to completely sanitize them, but I don't think that's the right thing to do.

posted by usonian 1 user marked this as a favorite

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