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GUEST,Azizi Lyr Add: Raise a Ruckus Tonight (27) Lyr Add: RAISE A RUCUS TO-NIGHT (from T W Talley) 05 Sep 04

Raise a Rucus is an opened ended dance song dating from at least 18th century Southern United States slavery. The tune makes use of a varied number of floating verses that can be found in a number of other secular slave songs.

Here is a version of Raise A "Rucus" Tonight from Thomas W. Talley's Negro Folk Rhymes, published in 1922, p. 90.

I am using N___g for you-know-which group referent since that referent is probably even less politically correct now than it was in 1922. Otherwise, this is as Talley presented it.

Two liddle N__gs all dressed in white,
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Want to get to Heaben on de tail of a kite.
(Raise a rucus to-night)
De kite string broke; dem N__gs fell;
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Wha dem N__gs go, I hain't gwineter tell.
(Raise a rucus to-night)

A N__g an' a w'ite man a playin' seven up;
(Raise a rucus to-night)
De N__g beat de w'te man, but 'e's skeered to pick it up.
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Dat N__g grabbed de money, an' de w'te man fell
(Raise a rucus to-night)
How de N__g run, I'se not gwinter tell.
(Raise a rucus to-night)

Look here, N__g! Let me tell you a naked fac':
(Raise a rucus to-night.)
You mought a been cullud widout bein' dat black;
(Raise a rucus to-night)
Dem 'ar feet look lak youse sh' walkin; back'
(Raise a rucus to-night)
An' yo' ha'r, it look lak a chyarpet tack.
(Raise a rucus to-night)

CHORUS: Oh come 'long chilluns, come 'long
W'le dat moon are shinin' bright
Let's git on board, an' float down de river,
An' raise a rucus to-night.

Just a couple of comments:

These floating verses are probably more suitable for historical/anthropological folk study than present day singing, particularly the last verse of "rips" (insults). At the very least, it should be stated that this dance song was not meant to be performed for audiences other than African Americans, and at that only certain groups of African Americans on certain, shall we say "informal" occasions.

I believe that the first verse of Raise A Rucus Tonight is the source for the African American children's rhyme "Ten Little Angels" (Ten little angels dressed in white/tryin' to get to heaven by the tail of a kite/but the kite string broke/and one of them fell/instead of going to heaven she when to __/nine little angels etc.)

The first verse's avoidance of the word "hell" reminds me of the children's folk rhyme "Miss Susie had a Steamboat" in which the "hell is changed to "Hello, operator"...

Also, with regard to the use of "d" in place of "th" I would like to call your attention to this excerpt from Lorenzo D. Turner's "Problems Confronting The Investigator Of Gullah", p. 132 in Mother Wit From The Laughing Barrel, edited by Alan Dundes (Prentice-Hall, 1973)

"Mr. Cleanth Brooks, in his monograph entitled 'The Relation of the Alabama-Georgia Dialect to the Provincial Dialects of Great Britain' (Baton Rouge, 1835), reveals some confusion in his discussion of the Negro's substitution of initial d for th in such words as this, that, them, then, these, etc. Assuming that all the peculiarities of the Negro's pronunciation stem from the British dialect of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, he devotes several pages (75-91, to be exact) to an attempt to show that the use of initial d for th in such words occurred in certain British dialects early enough for the white settlers in Alabama and Georgia to pass it on to the Negroes. He obviously did not realize that in NONE* of the West African languages spoken by the Negroes who were coming to Georgia direct from Africa until practically the beginning of the Civil War does the th sound occur.... Moreover, when the native West African today first encounters the th sounds, whether in the United States, the Caribbean, West Africa, or elsewhere, he substitutes for them d and t, with which he is thoroughly familiar and which he considers closer to the English th than any of the other sounds of his language. This is true whether he is literate or illiterate....

* None capitalized in place of italics, which I can't figure out how to reproduce... ;O)

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