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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Azizi Ranky Tanky (Old Lady From Brewster) (3) Ranky Tanky (Old Lady From Brewster) 19 Jan 12

I'm posting here to let those who might be interested know that I've published a post on my Cocojams blog on the African American social song "Ranky Tanky" (also known as "Ranky Tank", "Old Lady From Booster", and "Old Lady From Brewster"), and probably other titles.

The url for that post is

That post includes the lyrics of 6 renditions of that song, as well as video versions of three of those examples.

I also shared my theory the meaning of the phrase "ranky tanky"(ranky tank)-I believe "Ranky tanky is the equivalent of the exhortation to "Dance funky".

In addition, I included text analysis of specific lines from certain versions of "Ranky Tanky", as well as some examples of lines from versions of that are found in other songs.


I happened upon the song "Ranky Tanky" recently via a video of Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem - Valley Stage '07 - Ranky Tanky

This group's This CD entitled Ranky Tanky won the 2010 Parents' Choice Award.

It occurred to me that I had read of that song before, and (eventually) remembered that a song called "Ranky Tank" is included Bessie Jones' and Bess Lomax Hawes' 1972 book Step It Down Games, Plays, Songs, and Stories from the Afro-American Heritage (Athens, Georgia, The University of Georgia Press, 1972, pp. 129-130)   

Those two versions are featured in my above linked Cocojams post.

Also included is a version collected in 1970 from St. John's, South Carolina, a rendition by King Biscuit boy, a rendition by Linda Tillery and The Cultural Heritage Choir, and a rendition by "Dave's music class".

For the purpose of folkloric documentation, I'll post on this thread the lyrics of the St. John's version, which I found online in a pdf file.

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