Mudcat Café message #1908279 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #34525   Message #1908279
Posted By: Azizi
13-Dec-06 - 07:27 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Pretty Little Pink
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pretty Little Pink
Q, in your 13 Dec 06 - 01:06 post you wrote "Looking at the speculation above, how much of the imagery in these songs is the result of a commbination of fanciful historical indoctrination of children by their homesick immigrant parents and the teaching of unrelated singing games by the teachers in the new homestead lands?"

Those are interesting points. I also wonder how much of the lyrics and performance activities of singing games were taught & passed on to children as a means of informally teaching & reinforcing such values as self-confidence and the importance of respecting and looking out for everyone in your group {which we now call demonstrating good team work skills}.

I also wonder how many of these games were used to teach & reinforce survival skills to African American and, possibly non-African American. Examples of the survival skills I have in mind are being alert & aware and thinking fast at all times.

Specifically, I'm thinking of 'show me your motion' ring {circle}games with one alternating center person as examples of games which taught the value that everyone in the group is important. According to Bess Jones in the book "Step It Down" that is co-authored by Bess Lomax-Hawes, traditionally these 'plays' did not end until every child in the group had a chance to be the center person in the ring.

Also, in these show me your motion ring games, since players never knew when they would be called to go in the center, they had to always be alert & prepared to immediately step into the middle of the ring. And they had to have a motion ready to do when it came time for that. And since motions shouldn't be repeated [at least that's the case now in the rare occassions that children play these games], players had to have a back up plan in case someone chose the movement that they were going to do. That's what I mean about thinking fast.

Though it's not in the 'Pretty Little Pink family' of rhymes, "Johnny Cuckoo" is one of the best examples I know of 19th century African American children's rhymes whose lyrics seek to conteract the rejection & negative valuations that Black children were bound to receive.

JOHNNY CUCKOO
Group                Here comes one Johnny Cuckoo,
                Cuckoo, Cuckoo.
                Here comes one Johnny Cuckoo,
                on a cold and stormy night.

Group                What did you come for,
                come for, come for?
                What did you come for,
                on a cold and stormy night?

Soloist #1         I come to be a soldier,
                soldier, soldier.
                I come to be a soldier,
                on a cold an stormy night.

Group                You are too black and dirty,
                dirty, dirty.
                You are too black and dirty
                on a cold and stormy night.

Soloist #1        I'm just as good as you are
                you are, you are.
                I'm just as good as you are
                on a cold and stormy night.

(repeat entire song with soloist #2 etc.)

"Johnny Cuckoo" is also included in a four CD collection of Southern folk songs (Alan Lomax, "Sounds of the South" Disc 4 Atlantic Recording Corp, 1993).