Mudcat Café message #2965639 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #66084   Message #2965639
Posted By: Taconicus
15-Aug-10 - 09:59 AM
Thread Name: Is this song appropriate?: Slap Her Down Again Paw
Subject: RE: Is this tune appropriate?: Slap Her Down Again Paw
Songbob is right, the song is another one of those examples of rampant classism that continues unabated in intelligentsia and progressive circles. It's very PC today to ridicule "rednecks" and conservatives. It's just not PC if the listener thinks the song is being serious about abusing women. But if it's understood as ridiculing "hillbillies" it's given a pass.

Race is the area in which folk music is most bowdlerized (or just censored outright) with very little, if any, discussion allowed. I'm not talking about racism specifically, but even songs that merely reflect the realities of racial separation in the past. For example, there's an old song that's very beautiful when sung in four-part harmony. I believe the title is After Dark. Here are the original lyrics:

After dark when everything is still
And the moon comes creeping o'er the hill
I'll be waiting patiently for you
'Cause I love you true
Yes indeed I do, my honey,

Come with me, along the Everglades,
Watch the darkies, how they promenade!
You're my ever loving queen of all the dusky maids.
You're my moonlight Lou [or Lill, or some similar-sounding name]

Apparently, this song reflects a time when white men in the South might go down to the "Negro district" to indulge in sexual dalliance with "loose women" there. It's not a mean-spirited song, but it reflects a very unsavory period of history as far as race relations is concerned. A very beautiful song, it's still song today in "barbershop" (male a cappella close four-part harmony) courses, but with different lyrics:

Come with me, along the Everglades,
Watch the folks, see how they promenade!
You're my ever loving queen of all the pretty maids...

Just two or three words changed, and the bowdlerization is complete! And the unpleasant history is forgotten.

The sensitivity to this sort of thing may be more pronounced in the United States than elsewhere. While over in Scotland about a decade ago I heard a classic "blood libel" folk song sung at a folk music club performance. It was all about a little Christian boy who was lured away by a "Jewess" who proceeded to carve out his heart "with her little penknife," etc. It was performed without any explanation or context, and received nice applause. No one (but me) seemed to think there was anything wrong with singing it without at least an explanation or proviso that it might not be factually based -- it's just good authentic folk music, don't you know!