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Dec
27

Kate Smith – Blue Tail Fly 1958

“Blue Tail Fly”, “De Blue Tail Fly”, or “Jimmy Crack Corn” is thought to be a blackface minstrel song, first performed in the United States in the 1840s that remains a popular children’s song today. Over the years, many variants of text have appeared, but the basic narrative remains intact. On the surface, the song is a black slave’s lament over his master’s death. The song, however, has a subtext of rejoicing over that death, and possibly having caused it by deliberate negligence. Most versions at least nod to idiomatic African English, though sanitized, Standard English versions predominate today. The blue-tail fly mentioned in the song is probably Tabanus atratus, a species of horse-fly found in the American South. As it feeds on the blood of animals such as horses and cattle, as well as humans, it constitutes a prevalent pest in agricultural regions. This species of horse-fly has a blue-black abdomen, hence the name. Lyrics: In one early version, the idyllic (yet ironic) scene is set thus: When I was young I us’d to wait On the boss and hand him his plate; and Pass down the bottle when he got dry, And brush away the blue tail fly. refrain (repeated each verse): Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care, My master’s gone away. In the two verses that follow, the singer is told to protect his master’s horse from the bite of the blue-tail fly: An’ when he ride in de afternoon, I foiler wid a hickory broom; De

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  1. 678way says:

    those Blue Tailed flys….and Jimmy Crack Corn.

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