Tanzania

In 2005 I spent two months living and working with a group of farmers who are part of a widespread tradition in northwest Tanzania: making music and dance in the fields, as they work.

It's a sort of singing, dancing, farming cooperative.  One day they'll till or weed one member of the groups field, another day they'll move on to someone else's.  Imagine getting together with fifteen of your friends and saying: okay, today we're going to weed Tom's garden, tomorrow we're going to weed Chrissy's and on Wednesday we're going to go over to Ellen's place.

It's called "reciprocal village labor" and that's exactly what they do in Tanzania only they sing and dance and have fun while they do it.  It's a community party in the field and and it's amazing to behold- or event to try out in your own neighborhood.  It makes your work seem so much more doable if you've got a mob of friends helping you out.

To top it off, many of these groups develop songs and dances throughout the farming season that they then use to compete against similar groups during harvest festivals.

There are many different styles of musical labor in the region: one style uses only bells on the wrist to accompany songs, some are purely a capella, others include drums or other instruments.

The first part of the clip (which is the title sequence for a longer film about musical labor that I will share with you over time) is a tradition called "magungulu" which only uses bells.  In the second clip Hoja Charles, the group leader, plays the Kadete, a "spike fiddle", which is made from a small lizard-skin drum, bicycle brake cable, and a bow made of a stick and sisal fibers.

One More Day

Here are both the leaving version and the homeward bound version.  Both are from Mudcat, and Mudcat got the homeward version from Joanna C. Colcord's- Songs of American Sailormen.  The leaving version was recorded by a group called Lime Bay Mutiny in 1990 and can be found in several youtube versions.

 

Leaving Version

Oh row me 'cross the river I heard a maiden say Oh take me to me lover One more day

Cho: Only one more day, me Johnnys One more day Oh rock and roll me over One more day

I'm almost broken hearted I can no longer stay Once more must we be parted One more day Cho:

So do not fear my beauty I can no longer stay And love makes way for duty One more day Cho:

I've seen the sea birds flyin' Ashore from o'er the bay I felt they was all cryin' One more day Cho:

'Cause sea birds get the warnin' Which one and all obey The tempest loud is stormin' One more day Cho:

So heave onside the anchor We sail out from the bay Oh heave onside the anchor One more day Cho:

 

Homeward Bound Version

Oh, have you heard the news, My Johnny? One more day! We're homeward bound tomorrow, One more day!

cho: Only one more day, my Johnny One more day! Oh, rock and row (or roll) me over, One more day!

We're homeward bound tomorrow, Johnny We leave you without sorrow.

Can't you hear the old man snarling, Johnny? Can't you hear the capstan pawling?

Oh, heave and sight the anchor, Johnny Oh, heave and sight the anchor.

I'm bound away to leave you Johnny But I will not deceive you.

 

OR, the Stan Hugill Version:

Only one more day, me Johnnies, One More Day! Oooh come rock 'n' roll me over, only one more day.

Don't ye hear the Old Man growin'? One more day! Don't ye hear the Mate a-howlin'? Only one more day

Don't ye hear the caps'n pawlin, Don't ye hear the pilot bawlin?

Ony one more day a-howlin;, Can't ye hear the gals a callin'?

One one more day a-rollin', Can't ye hear them gulls a callin'?

Only one more day a-furlin', Only one more day a-cursin',

Oh, heave an' sight the anchor, Johnny, For we're close aboard the port, Johnny.

Only one more day for Johnny, An' yer pay-day's nearly due, Johnny.

Then put out yer long-tail blue, m'Johnny, Maker yer port an' take yer pay, Johnny,

Only one more day a-pumpin', Only one more day a-bracin'.

Oh we're homeward bound today, me Johnny, We'll leave 'er without sorrer, Johnny.

Only one more day a-workin', Oooh, come rock 'n' roll me over.

 

We All Need a Fruit

Here is a recording of song author Steve Eaton leading this song as a part of the Sylvester Manor Worksongers workshop at the 2013 NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY

 

We all need a fruit, to house the seed
We all need a fruit, to house the seed
We all need a fruit, to house the seed
And we’ll all bake bread in the morning

I love the birds and they love the trees

A field full of flowers and billions of bees

I got something you got to believe

Plenty of food for everyone to eat

We all need a fruit, to house the seed

…invent other verses as needed…

 

Cornbread, Peas, Black Molasses

Cornbread and Peas, Black Molassesattributed to Sonny Terry

click here for a great recording of Max Godfrey leading the song as a part of the Sylvester Manor Worksongers workshop at the 2013 NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY 




I don't want no cornbread, peas and black molasses (3)
It's supper time, Lord, Lord, Lord, it's supper time

I got a letter, a letter  from my mother this morning (3)
She said: come home, Lord ,Lord, son, come  home!

I ain't got no, got no letter this morning (3)
I can't come home, Lord, Lord, I can't go home

If I can make June, July and August
Then I'll come home, mother, you know your son will come home

I don't want no cornbread, peas, black molasses (3)
It's supper time, Lord, Lord, Lord, it's supper time


 

More info

Mudcat has a solid thread on this song here with an extra verse or two.

Here is a Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee recording on Amazon.

Go To Sleep Little Baby

A go to sleep you little baby
go to sleep you little baby
your momma gone away and your daddys gone to stay
didn't leave nobody but the baby

go to sleep you little baby
go to sleep you little baby
everybody's gone in the cotton and the corn
didn't leave nobody but the baby

you're a sweet little baby
you're a sweet little baby
honey on a rock and the sugar don't stop
gonna bring the bottle to the baby

don't you weep pretty baby
don't you weep pretty baby
shes long gone with her red shoes on
gonna need another loving baby

don't you weep pretty baby
don't you weep pretty baby
you and me and the devil makes three
don't need no other loving baby

go to sleep you little baby
go to sleep you little baby
come lay your bones
on the alabaster stones and be my ever loving baby