Barrelhouse Words

Barrelhouse Words: A Blues Dialect Dictionary

STEPHEN CALT
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xcjb2
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  • Book Info
    Barrelhouse Words
    Book Description:

    This fascinating compendium explains the most unusual, obscure, and curious words and expressions from vintage blues music. Utilizing both documentary evidence and invaluable interviews with a number of now-deceased musicians from the 1920s and '30s, blues scholar Stephen Calt unravels the nuances of more than twelve hundred idioms and proper or place names found on oft-overlooked "race records" recorded between 1923 and 1949. From "aggravatin' papa" to "yas-yas-yas" and everything in between, this truly unique, racy, and compelling resource decodes a neglected speech for general readers and researchers alike, offering invaluable information about black language and American slang.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09071-4
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. AUTHOR’S NOTE
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xi-xx)

    This idiosyncratic, discursive dictionary was assembled to unravel the most unusual, obscure, and curious words, expressions, and proper or place names found on race records, the music industry trade term for recordings intended for blacks. As a special category, such records were promoted between 1923 and 1949, when the term was replaced inBillboardby its own clumsy confection, “rhythm and blues,” put forth in the interests of appearing less racist, and to retire a term that was associated with musical smut.

    Most race recordings consisted of blues songs, which served as the popular music of black Americans from around...

  5. SELECT ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF DICTIONARY SOURCES
    (pp. xxi-xxv)
  6. GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. xxvi-xxviii)
  7. INFORMANTS CITED IN TEXT
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  8. ABBREVIATIONS AND SYMBOLS USED IN TEXT
    (pp. xxxi-xxxii)
  9. A BLUES DIALECT DICTIONARY
    (pp. 1-272)

    Now you take these young folks, that goes to high school

    They sometimes really, do act the fool.

    Scrapper Blackwell, “Be-Da-Da-Bum,” 1929

    To behave foolishly or idiotically in a conspicuous manner; a still-current black colloquialism, synonymous withto clown.

    His ways an’ actions is hard to beat

    For he’s the sheik, of Desplaines Street.

    Papa Charlie Jackson, “Sheik Of Desplaines Street,” 1927

    Conduct; a colloquialism embodied in the now-proverbial 19th-century American saying “Actions speak louder than words,” and found in Stephen Crane’sMaggie: A Girl Of The Streets(1893): “‘Anybody what had eyes could see dat dere was somethin’ wrong...

  10. APPENDIX WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED BLUES?
    (pp. 273-274)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 275-286)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 287-288)