Breedloves's Folk Songs


    Blue Tail Fly”, “De Blue Tail Fly”, or “Jimmy Crack Corn” is a blackface minstrel song,
    first performed in the United States in the 1840s, which 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 American
    English, though sanitized; grammatically “correct” versions predominate today.
    The blue-tail fly of the song is probably a Southern variant of the horsefly, which feeds
    on the blood of animals such as horses and cattle, as well as humans, and thus constitutes
    a prevalent pest in agricultural regions. Some horseflies have a blue-black abdomen,
    hence the name.
    When I was young I used to wait
    On master and hand him his plate
    Pass him the bottle when he got dry
    And brush away the blue-tail fly
    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
    When he would ride in the afternoon
    I’d follow him with my hickory broom
    The pony being rather shy
    When bitten by the blue-tail fly
    One day he rode around the farm
    Flies so numerous that they did swarm
    One chanced to bite him on the thigh
    The devil take the blue-tail fly
    Well the pony jumped, he start, he pitch
    He threw my master in the ditch
    He died and the jury wondered why
    The verdict was the blue-tail fly
    Now he lies beneath the ‘simmon tree
    His epitaph is there to see
    “Beneath this stone I’m forced to lie
    The victim of the blue-tail fly”

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