SHORTNIN BREAD

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs

SHORTNIN BREAD

Shortnin’ Bread” (also spelled “Shortenin’ Bread” or “Short’nin’ Bread”) is often thought
of as a traditional Negro plantation song. However the first version was written by James
Whitcomb Riley in 1900. E.C. Perrow published the first folk version of this song in
1915, which he collected from East Tennessee in 1912. The folk version of the song—as
with Riley’s— has no distinct theme, but consists of various floating lyrics, some relating
to shortnin’ bread, some not. Shortening bread is fried batter bread, the ingredients of
which include corn meal, flour, hot water, eggs, baking powder, milk and shortening.
Two little babies, lying in bed
One was sick and the other ‘most dead
Sent for the doctor and the doctor said
“Give those children some shortnin’ bread.”
Chorus:
Mama’s little baby loves shortnin’, shortnin’
Mama’s little baby loves shortnin’ bread
Mama’s little baby loves shortnin’, shortnin’
Mama’s little baby loves shortnin’ bread
Put on the skillet, slip on the lid
Mama’s gonna bake a little short’nin’ bread
This ain’t all she’s gonna do
Mama’s gonna make a little coffee, too.
CHORUS
When those children, sick in bed
Heard that talk about short’nin’ bread
Popped up well, to dance and sing
Skipped around and cut the pigeon wing.
CHORUS
Slipped in the Kitchen, slipped up the lid
Slipped my pocket full of shortnin’ bread
Stole the skillet, stole the lid
Stole the gal to make shortnin’ bread
CHORUS
Caught with the skillet, caught with the lid
Caught with the gal makin’ shortnin’ bread
Paid 6 dollars for the skillet, 6 dollars for the lid
Spent 6 months in jail eatin’ shortnin’ bread…
CHORUS