Sunday, October 4, 2015


From pancocojams:


(Recording of prisoners at Mississippi State Penitentiary's Parchman work camp, in 1947. Recorded by song collector/archivist Alan Lomax)

A stomp starts the song. The lead singer starts with a call, and the group/other workers respond with the second half of the phrase.

Lead Singer's Call: "Be my woman, gal, I'll-"

Group Response: " -be your man." (Ends like a melodic question.)

Repeat of the call and response. Ends with a resolution to the melodic question.

Second two-phrase unit begins, with the pattern continuing: Stomp-call, stomp-response.

Call: "Every Sunday's dollar-"

Response: "-in your hand."

Call: "In your hand, Lordy-"

Response: "-in your hand."

Call: "Every Sundays dollar-"

Response: "-in your hand."

Call: "Stick to the promise, gal, that-"

Response: "-you made me." This is sung three times, like the song's first line.

Call: "Wasn't gonna marry 'til-uh-"

Response: "-I go free."

Call: "I go free, lordy-"

Response: "I go free."

Call: "Wasn't gonna marry 'til-uh-"

Response: "-I go free."

Call: "Well, Rosie-" Notice how the melody is similar but adjusted to the new words; ornaments inflect the text.

Call: "-oh, lord, gal." A similarity in the polyvocal responses with slight variations. The vocal intensity changes with each statement, especially with the lead singer

Call: "Ah, Rosie-"

Response: "-oh, lord, gal."

Each of the next two call-and-response lines repeat twice; the two-phrase melodic units continue.

Call: "When she walks she reels and-"

Response: "-rocks behind."

Call: "Ain't that enough to worry-"

Response: "-[a] convict's mind."

A repeat of the "Well, Rosie/Ah, Rosie" lines from 1:17. There are few syllables here, so the lead singer can really modify the melody.

A repeat of the first four lines of the song: "Be my woman, gal, I'll be your man (three times)/Every Sunday's dollar in your hand."

"Well, Rosie/Ah, Rosie" lines return for the third time.

[Hold on gal]*

Fade out.


Source of lyrics: pancocojams

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