Here’s another comment that I need to bring into the light.
I posted the other day about Danny Barker’s version, and Glenn David Andrews’ version, which owes much to Barker’s. There was a line in Barker’s singing I couldn’t make out, and commenter Ed Newman sets me straight with this fascinating bit:
The missing line from the Danny Barker recording is “she looked like a gown man.”
The gown man was a bogey man like creature that was talked of in the New Orleans African American community in the early part of the 20th century. He was a white man in some sort of white robes who would snatch you to dissect your body. The tale supposedly arose from avid medical students at Charity Hospital who would snatch bodies for their studies. Robert Saxon discusses this in one of his books on Louisiana folklore.
God, I saw Danny sing this so many times, always wonderful like everything he did-and he ALWAYS included the Gown Man line-he probably heard it a lot growing up in th Quarter/Treme.
My favorite thing about Danny’s life is that so much of what he did so readily still impacts New Orleans music-like Glenn Andrews riffing off of SJI, or one of his last recordings “Do The Palm Court Strut” (”Swing your butt!”) gaining currency amongst the young brass bands.
Thanks for the space. See http://www.flickr.com/photos/ednewman for photos of Danny around this time and for brass bands and street life in NOLA in the ’90’s.