by catherine yronwode

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TITLE: Fogyism
MATRIX NO.: 20712-2
SINGER: Ida Cox V. with poss. Dave Nelson or B.T. Wingfield, ct; Jesse Crump, p; unknown, bj.
COMPOSER(S): Jesse Crump
DATE OF REC.: c. July 1928, Chicago, Illinois
ORIGINAL ISSUE(S): Paramount 12690
REISSUE(S): Document DOCD-5325 "Ida Cox Vol. 4"
by Ida Cox

Why do people believe in some old sign?
Why do people believe in some old sign?
To hear a hoot owl holler, someone is surely dying

Some will break a mirror, cry, "Bad luck for seven years,"
Some will break a mirror, and cry, "Bad luck for seven years;"
And if a black cat crosses them, they'll break right down in tears

To dream of muddy water, trouble is knocking at your door,
To dream of muddy water, trouble is knocking at your door;
Your man is sure to leave you and never return no more

When your man comes home evil, tells you you are getting old,
When your man come home evil, tells you you are getting old;
That's a true sign he's got someone else baking his jelly roll
TRANSCRIBED BY: Chris Smith ( 5 Nov 2000

DISCOGRAPHY BY: Chris Smith ( 5 Nov 2000

COMMENTS BY CAT YRONWODE: In one sense, this song is a negative or skeptical "answer-song" to "Black Cat Hoot Owl Blues" by Ma Rainey, recorded one month earlier. Despite the opposition it represents, however, "bad luck list" songs of that type, often sung by women who performed in the urban vaudeville blues style, remained popular during the 1920s and even as late as Jazz GIllum's 1947 "Blues What Am." But in another sense, the title of this song, "Fogyism," points to a socio-political agenda on the part of the composer, Jesse Crump. An old fogy (usually spelled fogey) is a person who is behind the times, backward, or slow. "Fogeyism" was a popular word in the 1920s that described old-fashioned, rural, unprogressive attitudes. Apparently Crump felt that belief in hoodoo "superstition" and dream-symbolism was a fogeyism that the Negro Race would do well to leave behind. To this end he mocked the traditional prophetic signs that warn of impending family troubles and in the last verse he had Ida Cox teach female listeners the basics of pop psychology as a "true sign" by which to recognize a partner's infidelity.

COMMENTS BY CHRIS SMITH: I was reminded of this song by looking in Zora Neale Hurston's "Mules and Men" for something else, and seeing "Mrs. Rachel Silas of Sanford, Florida" quoted as asking Hurston, who had asked her where she could find a good hoodoo doctor, "Do you believe in dat ole fogeyism, chile? I don't see how nobody could do none of dat work, do you?" So it looks like "fogeyism" may have been used specifically as a term for hoodoo by people who didn't believe in it. It's not in the Dictionary of American Regional English, though, so it's hard to say how widespread it was.

FURTHER INFORMATION: The following web pages can be consulted for more details about the topics referenced in this song:
V.2 black cat
V.3 dream interpretations (Aunt Sally's Dream Book)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Individual acknowledgements for transcriptions and discographical data appear on each song-page, but i want to note that this Blues Lyrics and Hoodoo archive would never have been possible without the contributions of Gorgen Antonsson, who generously shared with me the format and content of his own personal lyrics archive, and Alan Balfour and Chris Smith, who have devoted a great deal of time to supplying me with tapes, transcribed lyrics, and detailed discographical information. Additionally, i wish to thank the kind members of the prewar blues e-list who have aided my research in innumerable ways. If you have missing data to supply, hear a substantially different take on a transcription, or want to let me know about a song that has been overlooked in these pages, please contact me through the prewar blues e-list:

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Due to certain social, economic, and political paradigms in place at the time of their composition, many early blues songs were improperly copyrighted or not copyrighted at all. Many bore no composer credits. Many were ripped off by unethical music publishers who falsely claimed authorship and copyrighted them in their own names. Many that were once copyright-protected are now in the public domain due to publishers' or composers' failures to properly renew the copyrights. Many have since been ripped off by unethical performers or music publishers who have pretended to be the composers for the purpose of securing a belated copyright or who have claimed "arranger's" credits on songs they falsely swore were "traditional" when in fact the songs were composed by the people who originally performed them on record. It is my sincere belief that the song transcribed on this page bears the implied moral copyright of its composer, whoever that may be. If you believe that you control the copyright by virtue of authorship or legal legerdemain, you may contact me in a civil and polite manner and i will attempt in good faith to satisfy your needs in the matter of obtaining formal permission to quote the lyrics in this scholarly publication.

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