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#1
Old 06-17-2011, 12:18 PM
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Explain the lyrics - Java Jive by Oakland and Drake

Quote:
I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jivin' and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops! Mr. Moto, I'm a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot and I'll pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!

Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
And I cut a rug till I'm snug in a jug
A slice of onion and a raw one, draw one.
Waiter, waiter, percolator!

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jivin' and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
English as a second language is hard, and it's even harder when you want to decipher (diner related) slang from the 1940s. Can someone explain the meaning, or significance of the emphasised lines?
#2
Old 06-17-2011, 12:28 PM
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Mr Moto was a fictional Japanese secret agent.

"I cut a rug" means "I dance".

"Snug as a bug in a rug" means to be wrapped up ready for sleep. The substitution of "jug" has no meaning to me.

No more ideas though - suspect the lyrics are just nonsense in order to scan and rhyme.
#3
Old 06-17-2011, 01:02 PM
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"A slice of onion and a raw one, draw one." is pretty obviously lunch counter lingo.

I can't find the specific meaning of slice of onion or raw one, though. "Draw one" means get a cup of coffee from the urn.
#4
Old 06-17-2011, 01:08 PM
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Maybe it just means a slice of raw onion.
#5
Old 06-17-2011, 01:08 PM
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To "draw one" in this context probably means to fill a coffee cup from an urn. You normally don't hear people using this for coffee, but rather for beer filled from a tap.

A lot of these words are just thrown in there to fill space and rhyme. Lots of songs in that era had nonsense lyrics, to wit

Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!

A tisket, a tasket
#6
Old 06-17-2011, 02:33 PM
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Moved from GQ to Café Society.
[/moderating]
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#7
Old 06-17-2011, 02:35 PM
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I'd hazard a guess that a "raw one" is something cooked rare. Sounds like diner slang.
#8
Old 06-18-2011, 08:54 PM
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Burger rare with onion, and a coffee.

Last edited by MacCat; 06-18-2011 at 08:54 PM.
#9
Old 06-18-2011, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacCat View Post
Burger rare with onion, and a coffee.
Onion means onion? What kind of slang is that?

Onion was breath or crying.
#10
Old 06-18-2011, 09:07 PM
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Oops, I was thinking about slice and forgot "of onion".
#11
Old 06-18-2011, 09:13 PM
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Speaking of coffee songs, I've always liked...

The Coffee Song

(I wish I could find Colombian Blend by Tintin & Hårtørrerne, but I've only found the intro.)
#12
Old 06-18-2011, 09:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
To "draw one" in this context probably means to fill a coffee cup from an urn. You normally don't hear people using this for coffee...
'Johnny, how about drawing a cup of coffee for your Old Man?'

He stopped asking that way after I drew him a cup of coffee... on paper.
#13
Old 06-18-2011, 10:11 PM
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"Raw one" is definitely a hamburger (possibly rare?)
#14
Old 06-20-2011, 06:08 PM
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I sang this song A LOT in high school. It was our a capella group's signature song, and it's a great one!
#15
Old 07-12-2011, 04:02 PM
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Yep, slice of onion on a buger, cooked rare.

More interesting to me is the line:

whoops, Mr. Moto, I'm a coffee pot

Who is Mr. Moto? If it's the character played in movies by Peter Lorre, why? What does Mr. Moto have to do with coffee? This has bugged me for years and no one has been about to provide me with a satisfactory explanation.
#16
Old 07-12-2011, 04:10 PM
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Google led me to a Wordwizard message board post from 2004, which suggests this connection:

Quote:
Peter Lorre, who starred in the role of Mr. Moto also played a evil henchmen in Arsenic & Old Lace(1944). Cary Grant plays the main character of Mortimer, who pays a visit to his two sweet aunts who raised him. Uncle Ted, who also resides at the residence suffers under the delusion that he is Teddy Roosevelt. He had the habit of blowing a bugle and running up the stairs(San Juan Hill) with the cry of "Charge!" He discovers that his dear old aunts have taken up the charitable mission of euthanizing lonely old men by taking them in as boarders, and offering them elderberry wine laced with poison; so that their last moments on earth would be pleasant ones. 12 souls are interred in the basement with the help of Uncle Ted who assumes that they are Panama Canal workers who died from malaria. To make the situation worse, Mortimer's sadistic step-brother returns home with sidekick Dr. Einstein(Peter Lorre), and the corpse of his latest victim for the purpose of using the place for a temporary hideout and disposal. Mortimer arrives at the conclusion that he may have inheirited his family's insanity. The cab driver arrives on the scene and witnesses the spectacle. Mortimer's aunts reveal to him, to his relief, that he is not related and that his dying mother requested that they raise him. They also tell him that his father was a sea cook. Mortimer in the final scene triumphantly shouts out "I am not a Brewster. I am the son of a sea cook!! Charge!!!" The taxi driver sarcastically quips "I am not a taxi driver. I am a coffee pot."
There's some further discussion on there, if you want to check it out.
#17
Old 07-12-2011, 05:15 PM
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WTF the OP is talking about

Java Jive, as recorded by The Ink Spots, July, 1940. Evidently a favorite platter in Joseph Kesselring's household.

Wai-ter, wai-ter, per-co-la-tor...

Last edited by Beware of Doug; 07-12-2011 at 05:19 PM.
#18
Old 11-12-2011, 08:27 PM
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"Egg Coffee" is coffee made with an egg (shell and all). You put the ground coffee in
a filter and break a raw egg over it (a "raw one"). Egg shell is crushed. It is said to
reduce the acidity of the coffee.

Apparently, this custom was imported from Scandinavia, and is reportedly still
practiced by some Lutheran congregations in the American Midwest (e.g. Minnesota).

I surmise that the "slice of onion" may refer to a similar practice (putting some
onion in the pot of brewing coffee), although I haven't been able to find a reference
to that practice (and frankly, it sounds disgusting).

On the other hand, putting a raw egg in with your coffee sounds disgusting, but
apparently some folks enjoy it.
#19
Old 02-23-2013, 03:55 AM
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Sorry to "resurrect" a "zombie" thread, but I'm listening to a Manhattan Transfer album, and just Googled the "Java Jive" lyrics. This thread was at the top of the list for "Meanings." So, if Naita (or anyone else is interested), here are my thoughts on the subject:

"Java Jive" refers to the caffeine buzz you get from drinking lots of coffee. The singer is obviously addicted to the stuff. "Jive" (originally US "Negro" slang) can also mean to dance energetically, e.g., to jazz music. Maybe the singer gets so hyper from his caffeine, it makes him want to jump up and start dancing ("cut a rug").

"Shoot me the pot and I'll pour me a shot." Sounds like he's in a diner, and he's asking the guy/girl behind the counter to just slide the coffee pot over to him so he can serve himself, the way a bartender might do with a bottle of whiskey. (The hamburger reference, if that's what it is, supports this assumption.)

"Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug." A "slug" is a gulp/swallow of a beverage; cf: a "shot" of whiskey. He wants another "belt" of coffee (drinkers' slang) from his heavy cup.

"And I cut a rug till I'm snug in a jug." Whiskey can come in a jug. It sounds as though he's comparing addictions: caffeine vs. alcohol. Maybe he drinks booze to come down off his coffee high. (This might have broader connotations within the so-called "drug culture.") Maybe he needs the onion to disguise the odor of alcohol on his breath.

The only other meaning I can attach to "jug" here is "jail," which is British slang ("Me brofer's in jug again!"), though they would, of course, spell it "gaol." Maybe he gets so high (and crashes so badly, or gets so drunk) that he's often hauled in by the police to sleep it off.

"Coffee and tea and the jivin' and me." "Jive" can also mean to talk nonsense, or to bullshit someone (cf: the Bee Gees' "Jive Talkin'"). Maybe he gets so high that he just starts rambling incoherently. Again, I'm thinking "drug culture" connotations here.

It's true that a lot period songs have nonsense lyrics; often, however, there is a much deeper subtext (cf: "Hooray for Captain Spaulding!" ).

Last edited by terentii; 02-23-2013 at 03:59 AM.
#20
Old 02-23-2013, 04:09 AM
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Quote:
"Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug." A "slug" is a gulp/swallow of a beverage; cf: a "shot" of whiskey. He wants another "belt" of coffee (drinkers' slang) from his heavy cup.
If we take him literally, that is.
#21
Old 02-23-2013, 04:15 AM
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Another thought: In Arsenic and Old Lace, Dr. Einstein is an alcoholic plastic surgeon of some repute and (I'm willing to guess), like many physicians of that bygone age, was hooked on harder stuff.

The whole song screams "drug culture" to me.
#22
Old 05-25-2013, 04:17 AM
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Old old thread but I think we are on the wrong thread here. The Java Jive is a place, a coffee pot shaped coffeee house built in the twenties and reputed to have been a speakeasy.
It still exists. You can find it on google earth and go visit in street view.
Think prohibition slang when trying to translate the lyrics. Probably explains why the singer likes both coffee and tea, any old booze.
Snug in a jug - in his cups - mildly inebriated? Could be referring to jugs though - woman's breasts :-)
Zat bootle - bootleg. Etc...
Not sure about the onion but perhaps java was dark rum or the like.

Last edited by Bill Thomson; 05-25-2013 at 04:19 AM.
#23
Old 05-25-2013, 10:29 AM
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I thought "a raw one" referred to raw chopped beef on bread, or what my German grandmother called Gehacktesfleisch. It was always served with raw onion, on New Year's Day. It was a traditional cure for a hangover, a condition from which my grandmother was not always exempt.

It is referred to in the novel The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett.

Regards,
Shodan
#24
Old 05-25-2013, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Thomson View Post
Old old thread but I think we are on the wrong thread here. The Java Jive is a place, a coffee pot shaped coffeee house built in the twenties and reputed to have been a speakeasy.
It still exists. You can find it on google earth and go visit in street view.
Think prohibition slang when trying to translate the lyrics. Probably explains why the singer likes both coffee and tea, any old booze.
Snug in a jug - in his cups - mildly inebriated? Could be referring to jugs though - woman's breasts :-)
Zat bootle - bootleg. Etc...
Not sure about the onion but perhaps java was dark rum or the like.
Here's an article about the Java Jive.

It was in Tacoma, WA, though, a bit off the beaten path. Was it "world famous?" Yeah, just like every diner's hamburger is the "world's greatest." It wasn't even nationally famous. I did a search on Newspaper Archive and found no hits for the phrase Java Jive from 1920 through 1939. In 1940 all the hits are to the song. That's because while Java Jive the building went up in 1927, "Java Jive" the song appeared in 1940, which meant that Prohibition was a dead issue from the past.

I don't see anything in those lyrics that indicate code for booze. The fifth verse, the one the OP leaves out, is even more explicitly about coffee.
Quote:
Boston bean, soy bean
Lima bean, string bean.*
You know that I'm not keen for a bean
Unless it is a cheery coffee bean.

* Other sites give "green beans, cabbage and greens" for the second line
No question that many hip songs from the era did slide references to booze and drugs (and sex) into the lyrics in disguised form so that they wouldn't be censored. I'm not seeing it here.
#25
Old 05-25-2013, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomTheBari View Post
"Egg Coffee" is coffee made with an egg (shell and all). You put the ground coffee in a filter and break a raw egg over it (a "raw one"). Egg shell is crushed. It is said to reduce the acidity of the coffee.
No filter required.

I remember the monthly Scout meetings in small-town MN - coffee boiled in large coffee pots with an egg added. I don't remember the shell being thrown in, though. My mom said the egg was supposed gather up the coffee grounds, IIRC.
#26
Old 05-26-2013, 01:20 AM
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OK so I got it wrong, the Java Jive as in the place was renamed after the song was a hit. "Jive" is slang (not a beat). Tea was slang for weed. Cabbage and green is money, nickel note a five dollar bill....were getting there! Onion is still a mystery, roll of bank notes??

Anyone got a granny who was a flapper? Go ask.
#27
Old 05-26-2013, 03:51 AM
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IMHO

Shoot me the pot, the pot is where you keep your stash.
A slice of onion, a cut of cocaine.
A raw one, good or awesome.

Not keen on buying a bean, as in flipin' the bean?
#28
Old 05-26-2013, 04:17 AM
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beans = amphetamine
bean= hot girl
make your own mind up
#29
Old 05-26-2013, 04:47 AM
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OK I am going to butt out after this but..

Some authors on the net reckon java as slang for coffee did not enter the mainstream until the 60's or at least the 50's.
Java can also mean "cool"

Java Jive = Hep Talk = Cool Slang ?
#30
Old 05-26-2013, 04:58 AM
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A peculator is a bong which is also the last line of the lyrics.
Ok ok I really will leave it alone it now.
#31
Old 05-26-2013, 09:24 AM
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I just want to point out that this song is from the early 1940s, when Prohibition was long gone. I think it's just a novelty song about how much the guy loves coffee.
#32
Old 05-26-2013, 12:02 PM
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From etymonline.com:
Quote:
java (n.)
1850, originally a kind of coffee grown on Java and nearby islands of modern Indonesia. By early 20c., coffee generally.
And we know it was in use :
[URL="http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=1006032309480"]before 1940{/url]
Quote:
[Joe] was popular enough to be included in the Reserve Officer's Manual of 1931 along with java (named after the coffee bean) and jamoke (a combination of the words java and mocha, pronounced ja-moh-kee).
The rest of your interpretations are, say, colorful. But not accurate.

Last edited by Exapno Mapcase; 05-26-2013 at 12:06 PM.
#33
Old 05-27-2013, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Folacin View Post
No filter required.

I remember the monthly Scout meetings in small-town MN - coffee boiled in large coffee pots with an egg added. I don't remember the shell being thrown in, though. My mom said the egg was supposed gather up the coffee grounds, IIRC.
I first read about eggshells--just the shells--in coffee in a John Steinbeck book (Travels with Charlie?), tried it, and have drunk my coffee that way ever since. Save them, dry them out overnight, crush them up, and put them in the grounds; they do absorb a lot of the acids.
#34
Old 06-03-2014, 02:51 PM
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Another lyric in Java Jive

I first heard the song Java Jive when I was a freshman in college. I was in a swing choir (The Amazin' Blues at University of Michigan) that did a bunch of Manhattan Transfer arrangements and JJ was among them. A line always confused me: "I'm not keen about a bean unless it is a cheery chili bean." I thought: wait, wait, we're talking about coffee here. How did chili get thrown into the mix? This last Saturday night I was listening to KUOW's The Swing Years and the Ink Spots came on (as they so often do) singing Java Jive. And this time - although I've heard the song 15,000,000 times before - I distinctly heard him sing "... unless it is a Ciribiribin." And I thought: THAT MAKES SENSE! Ciribiribin was recorded just a year before the Ink Spots released Java Jive (by Harry James, both in an orchestra-only version and in a vocal version with Frank Sinatra) so it seems they were making a not to a very popular song.

http://dailymotion.com/video/xx6...bin-1939_music
#35
Old 06-19-2014, 11:43 AM
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'Java Jive' - the quintessential coffee song that is not about coffee

A study of period slang suggests strongly that the song 'Java Jive' is not about coffee. Rather, the speaker is using coffee talk ('java jive') to discuss his personal recreational use of controlled substances.

The speaker (a 'cabbage head') likes to blend ('home cookin') a variety of controlled substances ('cabbage') with his marijuana ('greens'). Specifically, the speaker enjoys mixing the dust from pills ('coffee beans') with his marijuana ('tea', 'pot', 'moto'). When he inhales ('draw one' 'sweet and hot') the resulting blend ('java') gives him a high ('jive') that keeps him dancing ('cutting a rug') until he's thrown in jail ('snug in the jug').

The speaker prefers amphetamine pills ('cheery beans') that give him a dopamine rush. He is not as interested in pills ('not keen about a bean') that have other effects. He likes a pill ('chilly bean') that blends well with pot in a chillum (also chilam, chiillim, bong, pipe).

'Whoops, Mister Moto, I'm a coffee pot' is, on the surface, a reference to pop culture: Peter Lorre films. At that surface level the line is incoherent. Everything falls into place if we interpret it as drug slang:

Whoops, Mr Moto!
(Whoops, Mr Marijuana Supplier!)
I'm a coffee pot!
(I blend pills/beans with my pot!)
Shoot me the pot
(Give me the marijuana)
and I'll pour me a shot
(I'll pour in my special ingredients)

As with other cryptic songs, from 'Follow the Drinking Gourd' to 'Proud Mary' and 'Poker Face', the surface meaning of the words is what gets the lyrics past censors and makes the song acceptable to a general audience. The words make a kind of sense on a surface level as long as the listener isn't paying much attention. Attentive listeners find quickly, though, that the literal surface meanings have trouble adding up to anything coherent. The difficulties point to code--slang--as key in understanding the song.

The lead singer in the 1940 Ink Spots recording of 'Java Jive' uses a character voice. The character portrayed is clearly on something that packs a bigger chemical kick than caffeine.

--

Only the lyricist can say for sure what he had in mind, and he is not here to ask. But we have references for the slang vocabulary as I've shown it. A good interpretation is one that brings all details together in a coherent way.

Popular songs are works in which professionals have invested money at every point for creation, publishing, recording, and licensing. Anyone who tells you on an answer site that industry professionals routinely risk their money and careers on lyrics that 'don't mean anything' because 'they are just fun words to say' is faking it. The person doesn't know.

Prohibition was well over by the time 'Java Jive' was composed in 1939/1940. By 1960 a number of Prohibition-era terms that originally alluded to alcohol ('stoned' 'high' etc.) had been re-adapted for that era's controlled substances. The song 'Java Jive' appears at a transition point in that process. What appears at first to be diner slang or Prohibition slang in the song isn't, quite.

--

Description of slang terms does not imply endorsement of any illegal activity, by me or by the managers of this board.

Last edited by Savi; 06-19-2014 at 11:46 AM. Reason: clarity
#36
Old 06-19-2014, 02:34 PM
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It all falls into place.

Except...

Do you have any hard evidence that all these terms were in use by 1939? What are your sources? You don't bother to give even one.
#37
Old 06-20-2014, 06:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savi View Post
A study of period slang suggests strongly that the song 'Java Jive' is not about coffee. Rather, the speaker is using coffee talk ('java jive') to discuss his personal recreational use of controlled substances.

The speaker (a 'cabbage head') likes to blend ('home cookin') a variety of controlled substances ('cabbage') with his marijuana ('greens'). Specifically, the speaker enjoys mixing the dust from pills ('coffee beans') with his marijuana ('tea', 'pot', 'moto'). When he inhales ('draw one' 'sweet and hot') the resulting blend ('java') gives him a high ('jive') that keeps him dancing ('cutting a rug') until he's thrown in jail ('snug in the jug').

The speaker prefers amphetamine pills ('cheery beans') that give him a dopamine rush. He is not as interested in pills ('not keen about a bean') that have other effects. He likes a pill ('chilly bean') that blends well with pot in a chillum (also chilam, chiillim, bong, pipe).

'Whoops, Mister Moto, I'm a coffee pot' is, on the surface, a reference to pop culture: Peter Lorre films. At that surface level the line is incoherent. Everything falls into place if we interpret it as drug slang:

Whoops, Mr Moto!
(Whoops, Mr Marijuana Supplier!)
I'm a coffee pot!
(I blend pills/beans with my pot!)
Shoot me the pot
(Give me the marijuana)
and I'll pour me a shot
(I'll pour in my special ingredients)

As with other cryptic songs, from 'Follow the Drinking Gourd' to 'Proud Mary' and 'Poker Face', the surface meaning of the words is what gets the lyrics past censors and makes the song acceptable to a general audience. The words make a kind of sense on a surface level as long as the listener isn't paying much attention. Attentive listeners find quickly, though, that the literal surface meanings have trouble adding up to anything coherent. The difficulties point to code--slang--as key in understanding the song.

The lead singer in the 1940 Ink Spots recording of 'Java Jive' uses a character voice. The character portrayed is clearly on something that packs a bigger chemical kick than caffeine.

--

Only the lyricist can say for sure what he had in mind, and he is not here to ask. But we have references for the slang vocabulary as I've shown it. A good interpretation is one that brings all details together in a coherent way.

Popular songs are works in which professionals have invested money at every point for creation, publishing, recording, and licensing. Anyone who tells you on an answer site that industry professionals routinely risk their money and careers on lyrics that 'don't mean anything' because 'they are just fun words to say' is faking it. The person doesn't know.

Prohibition was well over by the time 'Java Jive' was composed in 1939/1940. By 1960 a number of Prohibition-era terms that originally alluded to alcohol ('stoned' 'high' etc.) had been re-adapted for that era's controlled substances. The song 'Java Jive' appears at a transition point in that process. What appears at first to be diner slang or Prohibition slang in the song isn't, quite.

--

Description of slang terms does not imply endorsement of any illegal activity, by me or by the managers of this board.
Ooh! Ooh! Now do Four Brothers!
#38
Old 07-05-2014, 03:24 PM
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'Java Jive' and Counterculture

Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
It all falls into place. Except...

Do you have any hard evidence that all these terms were in use by 1939? What are your sources?
We know that 1938 marks the first year 'pot' is documented as a slang term for marijuana (M-W).

Merriam-Webster http://merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pot
Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pot

The term is thought to come from the Mexican Spanish word 'potiguaya', a contraction for 'potación de guaya' ('drink of grief' / 'potion of grief'). This is wine or brandy in which marijuana buds have been steeped. At the time the word 'pot' entered English slang, it referred to marijuana that one mixed into other things.

Mexican Spanish slang also gave us 'moto' as a term for the same plant.

The song's date is compatible with the suggestion that its lyrics refer to controlled substances. It would not be difficult for jazz musicians to riff on a word like 'pot' and make it sound to outsiders as if they were talking about coffee.

--

As for the other terms, anyone can run Internet searches on words and phrases you find in the song. See which approach makes the lyrics 'all fall into place.' (For this task you may want to use a search engine that doesn't track you, such as DuckDuckGo.)

Type any one of these terms...

'slang' 'Prohibition slang' 'drug slang' 'diner slang'

... followed by any term you're curious about. Maybe:

'moto' 'bean' 'coffee bean' 'cabbage' 'morning shot' 'pot' 'tea' 'jive' 'home cooking' 'greens', 'boffo', etc

See which category of slang helps you most--especially with Mister Moto. You will probably find that this site shows up remarkably often:

http://noslang.com/drugs/dictionary/m/

The site, NoSlang, lists drug terms. It's intended to help parents and health professionals. It's comprehensive in scope and much of the slang it lists ('Mickey Finn') is hardly new.

See how many obscure words in 'Java Jive' show up on that list. You'll be there a while. After that, check what you find there against what you find elsewhere.

You'll find the diner slang sites aren't very helpful... Oops! Mister Moto and the pot again!
http://speakinglatino.com/spanish-slang-for-weed/
http://slang-terms.addictions.org/in...+%28Spanish%29

--

But isn't it a stretch to suggest a connection between drug experimentation and coffee? 1940 was such an 'innocent' era, after all.

Uh... not so much.

Use of the word 'hophead' in reference to a drug addict is documented in 1911 (Merriam-Webster). Some people were taking plenty of something even during the days of the Wright brothers. The sample sentence from M-W:
<in the early 20th century hopheads were people one expected to find only in the netherworld of jazz>

What world does 'Java Jive' hail from?

The bass singer for the Ink Spots turned 18 in Chicago in 1923. How 'innocent' an environment did he find when he started his career?

As soon as WW2 ended the Beats discovered a drug-and-coffeehouse culture already in place and waiting for them. Several Kerouac novels, including 'On the Road', concern events in the 1940s.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat_Generation

--

My interpretation could still be off the mark. In the absence of the songwriter telling us exactly what he had in mind, we can only explore (now dated) slang and see what we find. It's worth bearing in mind that drug slang gives double meanings to many common words--'dog food', 'candy', etc.

Still, anywhere you have cryptic lines in a song you have a loose thread. It doesn't do to shrug and lazily say 'Maybe it doesn't mean anything.' Slang is not scat singing. People use slang to say something.

If you're curious, pull on the loose threads. See what unravels.
#39
Old 07-05-2014, 07:24 PM
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I still think he really likes coffee.
#40
Old 07-05-2014, 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savi View Post
We know that 1938 marks the first year 'pot' is documented as a slang term for marijuana (M-W).

Merriam-Webster http://merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pot
Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pot

The term is thought to come from the Mexican Spanish word 'potiguaya', a contraction for 'potación de guaya' ('drink of grief' / 'potion of grief'). This is wine or brandy in which marijuana buds have been steeped. At the time the word 'pot' entered English slang, it referred to marijuana that one mixed into other things.

Mexican Spanish slang also gave us 'moto' as a term for the same plant.

The song's date is compatible with the suggestion that its lyrics refer to controlled substances. It would not be difficult for jazz musicians to riff on a word like 'pot' and make it sound to outsiders as if they were talking about coffee.

--

As for the other terms, anyone can run Internet searches on words and phrases you find in the song. See which approach makes the lyrics 'all fall into place.' (For this task you may want to use a search engine that doesn't track you, such as DuckDuckGo.)

Type any one of these terms...

'slang' 'Prohibition slang' 'drug slang' 'diner slang'

... followed by any term you're curious about. Maybe:

'moto' 'bean' 'coffee bean' 'cabbage' 'morning shot' 'pot' 'tea' 'jive' 'home cooking' 'greens', 'boffo', etc

See which category of slang helps you most--especially with Mister Moto. You will probably find that this site shows up remarkably often:

http://noslang.com/drugs/dictionary/m/

The site, NoSlang, lists drug terms. It's intended to help parents and health professionals. It's comprehensive in scope and much of the slang it lists ('Mickey Finn') is hardly new.

See how many obscure words in 'Java Jive' show up on that list. You'll be there a while. After that, check what you find there against what you find elsewhere.

You'll find the diner slang sites aren't very helpful... Oops! Mister Moto and the pot again!
http://speakinglatino.com/spanish-slang-for-weed/
http://slang-terms.addictions.org/in...+%28Spanish%29

--

But isn't it a stretch to suggest a connection between drug experimentation and coffee? 1940 was such an 'innocent' era, after all.

Uh... not so much.

Use of the word 'hophead' in reference to a drug addict is documented in 1911 (Merriam-Webster). Some people were taking plenty of something even during the days of the Wright brothers. The sample sentence from M-W:
<in the early 20th century hopheads were people one expected to find only in the netherworld of jazz>

What world does 'Java Jive' hail from?

The bass singer for the Ink Spots turned 18 in Chicago in 1923. How 'innocent' an environment did he find when he started his career?

As soon as WW2 ended the Beats discovered a drug-and-coffeehouse culture already in place and waiting for them. Several Kerouac novels, including 'On the Road', concern events in the 1940s.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat_Generation

--

My interpretation could still be off the mark. In the absence of the songwriter telling us exactly what he had in mind, we can only explore (now dated) slang and see what we find. It's worth bearing in mind that drug slang gives double meanings to many common words--'dog food', 'candy', etc.

Still, anywhere you have cryptic lines in a song you have a loose thread. It doesn't do to shrug and lazily say 'Maybe it doesn't mean anything.' Slang is not scat singing. People use slang to say something.

If you're curious, pull on the loose threads. See what unravels.
In fewer words, you have nothing.

That's exactly why serious word scholars don't play these games.
#41
Old 07-06-2014, 08:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
In fewer words, you have nothing.

That's exactly why serious word scholars don't play these games.
In the world of business, there's a saying: The longer the tale, the harder the sale.
#42
Old 07-11-2014, 12:44 AM
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'Java Jive' as underground (so to speak) slang

Tweet-length dismissals are neither serious nor research. When you get around to looking up any terms yourself, do share your findings here.


Just to tie up one loose end:
Dats = 'Dat's what I'm talking about!'
Boffo = awesome; fantastic

Thanks to everyone for renewing my curiosity about a favourite song. Special thanks to our colleagues above who first suggested the possibility of drug slang. Theirs was not a hint that was ever going to get a warm welcome from the 'fun song that doesn't mean anything' crowd. My own explorations showed me that nothing precludes this at all. An interpretation along these lines both fits the culture and accounts for otherwise puzzling lines in the lyrics.

The discussion has deepened my appreciation of American culture in the century just past. Whenever I hear 'Java Jive' now, I will still welcome it like an old friend--a friend I understand a bit better, perhaps, than I once did, but remain fond of just the same.

Enjoy your coffee.
#43
Old 07-11-2014, 01:01 AM
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'Java Jive' as underground (so to speak) slang

For future reference: Posts 35 and 38 present a detailed look at the lyrics of 'Java Jive' and show how they might reasonably be interpreted as incorporating period drug slang. The sources cited are easily available Internet materials and standard dictionaries.

Those who are curious about this interpretation are referred to those posts. Additional information is always welcome.

Thanks.
#44
Old 07-11-2014, 07:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savi View Post
For future reference: Posts 35 and 38 present a detailed look at the lyrics of 'Java Jive' and show how they might reasonably be interpreted as incorporating period drug slang. The sources cited are easily available Internet materials and standard dictionaries.

Those who are curious about this interpretation are referred to those posts. Additional information is always welcome.

Thanks.
You know, for someone who has written a lot with no real links to any evidence, you seem pretty smug.

For grins, I Googled a couple of versions of What do the Lyrics of Java Jive mean?

The only thing that I could find was this: http://wordwizard.com/phpbb3/vie...php?f=7&t=6736

Which includes the following post:

Quote:
Peter Lorre, who starred in the role of Mr. Moto also played a evil henchmen in Arsenic & Old Lace(1944). Cary Grant plays the main character of Mortimer, who pays a visit to his two sweet aunts who raised him. Uncle Ted, who also resides at the residence suffers under the delusion that he is Teddy Roosevelt. He had the habit of blowing a bugle and running up the stairs(San Juan Hill) with the cry of "Charge!" He discovers that his dear old aunts have taken up the charitable mission of euthanizing lonely old men by taking them in as boarders, and offering them elderberry wine laced with poison; so that their last moments on earth would be pleasant ones. 12 souls are interred in the basement with the help of Uncle Ted who assumes that they are Panama Canal workers who died from malaria. To make the situation worse, Mortimer's sadistic step-brother returns home with sidekick Dr. Einstein(Peter Lorre), and the corpse of his latest victim for the purpose of using the place for a temporary hideout and disposal. Mortimer arrives at the conclusion that he may have inheirited his family's insanity. The cab driver arrives on the scene and witnesses the spectacle. Mortimer's aunts reveal to him, to his relief, that he is not related and that his dying mother requested that they raise him. They also tell him that his father was a sea cook. Mortimer in the final scene triumphantly shouts out "I am not a Brewster. I am the son of a sea cook!! Charge!!!" The taxi driver sarcastically quips "I am not a taxi driver. I am a coffee pot."
It ain't much and may be off by a year, but at least is based on something.
#45
Old 07-11-2014, 07:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
You know, for someone who has written a lot with no real links to any evidence, you seem pretty smug.

For grins, I Googled a couple of versions of What do the Lyrics of Java Jive mean?

The only thing that I could find was this: http://wordwizard.com/phpbb3/vie...php?f=7&t=6736

Which includes the following post:



It ain't much and may be off by a year, but at least is based on something.
(Pssst! Post #16.)
#46
Old 07-11-2014, 07:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFidelius View Post
(Pssst! Post #16.)


Ah, the Dope, the wonderful Dope.

I have decided to claim I was blinded by the smugness. Yeah, that's it.

#47
Old 07-11-2014, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savi View Post
For future reference: Posts 35 and 38 present a detailed look at the lyrics of 'Java Jive' and show how they might reasonably be interpreted as incorporating period drug slang. The sources cited are easily available Internet materials and standard dictionaries.
Are there? Then why haven't you given us a post full of them?

Let's make this clear. There is only one way to establish a claim around here - and anywhere where sources are taken seriously. It is most distinctly NOT "here's a ton of guesses, now go out and research them to prove me wrong."

A quick look around would give you hundreds, thousands, of examples in which posters make claims by doing their own research and posting cites to credible sources, minutely and at length. If you want anybody to spend even one minute paying attention to you, that's the route you must take. Must. No exceptions.

You haven't done so. Look, you may be right in most or all of what you say. We're haven't said that you're definitely wrong: we're saying that you've made no case for your suppositions and we won't do your work for you.

In the meantime, you will get exactly what you see here. If you think you are right and that there are easily findable citations, then why haven't you posted them? The obvious and immediate inference is that these citations don't exist. You want to prove us wrong? You do so by proving us wrong. Nothing less will be accepted or given a moment's consideration.
#48
Old 07-31-2014, 10:27 AM
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My interpretation of the lyrics with supporting references and links appears in Posts 35, 38 and 43.

Everything I've learned about the slang in 'Java Jive' is consistent with an interpretation of the song as manifesting early coffeehouse counterculture. 'Pot' and 'moto' are interpretive keys that suggest the experimentation taking place then with controlled substances.

I'll be interested in what anyone following up on this learns. Please share your findings about the slang here!


Now enjoy the 1940 recording of 'Java Jive' by the Ink Spots.
(For an extra shot of dats and boffo, give it a listen after reading the posts.)

http://youtu.be/iP6IUqrFHjw

Performers:
Orville 'Hoppy' Jones
Deek Watson
Bill Kenny
Charlie Fuqua

Thanks to the person whose question launched the discussion and to all who shared information. It's been an interesting journey!

Last edited by Savi; 07-31-2014 at 10:28 AM. Reason: grammar, code
#49
Old 07-31-2014, 12:08 PM
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'Java Jive' as underground (so to speak) slang

A bit more detail, added by edit:

Quote:
My interpretation of the lyrics with supporting references and links appears in Posts 35, 38 and 43.

Everything I've learned about the slang in 'Java Jive' is consistent with an interpretation of the song as manifesting early coffeehouse counterculture. 'Pot' and 'moto' are interpretive keys [together with 'beans', 'tea', 'jive' and 'cabbage'] that suggest the experimentation taking place then with controlled substances.
See the more detailed comments in Posts 35, 38, and 42.

Ink Spots 'Java Jive' (1940)
http://youtu.be/iP6IUqrFHjw
#50
Old 07-31-2014, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Savi View Post
My interpretation of the lyrics with supporting references and links appears in Posts 35, 38 and 43.
Your interpretations do. However, posts 35 and 43 contain no links whatsoever. Post 38 contains one link that says marijuana was called pot by 1938, one that contends that mota, not moto, is a Spanish term for pot, but with no date attached, and one that says both moto and mota mean pot, with no date attached.

That's it. The barest fraction of all your claims have been backed up. Since then you've asserted and asserted and asserted and provided nothing.

To repeat: we have not said that you are wrong. We've consistently said you've done nothing worthwhile to prove your assertions. Prove us wrong.
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