Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 07-26-2012, 09:18 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: CentralArkansas
Posts: 22,306
Song Black Betty - whats it saying?

One of my favorite hard rock songs. By Ram Jam. Black Betty also by Lead Belly.

Whats it about? Is it mostly celebrating mind blowing sex with a Black lady? They got rhythm and all. This song is from the late 70's and those stereotypes were still around.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=R044sleOW6I

he talking great sex here?
http://lyrics.wikia.com/Lead_Belly:Black_Betty
She's so rock steady (bam-ba-lam)
And she's always ready (bam-ba-lam)
Whoa, black betty (bam-ba-lam)

Whoa, black betty (bam-ba-lam)
Whoa, black betty (bam-ba-lam)
She's from birmingham (bam-ba-lam)
Way down in alabam' (bam-ba-lam)
Well, she's shakin' that thing (bam-ba-lam)
Boy, she makes me sing (bam-ba-lam)

Last edited by aceplace57; 07-26-2012 at 09:22 AM.
#2
Old 07-26-2012, 09:26 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: KS, US
Posts: 5,445
I could never figure out:

Quote:
Black betty had a child (bam-ba-lam)
The damn thing gone wild (bam-ba-lam)
She said, "i'm worryin' outta mind" (bam-ba-lam)
The damn thing gone blind (bam-ba-lam)
Why?
#3
Old 07-26-2012, 09:28 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: CentralArkansas
Posts: 22,306
Kids been masturbating? <shrug> another old stereotype about sex.
#4
Old 07-26-2012, 09:32 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ottawa
Posts: 22,495
In today's society, does this song have some racial undertones? I ask, because a few years ago my daughter's dance studio performed a number to this song, and it kinda made me cringe a bit.
#5
Old 07-26-2012, 09:33 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Salt Lake County
Posts: 1,806
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Betty
I knew the Ram Jam song was based on an older blues recording, but Wikipedia says it goes back even farther than that, to a musket, a whiskey bottle, a prison transfer wagon, and a whip.
Quote:
The earliest meaning of "Black Betty" in the United States (from at least 1827) was a liquor bottle.[3][4] In January 1736, Benjamin Franklin published The Drinker's Dictionary in the Pennsylvania Gazette offering 228 round-about phrases for being drunk. One of those phrases is "He's kiss'd black Betty."[5][6]
#6
Old 07-26-2012, 09:35 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 21,192
I assumed, given the earlier blues roots of the song, that it was originally a chant - there might be a standard set of verses, but a chanter/singer could make up verses along the way. And Leadbelly's or anyone else's early recorded version was just the way they learned the song. Stagger Lee/Stag O' Lee and other songs are like this - weird variations with plot twists half-referenced, etc...

The rock version just took what verses they heard in earlier versions...

Just thinking out loud...although a check on wikipedia suggests that I am right about it being a work song, but originally about a flintlock musket.

Quote:
The origin and meaning of the lyrics are subject to debate. Historically the "Black Betty" of the title may refer to the nickname given to a number of objects: a musket, a bottle of whisky, a whip, or a penitentiary transfer wagon, as referenced in the following paragraphs:

Some sources claim the song is derived from an 18th century marching cadence about a flint-lock musket with a black painted stock; the "bam-ba-lam" lyric referring to the sound of the gunfire. Soldiers in the field were said to be "hugging Black Betty". In this interpretation, the musket was superseded by its "child", a musket with an unpainted walnut stock known as a "Brown Bess".
ETA: Simul-post! Beaten by 2 minutes!!

Last edited by WordMan; 07-26-2012 at 09:36 AM.
#7
Old 07-26-2012, 10:40 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Virginia
Posts: 12,045
To me most all the lyrics correspond with it being a woman. Guns and liquor don't "shake that thing." I'm not sure about the blind part though, it could be literal or just mean the child is out of control and can't see what they're doing wrong.
#8
Old 07-26-2012, 10:55 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,609
.....aaaand now it's stuck in my head.

Last edited by Soylent Juicy; 07-26-2012 at 10:56 AM.
#9
Old 07-26-2012, 10:59 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: austin tx usa
Posts: 34,271
Nothing to add to the interpretation, but wouldja believe that guitarist Bill Bartlett, the leader of Ram Jam, was also the leader of the Lemon Pipers? Yes, the Sixties psychedelic bubblegum group that played "Green Tambourine."
#10
Old 07-26-2012, 11:09 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: CentralArkansas
Posts: 22,306
Tom Jones singing Black Betty. No question what he's talking about.
Black Betty had a child
Swears its mine
She must be out of her mind

he's got several alternate lyrics
http://youtube.com/watch?v=ckH2fjLeY9A

Last edited by aceplace57; 07-26-2012 at 11:10 AM.
#11
Old 07-26-2012, 12:09 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Over on the left
Posts: 13,186
Quote:
Originally Posted by astorian View Post
Nothing to add to the interpretation, but wouldja believe that guitarist Bill Bartlett, the leader of Ram Jam, was also the leader of the Lemon Pipers? Yes, the Sixties psychedelic bubblegum group that played "Green Tambourine."
The Lemon Pipers did have a hard rock side. Although most of their recorded output was in the same vein as "Green Tambourine" (which they only recorded under duress), they managed to slip a few heavy rock songs with growling vocals on their albums. Once their record contract was up, they reportedly reverted to a Steppenwolf-like sound. They even played at the Fillmore on a bill with Traffic.
#12
Old 07-26-2012, 12:17 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: austin tx usa
Posts: 34,271
Quote:
Originally Posted by Biffy the Elephant Shrew View Post
The Lemon Pipers did have a hard rock side. Although most of their recorded output was in the same vein as "Green Tambourine" (which they only recorded under duress), they managed to slip a few heavy rock songs with growling vocals on their albums. Once their record contract was up, they reportedly reverted to a Steppenwolf-like sound. They even played at the Fillmore on a bill with Traffic.
No end to what you can learn at the SDMB!
#13
Old 07-26-2012, 01:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 10,740
My favorite cover of Black Betty.
#14
Old 07-26-2012, 01:54 PM
Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: The Cheese Belt
Posts: 4,766
Bam-ba-lam! That's what it's saying, what more do you need?!

BAM-BA-LAM!
#15
Old 07-27-2012, 08:59 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 4,919
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sicks Ate View Post
I could never figure out:
Quote:
Black betty had a child (bam-ba-lam)
The damn thing gone wild (bam-ba-lam)
She said, "i'm worryin' outta mind" (bam-ba-lam)
The damn thing gone blind (bam-ba-lam)
From the "lyrics I've been mishearing my whole life" file, I thought she was saying "It weren't none o' mine," as if she's disowning her child because the damn thing gone wild. Now I see she's an appropriately concerned parent.

<emily litella> Well, that's very different. Never mind. </el>
#16
Old 07-27-2012, 09:02 AM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: KS, US
Posts: 5,445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelz View Post
From the "lyrics I've been mishearing my whole life" file, I thought she was saying "It weren't none o' mine," as if she's disowning her child because the damn thing gone wild. Now I see she's an appropriately concerned parent.

<emily litella> Well, that's very different. Never mind. </el>
That's actually exactly how I heard it, and was surprised when I read these lyrics after following the link from this thread...
#17
Old 07-27-2012, 09:15 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 4,919
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sicks Ate View Post
That's actually exactly how I heard it, and was surprised when I read these lyrics after following the link from this thread...
Of course, an error on a lyrics website is not exactly unprecedented. I'm going to give it a listen as soon as I get a chance and see what I can make out.
#18
Old 07-27-2012, 09:20 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: My Own Private Iowa
Posts: 15,377
Quote:
Originally Posted by astorian View Post
Nothing to add to the interpretation, but wouldja believe that guitarist Bill Bartlett, the leader of Ram Jam, was also the leader of the Lemon Pipers? Yes, the Sixties psychedelic bubblegum group that played "Green Tambourine."
Listen while I playplayplayplayplay

#19
Old 07-27-2012, 09:32 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Over on the left
Posts: 13,186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beware of Doug View Post
Listen while I playplayplayplayplay

The follow-up "Jelly Jungle" is one of my favorite examples of a band (or in this case, a producer) trying to repeat a hit. It's all there: the sitar, the strings, the funny percussion effects, and the chorus that goes:

In the Jelly Jungle of orange marmaladeladeladeladelade
#20
Old 07-27-2012, 09:57 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 4,919
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wheelz View Post
Of course, an error on a lyrics website is not exactly unprecedented. I'm going to give it a listen as soon as I get a chance and see what I can make out.
The "weren't none o' mine"/"worryin' outta mind" part hits me ear roughly as "wharnoddamahn" -- quite inconclusive. One could easily hear either phrase in there.

But what precedes that is far more likely "I'm" than "it." There's clearly an m sound there.

I think I have to concede that the site is correct in this case.

Last edited by Wheelz; 07-27-2012 at 09:58 AM.
#21
Old 07-27-2012, 10:42 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Over on the left
Posts: 13,186
FWIW, the line in the Lead Belly version is "The little thing went blind, blam-de-lam/I said it wasn't none of mine, blam-de-lam/They said it wasn't none of mine."
#22
Old 07-27-2012, 02:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2003
Location: somewhere over there
Posts: 772
I believe newborns from women with syphilis sometimes go blind.
#23
Old 07-27-2012, 02:30 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Over on the left
Posts: 13,186
Quote:
Originally Posted by don't mind me View Post
I believe newborns from women with syphilis sometimes go blind.
Hence the practice of routinely treating newborns' eyes with silver nitrate.
#24
Old 07-27-2012, 03:08 PM
BANNED
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 339
Could 'blind' be, blind as in drunk, enforcing the liquor aspect?
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:15 AM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: fedex require signature mst3k annotated mark gero date redheads m4m houston triangular blade knife green carrots reddit creepypm steam cleaning engine west side symbol 1930 font remove airbags tame bears tapioca fish eyes people with presence phoning in american mailboxes greek for butterfly kerosene lighter fluid sloths dangerous ibuprofen 800 buzz caffeine crystals walgreen detox zipless f kt boundary locations translate hors d'oeuvres british bollocks geometrically increasing touching clits real cheddar cheese drawn check sdmb cafe dlsv rating ace is the place difference between cinematographer and director of photography famous songs that are public domain quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari? fine for dumping in private dumpster drinking alcohol before an exam curse of oak island message board native american man face random long white hair 1800 got junk estimate refrigerator in garage during winter ear wax candle walgreens funny colder than sayings how to stack hay bales accidentally liked a photo on facebook deactivate high and dry radiohead meaning how to fake a lisp comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable old school boxing stance paladin prestige classes 3.5 why are pistacios red where can i buy corn tortillas how to pronounce name ng ankles hurt in morning multiple hairs in one follicle beard best way to carry groceries walking how did prostitutes in the 1800s prevent pregnancy what kind of glue to use on foam can you ferment mushrooms vitamins absorbed through skin selling contents of home red lobster baked potato recipe light bulb stuck in mouth is 5 10 short for a man