Digital Tradition Mirror

Black Joke

[GIF Score]

(This score available as ABC, SongWright, PostScript, PNG, or PMW, or a MIDI file)
Pennywhistle notation and Dulcimer tab for this song is also available

Black Joke

(The Original black Joke, sent from Dublin)

No mortal sure can blame ye man,
Who prompted by Nature will act as he can
     Wth a black joke, and belly so white:
For he ye Platonist must gain say,
that will not Human Nature obey,
     in working a joke, as will lather like soap,
     and ye hair of her joke, will draw more yn a rope,
     with a black joke, and belly so white.

The first that came in was an English boy,
and then he began for to play and toy,
     With her black etc..
He was well vers'd in Venus's School,
Went on like a Lyon came off like a fool,
     From her coal black etc.

Then Shonup a Morgan from Holly-head
Was stark staring mad to go to bed,
     To her black etc.
His cruper her saddle did not fit,
So out of door she did him hit;
     With her Coal black etc..

Then hastily came in a Hilland man,
His chanter and pipe both in his hand,
     To her black etc.
But his main spring it was not strong
For he could only flash in the pan
     Of her Coal black etc.

A Frenchman oh yh wth ruffles and wig
With her he began for to dance a Jig
     With her black etc.
and wn he felt wt was under her smock,
Begar said Mounsier 'tis a fine Merimot
With a Coal black etc..

A rich Dutch skiper from Amsterdam
He came wth his gilt ready in hand,
     To her black etc.
He fancy'd himself very fit for ye game,
She sent him to Holland all in a flame,
     By her Coal black etc.

The good Irish Man he cou'd not forbear
But yt he must have a very good share,
     Of her black etc.
Madam said he for money I have none.
But I'll play a tune on ye jiging bone
     Of your Coal black etc.

Then next came in a brave Granadeer,
and calls in for plenty of Ale and beer,
     For her black etc.
The cuning sly Jade show'd him a trick
and sent him away wth fire in his stick
     From her Coal black etc..

Traverse ye Globe and you'l find none,
Who is nott addicted and very much prone,
     To a black etc.
The Prince, ye Priest, ye Peasant do love it,
and all degrees of Mankind do covet
     A Coal black etc.

The rigid recluse wth his meager face,
From fasting and prayer wd quickly cease,
     For a black etc.
Let ye Clergy Cant and say wt they will
They stop ye mouth and tickle the Gill
     Of a Coal black etc.

The Bishop in his Pontifical Gown,
Wou'd tumble another Susanna down,
     For her black etc.
The Lawyer his Clients cause wd quit
To dip his pen in ye bottomless Pit
     Of a Coal black etc.

   Text and tune here are from a single sheet song with music, c
1730. There are at least three copies of this yet extant. 'Joke'
is also later given as 'Joak' and 'Jock.' This is quite possibly
the earliest Irish popular song to be printed with it own tune,
but tune "Captain "Mckean" is earlier and from MS copy of c 1745,
song is quite as bawdy. The first verse and last three of our
song here appear without music in <<The London Miscellany>>,
1730, as "A New Song, to the tune of Black-Joak the words by the
R---d Mr. S---th, Chaplain to a Man-of War." The fact this this
collection announced itself to be scarce pieces and the word
"Original" in our song title here implies that song was
circulating about London inspiring imitations of both text and
tune, before it was printed there. The earliest known datable
copy of the tune is in Charles Coffey's ballad opera <<The
Begger's Wedding>>, 4th ed., Act I, Air No.10, 1729, where it is
entitled "Coal Black Jo
also printed the music, call it simply "Black Joke," or "Black
Joak". Our song here seems to have nearly established a new
industry in London producing immitations of it.

   About 1730 John Walsh published <<The Third Book of the most
celebrated jiggs, ... etc>>, containing the tunes 'the Black
Joak, the White Joak, the Brown, the Red and the Yellow Joaks.'
Coffey's song from <<The Begger's Wedding>> was also published in
at least two different editions as a single sheet song with music
entitled "The coal black Joke." Yet another single sheet song
entitled "The Coal Black Joke," commencing "There was a Lady come
from France," is a short English immitation inspired by the one
given here. The latter is in a manucript entiled "Black Jake,"
and the same manuscript contains yet another "The cole Black
Joak." These are appendend at the end.

   "White Joke" appeared in <<Robin Hood>>, Air No. 14, 1730, and
both of these tunes appeared in <<The Lottery>>, 1732. Song, "The
White Joak" commencing "Thrice happy Lizzy, bl
Second and Last', p. 1, 1734.

   James Oswald in <<The Caledonian Pocket Companion>>, Book 7,
pp. 18-19, c 1756, included a "Burlesque on Black Joak." He
turned "Black Joke" into a Scots tune about a year later by
scoring it in 3/4 time and titling it "Black Jock" in <<A
Collection of Scots Tunes>>. The tune continued to be published
occasionally in dance music collections throughout the 18th
century, and was well known even in America.


"The Black Jack," NLS MS 6299, c 1745 [This has what is here two
more short verses than a single sheet issue with music, "The Coal
black Joke," which is given as 4 long verses. The corresponding
verses of this are on the right behind ]. WBO


Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

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