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Black Americana: "coon Coon Coon" [song} Friedman/jefferson; Sol Bloom 1900 For Sale

Black Americana:

"COON! COON! COON!" Gene Jefferson & Leo Friedman: Sol Bloom, Chicago 1900

This song, a hit in 1900, is easily one of the most outragiously racist amongst the crush of similarTin Pan Alley tunes published in that forgotten genre. A case can be made that its success actuallycontributed to the success of similar output that followed from almost every publisher, well into the 20th century. I think it was first published as a march or cakewalk, with no words.The Variety Cavalcade lists it as a 1900 hit, but with words and music by Friedman, no mention of Jefferson. I think it's Variety's mistake, and that Friedman first composed it as an instrumental, with Jefferson then adding the lyric.(Jefferson was also the lyricist for the 1900 Ragtime classic I'm Certainly Living a Ragtime Life, which is not a coon song.) Oddly, the lyric is not couched in dialect, nor are there references to the usual racist stereotypes and slang. But the message of the song is unmistakable -- in the final line of the chorus: "I wish I was a white man 'stead of a Coon! Coon! Coon!"

The copy offered is in quite good used condition, the spine thin-taped outside, one small edge-tape inside, the cover lightly stained but otherwise OK (see scan.)

Max Morath


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