Jimmy Crack Corn, Blue-Tail Fly – Subtext of

One of the first songs I can remember learning well enough to sing was “Jimmy Cracked Corn” or “The Blue-Tail Fly” (its real name); not for 20 years or so did I realize it wasn’t a nonsense song, a kids’ song, but an expression of glee at a slaveowner’s death. What makes the song chilling is that Massa isn’t made out to be wicked; he isn’t characterized at all, except as Massa—reason enough to crack corn in celebration of his demise. A blue-tail fly got him, as the singer details in a series of verses, each followed by the chorus of merriment (“Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care/ My Massa’s gone away”). We don’t know for sure where he’s gone until thc end, when his epitaph is sung. The song was popular in minstrel shows of the 1840s and was handed down for 150 years, transformed into a campfire song for White middle-class kids. Perhaps “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” will be rediscovered In the next century as a cautionary ballad about the need to put on your galoshes.

Faces In The Crowd: Musicians, Writers, Actors, And Filmmakers
Gary Giddins

See also wikiepdia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Crack_Corn