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Oh, Didn't He Ramble

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Wikipedia article

'"Oh, Didn't He Ramble"' is a New Orleans jazz standard, copyrighted in 1902 by J. Rosamond Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, and Bob Cole. It is frequently used at the end of jazz funerals.

Several sources trace its origins to the English folk song "The Derby Ram" (Roud 126). In 1888, it was published as a work song from Texas, with the chorus "Didn't he ramble? Didn't he ramble? / Oh, he rambled till the butcher cut him down!". The chorus was then adapted by leading African American songwriters, the Johnson brothers and Cole, jointly credited as the songwriter "Will Handy" (but not associated with W. C. Handy), and published in 1902 as "Oh, Didn't He Ramble". It quickly became a standard in the repertoire of New Orleans jazz bands.[https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Nowhere_in_America/UD26WT4XVUsC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Oh,+Didn%27t+He+Ramble&pg=PA117&printsec=frontcover Hal Rammel, 'Nowhere in America: The Big Rock Candy Mountain and Other Comic Utopias', University of Illinois Press, 1990, p.117] In its originally copyrighted version, the song had seven verses, telling the story of Buster Beebe, whose adventures led him to a jail sentence and the loss of his money through gambling. However, the verses are now rarely performed.[https://syncopatedtimes.com/the-curious-history-of-oh-didnt-he-ramble/ Con Chapman, "The Curious History of Oh, Didnt He Ramble, 'Syncopated Times', February 26, 2021]. Retrieved April 30, 2022

The tune is now traditionally played at the end of a New Orleans jazz funeral. "In contrast to the slower, sadder spirituals that are played on the way to a burial... its a joyous tune that suggests the deceased should have no regrets because he "rambled all around, in and out of town"". The words are usually set out as: "Oh! didnt he ramble, ramble? / He rambled all around, in and out of town, / Oh, didnt he ramble, ramble, / He rambled till the butchers cut him down."
"Traditionally, at New Orleans jazz funerals, brass bands play slow, mournful hymns as the deceaseds body is carried out of the church and placed in a hearse or horse-drawn carriage. The band continues to play in this fashion until the procession reaches the cemetery. Once the priest or minister finishes performing his benediction and the congregation begins to leave the cemetery, the band strikes up a more up-beat selection of songs in celebration of the deceaseds life."[https://www.preshallfoundation.org/didntheramble Mark Braud, "Didn't He Ramble", 'Preservation Hall Foundation Brass Bandbook']. Retrieved April 30, 2022

The song was performed by George H. Primrose,[https://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/collection/148/179 "Oh! Didn't He Ramble", The Lester S. Levy Shee Music Collection, 'Johns Hopkins University']. Retrieved April 30, 2022 and first recorded by Arthur Collins in 1902. Later recordings include those by Fiddlin' John Carson (1932), Jelly Roll Morton (1939), Kid Ory (1945), Louis Armstrong (1950), Peggy Lee (1955), the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (1988), and Dr. John (1992).[https://secondhandsongs.com/work/119691/versions "Oh! Didn't He Ramble", 'Secondhand Songs']. Retrieved April 30, 2022


Category:1902 songs

Category:1900s jazz standards

Category:Dixieland jazz standards

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