[Dixielandjazz] Original "That's Why They Call Me Shine 1910

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 2 08:34:52 PST 2004

on 11/2/04 5:52 AM, PATRICK LADD at pj.ladd at btinternet.com wrote:

Steve Barbone wrote:
> In 1927 or so the lyrics were changed to "Shine your shoesies, shine away
> your bluesies" or some other nonsense. Perhaps to make it less threatening?
> The verse, along with some historical perspective, makes it pretty clear
> that the tune was a protest against a beating that one Samuel Johnson Brown
> (the Shine in the lyric) was given by a gang of Whites around 1900 >>
> Hi Steve,
> jjust got to your post after posting my own comments to a previous message.
> Do have the `original` words which point to the beating episode?
> I have  never heard any variation on the now generally accepted ones.
> `Bluesies` and `shoesies` may be a rubbish ryhme but it fits in pretty well
> with the generally upbeat feeling of the number. What were the `threatening
> ` words which they replaced.

OK, here they are. These are what I sing. From the Dabney/Mack/Brown
original circa 1910:

When I was born they christened me plain Samuel Johnson Brown.
I hadn't grown so very tall, 'fore some folks in this town
Had changed it 'round to "Sambo"; I was "Rastus" to a few.
Then "Chocolate Drop" was added by some others that I knew.
And then to cap the climax, I was strolling down the line
When someone shouted, "Fellas, hey! Come on and pipe the shine!"
But I don't care a bit. Here's how I figure it:

Well, just because my hair is curly,
And just because my teeth are pearly;
Just because I always wear a smile,
Likes to dress up in the latest style.
Just because I'm glad I'm livin',
Takes trouble smilin', never whine.
Just because my color's shady,
slightly different maybe that's why they call me shine.


"strollin down the line" in the verse means he was walking along the
railroad tracks.

"come on lets pipe the shine" in the verse refers to a group of whites
spotting him strolling down the line and attacking him with a lead pipe or
other such object. 

This beating scenario took place circa 1900.

For a real "Black" perspective on this type of "black" humor/parody, see the
following web site which is a 3 page treatise by an African American writer.
This link brings you to page 2 and a mention of "Shine". You can also check
out pages 1 and 3 once there.

Too often we opine on "Shine" from "our" white perspective. Since the song
was written by blacks, for a black stage play, shown only in black theaters
because of the times, I figure the blacks are the folks we should be
listening to about its significance and meaning.


Steve Barbone

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