[Dixielandjazz] 'Shine' the slang meaning

David Richoux tubaman at batnet.com
Tue Nov 2 16:51:22 PST 2004

Don, and all,

I was on a remote computer when I sent my last message - I was going to 
go a bit further on the "actual lyric" question but I did not have 
access to all of the messages and I had to get to a meeting.

> When someone shouted, "Fellas, hey! Come on and pipe the shine!"
> But I don't care a bit. Here's how I figure it:
does not seem like the protagonist is scared that someone is going to 
beat him with a pipe - the rest of the song seems to me as  more about 
accepting conditions of being called "Sambo,"  "Rastus," or "Chocolate 
Drop" - that was the nature of the times, a bit like "Mick," "Wop," or 
"Yid" but not like an extreme life threatening situation.

Do we know who Dabney/Mack/Brown were? In some ways it seems like an 
early "Black Pride" song! Call me names but I will still be here!

anyway, I am sure that doctoral papers in Afro-American Studies have 
been written about this song - we just can't find them.

Dave Richoux

On Nov 2, 2004, at 4:07 PM, Don Kirkman wrote:

> On Tue, 2 Nov 2004 14:16:22 -0800 (PST), tubaman at batnet.com wrote:
>> Steve Barbone wrote:
>>> For those who are still unsure about "Shine" and "Pipe The Shine".
>>> "Shine" is/was a derogatory term for "Nigger" which is/was a 
>>> derogatory
>>> term for Black people.
>>> It was still in use in the 1940s, 50s and 60s in parts of, if not 
>>> all of
>>> the USA. Probably still is in use today.
>>> "Pipe the shine" meant to beat the "shine" with a lead pipe, or 
>>> blackjack
>>> which had their own slang terms as being a "nigger knocker".
> Can somebody please provide a reference for this usage of "pipe"?  I've
> never heard it used, but maybe I led a sheltered life.  "Shine" of
> course is a well-known pejorative for Blacks.
> But it's clear from the lyrics that "nigger knocker" was not referring
> to roughing up blacks!  Here's a bit from Dat Nigger Knocker, published
> 1898:
> "First line of chorus: Nigger is a knocker, de worstest in de land.
> First line of text: Dere's a coon around dis town, known as Nigger
> Knocker Brown.
> "Dat Niggerknocker : latest coon song"--ill. t.p."
> http://sherlock.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/CSMPSearch2.tcl?CSMP@docid+1424
> So the "Nigger Knocker" here is the Black man himself, not an attacker.
> I don't know the derivation (except maybe it was from Yiddish), but a
> knocker was a very important person, a big shot.  Maybe equivalent to a
> mack?
>> Unfortunately, I guess I stand corrected - several confirming links 
>> from
>> this direction that did not show up when I searched "Pipe the Shine" 
>> - but
>> I now see this connection...
>> http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/caricature/
>> http://sherlock.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/CSMPSearch2.tcl?CSMP@docid+1424
> These pages document the racism and nastiness of the times, but my
> browser's search function didn't find either "pipe" or "shine" on 
> either
> site.
>> and many others that were much nastier and hateful. Certainly part of 
>> our
>> jazz history that most OKOM fans hesitate to acknowledge!
> The history is absolutely clear, and should never be forgotten, nor
> should its echoes during WW II when ethnic Japanese were locked away
> without trials for several years, or when there were race riots at
> various times in different parts of the US.
> And we should all be thankful that OKOM comes from so many diverse
> sources, because without the diversity would be something totally
> different.
> What I'm still not convinced of (because it doesn't match sources I
> trust for American slang usage) is that "pipe" means anything other 
> than
> to look at or observe or pay attention to something.
> I don't mean to stretch this thread out, but ISTM one of the challenges
> we face is to deal honestly with the racism the US has had (and still
> has, to a markedly less extent) and with what that has meant to OKOM--
> but at the same time to separate the truth from stereotypes and urban
> mythology that blurs our vision.  Jazz is playing the truth, IIRC.
> "Blacks and Blues"  !  Where would we be without them?
> -- 
> Don
> donkirk at covad.net
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