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Tune Southern Aristocracy

Also known as:

  • Coloured Aristocracy

As a general rule I see no problem with renaming tunes and rewriting lyrics to avoid causing offence. I've done it myself, and I daresay I'll do it again. In this case I'm a little uncertain: perhaps renaming this tune amounts to whitewashing? The word "coloured" was probably the most generally neutral and polite term used to refer to African-Americans at the time the tune was named, and the term "coloured aristocracy" itself could have entirely positive as well as negative connotations, depending on context. I don't see a clear right or wrong here, so I've decided simply to mention the issue whenever it seems appropriate.

As for the music, I got this version from my dad, Tom Paley. It's essentially the version that appears on the New Lost City Ramblers' eponymous first album, released in 1958 — the first tune they ever played together, I think before they even had a name as a band! There's always a question about whether to play an E major or an E minor against the third and fourth bars. I like both: the NLCR play the major, and that certainly creates a more unusual sound. But why choose?

Trad arr. © 2022 Ben Paley

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  • New Lost City Ramblers, "New Lost City Ramblers", 1958

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