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Slavery
and the Making of America
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The
Slave Experience: Education, Arts, & Culture
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The Sounds of Slavery Education, Arts, & Culture
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It Makes A Long Time Man Feel Bad


...she won't write to po' me,
Alberta, she won't write to po' me.
She won't write me no letter,
She won't send me no word,
It makes a long, oh, long-a time man, Oh Lawdy, feel bad.

Captain George, he got the record and gone,
Captain George, he got the record and gone,
Captain George, he got the record and gone,
Oh, Lawdy, Lawdy,
Captain George, he got the record,
Oh, Lawdy, and gone.

Lawd, hit me with a brick!

It makes a long time man feel bad,
It makes a long time man feel bad,
An' it's the worst feelin'
That I ever had,
When I can't, oh can't get a letter,
Oh Lawdy, from home.

I know my baby don't know where I'm at!

My mother, she won't write to po' me,
My mother, she won't write to po' me,
She won't write me no letter,
She won't send me no word,
It makes a long, oh, long-a time man, Oh Lawdy, feel bad.

Alberta, would you cry about a dime?
Alberta, would you cry about a dime?
If you cry about a nickel,
You will die about a dime,
Alberta, oh 'Berta would you cry,
Oh, lawdy, 'bout a dime?

Lawd, have mercy!

It makes a long time man feel bad,
It makes a long time man feel bad,
An' it's the worst old feelin'
That I ever had,
When I can't, oh, can't-a get a letter,
Oh Lawdy, from home.

My uncle, he won't write to po' me,
My uncle, he won't write to po' me,
He won't write me no letter,
He won't send me no word,
It makes a long, oh, long-a time man, Oh Lawdy, feel bad.

My aunty, she won't write to po' me,
My aunty, she won't write to po' me,
She won't write me no letter,
She won't send me no word,
It makes a long, oh, long-a time man, Oh Lawdy, feel bad.

It makes a long time man feel bad,
It makes a long time man feel bad,
An' it's the worst feelin'
That I ever had,
When I can't, oh can't get a letter
Oh Lawdy, from home.

photo of an African-American man singing photo of a drum
Featured Instruments
Voice
The chief music-making instruments for slaves were their own voices. Singing together, alone, or in call-response patterns, slaves improvised, altered, and embellished, creating sounds rich in tone and texture.
Drum
In America, slaves played drums of all shapes and sizes in the tradition of both eastern and western Africans. The drumbeat not only accompanied chants and dances, but was also used to send messages. By striking and holding the drum in certain ways, drummers could replicate tones of speech almost exactly. Fear of slaves communicating through these uncanny sounds led whites in several regions to outlaw slave drumming.
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