You’ll Find Old Dixieland in France [sheet music].
“You remember Dancin’ Mose? Folks all called him ‘Tickle Toes,’ You’ll find him ‘Over There’ in France”
Unusual small format sheet music celebrating African-American soldiers fighting in France in the First World War.
With lyrics in both English and French, the song captures the spirit of the alliance between France and the United States as well as hinting at a more subtle division on the home front. The song’s chorus offers several contrasts between Black stereotypes categories and honorable soldierly duty:
You remember Dancin’ Mose? / Folks all called him “Tickle Toes,” / You’ll find him “Over There” in France,
Alexander’s Band, left old Dixieland, / They used to play the “lovin’ blues” for ev’ryone, / Now they’re playin’ blues upon a Gatling Gun;
Don’t forget “Old Shimme Sam,” / Famous boy from Alabam’, / He marched away in Khaki pants,
Instead of pickin’ melons off the vine, / They’re pickin’ Germans off the Rhine, / You’ll find old Dixieland in France.
While Black American soldiers were doing their patriotic duty and fighting the Germans and Axis powers in Europe, they were still thought of at home in narrow, often racist categories: dancer, musician, “boy,” watermelon picker.
The cover of the sheet music points to another dimension of “Over There.” The great urban sprawl of Paris and its monumental icon, the Eiffel Tower, contrast starkly with a vignette of cotton pickers weighing their harvest in a rural field down South.
Description: You’ll Find Old Dixieland in France [sheet music].
New York: Leo. Feist, Inc. and London: Herman Darewski Music Pub. Co., (1918). 4pp. Bifolium. 10½ x 6¾ inches. Half tone illustrations. Song lyrics in English and French. Very good.