Sung by: Almeda Riddle
Recorded on 5/14/70
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Nishy had a mother and she cocka-needle-o.
Nishy mother kay, nishy mada gay,
Gayda meeter mader and she cocka-needle-o.
Nishy had a mother in the Promised Land,
Nishy had a mother in the Promised Land.
When my mother calls, I must go,
Go to meet my mother in the Promised Land.
Nishy had a pater and she cocka-needle-o,
Nishy had a pater and she cocka-needle-o.
Nishy pater kay, Nishy mada gay,
Gayda meeter pater and she cocka-needle-o.
Nishy had a father in the Promised Land,
Nishy had a father in the Promised Land.
When Nishy’s father calls, Nishy must go,
Go to meet her father in the Promised Land.
(Mrs. Riddle: “Now, incidentally, I played with a little Cherokee Indian girl when I was about . . . from the time I can remember ‘til I was about six or eight years old. That is, summers, when they came back from the Indian nation over in our strip there, close to Pangburn, which was a Cherokee strip through there. And I played with her through summers, and I don’t know if I learned this from her. I don’t remember. I’ve just always known it, and I don’t know of anybody else . . . I think maybe that . . . maybe she sang that I sing now. There is a song [sings]: ‘I have a father in the Promised Land, I have a father in the Promised Land. When my father calls, I must go, go to meet my father in the Promised Land.’ Which is an old camp meeting song. And as they visited there in the summers, and summers for that area was camp meeting time, it’s possible that I sang her that and then she tried to sing it back in her language, and Darling (?) could be right about it. That’s the way he . . . He said he was sure that’s the way it happened. But that was strictly just what I sing there. Now, Nishy’s father, and it goes on, mother and all the way down, you know. And he said that that other tune was nothing but the Cherokee for those words that I used, which could be right, ‘cause I’ve never known anybody else to do the thing. I don’t think it’s a ballad . . . You gonna say something?”
Dr. Wolf: “Well, yes, I’ll say something. I might have explained the other day-yesterday-- that Mrs. Riddle has never made it a point of learning old songs just for the sake of learning old songs. She grew up with hundreds of songs. Her father was a singing teacher, and her home was always full of melody, and she learned worlds of songs without trying. And then when she was an adult, she continued to sing the songs because she liked them, sang them to her own children and to her grandchildren. But she didn’t consider herself by any means a collector of songs . . . pleasure of her family. Now I say that because some of you might have thought that she made it a point of learning all the old ballads just for the sake of learning old ballads, just because they were traditional ballads or Child ballads, and that, uh, since she’s sung at the festivals around the country, she might know about any ballad you could name. Well, that’s, uh . . . That isn’t true. These songs that she sings she has sung for many, many years. Have you learned any, really learned any . . . you might say, ones that were unfamiliar to you, in the last twenty years?”
Mrs. Riddle: “I doubt it. I don’t recall any right now. But remember, I’ve always only sang those I like. Now I have the words and have known a lot of songs that I just don’t care to remember, and I don’t do them. If I don’t like it, I don’t do it.”
Dr. Wolf: “Yeah, all right.”)
Also found in Brown, Vol. III, #658, “Cherokee Hymn.”