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Author Brown, Cecil, 1943-

Title Stagolee shot Billy / Cecil Brown.

Published Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2003.


Location Call No. Status
Physical description viii, 296 pages ; 22 cm
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index.
Contents Introduction: The Tradition of Stagolee 1 -- I. Stagolee and St. Louis -- 1. Stagolee Shot Billy 21 -- 2. Lee Shelton: The Man behind the Myth 37 -- 3. That Bad Pimp of Old St. Louis: The Oral Poetry of the Late 1890s 48 -- 4. "Poor Billy Lyons" 59 -- 5. Narrative Events and Narrated Events 70 -- 6. Stagolee and Politics 79 -- 7. Under the Lid: The Underside of the Political Struggle 84 -- 8. Black Social Clubs 93 -- 9. Hats and Nicknames: Symbolic Values 98 -- 10. Ragtime and Stagolee 105 -- 11. Blues and Stagolee 110 -- II. Thousand Faces of Stagolee -- 12. Jim Crow and Oral Narrative 119 -- 13. Riverboat Rouster and Mean Mate 122 -- 14. Work Camps, Hoboes, and Shack Bully Hollers 127 -- 15. William Marion Reedy's White Outlaw 129 -- 16. Cowboy Stagolee and Hillbilly Blues 134 -- 17. Blueswomen: Stagolee Did Them Wrong 144 -- 18. Bluesmen and Black Bad Man 148 -- 19. On the Trail of Sinful Stagolee 157 -- 20. Stagolee in a World Full of Trouble 163 -- 21. From Rhythm and Blues to Rock and Roll: "I Heard My Bulldog Bark" 172 -- 22. Toast: Bad Black Hero of the Black Revolution 177 -- 23. Folklore/Poplore: Bob Dylan's Stagolee 184 -- III. Mammy-Made: Stagolee and American Identity -- 24. "Bad Nigger" Trope in American Literature 193 -- 25. James Baldwin's "Staggerlee Wonders" 206 -- 26. Stagolee as Cultural and Political Hero 212 -- 27. Stagolee and Modernism 217.
Summary This Story was Never Meant to be sandwiched between the covers of a book, as neat lines of prose. In 1895 a man called "Stag" Lee Shelton shot a man called Billy Lyons in a St. Louis bar. A black-on-black crime that scarcely made headlines. But this story, turned into a song, is one that black Americans have never tired of repeating and reliving. This tale of dignity and death, violence and sex, has been given countless forms by artists ranging from Ma Rainey to the Clash. Billy died because he touched another man's five-dollar Stetson. Or was it because he cheated at a card game? Or was it because the antagonists straddled the great American fault line of race at the time the earth was shifting -- at the time a strange, almost conspiratorial political war was raging in St. Louis between traditional black Republicans and a renegade faction aligned with the traditionally racist Democratic party? A small portion of this story has been told again and again, generation after generation, but few, till now, have known what the whole story was. Novelist and scholar Cecil Brown explores this legend from what was in those days the second city of America, gateway between East and West and North and South: St. Louis. Though bits of actual history have been associated with the song, the true story -- told in its entirety for the first time in this book -- is more complex, more deeply rooted, than anything anyone would ever dare to invent. It tells of the first generation of free black men, crushed by a Genteel America that was both black and white. It tells of the wild place this country was in the nineteenth century -- so wild that the inhabitants of the twentieth century could take it only in small doses and needed to forget. Now it can be told in full.
Subject Stagolee (Legendary character)
African Americans -- Songs and music -- History and criticism.
Ballads, English -- United States -- History and criticism.
Literature and folklore -- United States.
African American criminals -- Folklore.
African American men in literature.
African American men -- Folklore.
African Americans -- Folklore.
Saint Louis (Mo.) -- Folklore.
ISBN 0674010566 (alk. paper)